The election is very close, and the official campaigns have begun, so Nigerians are holding their breaths. Promises have begun to fly around as the major candidates battle it out for the coveted Nigeria Presidential seat. It will not be a two-horse race as it has been obtained in Nigeria since 2011. It is also the first time since 2003 that Muhammadu Buhari won’t be a candidate.
Every major candidate in this election is making lots of promises, even the unachievable ones. Since a majority of them have presented their manifestoes, I think it’s best we judge with their manifestoes and their achievements in the past, economically.
This platform, EVURA, deals with finance and every other related to it, so our concern on x-raying the candidates is to look at their manifestoes, promises, and their past functions economically.
Peter Obi’s Past and Manifesto of “Consumption to Production”
Peter Obi served as the Governor of Anambra State for 8 years. While as governor, he invested and worked in some sectors of the state like education, rural development, and security. He is mostly praised for his frugality while he served as governor.
He has claimed most times in the media that “he never stole 1 kobo while serving as governor.” Insisting, he said, “anyone who has evidence of my stealing should make it open.”
His frugality and his gentle approach to governance, rather than his infrastructural footprints, him to his supporters. To Nigerians, his managing the economy, and riding Nigeria of excess spending and corruption is enough to put the country on the right track.
Is this enough to salvage the country?
In his manifesto, Peter Obi stated that he will reposition Nigeria, and pay deep attention to improving Nigeria’s economy.
He has pledged to float the naira and remove all forms of Forex and importation restrictions. He claims that it is holding Nigeria’s economy back and affecting importers. This is as against his mantra of moving Nigeria from consumption to production.
Of course, floating the naira and removing forex restrictions are good economic policies but removing all importation restrictions could be a huge disaster for the country and a total rebuff of his policy of encouraging production.
Moving on, he is also quoted as saying Local Government in Nigeria is inefficient as most LG chairmen do not stay where they are administering.
This is a bad omen considering the importance of LG in the growth of grassroot economy. As a Governor, Peter Obi suppressed LG autonomy and mostly dipped their hands into the finance of this grassroots government for state projects. How can rural areas effectively develop, or do the people feel the impact of governance when there is no presence of government at the grassroots or under-funded local government areas?
He has also stated that borrowing for non-capital projects is a waste. This is a good policy, but is it sustainable considering the cash crunch Nigeria is experiencing at the moment?
His manifesto has other points like:
Restructuring and reviving the security framework of Nigeria. Giving more power to state and community policing. However, considering how the majority of the governors mishandle the security agencies under them, is Nigeria ripe for full state and community policing?
Then, he said he would improve the power supply without laying bare how it would be done.
The wonderful idea of Peter Obi’s presidency lies in his frugal and humble approach to governance. His supporters believe Nigeria is in dire need of a prudent manager. For infrastructural growth and that of the economy, his past and manifesto little about that.
At the time, Peter Obi was Governor of Anambra State, the GDP growth of Anambra was slow, and the IGR was poor. He has come out several times to state that “he didn’t tax people because you can’t tax poverty.” However, putting Enugu side by side with Anambra, Enugu can be said to be poorer with little taxation, and the state made twice as much what Anambra made as IGR in 2014 when Obi left office.
The most positive input of Obi as the governor of his state is in education, rural development, and the prudent management of the state’s finances. On the side of the economy, he is not a proven master with his records as governor. However, on his records, it can be said that Peter Obi is slightly above average.
Peter Obi is running for Nigerian Presidency under the platform of LP (Labor Party).
Bola Tinubu’s Past and Manifesto
Bola Tinubu is a frontrunner for the 2023 Nigeria election under the political platform of APC (All Progressive Congress). He was the Governor of Lagos from 1999 to 2007. Tinubu is often considered, by his followers, to be a master of development and a progressive economy.
Since winning the Presidential ticket of APC, Tinubu has gone on to verbally state what he will do when elected as president. His most famous speech about “putting 50 million youths in the army and feeding them with garri and corn” caused an uproar.
He hasn’t talked much to the press about his plans. He hasn’t also released a written manifesto. However, we’ll give an analysis of his word-of-mouth plans.
Tinubu claims that he will a lot about 25% of Nigeria’s annual budget to education. This is a HUGE promise, considering that Nigeria since 1999 hasn’t allotted up to 18% to the county’s education sector. Can he do this? Is Nigeria ready to have this chunk of its budget in education?
It will be almost impossible to do this, considering the infrastructural deficit of Nigeria at the moment. The politicians around him who should have a stake in his government will surely frustrate the move. 25% of the budget for education will make Nigeria lose development and progress in health, infrastructural development, and some other sectors. Even as the Governor of Lagos State, Tinubu didn’t budget anything close to the 25% he is promising Nigerians.
He promises Nigeria double digits GDP growth. It is a good promise. However, how can he achieve that? Nigeria’s projected GDP growth is around 3%.
He also said that he will promote production and agriculture in the country. He stated this implicitly when he made a “the youths and army” comment. He claims that he being in charge as the President, the Nigerian government will patronize indigenous companies, and local production of goods and services would improve.
As we mentioned earlier, he hasn’t talked much about his plans for the country. He hasn’t said anything about security, improving the economy, and many more. It was reported that he promised the South-South region that he’ll make their ports viable to boost trade in the region and decongest Lagos. Is this what he can do? We can’t say.
Nevertheless, considering his past as a governor, it can be said that Tinubu is slightly above average. On the data and available stats, Tinubu grew Lagos’ IGR by over 100% when he was the governor. He expanded the economy of Lagos, especially in the real estate sector. He introduced the modern public transportation system. He revitalized the state’s health and education sectors. He was the first governor in Nigeria to start and finish a power generating station in Nigeria.
Just like Peter Obi, Bola Tinubu didn’t do much in infrastructural development compared to the massive work his successor, Babatunde Fashola, did. While it is verifiable that indeed the state’s IGR and economy expanded under his watch, it cannot be proven that he can replicate that in Nigeria’s economy as president.
Nigeria is way more complex and complicated than managing Lagos.
Babatunde Fashola once bragged that “having frequent power supply is not rocket science, and since a part of Lagos could do it, Nigeria could do it.” Fashola not only failed to provide the constant power supply when he was later given the Minister of Power, but he also failed woefully as a power minister that he left the power supply worse than he had met it.
Furthermore, Nigerians are worried over Tinubu’s frailty, and his supposedly link to corruption. Considering that no one has proven his corrupt practices or successfully brought up against him, Bola Tinubu is very free to campaign to be the President of Nigeria.
Atiku Abubakar’s Past and his “Unifier Manifesto”
Atiku Abubakar’s mantra for the upcoming 2023 election is the “Unifier.” This is a mantra he has chosen considering how divided the country is under President Buhari’s leadership. This is as against the “Make Nigeria Great Again” he used in 2019.
Atiku Abubakar has contested several times to be president, having recently lost to incumbent President Buhari in 2019. This 2023 Presidential election is considered his last.
In his manifesto, which is more of a book, and which he titles, “My Covenant with Nigerians,” he states his plan for the country.
He claims that he’ll revive Nigeria’s economy, focusing on agriculture, services, and manufacturing. On the issue of manufacturing, his manifesto states that Nigeria is manufacturing below its capacity; he’ll work towards improving it.
For power generation, he states that it is still a drawback or cankerworm to the growth of Nigeria’s economy. He claims that he’ll work towards increasing Nigeria’s power production capacity to 25,000 megawatts. However, considering the past when he was part of Obasanjo’s government that failed to give Nigeria a constant power supply, is it possible that he can deliver this promise? He also failed to mention the issue of power transmission and distribution, which is a bigger problem than the issue of the power of production. How does he want to handle that?
Atiku Abubakar has constantly made the promise of restructuring not just Nigeria’s economy but also the political structure of Nigeria as he promises to give more autonomy to the regional governments. There is no past evidence that suggests whether he will fulfill this promise or not; however, considering that it was part of his campaign in 2019, and he still stands by it, Nigerians trust in good faith that it would come to pass.
Atiku is the loudest of the Presidential Candidates when it comes to the issue of restructuring. By this, regional governments would have more autonomy and be in control of the majority of their resources, their policing, development, and so many more.
To deal with the security issues, he has promised to devolve more power to the regional units. Thus, policing and securing the different states will be in the hand of the governors and LGA chairpersons.
In general, as regards the economy, Atiku has promised to Nigeria’s GDP growth rate and expanded the economy as a whole. Thus, there will be an improvement in all sectors and an expansion of the economy. This will lead to a reduction of poverty, and an improvement in the employment rate of Nigerians.
Writing about Atiku’s past in connection to his manifesto, it can be said that Atiku is rated as slightly above average overall. However, in terms of managing the Nigerian economy, he has good stats in his favor that he high.
Atiku, as the Chairman of the Nigerian council overseeing the economy from 1999 to 2007, Nigeria’s economy and GDP experienced the fastest growth from 1999 till date. The GDP grew at an average of 6%. The low-performing service, agriculture, and manufacturing sectors, their administration met in 1999, flourished. The economy was liberalized to an extent.
For this election, Atiku promised a total and good liberalization and overhaul of Nigeria’s economy, and the selling off of Nigeria’s redundant assets and businesses. His campaign promise of selling NNPC in 2019 was recently adopted by President Buhari’s administration and it is beginning to yield some results.
Nevertheless, would Atiku’s campaign promises of devolving security, political power, and the economy work out? Is it going to be possible considering that some sections of the country might stand against that, especially his strongholds? Then, how will he be able to convince Nigerians that the several corruption allegations heaped on him aren’t true and that Nigeria should trust him with power?
As Nigerians go to the poll in 2023, they are in a serious dilemma. The outcome of this election is very sacrosanct as Nigeria is in a very bad state. The economy is bad. The debt burden on Nigeria is enormous. The power supply is abysmal. Nigeria’s infrastructure is in a critical state. There is massive unemployment, hunger, and a lack of patriotism in the country. Who will rescue Nigeria? Who does the cap fit?
About the Writer
Bolekaja Alika is a full-blooded Nigerian. Writing what you don’t like is his hobby.