By Ojonugwa Felix Ugboja
As the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) lifts the ban on political campaigns, the ruling party, APC, and its candidate and current president, Muhammadu Buhari have yesterday launched their campaign titled ‘Next Level.’
While the Next Level document gives insights into Buhari’s new economic drive with employment as a major thrust, one can’t help but compare it with the party’s campaign document in 2015 when they were elected as an opposition party, determined to make a mark and of course full of promises.
Since 2015, when the government came in, the country has experienced a major economic recession and currency inflation which have given many foreign investors enough reasons to abscond.
The situation, coupled with the bloody and unresolved tensions between farmers and cattle herders have left many to wonder if it will be appropriate to quote the Greek author, Aesop, who said: “When all is said and done, more is said than done”?
Some of the major points of the ‘Next Level’ campaign include the following:
*Engagement of 1m N-Power graduates
* Skill up 10 million Nigerians under a voucher system in partnership with the private sector
*Anchor Borrowers Scheme to support input and jobs to 1m farmers
*Livestock Transformation Plan to create 1.5million jobs
*Agriculture Mechanization Policy to create 5m jobs
*Provision of $500m innovation fund to tech and creative sector to create 500,000 jobs
*To train 200,000 youth for outsourcing market in technology, services and entertainment
The document said: “Soft loans of up to N1m to small traders, artisans (carpenters, tailors, mechanics, hairdressers, barbers, plumbers, vulcanisers etc) and commercial drivers (Taxis, Keke, and Motorcycles).
“Next level will take current number of 2.3million traders, farmers, artisans under Trader Moni, Market Moni and Farmer Moni schemes to 10million Nigerians under the People Moni Scheme.
The President also pledged to increase power generation to 11,000 megawatts.
The document added: “A minimum of 1,000 MW new Generation Incremental Power capacities per annum on the grid to bring a total of a minimum of 11,000 MW.
“Distribution to get to 7,000MW under Distribution Expansion programme.”
On security, the document indicated plans to “decentralize funding of police operations and foster true community policing by implementing direct transfer of funding to Police Divisions.
“Execute the second phase of the Farmer-Herder and National Livestock Policy to end the decades-long conflict between farmers and herders.”
He has also promised more inclusion in government.
It said: “To achieve 35 % in female appointments. More youth appointment for boards, special mentoring programmes in governance with young graduates working with ministers and other senior government appointees.”
On Education, there is a plan in the Next Level to “remodel and equip 10,000 schools per year.”
Speaking further, the President promised to intensify the anti-graft war, to bring an end to the menace and ensure that the nation’s resources are maximized.
He explained that despite the successes made, his administration still has a lot to do in bringing an end to corruption.
Laudable plans, if only we don’t have to look back at the unfulfilled ones from 2015 and the rebranding of some of the same promises after 4 years.
Notable promises of APC in 2015 collated from their policy document and manifesto, Buhari’s 100 days covenant, speeches at campaign rallies and town hall meetings nationwide:
*Public declaration of assets and liabilities
*State and community policing
*Ban on all government officials from seeking medical care abroad
*Implementation of the National Gender Policy, including 35% of appointive positions for women
*Revival of Ajaokuta steel company
*Generation, transmission and distribution of at least 20,000 MW of electricity within four years and increasing to 50,000 MW with a view to achieving 24/7 uninterrupted power supply within 10 years.
*Empowerment scheme to employ 740,000 graduates across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
*Establishment of a free-tuition and scholarship scheme for pupils who have shown exceptional aptitude in science subjects at O/Levels to study ICT-related courses
*720,000 jobs by the 36 states in the federation per annum (20,000 per state)
*Three million Jobs per year
*Provision of allowances to the discharged but unemployed Youth Corps members for Twelve (12) months while in the skills and entrepreneurial development programme
*Making our economy one of the fastest-growing emerging economies in the world with a real GDP growth averaging 10% annually. [In another instance, the APC promised 10-12% annual GDP growth]
*Creation of a Social Welfare Programme of at least Five Thousand Naira (N5000) that will cater for the 25 million poorest and most vulnerable citizens upon the demonstration of children’s enrolment in school and evidence of immunisation to help promote family stability
*One free meal (to include fruits) daily, for public primary school pupils
*Building an airport in Ekiti state
*Eradication of state of origin, replacing that with state of residence.
*Working with the National Assembly towards the immediate enactment of a Whistle Blower Act
*Simplifying immigration process to foster faster visa processing at points of entry.
*Amending the Constitution and the Land Use Act to create freehold/leasehold interests in land along with matching grants for states to create a nationwide electronic land title register on a state by state basis
*Reviving and reactivating our minimally performing Refineries to optimum capacity
*Creating additional middle-class of at least 2 million new home owners in our first year in government and 1 million annually thereafter.
*[In another policy document] Creating an additional middle class of at least 4 million new home owners by 2019 by enacting national mortgage single digit interest rates for purchase of owner occupier houses as well as reviewing the collateral qualification to make funding for home ownership easier, with 15 to 30 year mortgage terms.
*Speedily passing the much-delayed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and ensuring that local content issues are fully addressed.
*Prioritizing the reduction of the infant mortality rate by 2019 to 3%
*Reducing maternal mortality by more than 70%
While there has been some commendable effort in areas of railway development, the introduction of the whistle blower policy, and primary schools feeding program, it is a far cry from what was promised.
As the Next Level plan is announced, it is clear that the government have realised that it takes much more than speech to govern, and even as the plan is less ambitious than that of 2015, it is still bogus and leaves many to ponder on how it will be realised.