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The Edo aftershock: A denuded apc must now willy nilly exhume and activate its El-Rufai Committee report


Femi Orebe

As you read this, the PDP we all hollered was dead and finished in 2015, now controls 16 states to APC ‘s 19, even as the latter is battling internal schism in nearly all its state chapters. That is what it has come to since the President, and leader of the party, preferred a sit- down look position on matters concerning the party  until it comes  to a head, as in when he summarily disbanded the National Working committee of the party.

Ordinarily with what happened to the party in Rivers,  Zamfara, Imo and now Edo, one would have hoped that the last shellacking would change things but that is now unlikely as attention is fast turning to the post Buhari era, which renders the sutuation dire as it is only his name holding the party together as former governor, Rochas Okorocha recently said . “APC is dead”, he  added for emphasis.

Let us hear him  at some length.

”The APC, he volunteered,  is dead but is only still functional because of the  respect members have for President Muhammadu Buhari. The party, which is writhing in the pains inflicted on it by internal crisis following the 2019 general elections, died the day its leadership abandoned the progressive and democratic ideals on which it was founded. Apart from President Buhari, the other leaders of the political blocs that merged to form APC in 2015, were schemed out by those he called “forces” that later joined it. “This word, APC, was formed by four major political parties that had governors. One was the Centre for Progressive Change (CPC), led by President Muhammadu Buhari, with one state government, the  Action Congress of Nigeria (CAN), led by Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu with 5 states, the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) led by Ogbonnaya Onu came with a few and  the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) with one”. “The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) group  would later come in”. “Outside that respect for President Buhari and the trust is our  belief that he could wake up one day and correct all these injustice and make it fine. That’s the only thing that is keeping the APC. If not that, I don’t think there is anything like APC, because people are beginning to get fed up”.

That is how far lost the party is today from what it was that galvanised Nigerians to it in 2015, even though it must be said that Okorocha is not an uninterested party having been stopped by Chairman Oshiomhole, alongside a few others, who wanted to become emperors within the party, a situation that would have made APC infinitely worse.

But even if the does not suffer this massive internal haemorrhaging which  is enough to see it kicked out of power come 2023 , it is aggressively attracting to itself, minuses that  can very well ensure that.

As things stand today, one needs  no robotic science to know that APC  no longer enjoys the kind of support that saw President Buhari to office both  in 2015 and at his re election in 2019. Without a scintilla of doubt, APC  will now have to really struggle in the Middle Belt, in the Southwest, and both in the South East and Southsouth where it has never been hugely accepted.

We examine some of the reasons for this state of affairs.

President Buhari came to office promising to fight insecurity, beat back corruption and tame the economy which, towards the tail end of President Jonathan administration, was already headed, unerringly, for a recession.

Not unexpectedly , the President, a retired General, immediately delivered on insecurity as he very substantially degraded Boko Haram and sent them packing from all the Local Government Areas they  had taken over in the Northeast.

But that is now like ancient history as they attack, opportunistically, wherever and whenever, they choose in the same Northeast. A few weeks back some foreign intelligence agencies let it be known that Boko Haram is, actually, already in the North central.

Concerning the economy, the Covid -19 pandemic has ensured that the economies of even the most developed countries of the world have been very negatively impacted.

This, combined with the collapse in global crude oil prices and demand, has seen the country’s crude oil revenue tumble “from $336.65m in January to $281.14m in February, $184.59m in March and $148.86m in April and came all the way down by about  74.89 per cent  to a record low of $55.29m in July 2020”, according to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

Given this gloomy state of the  economy, it seems to me like the mother of all surprises that the government could , by itself, be on the way to  making a complete mess of its anticorruptionn war regarding which it has, justifiably, received encomiums from far, and wide, and culminated in the President  being appointed the African Anti corruption Czar by the African Union.

Thanks to Professor Itse Sagay, Nigerians  now know the government’s plan to scrap the EFCC and turn  it to a plaything ìn the  hands of an Attorney- General who now wants  to exercise all those powers he had always craved. EFCC, or whatever remains of it,  will then  report, all the way, to an individual, all its autonomy gone.

This is how Sagay, Chairman of  the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC)  described the thickening plot to scrap the EFCC last  week:

“A plan to scrap the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is underway. A draft bill, now in circulation, seeks to replace the commission with an agency under the Federal Ministry of Justice under the Attorney-General of the Federation. It eliminates EFCC’s autonomy and replaces it with an entity to be under the complete control of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice.

According to him,  this  amounts  to “the mother of corruption fighting back”.

“The bill entitled: An Act to Repeal the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004 (Act No. 1 of 2004) and enact the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act is coyly presented as a move to establish a more effective and efficient Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

In several sections, the bill gives the Attorney-General  so much power over the proposed new anti-corruption agency reducing  it to a “mere paper” department under the Federal Ministry of Justice.

For instance, the draft bill proposes a repeal of the EFCC Establishment Act 2004, the scrapping of the commission, and its placement with a department in the Federal Ministry of Justice under the Attorney-General of the Federation. Instead of a Chairman, it will now have a Director-General to be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the AGF, subject to confirmation by the Senate.

The AGF  can still discontinue the prosecution of criminal cases  just as he can cancel its prosecutorial powers whenever  he deems it fit. That is an individual who has just chickened out from testifying before the Panel of Enquiry at which he had inflicted the heaviest charges against a man who gave  the agency a new lease of life; a man with whom he had duelled, like for ever, for power.

How the President thinks this will enhance, or strengthen his anti corruption war passes me and it sure would not escape the well deserved judgment, and recompense, of Nigerians come 2023.

In like manner Nigerians woke up again this  past week only to hear Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, deliver his government’s message to Nigerians  to the effect that  the government was not backing down on its Water Resources Bill, that same bill that was rejected by the 8th National Assembly but has now been allegedly smuggled into the 9th. A Water Bill Resources Bill which has been opposed and rejected across board is now being  presented as a law intended to avert water wars.

Pray, what happened to the  February, 2018 invitation from nearby Kano state Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje to all Fulani herdsmen resident in other parts of the country, especially Benue and Taraba states, to relocate to his state since the state has vast grazing land to accommodate them and their cattle?

Who is doing all these to the APC but more to the country? 

If APC seriously wants to be in contention come 2023, the government  should not only stop all these provocations, daily garnering Nigerians’ angst, at least  in such places as the Middle Belt, Southern Kaduna, the Southwest, and the “never- APC” Southeast and Southsouth but begin to make serious moves for atonement.

And to be a force to reckon with in the next  election, I give the following advice, pro bono, to this APC  government to, expeditiously,

exhume the  El Rufai Power Devolution report, convene, through election, a Nigerian Reconfiguration  Assembly to completely, re engineer the  country as people, not just the Okorocha’s, are really getting pissed off with goings on in the country. APC must do everything to put a stoo to the Edo damage lest it becomes a mere tip of the iceberg.

May good counsel prevail in the right quarters,

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