- Since after being relegated to the opposition, the PDP seems to be thriving in a position that it is not familiar with, writes EMMA ALOZIE
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, bestrode Nigeria’s political landscape like a colossus. It dominated the political space for 16 uninterrupted years. At the height of its supremacy, its ranking officials boasted that the party would rule Nigeria for 60 uninterrupted years.
However, such dreams became stillborn with the outcome of the 2015 general elections where the All Progressives Congress, APC, swept the polls. The outcome of the general elections has effectively relegated the PDP as the official number one opposition party.
Five weeks after its new found status, how has the PDP performed as the opposition party? From all indications, the PDP has not fared badly in discharging its new role. It has held its own, raising the dust when needed and calling the attention of the ruling APC when necessary.
For instance, when President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Amina Zakari as the acting chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the opposition PDP shouted to the rooftops accusing the president of bias in the appointment, alleging that Mrs Zakari is too close to the president for comfort. At a point, the PDP called the acting INEC boss, ‘Buhari’s daughter’.
“The PDP is particularly disturbed by the development in INEC where President Buhari, who knew all along that the immediate-past INEC Chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega would be leaving office by June 30, had to wait for him to handover to one of the national commissioners only to reverse it immediately, thereby injecting bad blood in the commission.
“The situation in INEC since the PDP government reformed and granted it operational autonomy has been peaceful, but Tuesday’s untidy overruling of Prof. Jega and appointing of Mrs. Amina Zakari as acting chairman which, we gathered was influenced by personal relationship with the Presidency and one of the new governors of the North West, ostensibly to pave the way for the APC at the electoral tribunals, has completely eroded public trust in the commission.
“In INEC, the PDP states in unequivocal terms that we cannot, as critical stakeholders fold our hands and watch while the Presidency perpetuate actions that diminish the independence of the electoral commission.
“The PDP has declared the appointment of Mrs. Amina Zakari as unacceptable and demand that President Buhari changes her immediately.
”Our reasons include the fact that due process was not observed in the appointment and that Mrs. Zakari has shown in the last elections that she is manifestly bias in favour of the APC. Finally her appointment is a clear case of nepotism,” PDP said.
Also, when the presidency released over $1.7 billion as bailout for states, the PDP raised the issue and queried why the Buhari administration should empty the Excess Crude Account even when the government was shouting about empty treasury. PDP’s spokesperson, Olisah Metuh while reacting to the development then, said, “Our attention has been drawn to yet another embarrassing flip-flop by the Presidency and the APC, this time on their depletion of savings in the Excess Crude Account, (ECA) which they earlier announced was to partly finance bailout for states and local governments across the country.
“We are indeed shocked that in their spirited effort to ensure that no credit went to the PDP-led administration for saving the money in the ECA, the Presidency and the APC had to make a dramatic U-turn even after the APC had in a release signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, earlier today (Tuesday July 7, 2015) commended the President for approving spending from that account.
“The APC had in the release acknowledged that the ‘multi-pronged approval by President Buhari includes the sharing of the Federal and State Governments of $1.7 billion out of the $2 billion remaining in the ECA; the sharing of about $2.1 billion sourced from the LNG’s payment to the Federation Account; and a CBN-packaged special intervention fund that will offer financing to the states, ranging between N250 billion to N300 billion, as soft loan available to states to access for the purposes of paying backlog of salaries’”.
When recently the Department of State Security Services, DSS invaded and raided the house of the immediate past National Security Adviser, NSA, Dasuki Sambo, holding him hostage for close to 24 hours, the PDP through Olisah Metuh, their spokesperson raised its voice high calling it the return of dictatorship. The PDP said it “The fact is that we deserve basic freedom, liberty and free movement associated with democracy. The truth is that Nigerians are getting scared. They voted for the President and he was duly elected.
“And now he’s the father of the nation, he’s the father of everyone. He’s not serving any other interest. But there are certain activities by some of his aides and people around him, it’s like they are taking us back to the military era where we were coming from.
“We are not guilty because we served under a former President. We are not guilty because we lost an election. We are not losers in a war. We lost an election, not a war. We are not prisoners of war and we should not be treated like prisoners of war.
“This is a democracy, and the democratic tenets and principles apply. The fact is that we deserve basic freedom, liberties and movements associated with democracy. The truth is that Nigerians are getting scared; we voted for our President, they voted for the President and he was duly elected. Nigerians wanted him, Nigerians voted for him, and now he is the father of the nation, he is the father of everyone; he is not serving any other interest.”
However, unlike the APC that reaped from the insurgency, used it to discredit the then PDP government, the PDP has on its own vowed to support President Buhari on his fight against insurgency and terrorism. “Indeed, the time has come for all Nigerians, irrespective of ethnic, religious and political affiliations to be in one accord in the fight against terrorism in our dear country. In this challenge, the PDP stands with President Muhammadu Buhari and the nation on any measure adopted by the Federal Government aimed at ending this ugly experience. We may not be on the same page on some policy issues but not when it comes to matters that directly affects the security of our citizens and our stability as a nation”, the PDP said.
The PDP has promised to keep the APC government on its toes. This explains why at all times, it is reminding the ruling APC of its campaign promises. After 30 days in office, the PDP came up with a statement where it described the APC’s government as all “motion and no movement” and accused the president his party of lacking direction. The party enjoined Nigerians to pray for the president.
“After a careful evaluation of the first 30 days of President Muhammadu Buhari and All Progressives Congress (APC)’s administration, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) notes that it has become obvious that Nigerians need to join hands in prayers to save the government from further inaction and dithering.
“The enormity of the confusion surrounding the government and party (APC) in the last one month makes it imperative for Nigerians to pray as the success or failure of the Buhari administration will not only affect the President and his party but also the entire nation.
“We urge Nigerians to join hands in prayers and offer useful suggestions to President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC because with what we have seen in the last 30 days, the present administration is finding it very difficult to get its bearings right while showing no inclination towards implementing its numerous campaign promises for which they were voted into office at the center.
“We are deeply worried that the President who promised to unveil his cabinet two weeks after his inauguration, has not been able to decide on key appointments such as ministers, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), a Chief of Staff and advisers in key sectors of the economy.
“This is more so as the delay has brought government business in ministries, departments and agencies to a dangerous standstill with coordination of important policies vested on ministers and the SGF now in tatters while the system drifts.
“This situation also creates loopholes through which overzealous persons around that President can connive with unscrupulous elements in the bureaucracy to siphon public resources in addition to possibly misleading the President to violate due process by spending beyond and outside his statutory limits.
“The situation is taking its toll on the economy sector, which has in the 30 days witnessed unprecedented decline with a terrifying crippling of foreign and domestic investments including activities in the money and capital market sectors. Under President Buhari, the stock market has lost over N238 billion while the All-Share Index fell by 849.87 basis points as at June 19,” the PDP said.
The PDP therefore outlined the fulfillment of APC’s campaign promises as the only achievements Nigerians will listen to.
“We wish to inform the APC that the Nigerians will not take anything short of the commencement of the payment of monthly N5, 000 each to 25 million poor citizens beginning from the end of this month; ending of insurgency by the end of July as promised by President Buhari in his April 2, 2015 CNN interview; payment of monthly allowance to discharged but unemployed Youth Corps members, free meals to school children and bringing the naira to the same value with the dollar; among other bogus promises upon which they gained access to power,” the PDP said.
From the foregoing, it may be concluded it is the PDP that has hit the ground running in providing a virile opposition while the APC seems to be finding is trajectory, over five weeks after taking over government.