Nine weeks after being declared winners of the 2015 general elections, the APC and President Buhari seem to be still finding their footing. In this piece, EMMA ALOZIE writes that the APC seems to be plagued by the ruling party syndrome
Soon after the All Progressives Congress, APC was declared winner of the 2015 general elections, a political commentator said “now APC will be faced with the problems of a ruling party,” and true to the assertion, the party has been facing many problems ever since and how it handles the problems will eventually shape the party, either negatively or positively.
From the inability of the party to amicably arrive at zoning arrangement for the National Assembly leadership to the party’s apparent lack of visible activity five days after assuming office, it is obvious that the reality of being the head that is wearing the ‘thorny’ crown is gradually dawning on APC and President Muhammadu Buhari.
APC’s campaign promises leading to the elections were mouth watering and the party carried on as if the only thing plaguing the country was the issue of corruption that could be overcome with a snap of the fingers. However, nine weeks after being declared winner of the elections and five days after officially taking over power, the APC and President Buhari are still grappling with the rudiments of power.
For instance, five days after and with five Boko Haramm attacks in the North East, President Buhari’s only reaction to the attacks was his directive during his inaugural speech that the military high command should relocate to Maiduguri.
Impatient Nigerians have expectedly started asking questions and making demands. When the Code of Conduct Bureau announced that President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had filed their assets declaration form at the Bureau, Nigerians were taken aback describing it as a departure from the campaign promises of President Buhari that he would declare his assets publicly and even compel his ministers to do so. Instead, Garba Shehu, President Buhari’s spokesman told Nigerians to avail themselves the services of the Freedom of Information Act to know the details of the contents of assets declaration.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has declared his assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau as required by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. If anyone is interested in knowing details of his asset worth, such a person can avail himself or herself of the use of Freedom of Information (FOI) Act to seek the information from the bureau,” Garba Shehu had said.
However Nigerians and groups have kicked demanding that the president must tow the path of honour and fulfill his campaign promises. Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) demanded that the President “swiftly move to declare their assets publicly, in order to be consistent with their apparent anti-corruption credentials and their expressed commitments to do so and in the best interest of transparency and accountability.”
According to the group, “We welcome the official declaration of assets by the president and vice president. This clearly complies with the requirements of the Nigerian Constitution as contained in Chapter VI Section 140. However, the declaration before the Code of Conduct alone falls far short of the commitment to publicly declare their assets.
“SERAP recalls that the president had said before the election that he would publicly declare his assets and liabilities, and encourage all his appointees to publicly declare their assets and liabilities as a pre-condition for appointment. We now expect the president to fulfill this promise to the Nigerian people.
“Public disclosure of assets will give the public a true picture of the assets of the president and vice president and will send a powerful message that it is not going to be business as usual with this government. This will also follow the best practice by former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, boost this government’s fight against corruption and impunity of perpetrators, and fully comply with the provisions of chapter two of the constitution dealing with Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, which among others, require the government to take steps to eradicate corrupt practices and the abuse of power.”
Similarly, a constitutional lawyer Professor Itse Sagay, SAN, said by not declaring his assets publicly, President Buhari had started on a wriong footing. “I have no doubt that he will make it public because that is where credibility starts. That is where Jonathan started losing credibility. The late Umar Yar’Adua forced him to declare his assets in 2007, reluctantly, he did it. But when he was his own man, he said he does not give a damn and that is where he started sliding down. So, Buhari has no choice, it is absolute for himself and Osinbajo if change and credibility are going to be sustained. There is no other way out, so I expect in the next 24 hours or so that we would know what their assets are. He should apply it to every other appointee of his regime, not just himself and Osinbajo, it is compulsory and absolute,” Sagay said.
As the days roll by, the burdens, the demands and the weight of expectations on the president and the ruling party become weightier. Senator Ike Ekweremadu, deputy senate president, whose party the Peoples Democratic Party is now in the opposition has tasked the APC government on rescuing the Chibok girls.
In a recent retreat for PDP senators-elect, the deputy senate president said, “The PDP lawmakers in the 8th National Assembly should not only hold the APC accountable in terms of their list of promises, but also in accordance with the timeline they gave in the course of the campaigns.
“They should be able to bring exchange rates down to one naira to one US dollar, bring back the Chibok Girls, eradicate terrorism and insurgency, stamp out corruption, create two million jobs every year, provide uninterrupted electricity supply, and fulfill other campaign promises or prepare to hand over power to the PDP in 2019.
“Their recent dithering and excuses on their campaign promises are not acceptable. We believe they must have studied the Nigerian situation thoroughly before mounting the podiums with promises.”
Ekweremadu and his PDP are not the only ones demanding. Nigerians have started wondering why close to three months after winning an election, President Buhari and his ruling party have not made any significant appointment preparatory to governance except two media related appointments and a chief of protocol.
So far, the president had only embarked on a journey to Chad and Niger in his bid to curry the neighbouring countries in the fight against Boko Haram, the same move Buhari roundly criticized the former president for making. “It’s a big disgrace for Nigeria. It is now Cameroon and Chad fighting the insurgency more than us. We will build the capacity and should be able to secure our territorial integrity,” Buhari had said pre-election.
Nigerians have also taken to social media to criticize the seeming slow start to governance by President Buhari and his APC. One Kufre Okon wrote on his facebook wall, “few hours after his inauguration as President on May 29, 1999, Obasanjo announced Uffot Ekaette as SGF. Same day he was sworn into office in 2007, President Yar’Adua announced Kingibe as SGF. By the evening of May 30, 2011, President Jonathan had announced Senator Anyim as Nigeria’s next SGF. Five whole days after Buhari took power, he is yet to successfully wriggle himself out of the grip of some selfish political investors to appoint an SGF for Nigeria. The process of governance is yet to kick-start in our country. Ladies and gentlemen, the drama of CHANGE continues.”
Perhaps the difference between opposition and real governance has just started sinking in and the adjustment may take a little longer.