In about two weeks from today, Nigerians will troop out to cast their votes in the presidential poll that is expected to be a fierce battle between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Taking into consideration the many weeks of campaigns ahead of the polls, the nature of campaign has been uninspiring and devoid of a perspective capable of advancing our nation. Unlike in the First and Second Republic when campaigns afforded the platform for politicians to unveil their vision and programmes for the country, the current campaigns by both the APC and PDP are far from what is expected of them.
For many Nigerians, including yours sincerely, the campaigns have been nothing but stimulating. For the APC that has been controlling levers of power for nearly four years now, nothing concrete has been done to re-assure Nigerians that the past has been good and looks promising in the years ahead. The victory of General Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 was predicated on the change mantra. Not only was insecurity a major issue, unemployment and economic hardship remained a major headache in a nation that has continually laid claim for being Africa’s giant.
If Boko Haram has been defeated as asserted by the top echelon of the country’s armed forces, the resurgence of attacks by suspected herdsmen in largely North-central states and the vicious banditry in the North-western states have turned these areas into spectacles of barbarity. On the Plateau, communities have been destroyed as these attackers have also occupied some of the invaded towns and villages. Thousands that have escaped the sophisticated arms of these murderers have been reduced to human desolation in various Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps spread across the state. These IDPs are now completely neglected and are only hoping against hope that someday they will return to their invaded homes. Their daily upkeep and sustenance is hinged on the kindnesses of groups and other humanitarian NGOs, while political leaders have reduced their campaigns to sharing of money through dubious schemes.
APC as the incumbent party in government ought to be in the lead in charting an ideal campaign based on issues. Apart from refusing to embark on assessment of their footprints in the last four years, they have failed to realise that they are still in government and have a lot of explanation to do. In a country besieged by myriad of problems, the campaigns by the ruling party has failed to explain its scorecard and what to expect in the coming years if re-elected. Even Transparency International is not convinced that the TraderMoni scheme is not vote-buying through the backdoor. Most of the APC campaigns have been restricted to the social media, door-to-door outings as well as selected traditional media platforms. Of course, the APC has always maintained that paucity of funds is the reason for its low campaign profile. Director General of the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation, Rt. Hon Rotimi Amaechi, is quoted to have said that the PDP stole the money and that he, too, has been hungry due to the maladministration of the former ruling party. To think that the same Amaechi was part and parcel of ‘PDP’s misrule’ for 16 years as speaker and governor speaks volumes of why we should never trust politicians.
Beyond the outcry against corruption and insecurity, not much has been heard of the APC campaign train. The gaffes by Buhari at the various campaign stops in some states have not helped matters, as defenders of the change mantra, who now want to take us to the Next Level, have had cause to overstretch themselves to weaken the acerbic comments from the PDP social media hawks rampaging the cyber sphere. What the ruling party has been engaged in is mind game and playing safe within less combustible arena in order not to give political opponents an opportunity to finally swing the pendulum against them. An administration that claims to have worked so hard to turn around the fortunes of Nigerians should not be hesitant to drum its achievement for all to see.
For the PDP, the campaigns have not been different from that of the APC in terms of issues. The television programme anchored by Kadaria Ahmed this week brought the best out of Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi. Though not a few Nigerians were angry at the combative role of the anchor, some of the viewers maintained that the adversarial disposition of Kadaria was hinged on proving Atiku as a corrupt politician. Like other attempts embarked by various forces in the past to indict the Wazirin Adamawa as corrupt, Kadaria failed woefully. As an in-law to Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai of Kaduna State, who is one of the brain boxes of Buhari’s kitchen cabinet, Kadaria’s neutrality cannot be trusted.
Though the PDP has a manifesto that has answers to various issues ailing our country, there is still more to be done to educate Nigerians of what PDP is set to achieve if elected into the corridors of power. On that basis, many Nigerians will like to see the PDP doing much in explaining plans for a reinvigorated country where most citizens will partake in the stream of justice. Nigerians are fed up with the present performance profile of the APC, and that has been the reason why some have abandoned the APC ship. Apart from working hard to question some of the indefensible actions of the present administration, the main opposition party must resuscitate its machinery to invigorate the campaign trails in order to combat the foibles of the ruling party. There’s no doubt that what is at stake in February 16 is a choice between APC and the PDP. Any vote outside these two parties can as well be termed wasted vote. In Nigeria, only structures and ideologies call the shots at the polls. As much as we have fresh voices seeking our votes to become president, it is a fact that these new faces and fresh voices do not have the capacity to unleash defeat on the current incumbent government.
The only party out of several dozens of opposition platforms that can defeat the APC remains the PDP. Any assertion outside these two only feeds the fertile imaginations of the misguided minds of some ideologues in love with text book theories. Less than two weeks to the close of the presidential campaigns, it is obvious that strategies for winning the polls may be far from the campaign trails. That explains why all parties are engaged in behind-the-scene efforts at rallying support for victory. Head or tail, the outcome of the February 16 presidential poll is set to be a fierce battle that could determine our corporate existence as a united political entity. If the polls are rigged and the incumbent insists on holding onto power, then a frightening cloud of uncertainty may take our nation captive. However, if the polls are transparent and a true winner is allowed to emerge, our country will be better for it. Will those who control the levers of power allow the elections to be conducted transparently? What shall be the reaction of Nigerians and the international community? In a little while, time shall unveil what will become of the outcome of the presidential poll.