By Babajide Balogun
The All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council, worried by the fate awaiting its presidential candidate at the 2023 elections, is in disarray. They are firing aimlessly in all directions, hoping that they will succeed in truncating the will of Nigerians if their man cannot have his way. As a popular saying goes, the guilty will sweat even inside a body of water. But as you make your bed, you lay on it. Let the APC not blame anyone for their self-inflicted trouble.
In their latest tirade, they are now trying to blame the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, AtikuAbubakar, for their misfortune. They are all out to mislead the people using the ongoing naira redesign policy, where old 200, 500, and 1000 notes are being swapped with new ones. They are telling Nigerians to see Atiku as an enemy, rather than the friend that he is. But Nigerians are wiser. They follow happenings around the country with keen interest. They know that it is the APC that came up with the naira redesign policy, not Atiku. It is the APC administration that is mishandling the policy, leading to unnecessary suffering by innocent Nigerians.
Indeed, when it became clear that there were apparent glitches with the policy, Atiku was among the first to speak on behalf of the suffering masses, by calling for an extension of the deadline from January 31. The former vice-president said that though the naira redesign exercise is a worldwide practice, “a great number of Nigerians, out of good conscience, have expressed apprehension about how the deadline will make life more difficult for a large number of Nigerians.
“The large number of (the) unbanked population who do their businesses, especially in the rural area, will find it almost impossible to meet up with the deadline of January 31st to exchange their old bank notes for the redesigned currency.
“I’m aware of the challenges that farmers and others, like artisans, in remote areas of the country go through in moving cash from remote areas to commercial banks for conversion.”
This passionate plea by Atiku translated into the granting of the extension of the deadline from January 31 to February 10. It was in good conscience and for the good of the people that Atiku spoke.
However, seeing the desperation of the APC, its flag bearer, and chieftains, Nigerians should know that they have a sinister motive. They want to be allowed to use their stash to influence voters’ decision through vote buying.
It is simply laughable for BayoOnanuga to claim that Atiku, who clearly spoke when it mattered is now the enemy. This is the same Bayo that chased a journalist out of an event they organized, saying the journalist was not invited!
Even Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, seemed to have assumed the role of the defender of the downtrodden simply because their party is threatened. He also believes that Atiku is a wicked man with no concern for the poor masses, the downtrodden in the society who are mostly affected by the policy. One may ask: was Atiku also wicked when he brought El-Rufai to limelight during the Obasanjo presidency? If he has forgotten, some of us have not.
The same El-Rufai who deprived thousands of their means of livelihood through the demolition of markets cannot claim to love the less privileged. Even Tinubu knows that El-Rufai cannot be trusted going by his below the radar dealings ahead of the APC primaries. He is threatening to blackmail the president because they have never been this vulnerable.
El-Rufai and other APC governors have continued to mount pressure on the president, urging him to extend the deadline for the naira swap. According to them, while they agreed that his decision on the renewal of currency was good, its execution had been mishandled, and their people are now suffering.
Atiku’s position, therefore, has not changed. He is doing it for the people. The only addition this time is the advice to CBN to try and make the new currency accessible to Nigerians, especially those in the rural areas who need the money for their daily transaction.
He is of the firm belief that “cashless economy will help to save and grow our democracy. Those who have devised several means of buying votes in the coming elections and using money to corrupt the electoral system as well as destroying the principle of one man, one vote and the goal of a credible, peaceful, free, and fair poll are the ones shouting against the cashless policy and naira redesign”.
Nobody in his right senses can fault this argument. Politicians who have not worked to gain the confidence of the electorate have stashed cash, believing that they will use the money to buy votes and change the will of the people. But they have failed.
Come to think of it, are APC governors and others in the party deceiving themselves that Nigerians will reward their incompetence, wickedness, and abuse of power for another four years? Why are they beating about the bush? All the indices are not positive for Nigeria because the party was never ready for governance.
Eight years are enough for a party to achieve its goals if it has any, but the APC doesn’t have any goal aside from getting power and enjoying its trappings. Give APC another hundred years, but it will not be able to come up with anything new. The damage they have done to the country is massive, and Nigerians cannot wait an extra minute for things to return to normal. This is what makes the Atiku presidency one that Nigerians cannot afford to miss.
- Balogun is a political analyst and wrote from Ibadan