OrderPaperToday – Two weeks ago, the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari and his counterpart in the People’s Democratic party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar both kicked off their campaign in the space of 24 hours with the launch of manifestos titled “Next Level” and “Atiku’s Plan” respectively.

While President Buhari launched his campaign in the comfort of the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Sunday 18th November, Atiku found solace online through a Facebook broadcast on Monday, 19th November, 2018.

In this first in the OrderPaperNG series on the presidential elections, we take a look at some of the issues raised by the leading presidential candidates and quote their promises to Nigerians during the launch of their respective manifestos and ahead of the nationwide campaigns.

On Jobs, poverty: Both Presidential candidates offered mouth-watering promises on job creation and reducing poverty if elected President. While Atiku vowed to attract investments that will create 2.5 million jobs annually and by extension 10 million jobs over his four year tenure, President Buhari raised the stakes higher as he promised to deliver 15 million jobs if re-elected by expanding the N-Power scheme.

The N-Power scheme of President Buhari has reportedly provided 500,000 jobs for graduates since the advent of this administration. However, on the gloomy side, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) previously announced that 7.9 million Nigerians lost their jobs under the current administration within 21 months.

Furthermore, Nigeria has overtaken India to become the capital of poverty in the world. Will Buhari manage to turn things around with his promised 15 million jobs if re-elected?

On the other hand, Atiku frequently boasts of running a successful business empire which he claims has employed over 50,000 Nigerians. It remains to be seen if he can translate his skills in business to governance as President.

Buhari: “From an enlargement of the N-Power programme to investing in technology and creative sector jobs to agriculture and revolutionising access to credit for entrepreneurs and artisans, there is scope for over 15 million new jobs.

“We believe that our people who are still in poverty have a direct way out and up through our expanded National Social Investment Programme.”

Atiku: “Investments will create a minimum of 2.5 million jobs annually and lift at least 50 million people from poverty in the first 2 years.”

On the Economy: In the area of economy, Atiku in his Facebook broadcast audaciously vowed to double the country’s GDP over the next seven years to 900 billion through supporting the growth of SMEs. For Buhari, his focus would be to grow the economy by diversifying the economy and reducing dependence on oil revenue. The President will appear to be in confident mood after leading the country in and out of recession.

Buhari: “The march away from a mono-economy must continue with our industrialisation plan coming to fore. With specific plans underway to exploit the comparative advantage of the geopolitical zones and different states by developing 6 Industrial Parks and 109 Special Production and Processing Centres (SPPCs) across each senatorial district, our incremental move away from oil dependence is assured.”

Atiku: “If elected president, I will be pro-active in attracting investments and supporting the 50 million Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises across Nigeria for the purpose of doubling the size of our GDP to 900 billion dollars by 2025.”

On Security: Atiku made no reference to the issue of security in his speech, although it is contained in his policy document titled “Atiku’s Plan”. He stated in the document that his objective is “to contain the current challenges of security in Nigeria through the deployment of good governance, visionary leadership and politics of inclusiveness that will reduce citizens’ frustration and alienation and eliminate the compulsion to take up arms against the society or fellow countrymen.”

President Buhari on his part specifically vowed to address the issue of farmers/herdsmen clashes which has been a major concern in recent years. Analysts believe that the President has lost significant goodwill especially in the middle-belt region of the country over his management of the crises.

In his speech at the launch of “Next level” document, the President blamed a “struggle for land, water and pasture, climate change and cynical manipulation by political actors” for the conflicts. He however boasted of his achievements in the dealing with insurgency in the North-east. The President highlighted that under his watch, 17 Local Government Areas have been liberated from the grip of insurgents. He added that his government has overseen the brokering of peace in the Niger Delta.

On Restructuring: Restructuring has been a cardinal campaign point for Atiku Abubakar and it is no surprise that he promised to “restructure the polity” while delivering his speech on Facebook on Monday.

President Muhammadu Buhari however failed to mention the word “restructuring” in his speech or in his “Next Level” campaign document.

The issue of restructuring has been a controversial issue, with critics accusing the present administration of reneging on its promise to restructure the country. The ruling APC once set up a committee to define the term, but little has been done by way of restructuring the country.

On Funding for states: Both candidates spoke on funding for states with President Buhari hinting that he will be willing to continue his trend of bailing out states to enable them pay salaries. Atiku in his Facebook address emphatically promised that states will get more money under him although he stressed that “the harder a state works the more they will get.”

Buhari: “The Federal Government supported state governments with bailouts that enabled them to pay workers on their payroll.”

Atiku: “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.”

On Education: Atiku only briefly mentioned education in his speech, promising “world-class” education for the youth. Furthermore, in his policy document he described education as a “basic human right” and that repositioning the sector is “a task that must be accomplished”.

President Buhari however described education as his “biggest ambition” and promised to remodel 10,000 schools every year if re-elected although he was quiet on finding lasting solution to the frequent strikes by Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other academic unions. He also promised to retrain of teachers and review the curriculum.

Buhari: “Perhaps our biggest ambition yet is the overhaul of our education sector. Every child counts – and simply, whatever it takes to prepare our teachers, curriculum and classrooms to attain the right educational goals that grow our country, will be done.

“We will remodel 10,000 schools every year and retrain our teachers to impart science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics using coding, animation, robotics to re-interpret our curriculum.”

Atiku: “This is my plan to get Nigeria working again. A plan that will give Nigeria’s youth a world-class education.”

On Corruption: A stick that has been used by the ruling APC to flog the opposition PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar is the allegation that he is corrupt. In his Facebook broadcast on Monday, the former Vice-President passed up the opportunity to talk about what his government will do in the area of anti-corruption.

However, in his policy document, Atiku promised to “Launch a comprehensive National Anti-corruption Strategy that is based on the rule of law, separation of powers, neutrality and non-partisanship to reposition and refocus all our Anti-corruption and Law Enforcement Agencies within the first 100 days in office.”

Unsurprisingly, President Muhammadu Buhari was very vocal on the issue of fighting corruption both at the event to launch his “next level document” and in the document itself. He boasted that his government has worked to make the country “corruption free” and that “grand scale corruption” is now a thing of the past. He however promised not to rest on his oars if re-elected President.

Have your say:

Ahead of 2019, whose side are you on? Buhari’s Next Level or Atiku’s Plan? Let us know in the comment section of this story


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Damilola Zebulun Adeniran
Damilola is a multiple award-winning Writer, Researcher, and Community/Sustainable Development Practitioner. His interests and experience span across media, academics, human capital development, and strategic planning. Damilola is a Paradigm Initiative Digital Rights and Inclusion Media Fellow. He is the first Nigerian in history to win the blog4dev writing contest organised by the World Bank Group. Also, Damilola's writing on violent extremism and sustainable peace in Nigeria won a PeaceWriteNow prize, presented by the Embassy of Ireland in June, 2018. His works have been published in Nigeria and the United States of America, in English and in French. Damilola has also attended important meetings within and outside the African continent including the 2019 Spring Meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington D.C, USA. He was also a special guest on a panel discussion titled “How creative industry can help to stem fragility,” which was held at the headquarters of the World Bank in Washington, D.C, USA. Furthermore, Damilola was selected as a Champion of Advocacy against extreme poverty and preventable diseases by ONE Campaign in May, 2019. An alumnus of the prestigious Lagos Business School and Federal University of Technology Akure, Damilola Adeniran represents Nigeria in the Youth Transforming Africa Program.


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