.Obi, Tinubu, Atiku

By  GODSON MONEKE

A  PRESIDENTIAL aspirant is a party member who desires to be the party’s flagbearer by effectively participating in the party’s presidential primaries while a candidate is the person who emerges successful in the party’s primaries conducted for that purpose.

The presidential candidate is, therefore, the presidential flagbearer of the party. In normal climes, a presidential candidate should publicly state what he or she is bringing to the table.

The blueprint or policy document is more important than the party’s manifesto because the candidate is held accountable to its contents. The party’s manifesto is broader in scope and encapsulates what the party stands for; it is more ideological in its culture. Therefore, while every party member embraces the party manifesto, the candidates are often judged by the contents of their blueprints which are more detailed and derived from the party’s manifesto. It is this synthesis that brings about the candidate’s campaign manifesto.

Only one candidate has so far produced a blueprint or policy document  pointing out vital actions he intends to take once he is elected president of Nigeria. All other presidential candidates have been hazy and dodgy about what they intend to do for Nigeria when they are elected, yet they all want to be taken seriously.

They are all busy preying on ethnic, tribal and religious emotions instead of telling Nigerians what they have in stock for them. People are busy telling whoever wants to believe the bogus tales of who is a good man or a bad man leaving the larger issues of capabilities, competence and focus. How can you take seriously, candidates who do not have blueprints or policy document at this time to enable voters make informed decisions on their respective candidacy.

The blueprint or policy document will enable voters know what to expect from a candidate if he wins. People are evading issues bordering on reforms, whether economic, political, social, human, technological, etc. We don’t know where most of these people, whom I would rather call hustlers, stand on any issue yet they want to be taken seriously. Platitudes are not enough, we want concrete actions and any candidate who has not presented us with a  blueprint up to this period is being dishonest with the people.

What such a person wants is power which he can deploy as it pleases him without anything to hold him to. This is very dangerous. The party manifesto dictated by its ideology is already known, the candidate’s campaign manifesto is a harmonisation of the party’s manifesto and the candidate’s blueprint.

How can you derive a candidate’s campaign manifesto without his  blueprint? It only goes to show that such a candidate is hollow and visionless. Candidates should stop taking this country for granted because we have travelled this road before.

In the current government, the contents of the APC manifesto are not being scrupulously implemented because their presidential candidate was not carried along in their design and the candidate had no blueprint either, except his perceived integrity and incorruptibility. Therefore, he won the then presidential election without showcasing his campaign manifesto.

 We are about repeating the same mistakes because those who fail to learn from history are bound to repeat it. Blueprint or policy document is like a plan while presidential candidacy is a project or scheme. Any project which does not begin with a plan is a non-starter. We should be asking critical  questions about what a candidate intends to achieve and how he will go about it.

It is our current preoccupation with character assassination and profiling that intimidates them from showing up on their true self in terms of their beliefs and policy directions. These stories about how good a candidate is without knowing his beliefs as encapsulated in his blueprint is diversionary.

Name-calling should not be allowed to mimic a campaign strategy. They do not tell us what may  put them in bad light, even when they  privately may be uncomfortable with such dishonest postures. The truth is that all the candidates are going to be on the ballot, all things remaining the same. The emphases should now be on what they can do and not who they are because that should have been considered in the realms of party aspirants and primaries. It is assumed that party members know the aspirants better than non-party members.

Therefore, once an individual emerges as the candidate of his political party, what should be paramount is what he brings to the table. At this stage, when electoral  campaigns have not taken off, the candidates should be showcasing their respective blueprints. When electioneering takes off ground, we expect to be seeing the candidates manifestos which are a harmonisation of the candidates blueprints and the parties’ manifestos.

This is the way it is done in all sane societies. We cannot afford to be different because we live in a globalised world. Presidential contests are not beauty pageants where you choose the most adorable contestants based on personal beauty features and other personal statistics. Here, we are talking of what people can do to improve on, if not maximize, the general welfare of Nigerians and make the nation great.

How can you vote for a candidate who is reluctant to tell you what he intends to do if elected? The question should not be how many times a person has contested elections because you cannot legislate against somebody’s political ambition. Most presidential candidates, except the one who has committed himself to a blueprint or policy document, are just making omnibus statements which you cannot hold them to, thus making them as slippery as you can imagine. For example, a statement like “it is my turn” or a statement that “I will make Nigeria a production economy”.

What are the meanings of such empty statements? How do you make Nigeria a production economy? By doing what? If it is by addressing the power insufficiency, how much do you use to produce a megabyte of electricity using the various available systems and what are your plans? Which system is the best for Nigeria in terms of affordability and sustainability? How are you going to manage resource gap? 

A candidate who has not produced any policy document and economic blueprint cannot discuss public sector finance and economic dynamics. If you talk of a  vision, there must be mission, strategy and core values, including resource allocation and management plans. In 2007 when President Olusegun Obasanjo was exiting office, he sold the Port Harcourt Refinery to a private sector consortium led by Messrs Aliko Dangote and Femi Otedola, but no sooner had he left than an uproar and opposition greeted the sale, thus forcing the new President Umaru Yar’Adua to cancel the transaction.

Moneke,  a quantity surveyor, socio-political commentator, analyst and critic, wrote from Abuja

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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.