• With Poor Living Conditions, ‘Voters Revolution’ Is Imminent — Yoruba Ronu
• President’s Failure On Campaign Promises Not Enough To Write-off Tinubu — Afenifere Group
• Despite Challenges, APC Remains Preferred Party — Spokesperson
As the 2023 general elections draw near, there are indications that the fortunes of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) may be adversely affected by the high rate of inflation and the party’s inability to live up to its campaign promises to Nigerians in 2015.
The party is believed to have vanquished the goodwill that brought it to power and only lived on what many consider as ‘buying time’.
APC’s contract with Nigerians when it rode to power over seven years ago primarily revolved around ridding the country of corrupt practices, revamping the economy and tackling insecurity.
With less than nine months to the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term in office, divergent opinions across the country suggest that the well-being of the citizenry has not improved compared to what it was when the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) held sway between 1999 and 2015.
To be sure, in recent times, widespread insecurity, hyper-inflation, the rising cost of living, increasing national debt stock and dwindling revenue, among others, have diminished the standard of living of Nigerians.
Instructively, presidential candidates of other parties such as Peter Obi (Labour Party); Dumebi Kachikwu (African Democratic Congress); Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (New Nigeria Peoples Party); and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar (PDP) are feasting on the precarious socio-political and economic situation to demarket the ruling APC and its candidate.
More importantly, however, close observers of developments in national politics, say that the combination of public discontent with the APC-led government owing to its performance since taking the reins and the increasing difficulty of the average Nigerian to eke out a living and lead a good life may cause the party to lose the presidential election.
Referenced pointedly was the defeat of its candidate and incumbent governor of Osun State, Alhaji Isiaka Gboyega Oyetola by the PDP candidate, Ademola Adeleke, in the last weekend’s governorship election in the state.
Some states in the north, which hitherto used to be strongholds of the APC, were also identified as possible areas where the party might lose. Particularly, Kwankwaso’s resurgence in Kano and neighbouring states of Jigawa, Katsina, Kaduna and Bauchi states is now a source of grave concern for the party.
The spiraling inflationary trend, the free fall in the value of the naira to the dollar, the rise in the price of fuel due to failure by the government to fix the refineries, and the prospects of near zero earnings by the federating states from oil proceeds due to the debt profile of the government and sustenance of the subsidy regime have further exacerbated the anger among the electorate.
However, in a reaction, the spokesperson of the APC, Mr Felix Morka dismissed aspersions cast on the performance of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, saying it has lived up to its campaign promises.
He assured that the party is well positioned to defeat opposition political parties in spite of the challenges Nigerians are grappling with presently.
Frowning at members of the opposition who are making a mince meat of the APC over the challenges of security and the downturn in the economy, he blamed the ongoing war in Ukraine for the reverses suffered by the APC-led administration in recent times.
Said he: “There is nothing going on that takes away the APC prospects. The party and the government is working hard to address all of the concerns. It is not a proper situation that we have right now and it is not a proper situation anywhere at all. Governance and leading are challenges in themselves. Government is about solving problems. The more we solve problems, the more problems arise because we live in a modern society where challenges prompt up. In my own view, the government is really working very hard to address these challenges.
“All of the global economic systems forecast Nigeria to be on a good start. The economy is growing at over 3 per cent. Just a couple of days ago, the World Bank released data showing that the gross national income has actually grown over the last couple of years.
“But it doesn’t mean the economy is as robust as it should be. It doesn’t also mean that the government is not working because if it is not working all of those indicators would be negative, and they are not negative right now,” Morka said.
Also, the Convener of the APC Rebirth Group, Mr Aliyu Audu, who acknowledged that Kwankwaso constitutes a threat to the fortunes of the party, called on its leadership to reconcile aggrieved members ahead of the 2023 poll.
Raising concern over the downturn in the economy, he is, however, sure that the APC-led administration has the wherewithal to address the multifaceted challenges besetting the country.
Lamenting the defeat of the party in the just-concluded Osun State governorship poll, he harped on the need for the entrenchment of a reward system in the party ahead of the 2023 poll.
He said: “The party needs to genuinely accept that recognition and reward has been very poor and terrible. And it has to start not just accepting but to start working toward rectifying that. The party can’t be attractive if the people who are in it are not attractive.
“How can a former governor of Osun State be exempted from a committee set up to assist the Osun State governor to get re-elected? So, the party cannot really penalise party faithful, who have erred when the party management fails to sit up.”
WEIGHING in on the party’s electoral fortunes in the 2023 elections, some Southwest stakeholders also bemoaned how the APC presidential candidate, Tinubu, is going about his preparations for the election vis-à-vis the reactions of Yoruba leaders and elders to his campaign.
Some expressed fear over the way Tinubu seems to have personalised the project and indeed campaign process, especially with his now popular slogan ‘Emi l’okan,’ meaning ‘it is my turn to rule,’ when it should have been christened ‘the turn of the South to produce President Buhari’s successor.’
They said that the APC candidate would need to do a lot to convince the electorate as to why they should vote for the ruling party, which appeared to have failed in three key areas of taming corruption, strengthening security and economy.
But speaking with The Guardian, Chairman, Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), Wale Oshun, disagreed that some key stakeholders and elders might have abandoned or adopted a sit-down-look approach to Tinubu’s aspiration.
He noted that at this time, all concerned Nigerians who really care about the future and unity of the country are watching and studying which of the parties and candidates is best to take the nation out of its present state of hopelessness.
According to Oshun, “the perception that Tinubu personalised the presidency project may not be the correct interpretation of the slogan “Emi l’okan”. When he said that, it was as a response to the primary contest within the APC family.
“I believe as at the time he said it, he only meant to say that he is the most hardworking among the presidential aspirants in APC. We need to understand that he made the statement as an aspirant; he wasn’t the candidate then. He was pushing and forcing his aspiration. It was a contest within the party and he believed that he is the one that had done so much and he should be rewarded.
“It has to do with an aspirant pushing to become a candidate but you will notice that as soon as he won the ticket, he started going round to meet all his co-contestants, which is to say that he believed in the cohesion of working together. For the Yoruba people, as you said, know that they are not alone themselves and that every nationality is struggling for the highest position within the framework of the rotation that has been agreed upon. If you are talking of the north, the region has held power for eight years and there should be natural return of power to the south. But even within the South, there is competition among the Yoruba, Ibo and South-South. I don’t think Yoruba are staying away from Tinubu just as no one could say the Southwest leaders are at present with a particular candidate.”
On the perceived failure of APC to live up to expectation on security, corruption and economy, Oshun said the fact that the incumbent president is perceived to have failed in those aspects does not mean any other person aspiring to rule the country on its platform will also fail.
He also cautioned against introducing religious sentiments into the electioneering process, saying, “Southwest has never been known to place too much emphasis on religion even though it has become a very sensitive factor in our polity today.”
In another reaction, Secretary General, Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Dr. Kunle Olajide, expressed concern over the way the presidential race was being discussed at a personal level and at Tinubu’s level. He said that though the Yoruba is a very sophisticated ethnic group, I doubt if they are standing aloof from Tinubu.
He said there was no doubt the leaders were exercising a lot of caution in the making of claims. “Tinubu is one of us and he is entitled to his ambition because he has worked hard in the political arena to deserve aspiring to be the president. Nobody can deny that. Nevertheless, the Yoruba are a little bit cautious. When you are talking about the presidency of Nigeria, it is not what anybody could say that it belongs to me. Nigerians have to vote for him and because of this, there is a need to be careful. The former Lagos governor is more than qualified and I can assure you that the necessary Yoruba leaders and stakeholders would support him when necessary.”
Sharing a different thought, President, Yoruba Ronu Leadership Forum, Akin Malaolu, said the recently held gubernatorial election in Osun State, though heavily monetised and largely peaceful, also revealed that the people are conscious of their conditions of living and this to a very large extent resulted in ‘Voters Revolution’ on election day and particularly against the interest of the APC.
He said, “It was an election the APC could not have won for very many reasons bothering on political struggles between Bola Ahmed Tinubu and former Governor of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and Governor Gboyega Oyetola.”
He said the Osun election results may reverberate in the 2023 presidential election against Tinubu because the APC presidential candidate, who acted as the chief campaign officer for his party at the Osun election, lost control and descended into the use of vulgar language at the campaign rally held at the Osogbo Stadium. “These infractions made the people of Osun State revolt against his audacity by voting against the APC at the polls. We can therefore say without a hint of bias that the election results were near accurate and that Tinubu was also partly responsible for the defeat of Oyetola,” Malaolu said.