Ahead of the 2015 general election, Nigeriaâ€™s two biggest political parties are abandoning their duty to the people for needless political propaganda, writes Vincent Obia
For All Progressives Congress and Peoples Democratic Party nowadays, it seems, mudslinging is no longer just a pastime, it is a profession, a life and death contest in which no one wants to receive a thrashing. Mutual tirades with slick allegations rooted in heavily spun truths are now their stock-in-trade.
The countryâ€™s biggest political parties have of late busied themselves with forceful deployment and pursuit of mutual invectives at the expense of society. They are abandoning their fundamental role of devising means of improving the lives of the great majority of Nigerians. From time to time, each instigates arguments that seek to divert the attention of everyone from the troubles of the country.
In February, the two dominant parties squared off on the issue of Jonathanâ€™s centenary speech following APCâ€™s quarrel with the number of paragraphs the president had devoted to the killing of school children in Yobe State.
Before then, there was the hullabaloo about an allegation by the interim national chairman of APC, Chief Bisi Akande, that President Goodluck Jonathan was running a â€œkindergarten presidency.â€
Not long ago, APC also raised the alarm over an alleged plan by the PDP-led Federal Government impose a total state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States, which it described as a smokescreen to remove the democratically-elected governors of these APC states.
It was the turn of the ruling PDP recently, when it accused APC of sponsoring the insurgency in some parts of the country. PDPâ€™s ground was basically alleged comments by some APC chieftains: General Muhammadu Buhariâ€™s alleged call on his supporters to go on rampage after losing the 2011 presidential election; Buhariâ€™s parable of the â€œbloody monkey and baboon in respect of the 2015 election;â€ threats of violence should Jonathan contest the 2015 presidential election; APCâ€™s comments last year that it would end insurgency in 100 days if elected into the presidency, and whatnot.
PDP also launched into the ludicrous. It accused APC of parading a manifesto patterned after the Janjaweed ideology, where â€œno woman, no matter how brilliant, should be heard or seen.â€ Janjaweed is a militia of the Sudanese Arab tribes that operates in Sudan and parts of Chad. PDP cited APCâ€™s criticisms of Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; Minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Diezani Alison Madueke; and Director General of Securities and Exchange Commission, Arunma Oteh, as reason for associating the opposition party with the Sudanese militia.
Well, APC dismissed the claims by PDP as lacking substance. It said the argument had been instigated merely to divert attention from raging tensions over the Nigerian Immigration Service recruitment tragedy and the alleged failure of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to remit $20 billion to the Federation Account.
Not long ago, PDP also accused APC of being a party bent on using religion and ethnicity to balkanise Nigeria. Its basis was statements by some Islamic leaders purporting the domination of APCâ€™s interim national executive committee by Muslims. APC denied the allegation of religious bias, saying it is illogical since its 35-man interim leadership is almost equally split between the adherents of the two major religions â€“ 18 Muslims and 17 Christians â€“ and cuts across all ethnic lines. But that debate engaged the country for a considerable part of January.
Some of what both political parties have alleged are true, some are debatable, but all of them are self-centred and hardly aimed at solving any problems for the country.
It was curious that PDP chose a time when the whole country was mourning and fretting over the ignominious deaths of job seekers and maiming of hundreds others at a mindlessly exploitative NIS recruitment exercise to release its â€œdossierâ€ on APC. All the issues raised by the ruling party in the attempt to link APC with insurgency were always in the public domain; they were not the result of any painstaking research.
Yet, even though no one can directly accuse him of involvement in the insurgency in the north, which seemed to intensify since the period after the 2011 presidential election, comments by Buhari and some of his associates before and after that poll had suggested an irreverent and rebellious attitude to the country and its government. Buhari was presidential candidate of Congress for Progressive Change â€“ a major partner in the APC coalition â€“ in that election.
However, it is not hard to spot the sole aim of self-aggrandisement in PDPâ€™s decision to resurrect the matter at the time it did. If the ruling party had any serious feelings for victims of the 2011 post-election crisis or harboured sincere thoughts of preventing such mayhem in the future, it would have ensured the implementation of the report of the Sheikh Ahmed Lemu panel that investigated the crisis. Over 800 persons died in the violence.
The 22-member Lemu panel on the post-election violence, which was set up by Jonathan on May 11, 2011, had while submitting its report on November 9, 2011 said, â€œThe first and probably most important causeâ€ of the violence was the failure of governments since the Fourth Republic to implement the recommendations of the various committees set up to investigate unpleasant occurrences at critical junctures in the life of the country.
The Jonathan administration has yet to implement the Lemu committee report. In April last year, the Islamic scholar declined his appointment into the federal government amnesty committee for repentant Boko Haram insurgents due to the governmentâ€™s failure to implement the recommendations.
It seems only clear that both APC and PDP are singing from the same song sheet of selfish ambition ahead of the 2015 general election. Public sentiment is against this egotistic pursuit by the countryâ€™s biggest political parties. What will make the difference for the people is a sincere attempt to articulate and pursue issues that would improve their general wellbeing.