As Director of Strategic Communication of the PPD’s Presidential Campaign Council, Mr. Dele Momodu understandably needs to justify his appointment as well as position himself for a position in a PDP government at the centre in the extremely unlikely event that the party is able to triumph at the polls next year. Of course, Dele Momodu’s shoddy, shallow and intellectually deficient critique of the 80-page manifesto of the presidential candidate of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is understandable. He desperately needs to divert attention from the ongoing self-inflicted civil war that is tearing the PDP to shreds and is the most glaring impediment to the success of the party in next year’s elections. A priority of Momodu for now should be to enlighten the public on the contents of the PDP manifesto, which remains vague, indecipherable and inaccessible to most Nigerians today.
Even then Momodu ought to have brought more seriousness, sobriety and mental rigour into his dissection of the Tinubu manifesto. Had it not have been so pedestrian treatment of such an important issue, one would have dismissed Momodu’s comments as sheer comedy rather than the tragedy it really is. He claims to have carefully read through the APC manifesto. His comments on the document suggest that nothing could be further from the truth. Had he done so, he would not dismiss the manifesto as “a series of platitudes, half-truths, poor reasoning and copied notes packaged and presented as “Renewed Hope”. In any case, Momodu does not quote any section of the manifesto to prove his allegations of its containing platitudes, half-truths and poor reasoning. Even though he may be a social media influencer as he likes to style himself, it is not enough for him to make deceptively authoritative statements without any attempt to logically and empirically prove his assertions.
The thrust of Dele Momodu’s contention is that the Tinubu campaign manifesto is a copy and imitation of the late Chief MKO Abiola’s manifesto for the 1993 presidential election. One would have expected any serious minded person making such an allegation to quote extensively from the two documents to credibly make his point by showing those portions where the APC ‘copied and pasted’ as he falsely claimed. But no, Momodu obviously has neither the inclination nor the patience to undertake such an arduous task. For him, the title of the Tinubu document, ‘Renewed Hope’ is enough for it to be a regurgitation of Chief Abiola’s campaign theme in 1993 which was ‘Hope ‘93’. So since the word ‘Hope’ was utilized by the Abiola campaign in 1993, it has become anathema and some sort of plagiarism for any other campaign organization to make use of the word Hope almost three decades after even when Nigerians are still very much in need of assurance of hope as they were back then.
Momodu most uncharitably accuses of Tinubu of trying to appropriate MKO Abiola’s legacy. Abiola and Tinubu had similar ideological orientations and philosophical outlooks. Momodu knows that Asiwaju was one of the closest confidantes of Abiola and one of those who stood unwaveringly by him before, during and after the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election. Even after Abiola’s demise, Tinubu was one of those who honored him in death and did as much as he could to offer succor to the late tycoon’s family. Thankfully, Momodu did not claim that he played any part in drawing up the ‘Hope ‘93’ manifesto. It is widely acknowledged that those responsible for conceptualizing and producing the document were Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi, Dr. Chidi Amuta, Mr. Dele Alake, Mr. Segun Babatope, Mr. Tunji Bello, Late Chike Akabogu and Mr. Nnmadi Obasi. As a close adviser to Abiola, Tinubu also undoubtedly made an input into the document.
Momodu describes the Tinubu campaign manifesto as “an insult to the sensibility and needs of Nigerians”. In his characteristically intellectually lazy manner, he does not tell us how or why. He writes that “Tinubu should be reminded that 1993 is far different from 2023”. But that is exactly why Momodu should know that it would make no sense ‘copying and pasting’ a manifesto document produced for use in 1993 to address the country’s problems nearly 30 years later. Many of the problems remain the same but have grown in complexity and character that they require entirely new, different and fresh solutions. In the economic sector, for instance, the APC manifesto offers fresh and creative approaches to fiscal policy, exchange rate management, monetary policy, home ownership policy, mortgage and consumer credit reform, inflation targeting and management, foreign debt management, tax reform, reducing fiscal inefficiency and waste, a national industrial plan, ending the de facto Dollar Peg and embarking on a national infrastructure campaign. Such fresh ideas and proffered solutions are also amply evident in other sectors including agriculture, power, oil and gas, transportation, the digital economy, youth empowerment and entrepreneurship, women development, education, healthcare and fuel subsidy to name a few.
Many of the problems requiring urgent solution today did not exist in 1993. Some of them that have persisted since then have grown more complex and require different kinds of solutions than were proffered back then. This is why it would have been preferable for Dele Momodu to show us concrete examples of the ‘copy and paste’ he claims the Tinubu team did with the ‘Hope ’93’ document. Even then, let it quickly be said that the ‘Hope’93’ manifesto remains an evergreen and enduring document to which any genuinely progressive party must always look to for philosophical inspiration and ideological guidance. It is the same with the progressive manifestoes of the defunct Action Group (AG), Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) and Peoples Redemption Party (PRP). The point is not to copy the letters of these historic documents which belong to different eras but to be inspired and suffused by their spirit of progressivism and render them relevant in finding solutions to contemporary problems.
Momodu asserts that the APC promised change in 2015 but was unable to change anything positively. He urges the APC to stop blaming the PDP or Covid-19 for its failures. He is being clever by half. Momodu probably wants us to blot out of the pages of history the notorious fact that the PDP governed this country at the centre for 16 years from 1999 to 2015 and these were the years of the locusts characterized by rampant corruption, monumental waste and unimaginable incompetence. It is convenient for Momodu to want us to forget that for the better part of the PDP years in power, the cost of a barrel of oil on the international market fluctuated from between $100 and $140. By the time the APC got to power, however, the price of a barrel of oil had dropped to less than $50 per barrel. Yet, with significantly less revenue, the APC government has been able to complete most of the critical infrastructure including roads and rail abandoned for 16 years by the PDP while also initiating the most far reaching transfer of funds to poor and most vulnerable sections of the populace through its various Social Investment Programmes.
He wants us to ignore the fact that the unanticipated COVID-19 pandemic, which broke out in 2019 as well as the ongoing Russian-Ukraine war have had devastating consequences for all countries of the world, advanced and underdeveloped, and the APC administration is naturally not excluded. Momodu criticizes Tinubu for promising to build on the legacies of the current administration. In his fantasy world of make-believe, Momodu believes that the Buhari administration has only a record of failures and no successes. In the real world inhabited by practical and reasonable human beings, every government is a mixture of successes and failures to varying degrees. The Buhari administration has had challenges with security and the management of the country’s diversity, problems which Tinubu has promised to mitigate if elected. But it has achieved success in infrastructure provision, agriculture and providing succor for the poor through its massive poverty alleviation programmes and Tinubu has promised to build on this. What is the crime here?
Abiola was known for industry and brilliance Momodu rightly asserts and then asks what is Tinubu known for. In the first place, there are several people alive today when Abiola had cause to lavishly commend Tinubu’s ingenuity, brilliance and commitment both within and outside Nigeria. Again Tinubu’s critical role in the pro-democracy struggle and his undeniable accomplishments as governor of Lagos State between 1999 and 2007 offer irrefutable answers to Momodu’s posers. Momodu asks where Tinubu was when the current administration was getting things wrong. Yet, the same Momodu was one of those who mocked Tinubu when he was perceived to have been sidelined by a government he was believed to have played a pivotal role in bringing to power. But Tinubu remained focused and refused to be distracted in his support for the administration. He knew that no matter its shortcomings, a return to the PDP’s years of the locusts was not the right and desirable path for Nigeria.
-Olasoji-Peters, a Public Affairs commentator writes from Lagos.