- ‘APC Governing, not Ruling Party’
As Nigerians vote out President Goodluck Jonathan, in a silent revolution to usher in no-nonsense General Muhammadu Buhari, members of the electorate look forward to true change and a departure from PDP’s primitive accumulation of wealth to the detriment of the people, writes Our Roving Correspondent.
Wednesday, February 6, 2013, heralded the beginning of the end of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) political ruler ship, when political gladiators from the Northern and Southwestern geo-political zones come together to forge a grand alliance against President Goodluck Jonathan and his corrupt cabinet. The birth of that historic and unprecedented political force two years ago, indeed signaled a new dawn which has no doubt changed the dynamics of Nigerian politics, hitherto highly dominated and monopolized by the PDP, since 1999.
Speaking shortly after the February 6, 2013 alliance was consummated, Alhaji Lai Mohammed who eventually became the All Progressives Congress (APC), spokesman declared:
“The time for the All Progressives Congress has come; the antics of one or two or three people within the group cannot affect the fate of APC. You see, the APC is about rescuing Nigeria and the way and manner that Nigerians have received the APC is signaling that APC is not a platform for food-is-ready politicians before whom he (the president) might try to dangle many carrots as possible. I challenge the PDP to play politics of idea, politics of integrity and politics of peace”.
What Lai Mohammed did not know when he made that milestone declaration two years ago was that resilient Nigerian voters tired, and badly battered by the insensitive administration of PDP from inception to the Jonathan era, would in 2015 give the APC a clear mandate to as Lai puts it ‘rescue the nation’ from the firm grip of a party that once boasted that it would remain in power for more than half a century, even though the PDP slogan is ‘Power to the People’.
At 72, the Daura-born retired General, Muhammadu Buhari, has emerged winner of Nigeria’s most keenly-contested presidential election, thus making him the first person to sack a sitting President in Nigeria. But the General’s victory did not come on platter of gold. While observers believe the prolonged failures of the Goodluck Jonathan administration constituted hazards for any candidate that the Peoples Democratic Party might have presented, it is Buhari’s integrity and fearlessness, which endeared the people to him and has paid off in the end.
Three times he contested the presidential election; three times he had lost out; perhaps to the rigging machine of the PDP. The fearless general almost gave up hope when shortly before the 2011 election, he wept bitterly after suspecting foul play.
Apart from the fact that the PDP had been entrenched, having been in power since 1999, the Jonathan administration was determined to stay in power, with some of its drivers demonstrating desperation as was played out by PDP presidential election agent and former Minister of the Niger Delta Elder Erubebe, who threw discipline and decorum to dogs during the final collation of the presidential election results at the International Conference Center Abuja, before the international community, an incident which glaringly brought to fore the maturity and comportment of INEC Chair, Professor Attahiru Jega.
Political observers believe that Buhari’s antecedents are replete with ups and downs as he carried a baggage that had made his journey to Aso Rock tough and rough. His political opponents were simply not prepared to accept whether or not his military regime had some pluses in terms of the discipline it wanted to instill in the social structure.
The PDP as a party was aware of how tough the Buhari candidature would be. This is evident in statements made by some of its leaders when Buhari won the presidential primary of the APC. Indeed, a Jonathan would do all he could to prevent Buhari from emerging as his opponent in the first place. But somehow, the man who actually had no money to compete with his opponents in the APC dusted the likes of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and Governors Rabiu Kwakwanso and Rochas Okorocha of Kano and Imo respectively to become the nation’s man of the moment.
The time of the General has come. Nigerians see in Buhari, a leader who has preached what he preaches in terms of his stance against corruption. Jonathan ironically helped him when, several times, he laboured to teach the world the difference between stealing and corruption, and the fact that Nigerian politicians are not as corrupt as many people think. If anything, it was during the extra time of the presidential campaign that Jonathan reluctantly promised to fight corruption but not stealing.
Born in 1942, Buhari has been a head of state, a minister of petroleum and head of the Petroleum Trust Fund, but he did not come out rich as many of his contemporaries are. This is why his supporters who chose him in the election genuinely did so, firmly believing that he will not steal their money. That is also why when the PDP was campaigning that Buhari would send people to prison, many voters were very happy because they know that most Nigerian politicians are supposed to be behind bars.
Pastor Tunde Bakare who served as Buhari’s running mate in the 2011 presidential election, put the Buhari factor succinctly when he said that he believed in Buhari’s capacity to deliver, but that he was afraid of the environment in which the General would work.
General Buhari has, whether his opponents like or not, come to be the symbol of change that the country needs greatly. While receiving his certificate of return from INEC Chair Professor Jega, the President-elect promised Nigerians that the change they have been yearning for has come, pointing out that his victorious party, the APC, would rather operate as the ‘governing party, not the ‘ruling party’ that the PDP called itself.