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Interrogating economic rescue plans of presidential candidates

Emergence of presidential flag bearers of key political parties marks the completion of important phase in the journey to 2023 general elections. Presidential aspirants have swung into action, regaling discerning electorates with their economic blueprint, ABDULWAHAB ISA reports

A major aspect of Nigeria’s journey to the 2023 general elections was recently concluded. Political parties that will compete in the presidential race have had their respective candidates elected through delegates’-conducted primaries. For the party at the centre, former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate.

The main opposition party, the People’s Democratic party (PDP)’s presidential primary was won by the former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar; former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, is the presidential candidate of the Labor Party; Dr. Rabiwu Kwankwaso emerged the presidential candidate of New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Dumebi Kachikwu clinched the African Democratic Congress (ADC) presidential ticket, while Prince Malik Ado-Ibrahim emerged the presidential candidate of the Young Progressive Party (YPP).

The six presidential candidates, who lined up in their quest to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in what promises to be high stake competitive election to be conducted by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), have been marketing their manifestos.

Subtly as it were, candidates have, in earnest, kicked off with their various socio-economic blue print. Currently, there are three frontliners — PDP’s Atiku Abubakar, Peter Obi of Labor Party and Ahmed Tinubu of APC —are engaging the public with their economic blue print. They (candidates) have spoken on how they intend to rebuild Nigeria and improve on her current multifaceted challenges. In their estimation, the country’s challenge is largely a function of dysfunctional economy.

Atiku’s road map for reviving ailing economy

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, a former vicepresident and past contestant for the office of presidency, is PDP’s standard bearer in next year’s election. He has listed a number of policies he intends to pursue if elected president of Nigeria to improve on the current stagnated economy.

Unveiling his economic policy document tagged ‘The three guiding principles of my economic agenda,’ last week, Atiku promised to give the private sector a greater role in the economy. If elected, the former vice president said his administration would break government monopoly in all sectors of the economy, including infrastructure. Atiku said he will allow the market a greater leverage in determining the prices, which would aid in eliminating the frequent price distortions in the country.

He added that his administration would reposition the public sector to focus on its core responsibilities. He listed three principles his admin-istration would be guided in achieving economy’s turn around. He promised to reaffirm the critical sector of private leadership and greater private sector participation in development, while repositioning the public sector to focus on its core responsibilities of facilitation and enabling appropriate legal framework for rapid economy and social development.

Secondly, he promised to break government monopoly in all infrastructural sectors, including the refineries, rail transportation and power and give private investors a larger role in funding and managing the sectors, thus emulating the benefits accrued in the oil and gas and telecom sector. The former vice president added that he will “allow the market greater leverage in determining the prices. That way, he said, it will eliminate the persistent price distortions occasioned by current interventionist exchange rate management policy. “Government interventions, where absolutely necessary, will be done responsibly and judiciously,” he said.

Tinubu’s economic blue print

Former Lagos State governor and one time senator, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is the presidental candidate of APC. He has been speaking on how his administration will improve on the country’s economic fortunes if elected as Nigeria’s president next year. The former Lagos State governor promised to make the economy a centerpiece of his fiscal and economic policy, pledging to optimise economic growth and employment.

“I will focus on stimulating jobs, which will be my top priority as president. I will get Nigeria to work by launching a major public works programme, a significant and heavy investment in infrastructure and value-adding manufacturing and agriculture. My administration will build an efficient, fast-growing and well-diversified emerging economy with a real GDP growth averaging 12 per cent annually for the next four years, translating into millions of new jobs during this period.” In the area of agriculture and food production, Tinubu promised to reinvent abandoned commodity exchange board to deepen food production.

He said: “There will be a renewed focus on agriculture and food security by formulating a new national policy on agriculture to boost food production and GDP growth rate of over seven per cent annually. My administration will strengthen the new Lagos Commodity Exchange Board and promote the establishment of new ones for strategic agricultural products like cotton, cocoa, rice, soya beans, corn, palm kernel and groundnuts, thereby guaranteeing minimum prices for all these cash crops, boosting productivity and enhancing average farm income and growth in the rural economy.

“I will promote the creation of a new set of young agric-entrepreneurs by encouraging and supporting young school leavers to take into agriculture after undergoing vocational training at the various schools of agriculture. “I will collaborate with state governments to expand extension services and provide technical support for farmers on mechanisation and modern farming techniques.

The goal is to modernise agriculture and agro-allied businesses and gradually move Nigeria away from subsistence farming to small and mediumsized commercial farming and production”, he said. He spoke on his administration’s strategy to tackle poverty menace. Tinubu said his immediate goal will include to provide for all Nigerians basic needs of life at the minimum — affordable housing, food security, quality primary education and healthcare for all and a conducive and safe living environment.

“I will make the complete eradication of poverty a significant priority of my administration. My strategy is to first get as many Nigerians as possible to work and to earn decent wages. The job creation initiatives highlighted above will all combine to create an unprecedented number of new jobs, which will absorb millions of young people, the middleaged and women and pull them out of poverty towards a path of prosperity.”

Obi’s economic

rescue plan Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra State, is the flag-bearer of Labour Party. He said his governance mission would focus on “national security, human security, food security and tackling insecurity created by unemployment.” In his acceptance speech as LP flag bearer, Obi gave acclue on top priorities of his government if elected. “Our governance mission will be twin-tracked. Secure Nigeria in every ramification: national security, human security, food security and tackling insecurity created by unemployment.

“We will also seek to unite our nation by pulling our people out of poverty and creating a new sense of nationalism and patriotism. Nigeria shall rise again: and her people will be proud to claim ownership of her patrimony. Doing so is in our collective national interest.”

He said no region, state, local government or community would be left behind if given the chance to become the next president. The former governor said: “History beckons. Nigerians remain hopeful for a national rebirth, which implies returning Nigeria to Nigerians –farmers, teachers and students, lecturers, artisans, workers, pensioners and over a hundred million poor Nigerians who are not sure where their next meal will come from.” Decrying what he described as “many years of cumulative leadership failure,” he said: “Painfully, our current dysfunctional system rewards unearned income and conspicuous consumption; allows university lecturers to remain on strike for months; keep our youths at home and owe pensioners who gave their patriotic sweat and their youthful energy to serve this country.

“The despicable contrast is that those responsible for the mess – those elected to take care of them – have abandoned the national currency and are living in opulence and like kings, spend dollars to buy delegates as well as houses all over the world. Meanwhile, they owe most workers, lecturers and retirees.” According to Obi, the country has been hijacked by forces of retrogression and is almost zero in all indices of development. He said: “As a result, our future, especially those of the youth and generations unborn, is in ruins. We have become a laughing stock among other nations, including African countries where we were once revered. “As a party that represents the workers and masses of this great nation, we are people organised and working for our economic rebirth. As I am nominated today, I humbly proclaim that the journey towards the emancipation of the country has begun.”

NESG’s blue

print Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) is Nigeria’s foremost private sector think-tank organisation. Largely a nonpartisan organisation though, the body, nonetheless, acts as compass, providing advices, proffering solutions to myriads of economic challenges confronting Nigeria. As the nation prepares for another general elections, NESG recently weighed in with a set of blue print it wants next administration to adopt in fixing challenges of the ailing Nigeria. Assembling experts from a diverse sectors, NESG noted that Nigeria’s problems have their root in dysfunctional economy. The experts assembled by NESG believe that the nation’s challenges were created by past and present mangers who lack capacity to galvanise her potential for development. NESG Chairman Mr, Asue Ighodalo listed six critical economic challenges facing the country to be non-inclusive economic growth, macroeconomic instability, infrastructure deficit, human capital deficit and skills gap, national insecurity and weak economic competitiveness, which the next government must prioritise

Last line

With less than nine months to next general elections, presidential candidates across party divides have push out their economic blue prints. This, of course, is to open themselves to electorates’ interrogation in taking wise decision in casting their votes for choice candidates.

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