As the area council election in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) set to hold on March 19, 2016 draws nearer, stakeholders, the electorate and political pundits are already throwing up a barrage of forecast as to which political party or candidates will win what position or area in the forth coming contest. Sunday Isuwa and Aleke Linus look at the issues.
Can Dikko end PDP's 16 year reign in Bwari?
As the area council election in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) set to hold on March 19, 2016 draws nearer, Sunday Isuwa and Aleke Linus look at the issues.
While some predict victories for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), in five out of the six area councils, anchoring their forecast and optimism on the power of incumbency.
They argued that the power of incumbency cannot be wished away in electioneering in Nigeria, hence their firm believes that the umbrella party will maintain grip of the five area councils that is currently under their control.
Few others believe that the election is going to throw up many surprises as according to them, Nigerian electorate are getting more sophisticated by the day, saying, gone are days when voters queue up to vote according to party line, they now vote individual candidates on the basis of their ability and competency to deliver on campaign promises.
Some political pundits however, foretell that the ‘Hurricane Change’ which was reminiscent of the last general election will also ravage and sweep every corner of the territory in favour of APC, following what they described as insatiable thirst for change by the electorate in FCT.
It could be recalled that in previous elections in the territory, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) had dominated most of the area councils except Gwagwalada and Gwali area councils where All Nigerian Peoples Party and lately the All Progressive Congress, had always held sway.
If the foregoing pattern of voting in the territory is something to go by, then the umbrella party will dance to the melodious tune of victory that will herald the election but again, the preceding views and forecast by various interest groups and political pundits need to be taken seriously as times are indeed changing.
In Bwari area council which is the vocal point of this discourse, observers and residents of the area are expressing strong optimism that the chairmanship candidate of All Progressive Congress (APC) Hon. Musa Dikko may likely win the fourth coming contest.
This widespread optimism amongst the people however throws up the unavoidable question that demands a sincere and convincing answer. Can Dikko end the 16 year reign of PDP in Bwari area council come March 19? Your guess is as good as mine; meanwhile, the candidate has boasted that the party will end the one and half decade reign of the umbrella party.
He further discountenanced the position of those who hinge their forecast on supremacy of incumbency when he expressed indomitable confidence in his party’s ability to dilute the umbrella party’s power of incumbency in the area.
According to him, “I truly understand the power of incumbency, because it had robbed me of my mandate in the past elections, precisely in 2013 area council’s election in FCT. But I can assure you that this time around, incumbency or no incumbency, I am prepared now than ever to wrestle PDP to the ground in Bwari area council. Of course, the handwriting is already very clear on the wall that I will win the election if the electoral umpire conducts a free and fair elections come March 19, 2016.”
He nonetheless, explained that the mass exodus of PDP members into the APC fold is a clear sign that the party is on its way out of power in the area; therefore the issue of incumbency does not even arise.
“It may interest you to know that most of the influential people in PDP are dumping the party in their numbers into the APC family. All the PDP chairmanship aspirants during the primary election are now card carrying members of our great party. These include the PDP Secretary in Bwari area council, amongst many others numerous to mention.’’
“As a matter of fact, the electorates are waiting for the election day to vote out PDP and enthrone APC. The support we are getting from the people is unimaginable, so PDP is a work-over in Bwari area council; therefore, we are optimistic of victory and nothing short of that. PDP is already out of popularity in the area and that is why they have resorted to campaign of calumny against my person.’’
“They are busy trying to poison the minds of electorates against me with some unscrupulous and unsubstantiated lies. They alleged that if APC wins the election they will demolish markets and houses in the area, but that is false, and feign of their imagination. How can we talk of demolition, which we have been fighting all our lives? The electorates should beware of these malicious lies from a drowning politician of PDP extraction.”
Commenting on his chances of winning the contest in March, Dikko responded thus; “The chances are so wide that everyone knows that the only thing that remains constant in life is change. In the past 16 years the people of the area had endured the bad administration of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), but this time around, because change is inevitable, the people of the area are determined to take their destiny into their own hands by voting out the PDP, so as to give way for positive development, transformation and good governance in the area.’’
“They want the Bwari area council to witness a different platform and that new platform is the All Progressive Congress (APC). As you are aware, the leadership of the country is under the control of APC, and we are praying that that change that took place at the centre in the last general election should also be replicated at the grassroots.’’
“The chances of APC are so high because the people are yearning for change. The change which APC preaches is positive change, change that focuses on the attitude; behaviours, relationship with fellow Nigerian, the need for us to be united, the need for us to live peacefully, the need for us to be secured and, the need for us to have good environment for businesses to thrive.”
On what the umbrella party had not done well in the past 16 years that he wishes to do differently, he retorted that their misrule or whatever achievement within the period under review are better enumerated by their spokesperson.
“The PDP had been here for long time now and I expect that they should come out and tell the people what they had done for the people in the past 16 years. However, if given the opportunity we will ensure that dividends of democracy that had eluded the people in the past couple of years will be delivered to them.’’
“We would do that through empowerment scheme, where the youths and women will be the focal point. We would also improve the health sector to cater for the health need of our people, because as you know, health is wealth. We would also give commensurable attention to the education and agricultural sector.’’
“In the past, Bwari area council was known for its agricultural potentials, as a matter of fact, we were known as the food basket of FCT, but it is unfortunate that we had lost that gory under the PDP misrule. We will work hard to encourage our people to go into mechanize agriculture with the view to reviving the lost glory. We will equally improve on the sanitation of the area as the ruling party has turned the area council into undesirable position of dirtiest place in FCT.
“If we are given the opportunity to serve the area council in the aforesaid capacity we will complement federal government’s effort in the provision of stable electricity to the people by providing transformers to some of the communities to enhance the stability of power distribution in the area council.”
On how he intends to achieve the aforesaid with the continual decline in allocation that gets to states and local government areas in the country following the fall of oil price? He divulges his alternative economic blueprint for the area.
“Well, we are going to soar up ‘Internally Generated Revenue in Bwari area council to complement whatever amount that will accrue to us from the federation account. The APC administration if given the opportunity will galvanize and mobilize the people to take ownership of government and contribute to the development of the area council. You may ask how we intend to galvanize the people to buy into investing their hard earn resources in infrastructural development of the area amidst this economic downturn when that is supposed to be the primary responsibility of government.’’
“As you may be aware, citizens pay taxes and government in turn provides social basic amenities to them with the revenues so generated. So it is a give and take thing, government is supposed to plough back part of the revenue to the people through provision of infrastructural facilities. “Therefore, we are going to appeal to community leaders, business owners, and the youth organizations in every part of the council to identify their primary needs, mobilize the resources for the project, while government will contribute certain percentage, as well as supervise the process. Above all, government will also give them tax holiday for a specific number of years to enable them recoup their investment in the projects.’’
“In so doing, it will be a win-win situation for both government and the people. Secondly, we will also appeal to FCT administration to extend same tax incentives to big companies operating in Bwari area council to enable them execute certain projects in the area, which will positively impact the lives of the people. Take for instance, some of these companies that are exploring our natural resources such as quarrying of rocks in our domain.’’
“They can be compelled to construct certain kilometers of roads within the area as part of their contribution to the people that own these raw materials which they are mining and in turn they will also enjoy tax exemption from government. You could imagine situations where tones of these raw materials are being take away from Bwari area council and access roads to the sites where these mineral resources are located are in a deplorable condition, that is unacceptable; so, moving forward, they must contribute to the development of the area council.’’
“In corporate world, it is called ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’, consequently, with the drop in allocation from federation account, we will partner with private sector to get most of the projects executed. ‘Public Private Partnership’ is certainly the way to go. We will partner with all the banks operating in the area council as well as other businesses. If we are elected, we are going to engage the minister of the territory to see reason with us to give tax holiday to some of these big businesses in the area that fall under the jurisdiction of the federal capital territory administration in terms of revenue collection.”
At this juncture, it is important to observe that election is not a do or die affair but the product of the choices of the electorate. Therefore, the key actors should play according to the rule of the game and allow the electorate to decide who govern them
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