We Need More Than Manifestoes
ANYONE who listened attentively to former President Olusegun Obasanjo would think that the challenge Nigerian politicians faced was the absence of party manifestoes to guide their relations with the electorate.
“In Nigeria, manifestoes are prepared, read and thereafter thrown away after elections. Worse still, in other instances, some political parties do not even have manifestoes. How then do we hold political parties accountable?,” Obasanjo asked at a conference the National Assembly organised on “Party Politics and Election in Nigeria,” at the National Institute of Legislative Studies. “We rarely find political parties delivering services to the people to justify the confidence reposed in them by the electorate.”
At the root of Nigeria’s political and social problems is poverty and low access to economic opportunities. The improvement in the well-being of Nigerians is the ultimate objective of the PDP’s economic policy, to make accessible to every Nigerian the basic needs of life. The focus would be to create a market-based economy driven by small and medium scale businesses and regulated by a reformed public sector.
At the very foundation of the above objective of the party is the pursuit of a strong, virile and diversified economy built to stem rural – urban migration through investment in modern agricultural methods. PDP’s economic policy is centred on people and seeks to realize the Millennium Development Goals while aiming to:
i. Develop a middle class driven by small business owners, professional class with access to credit.
ii. Create easy access to transferable property rights in urban and rural areas.
iii. Protect the weak and poor through initiatives that is designed to integrate them in the economy.
iv. Improve investment in physical and social infrastructure.
The PDP aims, altogether, at establishing the leading economy in Africa and one of the 20 leading and largest economies in the World by 2020; an economy that experiences rapid and sustained growth of not less than 10% per annum.
Obasanjo expressed concerns that in reality, most of the current political parties in the country are fledging and hardly able to stand on their feet, while many others exist mainly on paper, and were floated to attract the financial subventions, which the 1999 constitution hitherto guaranteed them.
According to him, even the big parties, which control various executive and legislative arms of government, are often mired by internal convulsions, lack of cohesion, indiscipline and glaring absence of internal democracy. These problems, Senate President, David Mark said have been the bane of party politics in Nigeria.
He described as unfortunate the term that lobbying has come to acquire a pejorative connotation, despite its many inherent and positive benefits, noting that this is due largely to the abuse to which it is often liable.