Buhari’s Government Has Not Performed Well Says IPAC Chairman

Buhari’s Government Has Not Performed Well Says IPAC Chairman

“What I will tell you is that Nigerians are not happy and if Nigerians are not happy it is an indication that the government has not performed well because if Nigerians are not happy it is not a good mark for the government.” Dr. Leonard Nzenwa, Chairman Inter-Party Advisory Council in this interview with Nigerian

“What I will tell you is that Nigerians are not happy and if Nigerians are not happy it is an indication that the government has not performed well because if Nigerians are not happy it is not a good mark for the government.” Dr. Leonard Nzenwa, Chairman Inter-Party Advisory Council in this interview with Nigerian Democratic Report reviews the Nigerian political environment and six years of the Buhari’s administration based on what it promised to do and concludes: “Nigerians are simply not comfortable with the government”

What does IPAC do?
IPAC is a body of all political parties, it is the coming together of all political parties in Nigeria to foster a constructive and positive relationship that will help translate into better democracy for every person essentially it is a platform that is structured to further the interest of all political parties, it is a platform that seeks to elevate the platform of political parties chairmen and leadership of political parties, it is a platform that is designed to see how we can work harmoniously with all stakeholders particularly the Independent national electoral commission, it is a platform that seeks to find better ways to recruit aspirants and candidates that seek for political power essentially it is a platform that also seeks to intervene on national political issues and also provide alternate voice on how to address those national issues.

Are all the 18-registered political parties members of IPAC?

Yes all the political parties are members but some will tell you they are not. The reason being you know, with human beings, there will be contestation of leadership and all that so when one does not find his way or does not work towards getting a position and he is defeated in that light, he will say he is not a member of IPAC. There is no way you can’t be a member of IPAC when you have one electoral body- INEC and you have the same set of stakeholders during the electoral process and you are excluding yourself, you are merely shooting yourself in the leg; a lone ranger. Essentially, all political parties are members of IPAC.

How does IPAC fund its activities?
We get support from political parties in a very minor way and we get greater support from INEC. We also get support from all the stakeholders and individuals that have seen what we are doing and want to support IPAC.

In terms of ideology it appears there isn’t much difference between the political parties and that has made it easy for politicians to cross carpet and move from one party to another. What do you think could be done to stem this tide of cross-carpeting in Nigeria?
Actually, this is historical. There is not much we can do about it because it’s a historical thing that goes beyond this current political setting. It has both cultural and economic undertones. It also partly reflects the character of the Nigerian person. When I say it is historical; if you go through the history of political party development in Nigeria, it has always been there. Carpet-crossing has always been there from the first republic to the second republic even the current republic; it is not a new thing so it has been there. To address the problem, anytime you find someone that has won an election on a platform of a political party and decamps to another political party, the Speaker or the Senate President should have the courage and follow the law by declaring that particular seat vacant and by-election conducted to fill the seat, that is the only way we can solve this problem.

But, has that not been done?

It is not being done though I am neither a member of the Senate nor a member of the House of Reps, but Nigerians know it is not being done. There are persons who have decamped and still occupying their seats in the National Assembly and in the State Houses of Assembly

But as the leader of IPAC, what is IPAC doing to stem this ugly trend especially from the manifesto or ideological perspective?
Of course we keep on talking to the political class; we keep on advocating for doing what is right, we keep on initiating outreaches and emphasize on the danger this is posing to our democracy. But, it is one thing to talk and another thing to do. We have done what we are supposed to do and we are expecting the positive feedback to address this issue. Now, regarding the issue of the manifesto or ideology of political parties; when you have an economic structure that is almost completely in disarray and a society where people are struggling to survive; when you have a system where there is no hope, all industries are dead and completely nonfunctional, the only way the people can express themselves is to find a way to get into politics and that is what is happening here and this affects the ideological undertone of the political parties. We know basically that in Nigeria, we look at it from the major divides; you are either on the left or on the right. Let us forget about the different nomenclatures and all that; you are either a conservative or you are a progressive or democrat. The point I’m making is that there is no clarity in our undertones political parties generally. In my party the African Action Congress (AAC), we promote progressive welfarism that’s how I will classify the party. It is an amalgam of progressivism and welfarism what that means is we are conscious of putting the people first. For other political parties it is very difficult to classify. Again, you also need to understand that people do not understand why they are in a particular place and may be there essentially because of money. Let us go there and when they cannot asses that money they break away to another place, they are not driven by any philosophy; they are driven by transactional motives and as long as that happens we will never have a party that has very strong political ideology.

The National Assembly is proposing amendments to the Electoral Act 2010 (Amended) and we gathered some reforms will be taking place, have you been able to make any inputs into these?

We have taken a first leg into that by making our position known about different aspects of the Electoral Act and the Constitution amendment that are ongoing. We have gone on a visit to the National Assembly to make our presentation before the Committee. We have made inputs and some of the inputs which we believe very strongly in, include that the remuneration of public officers, especially political office holders is very high and something needs to be done about that. We need to get it down because it could be seen as the motivation that has propelled people to go into these offices; people aspire to these offices on the account of the money they are going to get. So, if that aspect is reduced and you pay sitting allowances only based on the number of times the parliament sits. We also talked about the age range, and several other things. Those are the inputs that we have made.

Did you submit a paper?
Yes we did.

Can we get a copy?

No, you won’t be able to get it right now, because I didn’t come with it to this conference. I may be able to get it across to you at another time.

The Buhari administration has spent six years in office; they made certain promises when they were campaigning to get to power, would you say they have fulfilled those promises?
What I will tell you is that Nigerians are not happy and if Nigerians are not happy it is an indication that the government has not performed well because if Nigerians are not happy it is not a good mark for the government. Nigerians are simply not comfortable with the government and it is not to say that efforts are not being made, efforts are being made but there were so many things that have gone wrong before now and it will not be fair to put the whole blame on one person or institution. All of us have our own share of the problem, but it is on the desk of the President to make sure things happen so if things are not happening the president has some blame to take on this.

But won’t this affect the trust, it raises trust issues, when a political party goes out there to campaign; makes promises but he gets there and he doesn’t fulfill its promises, does this not bother you as Chairman of IPAC?

Yes, what can you really do about that? There is nothing you can do. Human beings do make promises and do not fulfill them too, outside the political arena. You cannot say if the person doesn’t fulfill his promises, you deal with that person, it doesn’t happen that way. In life, you have to keep trying until you get what you want. The question is: Is it decent that we have a government in place or is it better not to have one in place? You know the consequences, if you don’t have one in place, you will have anarchy, so there must be government in place to run the affairs of the state, so it is a must, so if you go back and retract and you go back and say you are not interested in the political activities of this country you are not helping anybody, if you do not vote, do not complain. We must keep trying until we get it right. The recruitment process and the emphasis on money have killed Nigerian politics. Though people blame the politician, they fail to ask: Why is it that the market woman in the village is asking the politician for money; why is it that a youth is asking a politician for money? You find someone who says he wants to go and campaign and might not have the money but because he has ideas and desires to contest for political power he will go and approach them at the village or at the country side. By the time you approach these people they will tell you first, Oga you can’t come here speak grammar for me you need to give us something. If he goes the first time, they will drive him away without money, he goes the second time; they drive him away. The third time he wants to go he will want to give them something, where will he get the money he will go running around to see how he can borrow money, if he can’t get the money he can approach the bank, the bank could give him the money when he gets the money he will go to the women in the village they need wrappers, he will buy for them some need food he will buy food for them. Now ask yourself, after he has finished expending all this money you blame the politician but it is you that is also down there that is causing the problem.

Is that what is responsible for corruption?

Yes, largely. Because they, (electorate) make politics very expensive for the politician. You find women leaders in the villages that will say that to reach across to the people they will collect money, these ones will also collect, another group will collect, why are you putting these burdens on this politicians?

What can IPAC do to correct this; can you collectively agree that we don’t give them money?

Ayo Aluko-Olokun

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