By Jantku Ijanada
The culture of organising a National Conference is not a new trend in Nigeria as we have seen quite a number in the past. The question is, have they ever been able to achieve their intended purpose, have they ever solved Nigeria’s problems?
By now, many would have come across the outcome of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP’s) deliberations as presented in its world press conference on ‘the state of the nation’ which recently flooded the media space. Speaking at the press conference, the PDP national Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus raised concerns on issues bordering on security, economy, diversity management, electorial act, mismanagement of the nation’s diversity and devolution of power.
Another critical issue raised during the PDP conference on Monday was the need for this administration to implement the June 2014 National Conference recommendations. The Conference, made over 600 recommendations cutting across public service; devolution of powers and political restructuring; national security; trade and investment; energy; public finance and revenue generation; social welfare; politics and governance; electoral reforms, among others. The resolutions were classified into three broad categories, constitutional, legal and policy issues.
However, like the PDP, a lot of people seem to believe that implementing the recommendations of the 2014 national conference is the answer to solving the problems confronting Nigeria. In fact, accusing fingers have been pointed at President Muhammadu Buhari for not implementing the recommendations of the confab. I am prompted to ask, if the recommendations of their National Conference had the power to make our nation better, why didn’t the then PDP President, Goodluck Jonathan implement it before leaving office. Is it because it really wasn’t meant to be a serious affair but rather a talkshop full of sound and fury? This justifies the PDP’s national Chairman’s position :”the National Conference was organised ‘to deescalate tension”’, nothing more.
If the PDP-led administration had genuine concerns, it would have made efforts to push its resolutions and recommendations through the then National Assembly which had the power to translate it into law. But it never did. It is interest to know that a whopping sum of N7 billion ($42 million) was spent on the summit by a country with the highest number of out-of-school children in the world as at the time.
Recall that at the time of the conference, ASUU was on strike for almost nine months, teachers in the tertiary institutions were on strike for more than a year, yet that government could spare such amount to organize a meeting while the more important job of keeping our children in school was abandoned. What a misplacement of priority. If you ask me, I’ld say it was more of a private business and not a meeting of national interest.
That PDP believe in the eternal destiny of this country to succeed is laughable. Am I dreaming? Someone please help me ask them how they helped the country to strive and succeed during their sixteen years in power, even at a time when the economy was not cast-strapped. If they couldn’t do it then, then there is not a chance that they can do it now.
Secondus had assured Nigerians that the party had not come to play politics, but rather work in concert with our compatriots to rescue our nation from the issues affecting the nation. Funny, if we did not know any better, we would have actually bought that. But it is glaring that this is the PDP’s usual way of ‘acting saints’ in the eyes of the public while tactically promoting their hidden agenda ahead of the 2023 elections. Rather than provide concrete suggestions in line with what he claimed he set out to do, Secondus chose to present falsehood as facts in order to extricate the former ruling party from blame on the security situation in the country, the very situation they gave to us as an inheritance.
The insecurity we are battling now started in the era of the PDP administration. If they had tackled it well enough, we won’t be here today. Here they are crying wolf when they couldn’t do anything while in power but yet confidently parading themselves as the Messiah that will salvage this country. If they had this much knowledge on how to make Nigeria better, why didn’t they do it when they were in power, why then was the country in shambles when they left power, why did this government have to inherit so much debt without commensurate projects to show?
Between 2014 and 2015 the Nigerian economy was in a free fall losing 4% of GDP in the last three quarters of 2014. Our GDP only rebounded in the third quarter of 2015 due to President Buhari’s deliberate, well thought-out and calculated initiatives to diversify the economy. Also the national debt under the PDP was $63 billion while crude oil was selling for over $100 a barrel and we were producing more than 2 million barrels per day. It is worthy to note that within a span of five years the PDP borrowed $60 billion with nothing to shown for that.The Buhari-led administration only acquired a $24 Billion debt which are all tied to several meaningful projects that will benefit the citizens. While PDP borrowed and embezzled, this government borrowed to fund strategic infrastructural projects.
By 2015, 27 states could not pay salaries despite the humongous sum the PDP government made, and more than 220 Government Owned Enterprises (GOE) were privatized to their cronies and at very cheap rates which led to asset stripping and retrenchment of staff. It took a man like President Buhari to rescue the situation; States received bailouts running into N614bn, the first one within his first few months in office, as well as the N1.1trn Paris Club refund dating back to the Obasanjo era.
Furthermore, the party had gone ahead to give suggestions as a way out of the current challenges we are facing. It may interest you to know that most of its recommendations were already contained in the outcome of the Federal Government’s Town Hall meetings on National Security, which was held in Kaduna on April 8th 2021. This shows that the PDP is either trying to take the glory for what it did not do or it is not in touch with the reality on ground.
Either way, the resolutions of the meeting has already been taken to the National Economic Council(NEC) chaired by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo. NEC has directed all state governors (who are all members of NEC) to organise state-wide consultations on them, and then revert to the Council at its next meeting.
Without dismissing the fact that we are facing trying times as a country, we shouldn’t be ignorant of the devices of the PDP. Like the 2014 confab, its recent World Press Conference is a Jamboree and should be seen by all well meaning Nigerians as such. The PDP, instead of shading crocodile tears, should devote its time and energy to praying for the nation and allow the democratically elected leader to do his job.