As the Nigerian elections of March 28th draw near, The Inspector-General of Police, Suleiman Abba, has again warned voters not to remain at the polling centers after casting their votes on Saturday. Mr Abba, on Tuesday told a gathering in Abuja, in very clear terms, that the security operatives expect everyone to vote and go. The IGP made the pronouncement during the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC stakeholders’ meeting. However, this view had been opposed by the political parties and INEC. In an opposing remark however, the INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, had repeatedly maintained that voters could stay and protect their votes after casting their ballot as long as they conduct themselves in such a way that they do not run afoul of the Electoral Act.
In a related development, The Police Service Commission is to deploy 425 of its personnel to monitor the conduct of police officers who would be on duty during the March 28 and April 11 elections. The chairman of the commission, Mike Okiro, said at a news conference on Tuesday in Abuja that he would lead the personnel to monitor the officers in the 109 Senatorial District adding that the commission will hold police official on electoral duty accountable for their actions or inactions. “The success or failure of any election depends on the stakeholders performing their duties. Security agencies can make a difference in the outcome of the elections. It is, therefore, relevant that police officers display the highest level of integrity, neutrality, professionalism and sense of duty,” he said. He further noted that the protection of voters, electoral materials, officials and preservation of law and orderly electoral process were necessary for free, fair and credible elections. (Premium times March 28, 2015).
However, The Nigerian Federal High Court has ruled that all pending applications and the originating summons be taken together in the suit challenging the eligibility of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Muhammad Buhari, in the forthcoming March 28 presidential election. Justice Adeniyi Ademola on Wednesday morning adjourned the eligibility suit seeking to stop Mr. Buhari till April 22 and 23 for hearing, meaning there is no more hindrance on the APC candidate’s path. The President has approved the closure of all Nigeria’s land and sea borders from Wednesday, the 25th of March 2015 at 12 midnight. This is according to a statement signed by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Abubakar Magaji. Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has also directed the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) to ensure that non-Nigerians do not participate in any part of the election process. The closure of borders, he explained, would allow for the peaceful conduct of the forthcoming 2015 general elections which was rescheduled to hold March 28 and April 11.
Subsequently, Kess Ewubare (2015) , in his Article; ‘How Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda Makes APC’s Turkish Consultants look Bad’, made an incredible analysis of comparison between President Jonathan PDP transformation agender Manifesto and General Muhammad Buhari APC manifesto drawn up by KA Research Limited (KARL), a privately owned international research company, based in Belgium, and Turkey and find out that it was pretty disappointing that APC lack believe in Nigerians? since the party gave an American company AKPD the PR Job for their campaigns.
Furthermore his comparisons revealed that the manifesto is long on rhetoric and short on providing a realistic approach to dealing with issues that face citizens in the country. The 20-page pdf document titled ROADMAP TO A NEW NIGERIA is a poor parody that correctly situates a few of the challenges but fell short of proffering the appropriate solutions in most of the cases. His article, is summarized under the following headings below.
APC Manifesto: Create 20,000 jobs per state, match every job created by the State Government through funding with 2 jobs created by the Federal Government, direct conditional cash transfer of N5,000 to 25 million poorest and most vulnerable, establish technology and industrial estates fully equipped with ICT, power and support to attract and encourage SMEs, provide allowances to discharged but unemployed Youth Corp members, establish plants for the assembly and ultimately the manufacture of phones, tablets, computers and other devices, pay a guaranteed indexed-linked price to farmers to ensure that there is always a ready market for their produce, provide one meal a day for all primary school students and creation of a scheme that provides matching funds for businesses. There were other points such as investment in large scale public works projects and special mention was made of a national modern railway system and interstate roads, building one million low-cost housing over the next four years, increase the number of small and medium sized enterprises, increase of investments in R&D among others.
Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda: The strategy of APC on how to create 20,000 jobs per state and match every job created at the States with 2 jobs created by the FG is very vague.Jonathan’s SURE-P has two major sub-divisions namely: The Community Service Scheme and the Graduate Internship Scheme. The Community Service Scheme engages youths in intensive work such as construction and rehabilitation of infrastructure has employed over 120,000 people around the country. The Graduate Internship Scheme has matched about 4,000 graduates to competent firms to enhance skills development towards employability. The YOUWIN Business Plan Competition with 2,400 winners so far has created 26,000 direct jobs. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, 2.5m jobs were created between 2013 and 2014.(NBS 2014)
In other words, APC’s plan to give N5,000 to 25m people monthly will translate to N125b on a monthly basis. It is very clear that APC did not think this through very well. How will the party fund N125b monthly? Those is N1.5trillion per annum and compare this to a total annual budget of N4.3 trillion for the country in 2015! At an estimated N500 per day per child under the ‘one meal a day’ manifesto of APC and with a current enrollment of about 20m pupils, that comes to N10b per day, N50b per week and N200b per month.
APC Manifesto: Show zero tolerance for official and/or private sector corruption, place the burden of proving innocence in corruption cases on persons with inexplicable wealth, pursue legislation expanding forfeiture and seizure of assets laws and procedure with respect to inexplicable wealth, regardless of whether there is a conviction for criminal conduct or not, strengthen legal provisions to prevent stay of proceedings and other delays in corruption trials. Additionally, guarantee the independence of anti-corruption and financial crimes agencies by legislation, charging their budgets directly to the Consolidated Revenue Fund, stop corruption in our elections, in part by making INEC and State electoral commissions truly independent and free from political interference, improve the ability of citizens to keep an eye on their government, with more open access to government data, greater disclosure of government contracts prior to awards and during implementation and ensuring the people’s business is done in an open and transparent way.
While Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda: it’s interesting to see that part of APC’s manifesto for fighting corruption is by ‘placing the burden of proving innocence in corruption cases on persons with inexplicable wealth’. Maybe the recent case of the airing of ‘The Lion of Bourdillon’ documentary by AIT will prove to be an acid test of this part of the manifesto. Asiwaju Tinubu has the burden to prove the source of his inexplicable wealth. Maybe after his case is dispensed, we can now give Saraki the same treatment that will then applie to forfeiture of assets with respect to inexplicable wealth. A major area of the manifesto that Jonathan has given priority is the improvement of ‘ability of citizens to keep an eye on their government, with more open access to government data, greater disclosure of government contracts prior to awards and during implementation and ensuring the people’s business is done in an open and transparent way. The signing of the Freedom of Information Bill (FOI) into law on May 28, 2011 in order to achieve this objective. Unfortunately, Lagos State, one of the core APC states has refused to domesticate the FOI bill stating it is not bound by it. Also, With the introduction of the IPPIS software, about 45,000 ghost workers in the Civil Service were uncovered with N208b saved. Also with the introduction of the e-wallet system, over 3 decades of perennial corruption in the distribution of fertilizer and seeds scam has been eliminated.
Furthermore, President Jonathan granted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) prosecutorial independence from the Attorney General and Minister of Justice. He signed the Anti-Money Laundering Act into law and became one of the first signatories to the Inter-governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA). He established the Nigerian Extractive Industry and Transparency Initiative (NEITI). Cecilia Ibru was convicted on October 10, 2010 under the administration of Goodluck Jonathan and she forfeited assets worth N191 billion comprising 94 properties across the world including the United States of America, Dubai and Nigeria to AMCON.
DEVELOPMENT IN EDUCATION
APC Manifesto: emphasizes the right of every Nigerian child to receive a free, relevant and quality education a reality, provide free tertiary education to students pursuing Science and Technology, Engineering and Math, create incentives and dedicate special attention to the education of girls, ensure every child attending primary school is properly nourished by providing a Free Meal a day, invest in better equipping and staffing Teacher Training Colleges. In addition, revamp and restructure education curricula from primary to tertiary levels, prepare young adults for the jobs of the future by expanding focus on science and technology, improve the ability of people to gain employment in a variety of fields through greater access to technical and vocational training.
On the other hand, in Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda: Today, there is better and sustained funding of Universal Basic Education in the country through the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC). The President’s commitment to quality education for all is reflected in improvements in the country’s performance in various examinations. For instance, the WASCE pass rate was highest in 2012-2013 [38% & 36%]; as compared to the 15%-25% of 2000-2009. NECO statistics reveal that in 2010, 9.36% of the total number of candidates made 5 credits & above [including in Mathematics & English]. Corresponding figures were 8.06% in 2011; 32.22% in 2012; 48.37% in 2013 and 52.29% in 2014.
More so, to further improve the quality of instruction, Federal Government has sponsored 7,000 lecturers of federal and state tertiary institutions for post-graduate studies home and abroad. A total of 101 Presidential Special Scholarships for Innovation and Development (PRESSID) have been awarded to beneficiaries for training in top 25 universities in the world. The number of National Certificate of Education (NCE) awarding institutions has increased from 96 in pre-Jonathan 2011 to 124 since Jonathan became president. This further lends credence to the president’s drive to make learning accessible. With the increase in NCE awarding institutions, also came an increase in student enrolment in the Colleges of Education from an average of 620,000 in 2011 to 750,000 in 2013 – a 20% increase! In 13 states, special girl schools are being constructed while in 27 states, 125 day and boarding schools are being constructed under the Almajiri education programme, initiated by this government, to provide quality education to the teeming population of uneducated children.
Additionally, 12 new universities have been established to enhance access to a Federal University across the country and absorb thousands of students who are denied university admission every year. There are 9 in the northern states of Kogi, Taraba, Jigawa, Gombe, Nasarawa, Katsina, Yobe, Kebbi and Zamfara States and 3 in the southern states of Ebonyi, Bayelsa and Ekiti including two specialized Police and Maritime universities. Between 2007-2014, the Federal Government has almost tripled allocation to the educational sector from 224 billion naira to 634 billion naira.
APC Manifesto: Provide a government-guaranteed market for agricultural produce at world index-linked prices, revive agriculture as an engine for economic growth and new jobs, aid subsistence farmers in increasing food production and creating jobs by modernizing and commercializing farm production and increase the availability of loans and capital investments for small and medium-scale cash crops, make sure farmers have access to the resources they need and ensure Nigeria’s food supply is affordable. Some attest that the APC’s manifesto on agriculture is totally disappointing. It shows an obvious lack of appreciation of how to approach the sector and focus on it for the much needed diversification of the economy.
While on Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda, I must point out that; First ever database of farmers collated nationwide with six million farmers registered. Nigeria became the first country in Africa to develop the e-wallet for input delivery to farmers, thereby eliminating sharp practices by middlemen. Private sector seed and fertilizer companies now sell directly to farmers. Three decades of corruption in fertilizer and seed distribution ended and saved the Federal Government N25b in 2012 alone.
Government policies led to the establishment of 13 new rice mills in the country. Dry season production of rice through irrigation kick started in 10 northern states- Kebbi, Zamfara, Dokoto, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, Gombe, Niger, Kogi and Bauchi- resulting in an output of 1.07 million metric tonnes. Combined production of dry season and main season paddy rice is now 1.76m metric tonnes- unprecedented in Nigeria’s history. Nigeria’s food import bill reduced from N1.1trillion in 2011 to N648b in 2012.
13 airports were designated as perishable cargo airports around the country while Dutse International Airport, Jigawa was built from scratch. The airports include Abuja, Akure, Calabar, Ilorin, Jalingo, Jos, Kano,Lagos, Makurdi, Minna, Owerri, Port Harcourt and Uyo airports.
The President through the Central Bank of Nigeria also developed some agricultural schemes through which farmers and those involved in the value chain can access credit for their farms and processes. These schemes include Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme (CACS) worth about N200b, the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Facility (ACGSF), The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending ( NIRSAL) and the Growth Enhancement Scheme.
The Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (ACGS), recorded N1.33 billion guarantees to 7,290 farmers in October 2014. In less than two years of its implementation, the GES scheme, has increased the number of farmers who benefit from the federal government largesse from 11 per cent to 60 per cent. The minister said about 1.5 million farmers benefited from the GES scheme in 2012, and the farmers were able to produce 8.1 million metric tonnes of food. i.e. a 70 per cent sharp increase from the food production level in the past.
APC Manifesto: Achieve the construction of one million low cost houses within four years, minimize income as a barrier for people to live in a safe and affordable home by increasing access to financing and promoting a working national residential mortgage market as a matter of urgency so that Nigerians of varying income levels can access mortgages at single-digit interest rates based on federal guarantees to the mortgage lenders.
Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda: The Nigeria Mortgage Refinancing Company (NMRC) was set up under a PPP arrangement funded by the World Bank with a $300m interest-free 40-year loan with moratorium of 10 years. 10,000 mortgages will be refinanced every quarter. 61,000 housing units have been built already across the six geopolitical zones in the country
Emeka David Chidiebere