New Telegraph

Success or failure: APC and campaign for 2023

The Africa Editor of US Financial Times, David Pilling, in an opinion article in the January 31, 2022 edition poses the question, ‘What is Nigeria’s Government For?’

 

With all the attributes of being a politically sponsored promo, campaigning against the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, Pilling’s article signposts what is to come in the months ahead leading to the 2023 general elections.

 

Chock-full sentiments, laden with inauspicious interpretation of Nigerian reality aimed at influencing public opinion will dominate both local and international media. Very conveniently, indices of economic performance in the last seven years will hardly feature largely because the aim is to whitewash the government of President Buhari as a failure.

 

With very harsh conclusions of ‘Nigeria has sleepwalked closer to disaster,’ there is no empirical evidence to support the claims of failure other than poor attempts to appeal to the emotions of innocent Nigerians.

 

To be fair to Pilling, the only two attempts to present indices of economic reality is that the federal budget is about $30 billion and ‘it takes an estimated $2 billion to get a president elected.’

While he is right that the size of Nigeria’s federal budget is about $30 billion, the estimated $2 billion to get a president elected is largely speculative. It is simply aimed at rubbishing Nigerian democracy, which is why he made the insinuation that ‘those who pay will expect to be paid back.’

 

Maybe since the US is the model of democracy Nigeria is copying, Pilling should have volunteered information about the cost of electing a US president and how charitable organisations fund campaigns to elect US Presidents without expecting any pay back. The disrespect for truth and common logic is very glaring.

Otherwise, how can Nigeria be ‘sleepwalking’ under President Buhari but ‘if Yemi Osinbajo, the technocratic vice-president, were miraculously to make it through the campaign thicket and emerge as president, the hearts of Nigerian optimists would beat a little faster.’

 

What distinguishes Vice President Osinbajo from President Buhari in that one can be good and the other bad? Is Vice President Osinbajo not discharging his responsibility based on approvals and directives of President Buhari?

 

Isn’t his (Vice President Osinbajo) so-called success not simply a reflection of the confidence President Buhari vested in him, on the one hand, and his loyalty to the President, on the other?

It is simply very damaging to Vice President Osinbajo for anyone to seek to project him as a good person while President Buhari and the government he serves are bad. It is even more grievous to condemn Nigerian aspirants for the presidential race as ‘familiar candidates… mostly recycled old men.’

 

If we condemn presidential candidates in Nigeria as ‘recycled old men’, the world should celebrate the young presidential newcomers in the most successful democracies, including the United States.

 

It is quite contemptuous and an abuse of privilege for anyone who claims to support the development of democracy in Nigeria to dishonestly make the kind of unhelpful remark made by Pilling.

 

Perhaps, it is important to admit that Pilling is only responding to the unfortunate reality that while President Buhari and other Nigerians in his government are busy initiating responses to Nigeria’s intractable challenges, many Nigerians, especially some leaders saddled with the responsibility of steering the affairs of APC have become overconfidence to the point of imagining that there is no need to start strategising for the 2023 elections. So much time is being lost debating whether APC is ready for the February 26, 2022 National Convention.

 

While as APC we have frozen ourselves, others have moved on and are already  planning the defeat of APC. Beyond Pilling and his likes outside the country, PDP leaders are daily mobilising for 2023.

 

A party, which performed so badly, has suddenly found a new voice that is very loud. As APC, with all that the government of President Buhari is doing and many of our state governments, most times, our voices are only louder when we are distressed. Sadly, most causes of our distress come from normal political contests, which suggests incapacity on the part of some of our leaders.

Problems of capacity are largely a reflection of poor leadership recruitment strategy, which is not peculiar to APC. It is more pronounced now in APC because being the governing party at federal level elude party leaders and members with a strong self-belief of high probability for electoral victory.

 

This was the case in PDP before 2015, which largely facilitated their defeat. APC leaders must wake up to the reality of preparing for 2023 campaigns. Without good preparations, the APC campaign for 2023 will be reactive and defensive.

 

PDP leaders and their international sympathisers such as Pilling will continue to set the tune for the 2023 campaigns, which will continue to present APC and its government under the leadership of President Buhari as a failure.

 

We must appeal to APC leaders, especially the leadership of the APC Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) under the leadership of His Excellency Mai Mala Buni to free the party from the current high level of uncertainty surrounding the February 26, 2022 APC National Convention.

 

It is important that the convention is allowed to produce the needed excitement around all the contests at the convention.

 

Being the National Convention, it should be the highest opportunity to celebrate the party and begin to mobilise every party member to recommit himself/ herself ahead of the 2023 electoral contests. Without doubt, preparing for 2023 electoral contests for APC, being the governing party, come with a lot of challenges.

 

As a party, APC must not put itself in a difficult position of campaigning based on propaganda, which in the end will seek to dismiss challenges facing the country and rationalise every action of governments controlled by the party. APC leaders must recognise challenges and objectively assess initiatives taken by governments.

 

Where there are manifest weaknesses recognise and accept shortcomings as reflection of commitment to remedy the situation. It is only when there is such commitment that party leaders will be able to win the confidence of Nigerians and to that extent win their support.

 

Winning the support of Nigerians should be the orientation of the APC campaign for 2023. APC leaders must remove every illusion that being the governing party will guarantee electoral victory. In fact, being a governing party comes with high disadvantages because power is always unpopular.

 

Part of what we need to remind APC leaders, ordinary members and by extension Nigerians, is that as a democracy that is gradually stabilising with more than twenty years’ experience, the question of issue-based campaigning should no longer be hypothetical.

 

When PDP and their sympathisers such as Pilling are broadcasting that APC and its government under President Buhari has failed, we must as loyal party members and patriotic Nigerians be able to prove that, to the contrary, we have succeeded with empirical evidence.

 

For instance, what has been the size of the federal budget during the sixteen years when PDP ruled this country as compared to the $30 billion today? Has it stagnated, shrunk or expanded?

 

What is the ratio of capital to recurrent budgets under PDP as compared to today? lLukman, a freelance APC campaigner, writes from Abuja

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