The choice between PDP and APC in next year’s election is a tricky one, writes Olawale Olaleye
In many ways than one, next year’s election shares a lot of similarities with the 2015 electoral experience. Whilst the choice between former President Goodluck Jonathan and President Buhari was then described as one between two devils, thus compelled to choose the lesser devil, the 2019 choice between Buhari and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar is no less a difficult choice.
But having tried Buhari for almost four years and his alleged inadequacies already out there, the gradual gravitation towards Atiku is understandable, not just because he has shown to be hands-on but more because of the belief that he has the capacity to turn the economy around as he already did his own personal going concern and get the country working again.
With the embargo officially lifted off political campaigns by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) last Sunday, the two leading parties immediately hopped on the turf, first by unveiling their policy documents and immediately resorting to attacks as it is typical of the political campaigns every election year.
Curiously, whilst Buhari’s APC tags its policy document ‘next level’, an idea that is already a subject of controversy over its originality, Atiku’s PDP chose to christen its document ‘making Nigeria work again’, a name recognition that seems to suit the current discontent against the APC government and a situation the PDP appears determined to exploit to the fullest.
Already, questions are being raised about what APC and Buhari mean by taking the country and her people to the next level. But the answers are in the document. While ignoring such concerns like corruption and insecurity, the document carefully focuses this time on job creation, which it spreads across the different sectors like agriculture, technology and creative sector, industrialisation and the school feeding policy.
The document also gives attention to infrastructure, majoring in roads and bridges, rail and broadband infrastructure. It goes on to power, being a major economic concern of the people and stresses such areas as generation, distribution, off and on grid power. It talks about establishing a people moni bank and the entrepreneur bank as well as commensurate policies like the ease of doing business.
It is inclined to look at the health sector very well now, capped by what it calls inclusion in government. The issue of inclusion, unfortunately, has been described as its major undoing as the Buhari government has been accused of clannishness time and time again. Next level has been embraced by APC and its supporters, whilst being torn apart by critics of the government.
Atiku, on the other hand, has a rather complex and comprehensive document, which if it were in a bidding competition, would have won the bid in question, quite easily. Starting with key messages, which address what some of the immediate problems are – the document goes on to address the candidate’s covenant with the people, its mission and then, gives a general overview of the document.
The key messages are three: under-performance by the state; structural fault-lines and unity under threat. This breakdown helps it to situate the problems in their respective context and the proposed solutions after exhausting what the issues are in each of the different headers.
With an uncanny concentration on the economy, it breaks down what the problems of the economy are and they include that ‘growth is slow and uninspiring; that economy remains undiversified; that economy is uncompetitive; that foreign investments are in decline; that the fiscal position is precarious; that the financial system is fragile; that the exchange rate management is poor and that there is regional disparity in terms of GDP.
It then goes on to do comparative analysis of the nation’s economy from 2010 till the third quarter of last year, 2017, which leads to its own agenda. This includes human capital development, promoting economic diversification, reducing infrastructure deficit, reforming public institutions and ensuring competitive and open economic system.
It states that its growth drivers would be to enable business environment, PPP for infrastructure and stable micro-economic environment. Once these are assured and done, the document envisages the features of the Nigerian economy of Atiku’s dream, which are increasing flow of FDI into the non-oil sector, strengthening linkages between oil and non-oil sectors, promoting the new economy, expanded export base and strengthening public-private partnerships.
Against this backdrop, the Atiku document states that its priorities would include job creation and entrepreneurship development, poverty alleviation and economic empowerment, infrastructure development (power, transportation, technology housing, refinery and petrochemical, human capital development, Education, Health, Youth and women empowerment, sports, culture and tourism, arts, entertainment and creative industries, environment, management of economic resources, and governance.
In addition, its priorities are not limited to restructuring, anti-graft and rule of law, national security, international relations and domestic financial services sector. It also listed, for the record, sources of long-term funds for its priorities.
Certainly, if 2019 was based on documents, then, this election would have long been over. But it is more. It is about providing leadership. It is about honest leaders in power. It is about accountable and transparent leadership – the leaders the people can trust.
As it already seems, the options in next year’s election are between going to the next level and making the country work again. In that sense, next level here means an approval of the current state of the nation while embracing the second option means the electorate is consenting to the narrative that the present Buhari government has failed and therefore, must embrace a new one that would lead them to the Eldorado.