By UMAR SA’AD HASSAN —
The clamour for an alternative to the APC and PDP has led to movements like the Red Card and 3rd Force to name two, but, realistically, no movement can gather momentum enough to make a significant impact next year. Thus, the PDP still remains Nigerians’ best hope of ousting the APC government next year. It has an existing structure with guaranteed bloc votes from two regions of roughly 18 million registered voters.
The shabby handling of the affairs of the APC, prominent among them party disputes, is largely attributable to the fact that it was a helter-skelter arrangement put in place simply to kick out the PDP. Structuring the party to cater for the many big egos and divergent interests was never in contemplation, and now that it has accomplished its sole goal the chickens are coming home to roost.
The PDP officially kicked off its electioneering on March 26 in Abuja and it’s quite shameful that of all the things said by Prince Uche Secondus, the national party chairman, the APC gang has chosen to focus more on the apology he issued on behalf of his party than tackle the issues raised against their government. I highlight five of those crucial issues.
- The APC borrowing N11trn in just 3 years
This really should have had people buzzing the most. The PDP, bad as they may be, borrowed N6trn in 16 years and had projects to show for it. The APC on the other hand has borrowed N11trn in less than three years. What exactly have they used that money for? We have seen Buhari earmark unprecedentedly high sums for capital expenditure. If they restricted themselves to completing the unfinished projects of the Jonathan administration like they made us believe at some point, then they ought to have made even more impact than we anticipated. It is quite sad that the APC has serially defended its incompetence by chastising the PDP and my prayer is that the future of our country is not tied to the repayment of huge loans incurred as a result of this government’s ineptitude
- The Boko Haram lie
Though it is really hard to tell if the herdsmen are an extension of the Boko Haram sect or not, Secondus was right about the Buhari government lying to its people about decimating the sect. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Boko haram has brought this administration to its knees and through the payment of multi million euro ransoms, the Nigerian government has become its main sponsors.
When last did we go through a whole week without the Fulani herdsmen killing innocent Nigerians? This administration has failed in its paramount duty, which is safeguarding the life and property of its citizens.
- Incompetence is responsible for the devaluation of the naira
The devaluation has been attributed to the fall in oil prices. Before Jonathan left office, oil sold for less than $50 and we even witnessed a N10 drop in fuel pump price to N87 per litre. Yet the exchange rate was N199 to $1.What I’m driving at is simple — they managed the plunge in oil prices much better than Buhari and the APC have.
That the free fall of the naira was due to Buhari’s incompetence was confirmed by none other than the vice-president himself, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. Buhari’s medical trip afforded him a clear opportunity to implement the resolutions of the National Economic Council which he headed. The sum of $250m was injected into the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) and the Central Bank was advised to adjust its forex policy. The CBN did and released $371m into the inter-bank market. Barely 48 hours later, the naira fell from N510 to a dollar to N400.A couple more moves and it fell further.
Word in some quarters was that he was ready to do more but despite describing the success as a ‘team effort’, key members of the cabal felt intimidated by his soaring popularity and had the president pull the brakes on his policy.
What this proves is that despite what Buhari and his gang may want us to believe, the falling value of the naira could be better handled if Nigeria was in the right hands. The previous government had some of the best economic minds Nigeria had to offer on board. Buhari on the other hand doesn’t even think it needful to appoint an economic adviser.
- A nation divided under ethnic and religious fault lines
Virtually every secessionist agenda tells a story of a suppressed and deprived people seeking to put an end to the status quo. The fact still remains that President Buhari justified every agitation for a separate state with the 97%-5% declaration. He said those who didn’t vote en masse for him shouldn’t be expected to be treated as well as those who didn’t. True to his words, he made more than 40 straight non-ministerial appointments without any south-easterner among them. Even the south-west which seemed less bothered about its own state kick-started its own agitation just in case they were asked to quit the north like the Igbo at some point.
And, as we all know, while Nnamdi Kanu was having to fight off the army for violating his bail conditions, the Arewa youths walked scot-free. As Secondus rightly pointed out, we have never been this divided.
- The fuel situation
This is one aspect that has perhaps illustrated Buhari’s incompetence the most. When he sought approval from the National Assembly to settle the subsidy claims of oil marketers with N413 billion, a few questions were asked as to the propriety of that. Paying that huge sum in one fell swoop didn’t feel right, especially if the state of our finances was taken into consideration. It made you appreciate the sound economic minds around his predecessor much better. A lot of things combined to keep our economy going, and paying marketers in instalments was one of them. In January of 2016, the government removed subsidy and, barely three months later, it reverted to paying N13 per litre. In May of same year, it removed subsidy again and increased fuel price to N145.There can only be one logical conclusion from all these — the government is very confused.
After subjecting Nigerians to untold hardship with its cluelessness and blaming the 2015/16 scarcity on a number of reasons, it introduced the final one as its justification for increasing in fuel price — marketers were unable to source foreign exchange because of the dollar rate. It took it almost six months to know that.
Well, selling fuel at N145 and even with a much reduced foreign exchange rate hasn’t meant an end to fuel scarcity. We deserve better.
Umar Sa’ad Hassan is a lawyer based in Kano