APC’s Disappointing Start To Governance - by Jide Ojo

In an article in this column on Wednesday, June 18, 2014, entitled, “Spot the difference between PDP and APC”, I stated inter alia that “I have asked myself if there is truly a difference between the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party. As far as I can see, the difference between the two is that between six and half-a-dozen. 

Perhaps, the difference lies in nomenclature. Yes, the wordings of their party manifestoes may be different but in terms of governance, it will seem they are copying from the same textbook.” Even though in that piece my primary focus was the appraisal of the party’s congresses and national convention of Friday, June 13, 2014 where forced “consensus” option led to the emergence of Chief John Odigie-Oyegun as the national chairman of the party; since that time a lot of water has passed under the proverbial bridge. The APC has since moved from being the most vibrant and vociferous opposition party to becoming the ruling party at the federal and most of the states following the 2015 general elections.

It has been some 90 days after the end of the polls and 30 days after the inauguration which took place on May 29. What have Nigerians seen? It’s been a huge disappointment to say the least. At the level of the Presidency, President Muhammadu Buhari is still running the government as a “sole administrator”. He has yet to appoint key aides as well as his cabinet. Information trickling in says this may not be done until late August or early September. Much of the blame was put on the late submission of handover notes by the ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. In truth, the handover notes were submitted to the President on the eve of inauguration. Be that as it may, the new government has since received formal response from the Ahmed Joda transition committee since June 12, 2015. It will not be fair on Nigerians to have to wait eternally for the scrutiny of the 800-page report of the committee before President Buhari will kick-start his government.

As things stand, the “motion without movement” of the present administration, as the PDP described it, is impacting negatively on the polity and economy. While the Nigerian capital market reacted positively to the election of President Buhari in April when it gained 8.30 per cent, its single biggest daily gain this year, wiping off the negative year-to-date (YTD) performance, after the INEC declaration, the same market is now reacting negatively to the delay in coming up with any economic roadmap.

According to Thisday newspaper, June 29, 2015, experts warned that “the delay by President Muhammadu Buhari in appointing persons to drive his government’s economic blueprint and provide a policy direction for the government about a month after he was sworn in is hurting Nigeria’s business confidence. This is just as market capitalisation of the Nigerian Stock Exchange has plunged by N353bn since Buhari’s inauguration, as investors continue to react to the absence of a policy direction. In one month of trading since Buhari assumed office, market capitalisation on the Nigerian bourse depreciated by three per cent from N11.568 trillion to N11.215 trillion last Friday while the NSE All-share Index has dipped from 34,044.65 points at the beginning of the month to 32,853.49 points on Friday.”

I quite agree with the submission of the PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, who in a press statement released last Sunday, June 28 observed that, “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, a Chief of Staff and advisers in key sectors of the economy…The delay has brought government business in the 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.”

I read the rebuttal of the Presidency to Metuh’s barb against the government where the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, stated among other things that, “The Buhari administration is naturally contemplative because there was absolutely no rhyme or reason to the way the PDP ran the country, particularly in the immediate past dispensation. That is why the Augean Stable is being cleaned now, and it requires scrupulous and painstaking planning. Across all sectors, our national life was devalued, and it takes meticulousness and sure-footedness to repair all the breaches. This, the Buhari administration will deliver.”

To the above assertion I also disagree and my thoughts are in sync with the position of Metuh when he observed that “In Greek mythology, Hercules, in his ingenuity, took the task and efficiently cleared the Augean stable in a day for which he demanded a reward of a tenth of fine cattle belonging to the king. Nigerians would not want to believe that in the so-called clearing of the Augean stable, although not delivering in one day, President Buhari wants to play Hercules in his demand, this time, by wanting to run the government alone without the statutory components of the executive as enshrined in the constitution.”

What Adesina needs to realise is that Nigerians have high expectations from the new government and they have yet to be convinced that the new administration is any different from the last one. In any event, most of the dramatis personae in the APC today were key players in the PDP. The hood does not make a monk just as changing of party platform does not in any way turn a conservative politician to a progressive. What has really changed? President Buhari promised to publicly declare his assets but has failed to do that. Rather, like ex-President Jonathan, he only followed the status quo by declaring it to the Code of Conduct Bureau.

Also, since the inauguration of the National Assembly on June 9, 2015, the two chambers – Senate and House of Representatives – have been embroiled in leadership crises. These have culminated in last Thursday’s shameful fisticuffs on the floor of the House of Representatives and a shouting match the previous day at the APC caucus meeting at the Senate. Since June 9, both chambers have embarked on two recesses. First a two-week adjournment which they resumed from on June 23 only for them to embark on another month-long recess from June 25 to July 21, 2015. To my own mind, these lawmakers do not deserve to be paid for this period of vacation in the midst of national emergency when they ordinarily ought to hit the ground running. The APC, as it were, is holding the entire country to ransom by allowing its internal issues to affect the entire country. With all the leadership positions yet to be filled and committees yet to be established, how can the lawmakers perform their constitutional role of lawmaking, oversight, and confirmation of key appointments of the executive arm?

It is most unfortunate that the APC leadership was largely responsible for the crisis in the National Assembly by trying to impose candidates on its members in the parliament. Perhaps, if the party had not overreached itself by trying to meddle in the elections of the National Assembly leadership, the crisis would have been avoided. If the party must know the truth, it is just an election winning platform. Many of the elected members actually bankrolled their own electioneering and as such it will be difficult to sanction the erring members without incurring disastrous consequences to the party’s electoral fortunes in future elections.

- @jideojong