A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, on Sunday described the party’s performance since taking office close to one year ago as unimpressive.
He also warned the party against repeating the mistakes made by the Peoples Democratic Party which led to its electoral defeat in 2015.
Baraje, an ally of Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said this during a media briefing in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.
He said Nigerians were not happy with the socio-economic and political development in the country, adding that it was imperative for the government to address the sufferings and
expectations of the people in order to make them happy.
He cited the current petrol scarcity, poor electricity supply and hunger as some of the hardships being experienced by Nigerians.
Baraje said, “I belong to the group that is not very satisfied with the performance of the party; not only because the Senate President is having a very serious political issue, but because there are other cases and instances where we are not happy with the performance of our party.
“I am not a prophet of doom, neither am I a political prostitute. Are you happy going to queue up for up to two to three hours? Are you happy that electricity is not functioning well and people sleep in darkness?
“What we are saying is that majority of Nigerians are not happy and we need to make them happy.
“Majority of Nigerians are suffering and we need to make our impact felt by addressing the suffering of the masses.”
In response, the National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, described Baraje’s comments as unfortunate.
He said, “We are working on a solution in the medium term; short term, yes we can make the fuel queues disappear but we don’t want the problem to re-occur and to do that, you have to work out a solution that will be long-lasting.
“If people want to play to the gallery they are at liberty to do so, they know why they are doing what they are doing.”
Odigie-Oyegun, however, said the Baraje should have asked for clarifications about what the party was doing instead of denigrating the APC.
He said, “At the moment, we know these problems (power outages and fuel queues) are there because it is a case of corruption fighting back.
“We are not resting on our oars; we are working hard and very soon all these problems will be over. Nigerians will certainly win this battle.”
Baraje also warned that if politicians did not achieve their aspirations in their party, “they may consider other options.”
The party chieftain, however, added that it was too early for him to contemplate leaving the APC.
Baraje said, “The PDP made me. I was the National Secretary and later become the National Chairman of the PDP. I made my mark. If I have to be grateful to any political party, I think, it is the PDP.
“So, if I can leave that party, then you will know that the party had gone contrary seriously against my principles of life.
“If I can leave the PDP because of impunity, lack of respect for the rule of law; then do I want to continue in another party that way? But it has not got to that level. That is why we are sounding a note of warning that gradually some of these problems are creeping into the APC. And we must warn ourselves.”
The party chieftain recalled that there had been 155 rerun elections at the state and federal levels so far, noting that the APC lost majority of the elections.
He cited the Rivers State rerun election as an example.
Baraje said, “If you look at the volatile nature of that rerun, some of us with our humble experience expected the national presence of our party much more during that rerun. We did not see that happen. It is regrettable.
“Today, we have gone in rerun elections both at the state and national levels. We ran over 115 rerun elections, and the APC has lost majority of those elections, not because of lack of popularity of the APC. No! But because of lack of enough presence as at now.”
According to him, the APC should not expect magic from its candidates if it decides to abandon them at the middle of an election.
He identified lack of focus and distractions as barriers to the performance of the party. He said the Buhari led-APC administration had good intentions and ideas.
He also said the alleged past misdeeds of the PDP was another inhibiting factor, saying such was another challenge of the APC to render good governance and dividends of democracy to the people.
The APC chieftain urged President Muhammadu Buhari to avoid confrontation with the National Assembly. He advised him to have a dialogue with the National Assembly to resolve crisis if there was any.
He also warned against any attempt to heat up the polity or stage demonstrations on the ongoing trial of the Senate President, saying there will be a ‘mother of all demonstrations’ should anyone try to disrupt the peace in the nation, especially in Kwara State.
Baraje urged the Federal Government to boost agriculture to ensure national food security, address power challenges and other poor infrastructure.
He however commended the Federal Government’s war against Boko Haram insurgents, urging it to do everything within its power to end the menace.
Also, the Labour Party has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to settle down to governance and address the economic woes facing the country.
In a release signed by the National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Abdulkadir Abdulsalam, the party said Buhari’s style of administration should be blamed for the challenges currently facing the country. He called on him to concentrate on fixing the problems by involving real professionals rather than fighting from all sides.
The party added that with the current economic crisis, kidnapping, terrorism and other social vices would be on the rise.
The LP chairman said, “The President should know by now that with Nigeria in economic crisis and the lacklustre attitude of his government to setting up a powerful economic machine, there are only two courses open to the government. They are monetarist deflationary measure and the protectionist method.
“Unfortunately, an economy under heavy government regulation cannot function properly but rather be exposed to a lot of unpleasant things like killing, kidnapping, warfare, padding, delay, economic downturn and impunity will become the linen and ephod for the mainstream expression of governance.”
The party said that the President should note that in today’s Nigeria, there were no electricity, fuel, gas, food and peace, saying that while the ruling class lived in affluence, the masses lived in poverty.
“The President needs to understand that leadership is a creative enterprise and as such allows same to speak and seen without unnecessarily playing the ‘I am in charge’ mentality. He must accept his weaknesses and allow participatory democracy by enlisting spiritual wisdom, greater understanding and absolute knowledge while seriously looking beyond immediate political horizon to involve men of honour with practice to contribute to the rebuilding of the nation and its economy.”
While calling on Buhari to forsake what the party described as his delight in fundamentalism, the LP also urged the President to embrace political and economic liberalism with the countless opportunities it offered.
“We at the party therefore restate our stand on the present state of the nation that all is not well. The President must urgently organise a socio-economic summit that allows the participation of all,” the statement added.