Nigeria’s Leading Political Party, All People’s Congress (APC) has rebuked Oppoisition party, the Peoples Democratic Party and his presidential candidate in the last general election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on Tuesday, over comments General Muhammadu Buhari’s economic policies in 2019.
Atiku, who, in a statement in Abuja, described 2019 as an unsuccessful year, said Nigerians faced increased insecurity, rising unemployment and economic hardship in the year.
Also, the PDP said 2019 remained the worst year for democracy in Nigeria, but the APC stated that the regime embarked on massive infrastructural development and economic diversification after the opposition party’s failed 16 years.
The PDP was in power from 1999 to 2015, when it was defeated by the APC.
Besides being an election year, when the incumbent, Major General Buhari, defeated his rivals, including Atiku, for the first time in the history of the country a Chief Justice of Nigeria, was in 2019 suspended over false assets declaration.
On January 25, Buhari suspended the immediate past CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, who was convicted by the Code of Conduct Tribunal in April.
2019 also witnessed the continuous detention of the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Sheik Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, and the arrest of the publisher of SahraReporters publisher, Omoyele Sowore, on August 3 ahead of his planned #RevolutuonNow protest.
Sowore and a former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), were freed last week after an editorial published by The PUNCH on December 11.
Also, a former Governor of Abia State, Senator Orji Kalu, was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment on December 5 for N7.1bn fraud after a trial that lasted for 12 years.
It was a year of more job losses, worsening economic instability – Atiku
On Tuesday, Atiku, in his assessment of 2019, said, “I do not share the sentiment when some people claim that the 2019 was a successful year for Nigerians. Such a sentiment is reductionist and does the harm of making us have a false sense of victory.
“The bitter truth is that Nigeria is still in the throes of economic instability, with more people losing jobs and the attendant outcome of more children being out of school and more families having hard times in accessing basic needs of life.”
He asked Nigerians to stand together in 2020 with renewed vigour and determination to battle insecurity.
Atiku stated that Nigerians must challenge the inadequacies that made the country became the global headquarters of extreme poverty.
He added that they must also work hard and fast enough to eliminate the scourge of out-of-school children in the country.
Atiku said, “The problems of extreme poverty and scant investments in education play huge roles in fuelling the problems of violent extremism that we spent the past decade contending with. We cannot win the fight against terrorism if we do nothing to reduce or eliminate poverty and illiteracy.
“The reality of this new decade requires of us to recalibrate our approaches and to pursue some tough choices. If failure is not an option, then we must let go of our egos and conveniences.”
The former vice president said in this new decade, Nigerians must start to do things differently if they were honest about their desire for a better and prosperous future.
He said that government must rethink many of its policies that were “sinking more people into the abyss of extreme poverty.”
Atiku said, “It is therefore high time we caused a re-jig of economic policies that will promote an expansion of the economy and create jobs opportunities aplenty.
“I wish to restate that our collective call for the rule of law and our history about the struggle for democratic rule did not envisage a situation where judicial pronouncements would be worthless than the paper upon which they are rendered.”
He added, “It is a bad advertisement for the country and its democracy if declarations made by the courts are not respected without the executive arm of government agreeing to same.
“Any democracy is not worth the appellation if the principle of separation of powers is not ingrained in it. In the New Year, government should not pretend to be democratic, but rather act according to the fundamentals of a democracy.
“Above all, I expect that in the New Year, there will be a better observance of the rule of law and greater respect for citizens’ democratic rights.”
Also, the PDP vice presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi, in a New Year message by his media aide, Valentine Obienyem, said the prevailing hardship indicated failure of governance.
He urged the political leaders to refocus their economic polices for growth and development, especially in education and job creation through small and medium scale enterprises.
2019, worst year for Nigeria’s democracy – PDP
On his part, the PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus, said 2019 remained the worst year for democracy in Nigeria.
He stated that the worst form of vandalism was done to democracy and the rule of law in Nigeria in 2019.
The PDP chairman said, in a statement by his media aide, Ike Abonyi, that there was rape done to democracy in 2019 during the February and March general elections.
He said, “The use of military in the election matters and the intimidation and harassment of democratic institutions that were climaxed in the burning to death of Mrs Salome Acheju Abu in Kogi State last November continue to raise concern over citizens right to vote under this regime.”
Buhari, a dictator, in a democrat’s toga – PDP
Secondus said, “With the judiciary caged, the legislature ready and willing to rubber stamp whatever comes from the executive, the media and the opposition intimidated, Nigerians should await the fang of a dictator wearing the apparel of a democrat.
“The huge loan demands passing through the National Assembly without scrutiny coupled with the accompanying high taxation bills from the executive, 2020 portend further hard times for Nigerians.”
He said, “2020 is going to be tough with the high level of corruption already rated by experts to be worse under this administration as they continue to look away to reported cases of fraud involving high profile members of the regime.
“Added to this is the ineptitude that has engulfed the oil sector and various agencies of government as square pegs are put in round holes at the expense of merits.”
He, however, urged Nigerians to refuse to be deterred by the alleged impunity and provocative attitude of the ruling APC.
The National Chairman appealed to all critical stakeholders in the nation’s democracy particularly the media and civil society groups to remain alert to their responsibilities and hold APC administration accountable in 2020.
He also warned that Buhari’s open visa policy was curious and had dubious political undertone.
Buhari has achieved a lot after 16 years of PDP’s failure – APC
But the APC dismissed PDP and Atiku’s criticisms. The APC , in a statement on Tuesday, said Buhari in 2019 tackled challenges in the country.
It said, “With our country’s landmark return to the January-December budget cycle – a feat achieved by the APC-led National Assembly and executive after 16 years of the PDP failure – Nigerians are assured that the ongoing massive infrastructural development covering the rail, road, agriculture, aviation, port, education and health sectors will be given further fillip.
“The President Muhammadu Buhari government is vigorously tackling and solving the social, economic and security challenges our country faces one after the other.
“Government’s successes in plugging revenue leakages, checking violent extremism, oil sector reforms, anti-corruption, economic diversification, curbing waste, infrastructure development among other achievements are profound testimonies.
“To our teeming members and supporters, our great party remains a progressive, strong, formidable and popular political unit delivering pro-people policies and repositioning our country through our elected and appointed officials at federal, state and local government levels.
“We urge our members to support and cooperate with the recently-constituted National Reconciliation Committee which is empowered to address grieviances of party members and resolve existing conflicts, all with a view to fostering unity and oneness within the party across the country,” the statement added.
On its part, the Buhari Media Organisation said the claims by Atiku that 2019 was not a successful year for Nigeria were not well-thought-out.
The Chairman of the pro-Buhari group, Niyi Akinsiju, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said his submissions were not backed by facts and figures.
He said, “His submissions are not well-thought out. They are not backed by facts and figures. The third quarter 2019 GDP figure of Nigeria showed Nigeria the sixth highest in the world and the third in Africa.”
A civil society organisation, the Campaign for Democracy, said that the Federal Government in 2019 disappointed Nigerians by its disrespect for the rule of law, its increase of the Value Added Tax and other indices which did not make the year go down well.
The CD President, Mr Usman Abdul, in an interview on Tuesday, noted that it took the persistent cries of Nigerians and the civil society to secure the release of former National Security Adviser, Col Sambo Dasuki (retd.), after four years and convener of RevolutionNow, Omoyele Sowore, adding that Nigeria was still far from good governance and ideal democracy.