Factors making the APC popular by Salisu Na’inna Dambatta

 Members of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors’ Forum have alleged in the communiqué released on July 2021 after their 11th regular meeting that, some of their former colleagues who defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) did so due to coercion and underhand activities by the APC.

This allegation is false, unsubstantiated and a mere subterfuge  by members of a party that lost its bearing and losing ground on daily basis since its defeat in two general elections – in 2015 and 2019, by the APC,  which was founded barely eight years ago.  The PDP as the second largest political party in terms of elected state governors and legislators at the Federal and state levels is clear in disarray, in contrast to the increasing nationwide strength and popularity of the APC.

And that popularity is becoming more pervasive as there are clear signs and verifiable evidence that, the All Progressives Congress (APC) is waxing stronger at the perils of the main opposition party, the PDP, and the other dozens of paper parties that exist only in the imagination of their founders and in the register of political parties at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

What are the factors making the APC more popular and stronger by the day?  They are almost countless, but examples will be listed presently.

The unimpeachable integrity of the top leaders of the party, exemplified by President Muhammadu Buhari, whose excellent record of probity both in public service and in his private life, are acknowledged and admired by all. Many want to emulate him.  This is a very important fact which sits very well with majority of Nigerians who share the same qualities with him.

The fact that the APC won all its elections fairly, without cheating other parties, is important.  This implies that it has strong deep roots and real support-base among the electorates, who had very high expectations that those elected on its tickets would meet those expectations by implementing programmes and projects that will improve their wellbeing. They are pleased with the quality of service delivery by APC-led administrations spanning the three tiers of government.

In spite of the  lean resources available to the country and  the economic, social and other forms of disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in the world, including Nigeria, countless tangible democracy dividends were delivered by APC administrations at the Federal, State and Local Government Area levels.

There are new hospitals, schools, potable water supply projects, first-class roads and bridges and many schemes aimed at paving way for youth, the vulnerable and the poor.

For example, the economic diversification policy of the Federal Government has led to a massive expansion and modernization of agriculture in the country.  Agriculture is among prioritised sectors designated as vehicles for driving economic expansion, inclusiveness and national food security.  

 Farmers are encouraged to use certified seedlings and seeds for planting and sowing respectively. And the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria solved the financial problem facing farmers by introducing various agricultural financing schemes through an innovative Anchor Borrowers Programme to ensure that they get funding for their projects.  This endeared millions of Nigerian farmers to the APC-led Federal Government because it serves their interest.

The Anchor Borrowers Programme was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari on November 17, 2015.  It is coordinated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), with inputs from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Indeed, CBN Governor Mr. Godwin Emefiele reported that from its inception to 2020 over 3.1 million farmers have been financed for the cultivation of crops across twenty-one agricultural commodities captured under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).

Mr. Emefiele was emphatic that, “A total of 3,107,890 farmers were  financed for the cultivation of 3,801,397 hectares across 21 commodities through 23 Participating Financial Institutions in the 36 States of the Federation and FCT, from the inception of the programme till date.” 

The CBN said that under its partnership with the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, the CBN-RIFAN partnership, the Bank financed 221,450 farmers for the cultivation of 221,450 hectares in 32 States in the 2020 wet season alone.

A similar effort was put up by the APC-led Federal Government in the mining and steel development sector. As approval was given for the establishment of two gold refineries in the country, artisanal miners are being encouraged to formalize their trade, get licence and operate within the radar of regulatory authorities.  The solid minerals subsector employs thousands of Nigerians through which they make their living, encouraged by the reforms instituted for the sector by the administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The fact of strong practice of internal democracy in the APC is a veritable source of freedom through which APC members express their views; offer suggestions on ways to move the party forward and get chance to contribute to nation building.  This is not so in other political parties, especially the PDP, which is dominated by an individual.