A New Political Discourse is Desirous Before 2023

A New Political Discourse is Desirous Before 2023

By Sanusi Muhammad

It was out of desperation for a perceived better Nigeria, that Nigerians rallied round the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2014/15 to change the old order. There were series of promises, hate speeches including threats to the unity of the country all tailored to accessing power by the goons of the Mega-merger. 

he Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that was pushed to the defence, was operating in a world of illusion. It rated itself high and powerful to be chased out of power by the impoverished that were all out to do the needful at the risks of their lives. The rest is history.

Since then, has the promised change changed anything under the APC brand of led government? Has corrupt practices disappeared from the public scene or repositioned to wreck more havoc with official cover? What of police brutality and extortion? Has the security situation in the country improved or deteriorating further more? Has the healthcare delivery system anything to commend? What of the alarming infrastructural decay? Is the National and State Assemblies adding any value to good governance or acting the script of the respective executive arms for peanuts? 

Nigeria is undoubtedly confronted with an existential crisis of multidimensional proportions. Not only are the peace and stability gravely imperiled but the country’s continuous existence as a cohesive territorial entity faces severe stresses and strains. Even as the situation degenerates daily, both the ruling party APC and the strongest opposition PDP are preoccupied with ruinous inanities and flimsy distractions that can sincerely be avoided.

Yet, this is at a time when all hands should be on deck and focused on redirecting the ship of state away from an imminent disastrous shipwreck and back to a saner and safer course. The grave security crisis, which has made the entire country a veritable killing field as a result of religious extremism, intolerance and violence; communal clashes, banditry, kidnapping, rape, cattle rustling, herdsmen/farmers crisis among others has whittled into insignificance the President Buhari administration’s modest accomplishments on the socioeconomic terrain.

Yet, as the vast majority of Nigerians endure the pains and pangs of hunger, joblessness, avoidable diseases, homelessness and other indices of abject poverty, individuals, tendencies and factions within the APC are preoccupied with the 2023 general elections on how to retain power. They are embroiled in energy-sapping intrigues and maneuvers to seize control or retain control of the party machinery at all levels so as to place them in a vintage position to fly the party’s flag for various elective offices come 2023; thus, rather than being focused and exerting all efforts at confronting and transcending the current socioeconomic, political and security crises, the APC does not even have a stable leadership presently.

It is run by the Extra-ordinary National Caretaker and Convention Planning Committee headed by Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, which is currently superintending what it describes as a membership registration/revalidation exercise. The exercise is already wired in scandals in most parts of the country. Some highly placed members of the party in their localities have hijacked the exercise. Interested new members are denied registration for fear of changing the status quo at the coming congresses and convention.

Mai Mala Buni APC

That may spell doom for the APC as those denied may eventually create factions or join opposition to actualize their ambitions.If as being speculated the APC is unable to hold its congresses and national convention in June as scheduled, it simply means that its members, including public office holders at all levels will continue to be distracted by endless preparations for the intra-party elections with no definitive dates in mind regarding when congresses and national convention will hold.

Unfortunately, the opposition PDP is no less distracted and laced with serious internal organizational schisms arising from conflicting interests with respect to the 2023 elections. Rather than learn from its calamitous loss in 2015 elections and its defeat again in 2019, the PDP is obsessively preoccupied with the task of returning to power in 2023 without undertaking the necessary task of rejuvenating their organizational structure, ideology and morality.

Hence, some of the state governors are warring against each other while others are in bitter conflict with the Secondus-led National Working Committee (NWC) of the party. The PDP has so far been unable to play the role of an effective, credible and productive opposition, which offers an attractive alternative programmatic agenda to the policy direction of the ruling party. Even from the example of some states governed by the PDP, there is no indication that, if the party returns to power at the centre in 2023, it may not offer better governance than it did during its earlier 16 years in power.

For both the APC and the PDP, the preoccupation appears to be with where the next President will come from rather than on how power will be utilized to rescue the country from the humiliating grip of protracted underdevelopment. True, where the next President comes from is important given the geo-ethnic and religious realities of Nigeria but even more critical, perhaps, is the socioeconomic agenda of political parties and their capability to productively utilize power to achieve accelerated national development.

Neither the APC nor the PDP, in my honest view, has demonstrated any inclination towards the seriousness of purpose, discipline and hard work necessary for charting a new, purposive, result-oriented policy direction for the country.It is against this background that the recent convening of 30 groups in Abuja representing labour, academia and other interests across the country to chart an alternative policy discourse and praxis for Nigeria is welcome. Out of the summit was born a new organization. “The People’s Alternative Movement”, which intends to metamorphose into a mass workers and laboring peoples’ political party.

A statement issued by conveners of the movement indicts that its purpose is work towards “wrestling the country from the grip of a rainbow coalition of dishonest, corrupt and reactionary politicians currently driving the country to a shipwreck through mass corruption and exploitation of the primordial fault lines for personal fortune”.

In a refreshing departure from the prevalent discourse of divisive ethno-religious rhetoric, the emergent group promised to “replace despair with hope by uniting the working people and the masses beyond the narrow prism of ethnicity and religion with the hope of attaining a new Nigerian Renaissance”.

The movement plans to achieve through, ”a socialist ideology tailored to transform the neo-colonial Nigerian economy” that will lead to the building “of a new country based on justice, equity and protection of the dignity of mankind irrespective of ethnicity, faith or creed. The movement shall make Nigeria great again and put the country back on her status as the giant of Africa”.

The prime motivation of the movement is portrayed by its lamentation that Nigeria today is characterized by “extreme poverty, arms proliferation, religious intolerance, the rise of hate and ethnic nationalism” and consequently “moving towards social upheavals, due to exploitation of the people, greed and avarice of a spineless political class that has reached its wits end”.

Does the group not sound utopian to some ears and its goals unrealizable given the sordid realities of contemporary Nigerian politics? To that poser, I would refer those ears to the declaration of the late political economist, Paul Baran, that: “Each idea not yet realized curiously resembles a utopia; one would never do anything if one thought that nothing is possible except that which exists”.But looking back, there were attempts to form a third force to confront both APC and PDP but floundered.

Reference here can be made to the effort by former President Obasanjo before the 2019 elections, which came to nothing or the coalition of some presidential aspirants—Fela Durotoye, Omoyele Sowore, George Moghalu, Oby Ezekwesili etc—which also failed abysmally due to certain factors. These were based on personalities or such amorphous and concretely meaningless factors as age. This emergent movement is based on ideology and a concrete socioeconomic agenda. Others would say that efforts by such progressive, mass oriented groups failed to make an impact when they sought to organize politically in the past. They can learn from past errors and aim at succeeding this time around.

The point is that an ideologically focused and disciplined group should be encouraged to challenge the sheer complacency, ineptitude and arrogance of the current dominant parties that are determined to bury the democratic culture from greed and cluelessness combined. If the present situation is allowed to continue, the end of the democracy is fast approaching because within the parties, there is lack of discipline and sincerity of purpose. Instead of applying the principles of decorum, equity and justice in party affairs and primary elections, it is always imposition and dictatorship on display.

Party machinery at the various levels is on the payroll of sadistic politicians that dictate the tune. Most of the parties are piloted by semi-illiterates and stark illiterates that lack patriotic political education and the required exposure. In some parts of the country, semi-illiterates that bulldozed their ways to power dictate where the pendulum should swing in their localities and their illiterate supporters shout to heavens in support just to make ends meet. That is not the democracy we fought for!Therefore the views expressed by Conveners of the new

Movement, has gone right to the root of Nigeria’s protracted crisis of poverty and underdevelopment caused by corruption anchored on bad leadership from top to bottom of the ladder. If the emergent Movement helps tilt public debate towards such alternative, problem-solving discourse, it would profit the polity immensely. The path ahead of the movement is indeed a tasking and arduous one demanding hard, backbreaking work, sleepless nights as well as immense organizational capacity, workable strategies and outright condemnation of the present system vide the media.

On a final note, may the Almighty God grant the families of my late boss in NADECO, Yinka Odumakin and the late honorable member of the Federal House of Representatives (Bassa/Jos North) in Plateau State, Haruna Maitala the fortitude to bear the irreparable losses. Maitala was a victim of poor infrastructure that government failed to fix over the years. May God grant their souls perfect rest.

Muhammad is a commentator on national issues

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