As the presidential election campaigns begin today, September 28, ahead of the 2023 general election, Nigerians have asked politicians to focus on speaking about how they will tackle thorny challenges rocking the country ranging from economy, insecurity, health to education and identify practical ways they hope to ameliorate the people’s sufferings.
Analysts believe that given the current indices of negative performances of the economy, Nigerians would like to be interested in listening to the candidates talk about pragmatic measures they will adopt to rescue the country.
For the ruling All Progressives Congress, the campaign period is also an opportunity to review what has happened in the more than seven and half years it came into power, renew their pledge and tell the citizens what they plan to do differently this time to rescue the country that is currently on the precipice of economic disaster.
In their pre-campaign engagements in the past few weeks, some of the presidential candidates in the 2023 election have been able to present their economic blueprints to Nigerians.
Candidates of the Labour Party and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Peter Obi and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar respectively had while attending the Private Sector Economic Forum on the 2023 presidential election hosted by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) recently, highlighted their policy initiatives with which they plan to reform the nation’s economy when elected in 2023.
Atiku Mulls On Public Private Sector Partnership
Atiku had while speaking at the forum, promised to restore investors’ confidence through clear and transparent economic policies.
Atiku specifically said that he would launch a $10 billion Economic Stimulus Fund within his first 100 days in office if he wins the 2023 presidential election, to support small and medium-scale enterprises (MSMEs), as part of efforts to revive Nigeria’s ailing economy.
“Within the first 100 days in the office, I will create an Economic Stimulus Fund with an initial investment capacity of $10 billion to prioritise support to MSMEs across all the economic sectors, as they offer the greatest opportunities for achieving inclusive growth,” Atiku stated.
He also promised to give more listening ear to private sector players to attend to needs of investors, tackle the problems of infrastructure finance and the power sector, embark on robust fiscal restructuring to improve the economy and create jobs to lift many out of poverty.
He also hinted on ensuring that over the medium term, recurrent expenditure should not exceed 45 per cent of the nation’s annual budget.
Looking at the current budget profile in which the recurrent expenditure far surpasses that of capital expenditure, the PDP presidential candidate equally spoke about reviewing government spending by blocking leakages of public funds and removing fuel subsidy policy which gulps trillions of naira annually, and therefore, channel them to critical sectors of the economy to stimulate growth.
Atiku promised to support the private sector to drive growth, saying “We will establish a strong partnership in investing in infrastructure, creating jobs and income to fight against poverty. We will listen to the private sector more,” and also assured of taking steps to reduce debt accummulation by indentifying innovative funding options.
In a tweet on Wednesday morning, apparently to announce his readiness to commence the campaign, Atiku who is contesting with Delta State Governor, Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa as his runningmate wrote, “The campaign to take back and rebuild Nigeria starts today. As one, we can get it done.”
Obi’s focus on the economy
The LP presidential candidate Peter Obi on his part at the LCCI Private Sector Economic Forum last week Monday, spoke about his intention of ending fuel subsidy regime and the corruption around it and also liberalizing the entire power sector value chain to ensure a steady power supply when elected in 2023.
He said, “Petrol subsidy is an organised crime. I have said it that 60 per cent of the subsidy is corruption. That will be dealt with decisively. Secondly, we will aggressively start to ensure the promotion of local refining that is private sector driven and supply them crude oil in Naira to refine for domestic consumption.
“With the removal of subsidy, we will effectively reduce corruption to a minimal level, reduce the bloated cost of governance and above all, support and incentivize export to stabilize the currency exchange rate.”
On reviving the power sector, Obi said, “Power is something everybody is worried about. I know very well that the federal government as of today has removed power from the exclusive list to the concurrent list. But I will go further than that. Our power problem today is that we have privatised generation and distribution but left power transmission untouched.
“For me, the first thing I will do to ensure a steady power supply is to liberalise transmission. This is critical if you are going to deal with our power sector. We will support the existing companies in the distribution and generation arms by ensuring that there is a dedicated gas supply which is one of their problems today.
“We will ensure that the generation, transmission and distribution are properly aligned. We will ensure clear certainty of policy and regulatory environment for them to operate. We will support them with access to funding that is attractive and deal with some tax incentives. We have to ensure that renewable energy is embedded in our power process.”
The LP presidential candidate also said his administration would tackle insecurity that is ravaging the country and put a stop to oil theft as well.
“If we come to government in 2023, one thing that we must decisively and aggressively deal with is the issue of security. Insecurity is the number one thing that is impacting Nigeria’s economic growth today. And I need to deal with it as quickly as possible.
“We need to overhaul the entire security architecture, including having multilevel policing involving the federal, state and community and equip them properly with modern gadgets.
“Nobody will be able to kidnap, keep his victim somewhere and use phone to negotiate ransom with his victim’s family” without being caught.”
Obi had also in other fora spoken about the need to take immediate steps to scale up production in the country for exports to boost foreign exchange earnings especially in non-oil sectors as oil revenue which is the main source of sustenance for the country’s economy keeps dwindling.
Tinubu on his plans for Nigeria
Also, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Ahmed Tinubu had in May shared his manifesto for transformation of Nigeria when elected next year.
According to a press statement signed by Bayo Onanuga, Director of Media and Communication, for Tinubu Presidential Campaign Council, APC candidate in the manifestor titled ‘My Vision for Nigeria’, promised to lead Nigeria to a new era of economic prosperity, peace, security, and political stability.
Tinubu in the document articulated his visions for stimulating economic growth, improving security through creation of regional or state police, provision of basic needs of the citizens and creation of enabling environment for democratic institutions to thrive.
The APC national leader stated in the document that he has a vision of a “A vibrant and thriving democracy and a prosperous nation with a fast-growing industrial base, capable of producing the most basic needs of the people and exporting to other countries of the world.Tinubu, according to a press statement signed by his Director of Media and Communication, Bayo Onanuga, on May 28, 2022, said his team would lead Nigeria to a new era of economic prosperity, peace, security, and political stability.
In the manifesto titled, ‘My Vision for Nigeria’, the APC leader promised to improve security by decentralizing the policing of the country and creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs simultaneously.
He also vowed to transform Nigeria into an enviable country and one where there would be justice, peace and prosperity for all, with “a robust economy.”
The document read, “A vibrant and thriving democracy and a prosperous nation with a fast-growing industrial base, capable of producing the most basic needs of the people and exporting to other countries of the world.
“A country with a robust economy, where prosperity is broadly shared by all, irrespective of class, region, and religion.
“A nation where its people enjoy all the basic needs, including a safe and secure environment, abundant food, affordable shelter, health care, and quality primary education for all.
“A nation founded on justice, peace, and prosperity for all.”
He also promised to create effective policies for agricultural transformation to boost food security.
These and more are what analysts say Nigerians want to hear from the presidential candidates as campaigns kick off today, in line with the schedule/timetable released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 2023 general election.
Nigerians Speak On their expectations from the candidates
The citizens who spoke with Prime Business Africa from different parts of the country, have urged the presidential contenders and those managing their campaigns to avoid deception in their promises to the Nigerian people.
Ebuka Eze, An Enugu-based legal practitioner said the political parties and their candidates are expected to present a clear and transparent campaign strategy “so that their various supporters can be impressed with a good reason to vote them in the 2023 national election.”
Eze who stated that tension is growing in the polity as the 2023 polls draw closer, said “We expect the various party candidates to come out openly to the people and tell us exactly how they intend to resuscitate this drowning entity of a country, also relate to us directly on the diverse manifestos and plans they have within the four years in the office of the presidency if they are elected in line with the constitution of the country.”
Eguakun Melody, a young graduate based in Lagos said “In this upcoming campaign, I will like to hear and see problem solvers, leaders who are ready to put the citizens into consideration and bring us out of this current predicament the APC led administration has brought upon us.”
He also said the campaigns should not be business as usual, urging politicians to turn a new leaf in their politicking activities.
“In the past years campaigns have been monetized and also turned out to be bloody which do not speak well of a democratic state like our country Nigeria. What I will want to see differently in this coming campaigns is a situation whereby such political activity is being run smoothly without violence and bloodshed, also I will like to see a situation where material things such as money etc are not being distributed to the people,” Melody stated.
On electoral debates, an NYSC Corp member Ibitomi Peculiar said “My expectation of the campaign is that I look forward to hearing the presidential candidates present our national issues and problems. What is their level of awareness of the core issues in Education, Security, Healthcare, and Economy, among other matters?
“Also, I expect an intellectual analysis of it from them likewise how they hope to address the issues if elected. There is an emphasis on the “how” because I’m highly interested in knowing the strategies they want to deploy for both long and short time. That way, I’ll be able to predict their level of knowledge on core national issues beyond manifestos written by professionals and the methods and strategies they’ll likely deploy.”
Also speaking to Prime Business Africa on his expectations from the candidates during the election campaigns, Ifeanyi Okoro, a Nigerian based in Dubai said the candidates should desist from the current trend of exchanging verbal attacks by political parties and mutual mudslinging whereby each candidate tries to tarnish the other’s reputation to score cheap political points.
He said “Nigerian politicians should outgrow the current practice of throwing verbal brickbats on political opponents. In the course of the campaign, we want to hear them speak to issues affecting Nigeria’s economy and how they will address them not attacking each other as some are currently doing.”
Similarly, Austin Azu, a broadcast journalist based in Asaba Delta State urged the candidates to focus on issue-based campaign and be conversant with the electoral laws to avoid actions that could harm their political fortunes in the process.
“They should focus on issue-based campaign and acquaint themselves with the electoral law. Avoid heating up the polity and sell their manefesto to the citizens without rancours,” Mr. Azu stated.