APC or PDP: What is different?
Differences in ideologies between America’s Republican and Democratic parties are like night and day. You need no eye goggles or Internet Google to see clearly, or know precisely the stark strains that pole the two apart. One is consistently conservative; the other is distinctly liberal. A study of the parties’ agenda and policy frames will convince you that the two major American parties are not conjoined identical twins.
In some environments around the world, the ideological separating-line in political parties is faint and blurry. In Nigeria, for example, it is non-existent. Nigerian political parties, to much of the citizenry, largely seem like assemblages of comingling, frivolous, frolicking and fraudulent men and women with one daring purpose: To get rich, to be served, and never to serve the citizens who are trapped in a strangulating serfdom. Every politician is a ‘progressive’ in Nigeria.
Ask a political party chieftain what qualifies him to be considered a progressive, watch as he swings into brazen braggadocio that he built one borehole that gives out scanty water, repainted a few schools and changed their furniture, asphalted one-kilometre one-lane road, and gave away sewing machines to bricklayers who later pawned the equipment to buy food to feed his famished family members. Is that it? To cap the ridiculous rendezvous, before the election, he gave away N500 raggedy notes out of the illicit windfall pilfered from government coffers to bought crowd hailing him. Suddenly, he becomes a hero before whom defrauded dunderheads among the populace genuflect.
I was prompted to ask this question of my friends a few days ago on a social media platform: “What sincerely is the difference between Nigeria’s PDP and APC, aside from their nomenclatures? The feedback from them was similar in tones. A friend responded: “The APC and the PDP are both an apology. The PDP government displayed brazen corruption, the APC government is doing the same thing, with some pretence”. Another friend wrote: “There is a difference, My lord. The PDP’s style of corruption is open and brazen, the APC’s style is for a select few or the ones who ‘move over’ and join them”. Another one bluntly expressed: “Nothing…absolutely nothing”. I giggled as a friend called the two parties “…the same team, different jerseys”. Aren’t they right?
If there exists a consensus that these parties are the same, why then are our expectations of them different? Why do we believe one party over the other that the vices and viruses ravaging the soul of the nation will dissipate with one of them in charge? If they are members of the same team with different jerseys as my friend suggested, where then is our hope that corruption will die its natural death? When the PDP was in power, the pain it unleashed on us for 16 years was not phantom. Much of the discomfort, unfortunately, has given birth to more distress today, four years after the baton of power changed hands. Security challenges have worsened. Youth unemployment rate which was a record low of 11.70 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2014 hit an all-time high of 38 per cent in the second quarter of 2018. Today, it’s gone back down to 23.8%.
At the advent of democratic rule in 1999 under the PDP, the US dollar was sold for N21.89; on May 29, 2015, it was N199. Three months after, 1 US dollar sold for N245. As of today, it is N370 under the APC. Both parties inherited low dollar rates; and under both, rates spiked. I am only trying to unravel the progressive difference between the PDP and the APC. I see none.
Are we talking about recent kidnapping headaches? Shortly before Christmas in 2012 under Goodluck Jonathan’s watch, the aged mother of then sitting finance minister and coordinating minister for economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, was kidnapped by some young roughnecks. Panic rattled President Jonathan’s cabinet. The old woman was released after a N12m ransom was paid to the miscreants. Fast forward to Muhammadu Buhari’s presidency. Recently, the kidnapping saga came like a whirlwind and hit the vacationing President close to his flesh and bones. His ADC’s father-in-law was kidnapped in Daura, the President’s hometown. Kidnappers now operate like the Omnipresent One; they are present everywhere and anywhere to wreak havocs. Unconfirmed reports have it that some French-speaking Fulani militants have erected 1,123 Fulani military cells spread across the South-West. The goal is to kidnap, rape, and extort money from affluent Nigerians. Many of these uniformed thugs live in our forests. They are young and mercilessly brutal. Something is brewing, the Federal Government should note. Banditry and criminality are on the loose; don’t Nigerians have the right to live in peace in their own homes? As it was under the PDP, so it is now under the APC. What is the difference between the two? You tell me.
President Buhari may not have been personally fingered in any blatant stealing spree allegations, but are a few around him squeaky clean? An APC governor was caught on video tucking in bails of dollars under his sweeping garment that can hide a trailer. Under the flowing robe, he hid the illegal rhino from a contractor. What happened even with the hard evidence? He received a nod from the leadership of his party to run for a second term as governor. Like seedtime and harvest that the Bible says will never cease, stealing will not stop in Nigeria! It is like the god politicians serve. Until there is a change in governance strategies, and until these troubling issues are addressed with audaciousness and sincerity by political leaders, Nigeria will remain a howling house of stand-up comedy where men laugh though they languor, and smile, though they suffer.
You can talk to anybody around Nigerian towns; and chat them up in villages. Probe them in mosques and prod them in churches; corruption remains Nigeria’s varnishing virulent virus, the Achilles’ heels of our co-existence, and the trigger of a possible impending economic Armageddon that may consume the pauper and the prosperous. Must this not be a grave concern for all? Corruption still thrives under the two leading parties because what we have is a systemic problem, not partisan. Hunger, poverty, and rising wave of crimes are results of the mangling menace choking life out of Nigeria and pummelling the heart of the nation into a flatline.
Before I drop up my pen, I’ll ask this: If the APC or the PDP dissolves today; if the parties no longer have sways at power, will there be any improvement in the lives of Nigerians? It is not about the parties; my friends. It is about the swiftly recycling ogres who make up the parties. It is about the consciences and hearts of men and women who are presenting themselves for votes. It is about the men and women who lead. If the foundation be destroyed, the righteous can rebuild, the Good Book says. I believe that whatever is broken and bastardised about Nigeria can be rebuilt only if we are willing. Where are those men and women with the will? They must be praying! Aha! It is crapola praying to God to build you a house without you moving the blocks. It is crapola praying to the Host of Heaven for abundance of food without planting many good seeds. It is crapola expecting a miraculous change while a prosperous nation remains entrenched in ridiculous continuum of the nonsensical in government-after-government. We cannot expect rudimentary and radical results while continuing with the same boneheaded blueprints that have given us the blues since Independence. If this is the time to pray, it is also the time to work and change strategy.