As the campaign drums for the 2019 presidential election roll out, with the official launching of policy documents and campaign promises by the major political parties, Nigerians have again found themselves in the dilemma of choosing between the two major contenders for the plump job out of 79 candidates writes Emameh Gabriel.
“The next four years will be quite significant for our country. Nigeria is faced now with a choice. To keep on building a new Nigeria or to go back to its tainted past which favoured only an opportunistic few.
“Join us on this journey to the NEXT LEVEL of a prosperous, strong and stable Nigeria”.
These were the words of President Muhammadu Buhari while launching the roadmap and policy statement that his 2019 general elections campaign will hinge on.
“Today we will begin the process of sharing our policies that form my plan to create jobs, RESTRUCTURE the POLITY, and Get Nigeria Working Again” former vice president Atiku Abubakar had told Nigerians after releasing his campaigns policy documents on Monday.
These were the major and catchy expressions from the two major presidential candidates of the two top political parties going head to head for 2019 presidential election in the country.
The two major political parties, APC and PDP, have over the years largely dominated the nation’s political space thereby leaving the masses with no choice but to settle for a lesser evil between any of the two on the basis of Party’s popularity or the candidate acceptability.
While incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari was recently rolling out his score cards and next electoral promises, the opposition standard bearer and former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, was unveiling his road map to activate what he has persistently described as a-none working economy.
The two leading candidates, President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP have unveiled their plans and policy documents while at the same time, picking holes in each other’s policies.
Analysts have said the next few weeks is going to witness interesting times in the history of the country’s electioneering.
They have projected that the 2019 general election is not only going be the most keenly contested but also the most expensive in the history of Nigerian elections as vested interests from major power brokers continue to swell in the one hand, and in the other hand, from the larger Nigeria populace who of course will decide who is best fit for the nation’s number one seat.
Elections are by no doubt decided by certain factors and talking points. This has been the culture both in developed and developing democracies. These issues are both circumstantial and contextual.
For instance, the 2015 general elections were shaped by integrity debate. It was one of the major bane of the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party and its flag bearer, Goodluck Jonathan in the build up to the 2015 general elections. Like it is mostly observed today, there weren’t much discussions or debate on other salient and fundamental issues that are now bases for assessments.
It therefore explains that there have been massive public enlightenment and increased awareness from Nigerians who were hitherto indifferent about the way the economy is being run by a selected few at the expense of their wellbeing. Of course the electoral process and democratic development seem also to be taking new shapes despite some hitches witnessed in selected elections in the last three years.
Today, public sentiments may have been shifted away from the integrity mantra which was a major weapon of discussion deployed by the then opposition All Progressive Congress to boost its campaigns advantage against the PDP.
This was truly Jonathan’s and PDP’s undoing. Without doubt, it contributed largely to his defeat as there were reported and obvious cases of abuse of public office, massive looting with impunity and decay in the public sector.
Integrity test as a weapon may not exert the same strength it wielded in 2015 as the case may be different today, but again it might be one of Atiku’s and PDP albatrosses as the Buhari led government had confronted corruption with evidence of massive looting and recovery of public funds and assets from public and civil servants, most of which are still pending in the court and others held by litigations in various courts across the country with some former governors being tried and convicted among others.
The Buhari government will of course continue to hinge on this factor as part of its campaign strategy or score card, despite criticism from some quarters that the fight against corruption has not been taken to the doorstep of the president’s henchmen.
This coalescing narrative will leave the electorates in dilemma of choice as to which direction the nation is tilting towards. The argument in some quarters remains that the Buhari government has also failed to meet up with the yearning of the larger population but the opposition will also have to contend with questions surrounding Atiku’s image as the campaigns clot.
While this might not be seen as basis for assessment in the days to come, there are questions being raised as to whether the campaign policy documents as unveiled by President Buhari and former vice President Atiku are rooted and embedded in the programme and manifestos of the APC and PDP.
Policy Documents and Issues
Buhari has in his Next Level policy document, rolled out part of his government scorecard unveiling a new road map to complement his achievement in his three and half years in the saddle. The document focuses mainly on social infrastructure; improvement of power generation and supply, and job creation, agriculture, youth empowerment, education, skills acquisition etc.