One Office, Many Policy Documents

One Office, Many Policy Documents

Tuesday, January 15, 2019 5:06 pm

Muhammadu Buhari

Atiku Abubakar


As the 2019 presidential election comes closer, the candidates release their plans


Sunday 18 November 2018 was a D-Day in Nigeria’s electoral calendar many citizens looked forward to. That day, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, opened the floodgates and windows for politicians to openly begin their campaigns and serial maneuvers for the 2019 general elections. Once the day arrived, the actors flooded the political greenery with the energy of athletes who were released into a competition by a starter bullet.
Now, the ceremonies of ‘on your mark, set…, go’ are over and public office seekers and their political parties are on the field scavenging for votes. But, it’s been a crowded landscape, with more than 50 of the 91 registered political parties fielding candidates to jostle for the first office in the land. So far, about a dozen of the presidential candidates and their parties have launched their campaign documents in a sandwich of ceremonies analysts have variously described as grandiose, impactful and moderate.
Those who have launched their campaigns include incumbent President Muhammodu Buhari who is seeking reelection on the platform of All Progressives Congress, APC; former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, candidate of People’s Democratic Party, PDP; former education minister and social advocate of the Bring Back Our Girls fame, Dr. Oby Ezekwezili, Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, ACPN; former Governor Donald Duke of Social Democratic Party, SDP; Sahara Reporters’ publisher, Omoyele Sowore, African Action Congress, AAC; former Central Bank Deputy Governor, Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, of Young Progressive Party, YPP; Fela Durotoye of Alliance for New Nigeria, ANN, Tope Fasua of Abundance Nigeria Renewal Party, ANRP; former Chief Security Officer to the late Head of State, Hamza Al-Mustapha of People’s Party of Nigeria,PPN,
President Buhari was first to set the ball rolling, with the arrival of the long awaited day. At a colourful ceremony in Aso Rock that Sunday evening (5-8 pm) the president presented a two-part campaign document to the nation. The first part contains his achievements in the first tenure, while the second part, tagged Next Level chronicles his plans for the future.
Although, tongues have been wagging over the originality of the Next Level concept with some accusing the number one citizen of plagiarism, his party has praised the document to high heavens. The APC made a daring financial statement on the campaign flag off by placing cover advertorials in five national dailies, (namely The Nation; the Sun; Punch;) and covering the event Live on national television. Those who should know say the publicity may have gulped about one hundred million naira.
Away from the razzmatazz, the Next Level is a document that seeks to keep the nation in its current path. Buhari decried the decay he inherited and said he had used the first tenure to lay a strong foundation for a new Nigeria. “We have worked hard to fulfil our promises – and while the road may have been difficult, over the last three and a half years, we have laid the foundation for a strong, stable and prosperous country for the majority of our people.” Buhari said.
He then tutored that “Foundational work is not often visible, neither is it glamorous –but it is vital to achieving the kind of country we desire. Judging by the prior depth of decay, deterioration and disrepair that Nigeria had sunken into, we are certain that these past few years have put us in good stead to trudge on the Next Level of building an even stronger nation for our people.”
The president highlighted his achievements in security, agriculture and social investment among others. He then set his mission for seeking re-election. He plans to continue the war against corruption, concentrate on job/wealth creation and prioritize education.
“We know that to succeed, moral integrity and conscience must continue to form the dominant character of our nation and its leadership. Corruption is an existential threat to Nigeria. Despite the gains we have made in closing the gates, we know that there is still much ground to cover to stop systemic corruption. We are committed to deepening the work we started this first term such that the nation’s assets and resources continue to be organized and utilised to do good for the common man. The next four years will be quite significant for our country. Nigeria is faced with a choice to keep building a new Nigeria- making a break from its tainted past which favoured an opportunistic few. Our choices will shape us –Join us on this journey to the Next Level of a prosperous, strong and stable Nigeria.”
Nigerians were still digesting Buhari’s message when Atiku, his main challenger came with his own. Atiku’s launch surprisingly lacked the pageantry and flambouyance that heralded the President’s. It came Monday, 19th November. About noon that day, the Waziri Adamawa took to his verified twiter handle and other social media platforms to present his message. In the 63-page docunent christened the Atiku Pact, the PDP candidate promised what analysts have described as akin to a private sector driven capitalist econony. He emphasized anti corruption, restructuring and job creation as pillars of his leadership when voted into power.
The ex -vice president said : “Today,I am formally presenting myself to you as the presidential candidate of not just the PDP but of the hopes and aspirations of all Nigerians . .The most important question in this election is : “ Are you better off than you were four years ago ? Are we richer or poorer?” That is why our primary focus is on getting Nigeria working again .
“I am strongly of the view that I am just one Nigerian and one Nigerian cannot be as wise as all Nigerians . That is why I will offer an inclusive leadership . Atiku Abubakar is 100% for 100% of Nigerians , 100% of the time . Too often , Nigerians have been promised better governance by those seeking their votes. Such individuals have preyed on the legitimate desires of our people for their conditions to be improved , that they make all sorts of promises. I am not one for making grandiose promises .
Rather than promises , I believe in policies. A promise is an indication to do a future action . A policy is a plan to achieve future goals.
“As the International Monetary Fund stated very recently , it is the failure of this government to have a coherent and comprehensive set of policies combined with poor leadership that has led to its failure to deliver. Over the last 18 months , I have worked with the best experts Nigeria has to offer to come up with policies and plans that when implemented will get Nigeria going in the right direction again.”
In another document titled my plans to get Nigeria working again, Atiku admitted there will be no quick fixes to the problems and called on people to support his quest for leadership. “The next four years will determine our future in the global race , whether we can regain our leadership role in world affairs , reverse the economic meltdown, reinstate a sense of belonging for everyone, regain our people’s trust to protect their lives and property and ensure sustained prosperity .
“Therefore, it has never been more imperative than now that Nigeria needs strong and purposeful governance as well as a capable leader to get the country working again. It is now imperative to provide Nigeria with formidable and sustainable governance that will enable our people to make the most of opportunities that the country presents.” he added. Atiku is convinced that his policy to get Nigeria Working again , when implemented, would build a stronger nation equipped with jobs, opportunities, unity and holistic security for all.
The inauguration of campaigns also came with some theatrics. Ezekwezili located a commendable way of connecting wirh the people thriugh a road show. Althiugh it is not certain whether the attendance was out of curiosity or genuine interest in her candidature, the event was witnessed by a sizeable number of people. The former minister shared leaflets and booklets on her dreams for Nigeria and encouraged recipients to spread the message to others. She presebted what looked like a middle of the road manifesto between the APC’s semi-welfarist and PDP’s capitalist ambition plot and assured the people that her ACPN has the panacea for nation’s woes.
Some of the flag offs, were solemn, almost passive. Moghalu’s is in this category. The reknown economist and YPP candidate commenced his crusade for Aso Rock by allowing free access to his book on the internet. He says the book, titled BIG (Build, Innovate and Grow) is a product of years of painstaking research and reflections that encapsulates how to fix Nigeria.
“It is not a policy document or just a few years plan, it’s a vision that even my successors can latch on and continue. With my book: B.I.G, all Nigerians have a real blueprint of what to.expect from 2019,” Moghalu said
As political parties and their candidates are in a rat race to present their campaign manifestos and policy documents to the electorate, Nigerians have been reacting to the issue. Anthony Kila, a professor of development and strategy described the development as being heathy for the polity. He said the policy documents will provide the basis for future assessment of whoever eventually emerges. The Professor described Buhari’s document as ‘a catalyst and interventionist plan’; Atiku’s he said is a ‘liberal, market-based capitalistic’ document and Ezekwezilli’s a ‘reformist plan’. Kila however demanded that the candidates should provide a time table for their action plans.
Lawyer and human rights activist, Monday Ubani commended the candidates for providing the policy documents. He however warned Nigerians not to swallow the documents hook, line and sinker but to read through them and hold politicians to their words, otherwise they would become empty promises. “Most of the documents are beautiful as usual, but the integrity of the candidates is very key because that is what will make them fulfill all the promises that have made, else they remain what they are, promises.”
On his part, an election observer and activist, Ezenwa Nwagwu condemned the policy documents and instead called for a citizens’ charter. He argued that since every party has a manifesto, candidates need not waste time and resources on consultants to help them prepare another set of policy documents. “What we need is not a policy document but a citizen charter, designed by communities, with which they can hold elected persons accountable.” Nwagwu opined.
What impact will the beautiful manifestos and colorful policy documents have on the electorate and voting pattern? Only time will tell.

Join The Conversation

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.