Chief Odegie Oyegun
Considering the activities of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at both the state and national levels, it is obvious that it is not a progressive political party. When the All Progressives Congress was registered many Nigerians thought it would be progressive in nature but a closer look at the political party reveals it is not progressive after all. The three cardinal features of a progressive political party are economic, political and social reforms. But these three major factors are lacking in the APC. Can we really say that the APC is in favour of economic, social and political reforms both in the states the party controls and at the National Assembly? In the states which the APC controls, economic reform is clearly lacking.It will be recalled that Tejuosho, Ajilogo, Mushin Ajina and Jakara markets have been demolished for almost eight years but have not been rebuilt. Though, Tejuosho Market is under reconstruction but when completed, the former traders may not be able to afford the new prices of the shops which range from N3 million and above. Ajilogo and Jakara Markets have been taken over by grasses.
In September, 2013, the Lagos State House of Assembly also approved the demolition of the popular Retail Market, Ogba to be replaced with a three-storey complex. Thus, with the scenario painted above, how does the demolition of markets without rebuilding them encourage economic reforms? There is no indication that the APC favours economic reforms. All the APC controlled states have not showed any ingenuity toward economic reforms since they still wait for allocation from the federal government before they can run their states. This is inimical to the spirit of progressivism which the APC professes.
Another feature of a progressive political party is political reform. Political reform is about improving laws and constitutions to meet the aspirations of the citizenry. If the APC is actually a progressive political party, why did it oppose local government autonomy? One would have expected the APC which arrogates to itself progressivism, to be a crusader for local government autonomy but in the contrary, it opposed local government autonomy. The members of the APC also refused to attend the defunct National Conference where national issues were discussed. This negates the principle of political reform.
Nigeria is being run as a unitary government yet the APC has not advocated the repeal of such laws that make the country a unitary system. For instance, the Land Use Act which empowers the government to control all lands in the country at the detriment of the aboriginals should be repealed. Again, the Petroleum Act of 1990 with this excerpt: “An Act to provide for the exploration of petroleum from the territorial waters and the continental shelf of Nigeria and vest the ownership of, and all on-shore and off-shore revenue from petroleum resources derivable therefrom in the Federal Government and for all other matter incidental thereto”. With this law, no state can exploit its crude oil, sell and generate revenue!
Likewise, the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act 2007 says: “The entire property in and control of all mineral resources in, under or upon any land in Nigeria, its contiguous continental shelf and all rivers, streams and watercourses throughout Nigeria, any area covered by its territorial waters or constituency and the Exclusive Economic Zone is and shall be vested in the Government of the Federation for and on behalf of the people of Nigeria”. These extant laws have reduced the states to beggars; debarring them from exploring, exploiting and processing the various minerals in their domain for their common good. These draconian laws are the laws which the APC which is a progressive political party supposed to mobilize its members in the National Assembly to repeal but they are enjoying fat salaries and allowances like their counterparts in the PDP so they feel indifferent.
Social reform is another characteristic of progressivism. Social reform is the amendment to laws that oppress and marginalize a group or some groups of people. Today, the masses of Nigerians are suffering due to the huge salaries and allowances government officials earn. But the members of the APC both at the state and National Assembly are not averse to the enormous salaries and allowances they receive along with PDP members. It is only in APC controlled states that land owners lose their lands to the governments whenever their houses collapsed under any circumstances. When a house collapsed, instead of the APC led government to empathize with the owner, it will seize the land as if the owner of the collapsed house asked the builder to use inferior materials to build it.
The APC led government also restricted the movement of commercial motorcycles from most roads in the Lagos metropolis. Lagos State which is the birthplace of the APC once increased the school fee of the Lagos State University from N25,000 to N350,000. It was only reversed because of the general elections.
The demolition of markets without rebuilding them, the restriction on the movement of commercial motorcycles, the reliance on federal allocation by APC led governments are against economic reforms. The non-pursuant by APC members in the National Assembly to repeal the Land Use Act, the Petroleum Act 1990 and the Nigeria Minerals and Mining Act 2007 are obvious indications that the All Progressives Congress is not a progressive political party.