By Azibola Omekwe
The All Progressives Congress has created its own cloud that relieves it of obeying the law. It has evolved from being an activist preaching the sanctity of the constitution to one that is not bordered about constitutional matters.
The party inside the APC (the others are mere joiners), Action Congress of Nigeria, was roundly rejected at the polls in many of the South-west states where it was domiciled. In fact, at the end of the 2003 polls, it had only one state, Lagos. By 2007, it succeeded in playing up ethnic sentiments to its own advantage. This ethnicity mantra is the twin- brother of corruption in Nigeria. It has confined Nigeria to the nadir of development since we were brought together in 1914. It is at the heart of the perdition of Nigeria. It would be ignoble for a political party to use it as a pavement to power.
After the polls of 2007, it was beaten in Ekiti, Osun and Edo states. The party inside APC rushed to court and had the results of these states upturned for it to harvest what it could not get on the ground. PDP, as it is wont to and in keeping with the tradition of the constitution, sheepishly handed over power to ACN. APC that is yet to convince everybody that she is the original owner of the name APC poached on the Peoples Democratic Party again by receiving five governors from the PDP. APC then took the form of an autocrat by issuing commands from her headquarters. The legislators who fell under the emperors of those states had no choice but to follow their masters.
APC was so proprietary in her actions that she stalled the screening of federal ministers and as if that was not enough, she decided to dare Nigeria by commanding her legislators in the National Assembly not to have anything to do with the 2014 budget. It was a well-choreographed perfidy. Nigerians would eventually turn their anger on the government. Unlike in the days of the military, the present government spends money that is constitutionally appropriated and so if the National Assembly were not part of the budgetary process, there would be no money to spend and Nigeria would grind to a halt. It was only when Nigerians began to discern the machinations of the segregated fellowship called APC, and their motive to reap politically through the suffering of the masses that they eventually cooperated for the budget to be passed in the second quarter of the year.
Defections from the PDP culminated in a court case which APC pleasantly rushed to; a familiar terrain to them. After all, they are the greatest beneficiaries of court pronouncements. To cut the story short, a Federal High Court in Abuja declared their seats vacant and categorically said: “the defendants are therefore not competent to vote or contribute to any proceedings in the House of Representatives” (Emphasis is mine). The judgement is straightforward. They are no longer members of the National Assembly. Expectedly, the whole world waited to see APC issue another powerful command from her headquarters, a quorum of former ACN chiefs, for her new converts to leave the House because of her unrivalled penchant for the rule of law. But their fluidity in applying the law sufficed greatly this time around. APC headquarters cried foul and suggested loudly that the National Judicial Council should do something about the judge. But that is the NJC they had found useless in Rivers State simultaneously. The members of APC from PDP in the House of Representatives swore unilaterally that they would never leave the House. Is this a regrettable lesson to the likes of Celestine Omehia, Engr. Segun Oni, et al? The senators in the upper chamber have again gone mute. None is any longer interested in David Mark reading his or her letter signifying decamping to APC. It was constitutionally up to the Senate President and Nigerians’ abiding responsibility to declare the seats of the senators vacant. The letter, its content, decampment have completely evaporated in the Senate. It was the interlude of this reality that made the APC to remember that Nigerians were suffering that made the budget to see the light of day. The message is clear: APC is self-sufficient when it comes to application of the constitution. We can now expediently forget the judiciary so that we do not overheat the polity.
The APC is relentless in carving a niche for itself about the constitution. She has fitfully decided to call to question the crude oil swap deal for refined oil that the NNPC entered with some indigenous firms since it could hardly meet local demand alone. The APC leadership also wants an investigation on the Shell assets’ bid process even though the process is still midstream. Without holding briefs for any company doing oil business in Nigeria, I understand that in trying to keep with a steady and continuous supply of refined petroleum products to meet local demand, the NNPC deemed it necessary, as it is also done in other climes, to negotiate the crude oil for refined products swap arrangement. APC has, however, gone public that the companies under mention are incompetent. The matter is so laughable that even Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin, Chairman, House Committee on Finance, a defector from PDP to APC, discountenanced the position of his party. Truth is, instead of asking him to vacate his sit in the House, they kept quiet over it. But since it is now handy for them to traduce government policy so that in the event of shortfall in the supply of refined oil, they would still rush to the public that the government is insensitive to the plight of Nigerians. In whatever default it is, it would be win-win for the APC.
One finds the alarm raised by APC strange when it is viewed in the light of government’s stance to encourage local content participation and expertise in Africa’s biggest economy. This is a world-class phenomenon. The whole of Japanese foetus in technology was a piracy from Europe and North America. It was a national race then. One of my favourite countries apart from Nigeria, China, did the same. Around 1996, they could hardly construct an interchange. In desperation to copy others in terms of technology, and also employing protectionist practices, they made it a requirement for all foreign contractors to source sub-contractors within Chinese toddling companies reeling with substandard products. Before a contractor could boast of three turnovers, they had already weaned a Chinese aping like them and sometimes better. A cursory look at Taleveras and Aiteo shows that they are world-class indigenous companies well-grounded in refined oil services, storage and distribution. I can state at once that anywhere could be an origin for them to probe further in the oil industry. Since they succeeded tremendously without any big man from Abuja, it would be in the interest of the country and an encouragement to other local peers if they can be given the jersey for crude oil exploration. Nigeria’s roaring economy requires indigenous participation that has proven its onions in its field of specialisation. The caution should rather be that they must prove that if they are given eggs, they can make the omelette.
Nigerians must also hear this: the Presidency called for an emergency National Security Council meeting in the wake of the recent Nyanya bomb blast. The mode of communication to the states is usually through the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation or presidential spokesperson. However, the Kwara State governor, a newly baptised member of APC, claimed the presidency unofficially contacted his chief detail—which seems strange to me—that the meeting had been cancelled. The question is: how come the procedure for conveying to him to attend a meeting concerning the security of Nigeria would pass through a chief detail instead of the official protocol? Are they not trying to call a dog a bad name to hang it? And the echo of this faulty procedure cackled pitch high that other governors of APC extraction would not attend the meeting in Abuja. We are now educated enough on why APC governors could not attend the meeting in Abuja. The Presidency has clarified that the meeting was exclusively for PDP governors and the APC governors were not invited.
The security problem playing out shows how important it is for our politicians to come together, irrespective of political divide, to solve it. The Nyanya disaster in Abuja is still fresh on our minds. But as things stand now, APC is bent on routing the government by punishing Nigerians. They did so with the budget. They did so in ministerial nomination. Their politicking is becoming for the highest bidder. A chieftain of APC, Alhaji Bello Masari, told the whole world that APC would follow a transparent process in registering her members. That process has already booted out Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa who alongside his supporters contributed huge resources during the birth of APC in Adamawa State. He has been shown the exit door for a governor.
In Kano State, Mallam Shekarau who nurtured ANPP for almost eight years before she dissolved to get married to a husband, ACN, in a new home APC, was bluntly asked to leave for the governor of Kano State. Wherever you go the story is the same. The governor of Kwara State who had had big battles to settle with ACN has now transmuted to become a saint now that he is in APC. Governor Rotimi Amaechi, one of the greatest beneficiaries of constitutionality in the history of Nigeria, is so bold to traduce the template that brought him to power that he has decided to appoint a Chief Judge for the state against the process of the judiciary. In the recent APC ward congresses conducted nationwide, it was blood, destruction and sorrow. Like the national chairman of PDP advised, the doors of the docile PDP are open for those caught in this island of subversion.
At this juncture, I must congratulate Nigerians especially its leadership for bringing Nigeria to become the 26th biggest economy on earth and the number one in Africa. Its position in the world had been the dream of Africa’s leading lights like the late Dr Kwameh Nkrumah, Dauda Jawara of The Gambia, Senghor Leopold of Senegal, and our own Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. They had dreamt, wished and sacrificed that Africa should take her place in the comity of nations and had always looked up to Nigeria. Today Nigeria has pleasantly displaced many countries to stand at 26th. The acclaimed vision 2020 is no doubt going to be surpassed.
Hear what Fitch, a global rating agency said about Nigeria: “Nigeria’s economy presently stands at ‘BB’ and the worst it can depreciate in the long term is ‘BB-‘”. This is fantastic. Nigeria is gradually shifting away from being a single product economy to a diversified one. The achievement of the non-oil sector has increased to about 80%. Services have increased from 30% to about 55%. Nigerian sovereign and overall external balance sheet is in surplus. Debt service portfolio (the ability to meet her liabilities) and external liquidity is well above average. Her debt liability is very low at about 14%. The above indicators are the fundamentals of our economy. These are irrefutable, which I thought the media and the opposition would take to market place, but no. Since she is desperate for power, it is impossible for the government to ever do a good thing. We must guard against smouldering such strong pleasing economic gains. Fitch warned that excessive politicking, Boko Haram, which they admitted is highly localised, and burgeoning government overheads can reverse the gains in the economy.
Nigeria is doing well economically without doubt.
–– Omekwe is a member of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly