CHIBUZO UKAIBE, captures the back and forth between the two major parties in Nigeria, APC and PDP over the recent United States elections and the siege on Capitol building.
The recent siege at the United States Capitol building as the Congress made to legitimise the victory of President elect, Joe Biden, left the world in shock and disbelief.
For many countries, even the western democracies, the prospect of such occurrence in democracy capital of the world was surreal, this is in spite of the concerns arising from the uncertainties that had become of US political space since President Donald Trump assumed office in 2016.
As such, it was not surprising that the global reaction quickly swung from disbelief to scathing condemnation. Expectedly, at the center of such condemnation was President Trump. Still, disturbing as the onslaught against the Capitol was, the silver-lining that emerged from the ugly episode didn’t go unnoticed.
While political watchers have been mindful of the unwavering role of state institutions in the US in light of the influence of political actors before, during and after the recent elections, the ability of the Congress to fend off attempts to inhibit it from carrying out its responsibility has been instructive.
Although, the partisan leanings of the lawmakers on the election outcome remained, they were united in defending the condemning the symbolic attack on their edifice but upholding the sanctity of democratic beliefs.
In Nigeria, the upset at the Capitol building also elicited condemnation. And the two major political parties, All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), didn’t hesitate to condemn the act. But, no sooner than they deplored the incident, they cashed in on the drama in a bid win a political/moral war of sorts.
Tackling each other against the backdrop of the incident, the two parties, accused each other of not allowing democratic institutions breathe.
Although the National Assembly in Nigeria has not experienced the magnitude of the onslaught as was seen at Capitol building by non lawmakers, some pundits have argued that certain incidences bothering on the snatching of the mace which has occurred under the watch of both parties, and the attempts to deprive lawmakers entry into the Assembly premises are insightful.
However, the PDP, no sooner than the Capitol building incident occurred, fired the first salvo against the APC, lambasting the governing party for stifling institutions in Nigeria.
The party said the triumph of democratic institutions in the handling of issues related to the United States presidential election has again highlighted the demands by Nigerians on the Buhari administration to allow institutions of democracy to function.
The PDP also noted that the US election served as a strong lesson to APC leaders that no matter how desperate they seek to manipulate the system, the will of the people and the constitution will prevail in the end.
The party further asserted that the insistence of the US judiciary and the legislature on the provisions of their nation’s constitution, especially in resisting those who are desperate to hold on to office even after losing an election, reinforces the triumph of the collective will of a people through their system.
The national publicity secretary of PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan said “Whereas our institutions of democracy including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies were brazenly manipulated by the APC in the 2019 elections, the United States experience strengthens the determination by Nigerians to stand up against such manipulations ahead of 2023.”
The PDP therefore called on all Nigerians including compatriots in INEC, the judiciary, the legislature, security forces, faith-based organizations, the media, civil society groups and other political parties to join forces with it in the quest to reposition and strengthen institutions for the task ahead.
“It is instructive to state that this is the only way to reposition our nation on the path of good governance, political stability, national cohesion and economic prosperity.
“Never again should individuals be allowed to manipulate our system, denigrate our constitution, lie to and incite unsuspecting citizens, promote violence, division and killings; compromise our security agencies, invade our courts and intimidate our judiciary, assault our National Assembly and trample on our laws, all in their inordinate bid to foist their selfish political interests.
“There is no overstressing the fact that for the strong institutions put in place by patriotic leaders of the United States, that nation would have been thrown into terrible turmoil or succumb to a chaotic order that would have no regard for the law and the will of the people.
“Our party therefore urges the Buhari Presidency to check all acts that weaken our institutions and encourage the manipulation of our security, judiciary, legislative and electoral bodies.
“Mr. President should take steps to ensure reforms that would strengthen our system, including ending all acts of nepotism in appointments into such sensitive institutions.
“The American example equally underpins the demand for public officers, particularly the APC leadership in the National Assembly, to begin to pay greater loyalty to our country and her interest over the parochial interest of their party or the executive arm.
“The patriotism displayed by American Senate Leader, Mitch McConnell, in rejecting the attempt to undermine their nation’s electoral system is a direct call on APC leaders in the National Assembly against the unpatriotic practice of putting narrow partisan interests above the national interest.
“Moreover, the APC must stop being a community of people with common selfish interest and desperation for personal enrichment, who are not ready to stand up for the truth in the face of acts of injustice, deprivation and callousness against the Nigerians people and our constitutional order,” the party added.
Expectedly, the APC fired back. While it had a different take on PDP’s emphasis on strong institutions, it noted that the opposition party has no moral authority to pontificate on the matter.
Condemning the events in the US, APC said over time, national secretary of Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) of APC, Sen. John J. Akpan Udoedehe, said “It is settled that strong institutions are fundamental to the sustenance of democracies. However, this US election saga strongly underscores the fact that the integrity of the country’s leader essentially complements the workings of these institutions.”
Udoedehe who recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari contested and lost elections a couple of times and followed the process through to the Supreme Court on all accounts, stressed that it is an outstanding credential of a true democrat.
“Upon ultimately gaining victory in 2015, the APC-led administration has carried out fundamental reforms to strengthen our institutions. For instance: Non-interference in the functions of INEC. The APC has contested elections; won some, lost some without splitting hairs. Infact, at some point the APC lost over 5 states to the PDP, yet we allowed democracy to prevail. We have remained resolute in our belief that in every electoral contest, popular will must prevail.
“This is a far-cry from the days of the do-or-die politics of PDP, where civilians took control of the security apparatus to subvert the people’s will and determine the outcome of elections.
“Electoral reform is a core plank of the programs of the APC-led administration and a legacy that Mr. President has promised to bequeath to Nigerians.
“Other institutional reforms include the excision of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) and inauguration subsequently by Mr. President, as advised by the EGMONT GROUP, to eliminate the siphoning of Local Government funds and to entrench financial autonomy for local government Councils in Nigeria. Recall that successive PDP governments rejected local government autonomy which hitherto encouraged undue interference in the running of local government administration by state governments and was linked to restiveness among the youth.
“The signing into law by Mr. President in May 2020, of “the Executive Order No. 10 of 2020 for the implementation of Financial autonomy of State Legislatures and State judiciaries and other related matters” is a bold statement on institutional reforms. These are aimed at strengthening these institutions. When they are financially independent, then they can be firm and fair in their decisions.
“Petroleum industry reforms particularly the deregulation of the oil and gas downstream sector is also worthy of mention.
“Therefore the statements by the PDP are merely designed to gain political mileage and only reinforces the disinformation on all issues, which the PDP constantly and laboriously pursues at all times. The positions taken by PDP Governors against these institutional reforms are in the public domain.
“Politics should not be allowed to overshadow policies. We urge the PDP, especially their governors to show bi-partisanship in supporting all the sectoral reforms being initiated by Mr. President for the benefit of Nigerians,” he said.
However the Presidential candidate in the 2011 general election and director-general of the Change Ambassadors of Nigeria (CAN) Prof. Chris Nwaokobia, has dismissed the claims of both parties.
In response akin to Prof Wole Soyinka’s reaction to the present administration, Nwaokobia said, “I really do not want to talk about the insurrection in the US and the dance macabre of the two shameless Parties in Nigeria. The Behemoth called the PDP and the Leviathan called the APC are Siamese twins lacking in decency and dignity.”
Political analyst and lawyer, Mike Obiekwe, noted “instead of both parties to learn from the experiences in the US, they are busy playing politics over the matter.
“But I am not surprised at their action. Thankfully Nigeria now has a clear experience of how both parties managed our institutions. Nigerians have also seen how strong men dominated the political space during their tenures and the impact it had on the polity. So rather than engage in these back and forth, we need both parties to do more reflection on their performances in ways that will truly help institutions perform the way they should,” he said.