On March 6, 2014, the All Progressive Congress (APC) held its inaugural National Summit with the theme “Unveiling the Roadmap for a New Nigeria”. The major highlight of the summit was the unbundling of APC Manifesto which stated clearly what the party intends to do to create a better life for all Nigerians. Perhaps, the most significant aspect of the inaugural Summit was the signing of a social contract for good governance with Nigerians by APC State Governors and party leaders at different levels.
This was not only epochal but also another first in the series of firsts achieved by the APC in its bid to deepen democracy in Nigeria. Interestingly, all these positives are being recorded in less than one year of the emergence of APC as the most credible alternative to the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). Amongst the topical issues that came high on the priority list of the APC National Summit was the issue of unemployment. At the summit, the APC applied itself to very practical solutions to the complications of high growth – high unemployment paradox which has become the boldest emblem on the uniform of the PDP.
The methodical and logical approach of the APC to the huge crisis of unemployment in Nigeria did not come to many Nigerians by surprise given that, just last week, APC Governors under the auspices of the Progressive Governors Forum organized its inaugural Governance Lecture. The Lecture, which held in Ibadan, was focused on tackling the crisis of Unemployment in Nigeria. At the national summit, there were also other very strategic and well thought out policy thrusts by APC on the response of the party to the myriads of crisis that have overwhelmed the Federal Government led by President Goodluck Jonathan.
While the rest of the world and millions of Nigerians applauded the dignified approach of the APC to politics, the PDP, as usual, responded in a panicky tenor resorting to malicious name calling. This is not the first. Upon the registration of the APC by INEC last July, the PDP in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary went to town with a lie that the APC leadership has been hijacked by Muslims. It later turned out that the interim leadership of the APC was constituted on virtually equal proportion by Christians and Muslims.
In October, 2013, the PDP went out of the line of decency to label APC as an Islamist Party that is bent on jihad. On January 7, 2014, the PDP National Publicity Secretary completely outdid himself by claiming that APC is a party of terrorists and even went as far as linking APC with Al-Qaeda. Nigerians are not surprised! Recently, the Special Assistant to Mr. President on Social Media, Reno Omokri, was exposed to be the brain behind the social media hate campaign directed at certain Muslims from the northern part of the country. So, clearly, Nigerians know the location of the kitchen that is cooking the broth of ethno-religious hate which is dangerously dividing the country along ethnic and religious lines.
Not relenting in its hate campaign, the PDP went incredulously hysteric shortly after last week’s APC national summit which superb organization and profound content continues to attract both local and international acclamation. This time, PDP’s only response to burning issues of socio-economic welfare of Nigerians, as eminently raised by the APC, was to label the APC as “Janjaweed terrorists”. This pattern of hate speech as deployed by PDP in demonizing its major political rival might have gone largely ignored by APC but, definitely, Nigerians know better. Whatever, there must be a limit to even the most brazen malfeasance. Given public sensibilities, it has become crucial to call on well-meaning Nigerians, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the international community, especially, the International Court of Justice to call PDP to order.
Given, Nigeria’s diversity in ethnic and religious affiliations, it is most irresponsible for a political party that claims to enjoy the genuine mandate of the Nigerian people to continue to paint its Muslim populace as terrorists even when Muslims constitute about half of the population of the country. This is nothing short of indirectly calling for a religious war in the country. This is the height of insensitivity, impunity, and official debauchery. More so, the timing of the latest tirade by the PDP smacks of obscene disrespect for the Christian community who are commemorating the Lenten season – a period that espouses virtues of love, harmony, brotherliness, kindness, forgiveness and peaceful co-existence.
Taking the case of the infamous Rwandan genocide, it is common knowledge that the seed of the mayhem that resulted in the gruesome murder of more than 1 million innocent souls in less than 100 days was precipitated by several months of consistent ethno-religious incitement by warped propagandists. The members of the hate “akazu” Hutu superiority conclave, like the PDP, kept up a well-oiled media hate campaign against the Tutsis and moderate Hutus severally referring to them as “cockroaches”. This systematic dehumanization of the Tutsi’s opened the floodgates of the killings that have come to be recorded as one of the world’s worst cases of genocide. The truth is that hate speeches are always the fore runner to ethno-religious linked pogroms in different parts of the world.
Going by the intensity of PDP’s hate campaign, Rwanda might not just be too far away. The plan of PDP is to do everything but face the Nigerian people in the arena of issue based politics. This pattern of avoiding the real issues of governance was firmly established when Mr. President avoided facing his major challengers in Presidential debates en route 2011 elections. Furthermore, Mr. President’s penchant for releasing official state policies from the pulpit fuels the speculation that there is a sinister agenda to push major religious groups in the country at each other’s throat, set the country on fire and destabilize Nigeria. Many keen observers have hinted that the overall agenda might be to grant the PDP an unconstitutional hold on power come 2015. Many concerned Nigerians are also beginning to believe that such disposition might be the logic behind the alleged clay feet approach of the Federal Government to the wanton bloodletting by Boko Haram insurgents.
If the PDP has any more decency left in its ranks, it should save itself of further ignominy by facing the real issues of joblessness, hunger, poverty, insecurity, dilapidated infrastructure and mind boggling official corruption currently ravaging the country. It is in the best interest of PDP to quit the destructive path of ethno-religious incitement. It is surprising that INEC has remained taciturn over PDP’s grave assault on Nigeria’s electoral legal framework. Section 95 (1) of the Electoral Act prohibits the use of words tainted with abusive language, directly and indirectly, likely to injure religious, ethnic, tribal or sectional feelings. Professor Jega must reassure Nigerians that 2015 elections would be free and fair by ensuring that political parties play by the rules. Violation of the electoral law is the first blow of election violence. We also appeal to religious leaders, traditional leaders and all men and women of goodwill to appeal to the conscience of PDP not to set this country on fire! Nigerians have already suffered enough and wish to suffer no more!
Comrade Asuzu Echezona is of the League of Patriotic and Progressive Youths (Young Patriots)
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