A News Analysis by Ali Baba-Inuwa, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
Related imageOn February 16, Nigerians in various political parties will go to the polls for presidential elections across the country.
Although there are 91 registered political parties in the country, only 72 of them present candidates for the election.
Perceptive observers note that the election is a straight fight between the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, who is seeking re-election on the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Other notable contenders include Mr Omoyele Sowore of the African Action Congress, Mr Kingsley Moghalu of the Young Progressives Party and Mr Sina Fagbenro-Byron of the KOWA Party
Mr Fela Durotoye of the Alliance for New Nigeria; Mr Obadaiah Mailafia –African Democratic Congress — and Mrs Eunice Atuejide of the National Interest Party, are also among several others contenders on the platforms of their various political parties.
Most of the contenders have also, during the electioneering, unveiled plans on how they intend to meet the aspirations of the electorate through their manifestos.
Buhari’s next level manifesto is primarily based on his anti corruption fight which he started in 2015.
It also involves a commitment to provision of infrastructure, rebuilding the economy and sustaining the anti-insurgency war.
The two-part document also show-cased the achievements of the administration in the past three years, especially in the provision of infrastructure and tackling insecurity.
In his electioneering, Buhari said “the next four years will be quite significant for our country.
“Nigeria is faced with a choice to keep on building a new Nigeria or to go back to its tainted past, which favoured the opportunistic few.
“Our choices will surely shape us, defining clearly, our economic security and our future prosperity.
“Nigeria, more than ever before, needs a stable and people-focused government to move the development of our county forward; join us in this journey to the next level for a strong and stable Nigeria’’.
Also, in his campaign, Atiku promised to attract investments and support 50 million Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises (SMEs) if elected president to increase Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to 900 billion dollars by 2025.
He said that the investments would also create a minimum of 2.5 million jobs annually and lift at least 50 million people from poverty in the first two years.
He also said that his team would help to create jobs by innovating flagship programmes such as the national open apprenticeship programme through the capacity of master-craftsmen and women to train one-million new apprentices every year would be enhanced.
“Our national innovation fund and SMEs venture capital fund initiatives will provide stable and sustainable long-term support to aspiring entrepreneurs’’, he said.
According to him, his plan to restructure Nigeria will lead to a vast increase in the internally generated revenue, both for the federal government and the states.
“Let me be clear, no state will receive less funding than they get today; in fact all will receive more and the harder a state works the more they will get’’, Atiku promised.
The PDP presidential candidate said that he was not out to make promises without plan as being witnessed in the past.
“I believe in setting goals and coming up with realistic plans and policies to achieving those goals; leadership is having the discipline to commit to one’s goals until they are a reality’’, he said.
Beyond the two key contenders, Mr Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, the presidential candidate for People’s Trust Party, pledged to grow Nigeria’s economy to 4 trillion dollars in 10 years, if elected.
“We want to grow the economy of Nigeria to become four trillion dollars in 10 years and that will put us at par with Malaysia and Thailand as middle income economies.
“Nigeria needs a four trillion-dollar economy to become a middle income economy; that’s our target and it is realistic if we set up a strategy to achieve it’’, he said.
He said that his administration would prioritise tourism, restructure the education system and expand income through infrastructure funds, solid minerals, foreign investments and intellectual capital protection.
He promised to promote knowledge-based economy through effective copyright laws to ensure that innovators get due reward for their work and protect Nigeria’s intellectual property.
In his campaign, Mr Kingsley Moghalu, the Presidential candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), said that Nigeria needed a different kind of leadership that could transform the country and make it the envy of other nations.
He said that if he was elected as the country`s next president, his administration would address the root course of its challenges.
Moghalu, a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, said that his administration would restructure the country, using the constitution.
He further said that women and the youth would be recognised in his administration.
He promised to create skill acquisition centres in all parts of the country while access to loan would be made possible for small and medium scale business.
Similarly, Mr Fela Durotoye, presidential candidate of Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), said that he was poised to deliver everything that needed to take Nigeria to an enviable height.
Durotoye said it was regrettable that in spite of its natural resource, Nigeria had yet to achieve its full potential.
Dr Obadiah Mailafia, the African Democratic Congress (ADC) presidential candidate, pledged to restore National Economic Development Plan if elected president.
Obadiah said the culture of Economic Development Plan was abandoned in the 80s.
He also said poor infrastructure which had resulted in high rate of unemployment had been responsible for poor development in the country.
“I am going to bring back the culture of economic development planning; Nigeria stopped its economic development plan around 1985 which was not properly implemented.
“I am going to pursue infrastructure development; there is no civilised country in the 21st century that does not have steady power supply.
“I will issue an executive order that all government buildings must have a solar panel on their roofs’’, Mailafia said.
Mailafia further said that the country required a monitoring and evaluation agency within the heart of government to follow up on policies of government.
“In government, we need a performance contract which will be signed by ministers, heads of agencies of government.
“The contract will be printed and pasted behind their offices that anybody that is coming in will know the contract the official has to fulfill’’, he said.
The ADC presidential candidate also underscored the need to diversify the economy through industrialisation and technology, observing that oil revenue was no longer sustainable.
“Every 30 years the population of Nigeria doubles, by 2020, our population is expected to be 200 million and we are still trying to develop at this stage.
“If we don’t create jobs for our millions of youths, every year millions of youths are turned out from the tertiary institutions and they do not have anywhere to go.
“The only way we can do that is to industralise this country, embrace
industralisation, technology and that is the way we can absorb these youths’’, he said.
Irrespective of these promises, some civil society organisations, have described some of the campaigns as vague.
Mr Frank Tietie, Executive Director, Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights, said that there was need for political parties to base their campaigns on reality and not on fantasy.
“I advise political parties to be truthful and say what they can do because most of them build their aspiration on good intention but the reality is usually far different from what they perceive.
“They are unable to carry out their aspirations, so it is left to the people to hold them accountable to always assess what they are doing about their promises after winning elections’’, he said.
Beyond that, Ms Idayat Hassan, Director, Centre for Democracy and Development observed that the manifestos of most parties were not inspiring.
She, nonetheless, advised politicians to be specific and state exactly what they could do when in power rather than teasing the electorate in their campaigns.