Home Agenda Preparing the agenda for presidential candidates

Preparing the agenda for presidential candidates

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Party primaries are over, but the political economy of effects is only just beginning to play out in post-election conversations with and by candidates. The great parties have clearly shown that they are great in name and conduct, so grand are their primaries that the costs of their forms are utterly bewildering. The way we showed interest in the processes and results of these parties’ primaries was indicative of the importance we placed on their wealth and influence. People are already talking about Abubakar Atiku versus Bola Tinubu and when they want to add ethnic coloring they remember Peter Obi from the Labor Party. The other parties must begin to make citizens understand that they exist. They need to be competitive to give us choices rather than being limited to three games.

Many delegates from these major parties are still counting their winnings. The rains of naira and dollars have transformed some houses and changed some ways of life. Given the reports, partly exaggerated and partly true, people who touch the dollar for the first time in their lives are still wondering whether to change the money into naira and start spending or block it until after the general elections, while those who were to see or touch a million or millions of naira for the first time fear visits from armed robbers and kidnappers if they start spending now. For many, especially those operating at the presidential level, it was like a dream come true but the feeling of insecurity restricts the joy of being wealthy, temporarily or permanently.

I plead they should let the party begin now. Holding money adds no value to an economy while spending money has multiplier effects, especially if the amount is huge. I can imagine that 2,000 people will change $10,000 each, initially and at the current black market rate of around 550 naira to $1, then offload the equivalent in naira to the commodity market and another together 2,000 go to the same Nigerian commodity market with 10 million naira fee to purchase durable and consumable goods. The economy would experience some transformation and job creation, especially if the products are made in Nigeria. These are the expected immediate results of inciting party primaries. Or is it electoral corruption? Now on to the business of the day.

Very soon, the electoral arbiter, the Independent National Electoral Commission, will declare open the campaign for the general elections of 2023 and it is important to start to affirm the agenda of the discussions. There are many problems that require solutions. Some have been around since 2015 and are getting even more complicated while others are by-products of older ones. One of the major dubious recurring issues for discussion is corruption, which was a buzzword in the 2015 elections, but less so in 2019 as citizens witnessed increased or progressive corruption under that regime. who professed the fight against corruption to win the elections.

Nevertheless, we cannot sweep corruption under the rug as it fights back and we can no longer trust anyone campaigning to reduce or eliminate corruption. We can search around the world for various models of combating the scourge and choose one or a combination of models to deal with it without promise. We have laws, rules and regulations that are not followed or enforced. When enforced by the court, politicians, including the presidency, trivialize enforcement either through a policy of plea bargaining or the premature release of imprisoned thieves. A presidential candidate can give us lists of assets and funds he acquired fraudulently with a note of confiscation of all as a sign of seriousness in the fight against corruption. It could be a good step in the quest to win the presidential ticket. Recall that General Murtala Muhammed decided to confiscate such a part of his property when he became head of state in 1976.

When a campaign begins, candidates are not expected to identify problems and give general ways to provide solutions, but should be specific in how to solve problems. Local and national security issues have remained a major point of reference since 2015. The situation has since deteriorated and any governor or presidential candidate who cannot prescribe practical solutions to security issues in Nigeria should not be taken seriously. There have been arguments over whether the insecurity was caused by deteriorating economic conditions, vice versa, or the push for political dominance in the country. Each candidate must be able to identify the causal factors of insecurity, for example, and to propose several solutions.

Each candidate must tell us what he has to do with electricity. Like other national problems under this government, the electricity infrastructure seems to be collapsing every day, leading to higher cost of production with the use of generators and operating inputs whose prices have risen astronomically. The high cost of production has led to inflation or an increase in the cost of living, which has led to a drop in demand for goods, a precursor to higher levels of unemployment.

While Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, has the capacity to generate 11,165.4 megawatts with its 23 power stations connected to the national grid and is currently struggling to reach 4,000 megawatts of electricity, the Republic of South Africa South is currently heading towards 60,000 megawatts (58.095 megawatts). This is why it is an industrial economy belonging globally to the G20 economies and we remain in the category of developing economies or the “rest of the world”. If we put in place the right electricity infrastructure, it will propel us into a real emerging economy. So every aspirant to the presidency of this country has to give a model of electrical infrastructure that will work for us.

This brings us to the question of investment and industrialization and, by extension, the challenge of fuel subsidies. The removal of fuel subsidies was part of what caught the attention of retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari’s party with Nigerians during the 2014/2015 campaign. Today, the subsidy does not only exist in triple costs but has become an implicit part of the reasons for borrowing in the domestic and international markets. What will the potential president do about it in the short, medium and long term? What to do with aging refineries whose spare parts are no longer on the market but are recorded as maintained and repaired without exits and with a full workforce? What will investments and industrial policy be in the future? In an enlightened society and with party delegates whose minds and souls have not been dollarized, Governor Ben Ayade of the APC and Governor Udom Emmanuel of the PDP would have won respectable votes in the elections for their efforts to industrialization of their respective states. They should continue their good work because it will pay off in the future. I hope they have state plans approved by the legislature to promote continuity after their term.

What is there for education and health other than waiting for the unions in the sectors to make noise and go on strike before dealing with the sectors? What will be done to improve the quality of education from primary to higher education? How are we going to improve the quality of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, which is driving the advanced economy where we aspire to be and where we should be now? The quality of education has gone down because the quality of educators has also dropped drastically. We have science teachers who cannot teach practicals to students because they were not taught when they were in higher education institutions. They were taught ‘theories of practice’ or ‘practice by description’. This is why our medical graduates, who migrate to Europe and other countries, must redo internships before permanent appointments! Nigeria used to boast of having a skilled workforce, but not anymore. We have more and more educated young people without skills. What will Mr Potential President do?

The country’s debt burden is very heavy and threatens the fabric of economic development. Much of the revenue is spent on servicing external debts with little or nothing for development. We even import food and medicine just like we import all kinds of exotic drinks, cars, clothes, etc. Those things that we used to produce and can produce here are imported, which encourages capital outflows for frivolities. National productivity is low for obvious reasons. Whoever aspires to be our president must talk to us about these issues. Anyone who is not ready to participate in the presidential debate this time around is expected to be voted out.

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