By Henry Umoru
The political parties have their manifestoes. But, that is where it ends. The manifestoes of the political parties have become no more than pieces of booklets meant to fulfill one of the conditions by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
This is an examination of the manifestoes of six political parties – the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP; Action Congress of Nigeria, AC N; Congress for Progressive Change, CPC; All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP; Social Democratic Mega Party, SDMP, and All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA. This report examines what the parties are offering.
For a nation to achieve its set- goals, especially becoming a viable nation-state – its economy must take a pride of place in its affairs.
The ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, which has been in government since 1999 to date, in its manifesto, promises to improve the well-being of Nigerians as an ultimate objective, knowing full well that the root of Nigeria’s political and social problems is located in the twin-mix of economic failure and political instability. That was a promise and it appears to remain just that. The party promised “plans to pursue a strong, virile and diversified economy built to stem rural- urban migration through investment in modern agricultural methods.”
In 12 years, has the party achieved that objective? Above all, PDP aims at establishing “the leading economy in Africa and one of the 20 leading and largest economies in the world by 2020” – some say this is nothing but a mirage. To achieve this, it hopes to “develop a middle-class driven by small business owners, professional class with access to credit, create easy access to transferable property rights in urban and rural areas; to improve investment in physical and social infrastructure.”
These promises have been a sing-song for PDP since 1999. Some of the questions being asked today are: How far has the party gone in improving the economy? What is the inflation rate in the country? The latter is obvious in the open market and it is in the double digit. What is the Gross Domestic Product? Has the PDP government developed a middle-class driven by small business owners?
But PDP should not be the butt of criticisms alone.
Whereas the state of the national economy says a lot about what would happen within the component units, those states that have been in the grip of the other political parties do not really offer much for consolation.
Take, for instance, Zamfara State. Beyond the early noise of its two-term governor about the introduction of Sharia, the economy of the state still relies on the allocation from the federation account like most other states.
In a country where the economy has remained largely undiversified but which still relies on the mono money earning crude oil, wahala dey!
The Action Congress of Nigeria, (ACN), promised to retain the “idea of a sound technical and professional team to formulate and monitor the plan and carry out detailed analysis from time to time of how and when every objective is attained.”
To achieve these, ACN plans “to adopt an integrated rural development with special emphasis on the transformation of agriculture, formulation of measures to reduce the income gap between the rich and the poor as well as between the rural and urban areas.” But one of the major complaints of those seeking to unseat the ACN administration in Lagos State is their promise to reduce the perceived widening gap between the rich and the poor. What this relates to is the non-attainment of that objective of the party in formulating “measures to reduce the income gap between the rich and the poor.”
Unlike PDP, ACN has not had the opportunity to rule at the centre – that is, control the Federal Government, but it has Edo, Ekiti, Lagos and Osun states. Former chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Malam Nuhu Ribadu, is its presidential candidate.
Because Alhaji Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army general, who had ruled Nigeria before, is the presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, the party’s promise to “review and re-evaluate the privatisation programme, to reform the financial and banking systems as well as ensure that micro-credit schemes become veritable tools for economic emancipation and fight poverty” may be pursued with vigour. As part of its economic policy, CPC says it will “continue to invest in oil and gas and also diversify other sources of revenue like agriculture, exploitation of solid minerals and human resources development.”
CPC is a relatively new party and it is presenting candidates for elections for the first time. Though Nigerians may not have the opportunity to judge the party from its past, its presidential candidate is its selling point, though, without democratic credentials yet.
For the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, one half of its standing governor – the party has two governors in Kano and Borno states – Ibrahim Shekarau, the Kano State Governor, is its presidential candidate. Though the party is of the view that “sustainable development is inextricably tied to good and well-managed economic policy which necessarily leads to social and infrastructural development,” greed and lack of political staying power forced some of its leaders to abandon the party for PDP.
The party’s “vision is that a good economic management is a developed society.” It remains to be seen how that vision has been transferred into reality. The party, which had its original name as All Peoples Party, APP, at inception in 1998, has been contesting elections since then .
The All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, says, in its manifesto, that “it will build democratic foundations for economic growth and development and, at the core of the foundation, will be the diversification of the nation’s mono-cultural lifeline through the development of solid minerals, manufacturing for export to the West African sub-region and agriculture for food sufficiency,” the way its leaders engaged one another leading to a seemingly endless factional crises had been enough to impede the realisation of such a lofty agenda.
Like ANPP, it produced presidential candidates in the past elections, but also lost out to PDP. Even its supposed endorsement of President Goodluck Jonathan of PDP is causing some concerns in the party. The party controls Anambra State.
Lastly, the Social Democratic Mega Party, SDMP, “plans to diversify the economy” against the backdrop that nothing of such has been done since independence, even as it says it would develop the various sectors of the economy on the basis of a knowledge-based approach in which local ownership will be central. The goal, according to SDMP, is to realise economic self-reliance rather than foreign dependency. The party is new and it is presenting a presidential candidate -Professor Pat Utomi. Utomi’s name and person, perhaps, is the only popular thing about SDMP
Virtually all the political parties are promising what they appear not to have.
The clear distinction between the desire to perform and the capacity to deliver was lost on those who formulated the manifestoes of the parties.
In the case of the PDP and ANPP, they may be forgiven. The late Chief Bola Ige was credited as the man who wrote the constitution and manifestoes of both party but he is dead, and, interestingly, most of their founding fathers have since deserted the parties and, in some instances, those who have not jumped ship have chosen to make good for themselves, hence, the parlous state of the Nigerian economy.