For their alleged failure to actualize desired growth and development in Nigeria within the past 20 years, a university don and former Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission of Nigeria, INEC, Professor Attahiru Muhammad Jega, has urged Nigerians not to vote for the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, henceforth.
He alleged that the two major political parties have destroyed everything, and are like Siamese twins of corruption and that it was high time Nigerians looked for a credible alternative.
While the PDP, asked Jega to stop comparing it with APC, the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, and Middle Belt Forum, MBF, wondered why he was saying this now when he was part of the process that ushered the politicians to power.
The Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, asked Nigerians to key into Jega's call, just as APC, warned Jega to desist from attacking it as part of his schemes to revive his political career.
Reject PDP, APC, says Jega
But Jega, who spoke in an interview with BBC Hausa, monitored by our correspondent in Kaduna, said: "Nigerians should dump the two parties because of their bad antecedents over the last 20 years.
"Looking at their inability to change the economic fortunes of Nigeria for 20 years now, it is now apparently clear that they would not do anything even if Nigerians vote for any of the two parties again.
"The bad things these parties committed in those past years, Nigerians should never give their trust to them again. It is now very clear that these parties will never change, even if they are given another chance.
"The APC and PDP have formed governments; we were all witnesses. They did not come with good intentions to make amends. If you look at the fight against corruption, all these corrupt people that were supposed to be prosecuted sneaked into the APC.
"We are hearing nothing. That is why I've since registered with the Peoples Redemption Party, PRP. I am now a PRP member looking for ways to help Nigeria.
"That is why we believe now is the time to establish a platform which every good Nigerian should join and contribute towards building the nation on the right path."
'They've destroyed everything'
He alleged that those in the major political parties have destroyed everything and had made the parties so stigmatized that whichever good person joined them would be considered like them.
He said that is why it had now become imperative to have a new platform which membership would be made up of good Nigerians.
Jega also alleged that it is lack of good leadership in Nigeria that threw the nation into its current problems, which had led to the series of agitations for the country to be balkanized.
"Since 1979, I've been teaching in the university for 40 years now. So, from what I read and observed when I was chairman of INEC, honestly, the way I see our politicians conducting elections and from the manner they represent their people when elected is something to be afraid of," he said.
Don't compare our time in govt with APC's -- PDP
Reacting to Jega's comments yesterday, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, warned the former INEC boss to stop comparing its stewardship with that of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
It also noted that trying to compare the "incompetent and decadent APC to the highly productive and development-oriented PDP is an unpardonable disservice to our nation and calls to question the sense of judgment of Profession Jega."
National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the PDP expressed worry that Professor Jega, who only recently described the APC and the Buhari administration as a failure, is now attempting an image laundering with such a warped comparison.
The statement read: "It is indeed unfortunate that Jega, as a Professor of Political Science, could portray an ignorance of the manifest contrasts between the robust fortunes of our nation under the PDP and the wasteland she has become under the APC.
"Perhaps the Professor needs to be reminded of how the PDP worked hard to revamp our nation's economy, paid off our huge foreign debts and went ahead to grow the economy to become the largest investment hub in Africa as well as one of the fastest growing economies in the world, with Fitch B+ rating; only for the APC to wreck the economy and turn our nation into the world's poverty capital and a debtor country in a space of six years.
"Prof. Jega must also be reminded how the PDP reinvigorated the private sector with new businesses and employments springing up in critical sectors of telecoms, aviation, agriculture, manufacturing, oil and gas, education, retailing, hospitality, healthcare and banking among others.
"Today, under the APC and Buhari, these gains have been wrecked with massive closures of businesses, which saw over 60 million Nigerians losing their means of livelihood, with alarming 33.3 per cent unemployment rate and over 82.9 million more and about 25 million families not being able to afford their daily meals as our country ranks 98th out of 107 in Global Hunger Index, due to the obnoxious policies of the APC and President Buhari.
"Perhaps the former INEC chairman has forgotten how the PDP stabilized our fiscal economy and handed over our naira to the APC at N160 to a dollar only for the APC to wreck our currency to a dismal N510 to a dollar.
"He may have also forgotten how the PDP handed over the cost of fuel at N87 per litre and how the APC has hiked it to N165 per litre with attendant pressure on our economy.
"We invite Professor Jega to note how the PDP ran an all-inclusive and transparent administration that guaranteed freedom of speech, equity, fairness as well as free and fair elections, which he attested to; and how the APC, had been running a massively corrupt, insensitive, divisive and exclusionist administration that has destroyed our national cohesion and turned our nation into a battle field.
"As professor of Political Science, Prof. Jega ought to know that while the PDP is an ideologically based political party, the APC is just a Special Purpose Vehicle, SPV, operated on the basis of deception and that is why it has failed in all ramifications and now fizzled in the eyes of the law.
"Nigerians are already confronting the fact of the failures of the APC as well as President Buhari and would therefore not require a manipulative tendency of any individual seeking political relevance ahead of 2023.
"After all, the roles which Professor Jega played in bringing this failed party and administration into office are still fresh in the hearts of Nigerians."
Back off, APC warns Jega
In its reaction, APC warned the erstwhile chairman of the INEC, to desist from attacking her as part of his schemes to burnish his political career.
APC in a statement by the National Secretary of its Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee CECPC, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, said: "Our attention has been drawn to an uncontrolled, wrong and untenable political outburst by a former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega in which he lumped the All Progressives Congress (APC), together with the failed People's Democratic Party (PDP).
"While the PDP failed to meet the expectations of Nigerians as a government and oppositon party, the APC is thriving, healthy and assiduously cleaning the massive mess left behind by the PDP which failed to deliver democratic dividends to the people of Nigeria after being in charge of the country for 16 years.
"While Professor Jega is right about the PDP, a party under which he served as the chairman of the nation's election management body, we reject his comparison of the APC with the PDP. "Professor Jega got his facts wrong and mixed up in his baseless comparison of the PDP with the APC.
"While we do not intend to join issues with Professor Jega, we encourage him to engage in genuine scholarly research and come up with evidence-based conclusions on the progessive orientation of the APC.
"It is, however, instructive to note that having recently abandoned his academic pursuit and blindly plunged into the arena of PDP's brand of politics, the erstwhile electoral umpire as a politician can make such political statements occassionally while trying to launch his political career in a mushroom political party.
"The APC is a strong, united, popular and focused political unit. Hence, the Professor should note the political lesson that maligning the APC would not provide him a springboard to achieve his desires. Nigerians are wiser and remain the ultimate judges".
Also reacting, the pan Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, urged Nigerians to consider Jega's position, saying both parties had failed Nigerians.
Afenifere's National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Jare Ajayi said: "The statement from former chairman of INEC, who incidentally was former President of ASUU and a professor of Political Science had been in the political process in the country and he also studied it, means he has experience.
"He also midwifed the election that brought in the current administration. He certainly knows what he is talking about.
"Advising Nigerians not to vote for the PDP or the APC in 2023, with particular reference to the fact that the current administration deceived Nigerians by promising to fight corruption when it came in, is a solid argument to make and it is viable with the number of instances cited.
"The summary of it is that contrary to our expectations, which was high from both the PDP and APC, it has been dashed, particularly in the last five years.
"We understand why Professor Jega made that admonition and I think Nigerians should consider it seriously."
You supervised PDP, APC's siamese twins of corruption, MBF relies Prof Jega
Reacting to Jega's comment yesterday, the National President of Middle Belt Forum, MBF, Dr. Bitrus Pogu, said Jega could not extricate himself from the corruption in the People's Democratic Party, PDP, and the All Progressives Congress, APC, because he supervised the two parties as head of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
He said: "Prof. Jega supervised the election of PDP and APC, so if they are siamese twins of corruption, it means he was involved.
"He wouldn't know that they are corrupt if he wasn't involved with them in the corruption. Unfortunately, Jega is only nailing himself.
"Secondly, I know Jega to be of Peoples Redemption Party, PRP, at present, so he has gone political, and as a political person, he is trying to undermine those existing, so he would have an upper hand. But the fact remains that he must be part of the corruption to know that the PDP and APC are corrupt."
ACF dismisses Jega's comments
On its part, Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, dismissed Jega's comments, saying there was nothing more to it. National Publicity Secretary of ACF, Emmanuel Yawe, said: "An assertion like this can only be commented on if we have all the relevant information needed. Jega, which of them?
"The INEC Jega or the journalist Jega? Was he speaking as a politician or an election umpire or journalist? If he is speaking as an election umpire, when did he discover APC and PDP are like siamese twins of corruption?
"Is it when he was at INEC or after he left? If it was when he was still there, why did he not apply the constitutional sanctions that are provided for by the law? We believe he was just expressing his freedom of speech and there is nothing more to it."