After a long wait, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, released his manifesto titled “Renewed Hope 2023 – Action Plan for a Better Nigeria”. The manifesto was unveiled on Friday by President Muhammadu Buhari, who stated that the transition to another APC government is as vital as the 2015 victory of the party.
What is striking in Mr Tinubu’s document is that there are certain promises in the 2015 APC manifesto of Change that have been carried over to the new document. The document has generated mixed reactions from different quarters. Some have lauded some of the initiatives in the document, while others described it as lacking in specifics.
Seun Onigbinde, the head of the non-profit organisation Budgit, tweeted that even though the document lacks details, it contains some good ideas.
“The BAT manifesto is hardly quantitative. Just reading through makes it hard to really understand what one expects him to account for especially on the numbers.
“However, I concede that there are some good ideas in the document. A full review will come with time,” he tweeted. Let’s look at some of the promises in the document.
The mortgage system proposed by Mr Tinubu has been hailed by many across different political parties.
Mr Tinubu has consistently proposed a credit system to stem corruption. The former Lagos State governor stressed that a mortgage system will address the problem of corruption in the civil service.
In the document, Mr Tinubu is proposing to merge all federal agencies in charge of housing to create a single housing agency that can manage a mortgage system. “The agency will have a three-fold mandate to (i) grant low-interest rate mortgages directly; (ii) guarantee qualified mortgages issued by banks; and (iii) purchase mortgages from private banks,” it reads.
He also proposed to review the land use act to support the mortgage system. The manifesto states that the federal government will work with states to provide credits and incentives to developers of housing projects that set aside a significant portion of their projects for affordable housing.
Same promise made in 2015
But in 2015, the APC also proposed to create a mortgage market by reforming land ownership to give ordinary Nigerians easy access to title deeds. “We propose to give an opportunity to as many Nigerians who want to acquire their own homes through government-championed housing development funded by an affordable nationwide mortgage system.”
The Buhari administration would argue that through the National Housing Fund and the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, it has enabled many Nigerians to own their homes, but millions of working Nigerians still remain homeless and have to pay (sometimes outrageous) rents to landlords.
The 2015 document also proposed to create an obligation on private housing developers to build or contribute financially to the building of social housing projects as part of the planning approvals process.
In the education sector, Mr Tinubu is proposing boards to manage federally-owned primary and secondary schools. The boards will reserve membership spaces and decision-making power for members of the local communities.
Education: 2015 “Change manifesto”
The 2015 manifesto of the APC had also promised to decentralise the management of primary schools to parents and communities.
In 2015, the APC government promised to establish a properly trained and equipped Federal Anti-Terrorism Multi-Agency Task Force to destroy Boko Haram and any form of insurgency.
It also promised to create a Federal Anti-Terrorism Agency (FATA), with properly trained and professional staff combining elements of both the police and the State Security Service, which would be fully accountable to the National Assembly to conduct anti-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations. None of the promises was achieved.
In Mr Tinubu’s manifesto, he is promising to establish highly trained and disciplined anti-terrorist battalions (ABATTS). According to the document, their objective shall be to seize the strategic and tactical initiative, giving terrorists, kidnappers and bandits no respite.
Revive textile industry
In the 2015 manifesto, the APC proposed to revive the textile industry in Nigeria. “Revive textile and other industries that have been rendered dormant because of inappropriate economic policies,” the report stated. This time, Mr Tinubu is proposing to create new industrial hubs in the North-west and North-east that will focus on textiles.
“We shall introduce commodity boards to establish minimum prices for strategic crops such as cashew, cocoa, sesame, soya, cassava, yam, rubber, okra, palm kernels, groundnut and okra. This will guarantee minimum incomes for farmers,” Mr Tinubu stated in his document.
Although the APC 2015 document did not promise a commodity board, it stated that the government would create a “global price index for certain commodities.
It also promised to “Guarantee a world indexed minimum price for selected crops and thereby guarantee farmers an adequate minimum price for their yields from which they can sustain their operations and have a dignified livelihood without fear of poverty.”
Inability to implement promises in 2015 manifesto
Speaking on the failure of the current administration to implement some of the 2015 promises, the spokesperson of the APC presidential campaign council and labour minister, Festus Keyamo, said this was because of the status of the economy.
Mr Keyamo, while appearing on Politics Today, a political Programme on Channels TV on Friday, said the economy was in a downward spiral when the APC government took over in 2015, hence the party was constrained.
“In 2014, no less a person that Okonjo-Iweala who was then Minister of Finance told everyone that we are headed to recession, so we did not give that excuse, it was the PDP government that said at the time they were leaving that the country was on a downward slide towards recession and that was in 2013 and 2014,” he said.
No clear-cut position on state police
PIn the past week, calls for state police dominated political discourse due to the face-off between members of the National Assembly and state governors.
SIXT-MEDIA LANE had reported that the Chairman of the Senate Committee, Ovie Omo-Agege, accused state governors’ of influencing state assemblies to halt consideration of the constitutional amendment bills until the state police bill is reintroduced.
Federal lawmakers in March rejected the state police bill, but the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) has resolved to prioritise the bill. Mr Tinubu, in his policy document, did not state categorically if he is going to back the removal of police from the exclusive list. He stated that he plans to assess the needs of different localities and develop policing based on them.
“Our government will work in close collaboration with State Governments and the National Assembly, to enact measures necessary to secure and protect communities from criminal violence, particularly kidnapping and terrorism.
“These measures will be flexible and adaptive in order to fit local realities and challenges. Some instances may call for establishment or enhancement of civilian neighbourhood watch groups. Others may require the establishment of more formal locally based law enforcement institutions.”
The position of the APC candidate on fuel subsidy is equally well spelt out. This is important because the Buhari administration is planning to finance subsidies till June 2023. According to the 2023 budget proposal, the current administration plans to spend N3.35 trillion on subsidies in the first half of the year.
Thus if Mr Tinubu is elected as the president, he will have to address the issue of subsidy in the first month of his administration – either to finally remove it or send a supplementary budget for continuity.
In his document, Mr Tinubu said his government will strive to achieve stability of petroleum product supply by fully deregulating the downstream sector and ensuring that local refinery capacity will meet domestic consumption needs. In another paragraph, he said he would remove the subsidy in phases.
“Solution: We shall phase out the fuel subsidy yet maintain the underlying social contract between the government and the people.” However, the debate on the document continues as campaigning is expected to be in full throttle in the coming weeks……..