2019 Presidency: What candidates’ policy documents say they will do – Part 2
With the presence of more political parties presenting as alternatives to the dominant All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the 2019 Presidential race has a full complement of fresh candidates. These fresh men and women in the race are leveraging ideas around the discourse on generational shift in the country’s political system. They are trying to tap into resentments and sentiments, which frown at the fact that Nigeria, a country with a youthful population of very innovative people, is being led by grandfathers, who should ordinarily be in retirement. Although many close observers reckon that they may not have the vast network and financial resources to realistically win the big prize, they are however disrupting politics, and pushing for an elevation of basis of engagement with the electorate. The forte of the candidates of the fringe parties is in the realm of innovation and new thinking.
To aid their cause, which they would say is the struggle to free Nigeria from the vice-grip of the APC-PDP axis of the ruling elite, these candidates presenting themselves as the alternatives to the establishment politicians have been taking advantage of spaces like social media, and organising tools made possible by technology, to get their campaign messages across to the electorate. The result is that gradually, they are building a movement of supporters across the country, which may not immediately enable their victory, but could be the building blocks for a future grand coalition that could reshape the nature and character of Nigerian politics. In terms of ideas therefore, it would be interesting to analyze the depth, effectiveness and sustainability of the key policy ideas they are pitching to Nigerians.
Omoyele Sowore, Africa Action Congress (AAC)
EVEN before the 2019 campaign started, Sowore had been unsparing in his criticism of the current political elite and their policies. Running for President on the platform of the AAC has afforded him a political platform to articulate his own ideas, and how they should be implemented to improve the quality of governance in Nigeria. Sowore’s policy document is titled; Moving Nigeria Forward: A Manifesto for Growth and Prosperity.
In the document, the candidate promises to galvanize members of his movement, the Take It Back Movement, to unleash productivity and growth in Nigeria through a strategic focus on three main pillars, and 10 economic sectors. According to the document, the three main pillars are enhancing national security, promoting sustainable growth, and enabling sufficiency in key areas of the economy, such as agriculture and petroleum products. The document points out that a Sowore Presidency would put strategic focus of governance on security, power, infrastructure, corruption, economy and jobs, restructuring, healthcare, education, agriculture and tourism. The document gives the acronym for this slew of areas of focus as SPICER HEAT.
Going by the calculations of the AAC candidate, the plan will expand economic growth and create five million jobs within various sectors. The plan similarly talks about an expansion in generation and transmission infrastructure to provide for an additional 17,000 megawatts of electricity. Added to this is the planned expansion of Nigeria’s road and rail infrastructure to unleash economic growth. AAC is also promising Nigerians access to universal basic healthcare coverage, and to provide 17 million affordable housing units to households in Nigeria. In the document, the AAC also promises to pay workers and youth corpers a federal minimum wage of N100,000.
On the key issue of security, the AAC candidate’s plan notes that serious plans that aim to address insecurity, must consider the welfare, resourcing and training of those who manage the nation’s security apparatus and the law enforcement agencies. The document does a diagnosis to the effect that the security challenges Nigeria is facing are trans-border in nature, including Boko Haram, which is aligned with ISIS, a global terror group. It notes that there is the dimension of the farmers-herdsmen problem, which is rooted in the flow of arms from conflict areas in North Africa. The document there notes that these international dimensions of the security problems confronting Nigeria would impact the administration’s foreign policy, if voted into power. It notes, “while global issues are fluid and dynamic, we will maintain a foreign policy strategy that seeks at all times to enhance Nigeria’s national security and set our nation on a path of sustainable growth.”
Subsequently, the AAC document points to opportunities in the farmers-herders problem for the creation of jobs and for peace building. It notes that comprehensive solutions to the farmers- herders conflict will require the transformation of cattle rearing business in Nigeria from a pastoral approach to a commercial ranching model.
“To this end, our government will work to support the establishment of commercial ranches proximate to the hydrological zones that can provide access to the year-round water resources required for use by animals as well as for irrigation of the land to plant forage crops and grass during the dry season.” The plan further elucidates that significant benefits will accrue from the conversion of cattle rearing practices to the commercial ranching model. According to the plan, as much as 2.5 million acres of land will be required for commercial ranching with about 10 animals to be allotted per acre. Ranches, the plan projects, will be broken into 10-acre allotments, making a total of 250,000 of such allotments, with each allotment managed by one farm hand. This process, the AAC candidate’s plan notes, will create about 250,000 jobs in the process.
Tope Fasua, Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP)
Economist Tope Fasua is another fresh face on the campaign trail who has brought new governance perspectives to the campaign discourse. His 28 page campaign document is titled; The Revolution of Ideas. In the introduction, the document makes the point that the ideas it enunciates, are not driven by just off the cuff understanding of the governance challenges facing Nigeria. The candidate states that the ideas formulated therein take into cognizance the many mistakes of the past and the present, especially the total neglect of Nigeria’s most important resource, its human resource. The document notes that investment in human beings is not just about providing them with education or access to good health. The document notes this investment also entails spending on mental uplift and their sense of self-worth. As for the core projections and achievements, which an ANRP government under his leadership would push for, the ANRP candidate firstly notes that it plans to take 70 million Nigerians out of crass poverty in four years. The ANRP candidate also plans to reduce the size of the Federal Government and strengthen local governments within the ambit of Nigeria’s federalism. The candidate also plans to project Nigeria’s next phase of growth through local governments and wards inclusion in development.
Other priorities for an ANRP administration in accordance with its plans include; to achieve a 15 to 20 percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth year on year, towards doubling GDP in four years. Candidate Fasua also plans to commence economic restructuring by recalibrating the Federation Allocation Accounts Committee (FAAC) sharing formula to make it such that the FG takes 25 percent, the states take 35 percent, and the Local Governments would get up to 40 percent of national revenues.
Subsequently, the candidate notes that in the case of the LGAs, such allocations will be based on objective indices, such as the number of schools, birth enrolment and death rate to prevent indiscriminate creation of LGAs by states. The candidate in his policy document equally talks of plans to create 1million essential jobs for youths in the public sector; he also has the plan to create a general services agency for public sector procurement. This he explains would eradicate problem of every agency in government working and operating in their own silos, just as it will allow for shared services among government agencies, while allowing for efficient use and tracking of government assets.
In the plan, Fasua also promises a swift and efficient war against corruption, which is driven by exemplary leadership. To this end, the plan promises to create special anti-graft tribunals.
In the area of self-sufficiency in petroleum products, especially against the background of high prices and the production issues Nigeria has experienced, Fasua plans to formalize initiatives for mini refineries in Nigeria’s oil bearing Niger Delta region. He notes that this will be done on a community basis, apparently as a way of making restive communities have a sense of ownership, which would in turn help secure oil and gas infrastructure in the Niger Delta.
Fasua equally promises that an ANRP government on his watch would pursue a holistic review of the 1999 Constitution to take care of some new governance proposal, which the administration would put forward. Part of these governance proposals would include the re-definition of trunk roads, as well as littoral or shore states to determine what distance into the sea, within which such states can lay claims to mineral rights.
Fasua in his policy plan also wants states to have their own prisons, such that the overcrowding and congestion in current federal prisons would be reduced. On electricity, the plan talks of the need for Nigeria to transition to cheap alternative energy sources on the basis of micro, and mini grids with 100 percent local content and knowledge innovation. In the plan, the candidate then goes on to talk about the need for Nigeria to urgently reset its destiny and governance systems.
He said: “We will go back to the default mode, as if we are just obtaining our independence in 1960. Yes, they say a people need to revert to history in order to know where they must not head in the future; and how.” In line with the need to reset, Fasua in his plan promises to address five key emergencies within the context of governance. The first emergency according to the plan is on security. In this respect, Fasua says he plans to mobilise Nigeria’s youthful assets to ensure internal security throughout the country, especially in the area of intelligence gathering.
The next emergency the candidate seeks to address is in the area of food security. On this point, he notes that a food poor country cannot achieve greatness, and that to address the food insecurity in Nigeria, he would pursue initiatives to ensure food is healthy, plenty and cheap. The plan points out that the candidate’s policy in this direction is driven by the perspective that agriculture is not only a business but also a sector, which is about the very survival of the country. The third emergence has to do with cleaning up Nigeria based on the assertion that the worth of a people is based on the level of care they give to their physical environment. Next is the point about making Nigeria the most organised country in Africa, and lastly Fasua talks of the need for emergency of Nigeria’s human resource.
He notes in the plan that these five emergencies are critical because the Nigerian people need to be the pre-eminent reason for governance. He said the people of Nigeria have been deliberately demented and mentally pulverized by machinated poverty, hunger and lack of opportunities. Solving these basic problems, the candidate notes, would be an ANRP administration’s first port of call.
Fela Durotoye, Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN)
Durotoye is another fresh face in the 2019 campaign trail shaking up the governance debate with new ideas. His policy document titled ASPIRE says he will focus on agriculture, security, power, infrastructure, restructuring and empowerment. In terms of the programmatic focus, the outline notes that an ANN led government will step out of the way and allow the private sector to flourish. This it says it will do by eliminating the bottlenecks to registering and operating businesses in Nigeria. The plan according to the candidate’s policy proposals is to incentivize the civil service to take the efforts at improving the enabling environment seriously, using transparency and rewards for effective implementation of reforms.
An ANN government, if elected is promising to implement policies that will attract foreign investors. These investors, it is projected will work with companies and employ Nigerians. To do this, the ANN is planning to invest in the National Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) and make it one of the top investment promotion agencies in the world. Other plans relating to the economy includes working with states to make land easily available for agriculture and industrial activities, and empowering all local governments to generate their own revenue through support for private sector investments in agriculture. In the area of a digital economy, the ANN plans to work with the private sector to invest in broadband across the country. The goal is to transition Nigeria to a digital economy and facilitate the process of bridging the gap between the farms and the markets.
On security, the ANN candidate weighs in on the state police debate; he says he plans to strengthen the police force at the federal level and extensively train the new state police. Added to this is the plan to increase human capital through a corresponding increase in number of police academies in the country. The plan similarly talks of education and specialized trainings for police officers including identifying expert fields for the officers. ANN says it will provide better employment benefits and salaries for police officers, while deploying technology in intelligence gathering and communication to enable the police deliver on its law enforcement mandate. Another dimension of the ANN security plan is its push to eradicate what it describes as the current proliferation of security militia groups across states and replace with state police.
On infrastructure, the ANN candidate promises he would lead an administration that would rebuild and revamp existing sea ports outside of Lagos, including Warri, Port Harcourt, Calabar, and Sapele. This step, the candidates says would ensure cargo redistribution to other parts of the country.
Durotoye and his party also want to establish what it refers to as a zero pot-hole policy on Federal and State roads in collaboration with relevant stakeholders at the three tiers of government. Other planned measures include expanding and widening the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, Aba – Port Harcourt road and other main economic corridors of the country, and transforming the high traffic airports to world-class status through concessions with private partners. The candidate similarly pledged to construct affordable housing units through PPP arrangements and establish a land- servicing fund, which will support the development of off-site infrastructure for affordable housing estates.