It’s been seven months since the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, dropped his manifesto.
Like the OG presidential candidate he is, he didn’t have to write a new manifesto from scratch. All he needed to do was to pull up his 2019 policy document, revise a few things and slap a new title on the cover called “My Covenant with Nigerians.”
But over the past few weeks, especially since the candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, released his manifesto, the Obidient movement has accused Atiku of stealing inspiration from their own candidate. The argument of Obi’s supporters is that most of Atiku’s speeches on the campaign trail don’t reflect what’s contained in his own document.
So, what exactly is contained in the candidate’s 115-page manifesto?
Massive recruitment into all of Nigeria’s security outfits especially the Nigeria Police so that additional 1,000,000 policemen and women will be added to the existing total of less than 400,000 — in 4 years
Insecurity is one of Nigeria’s most pressing problems. Atiku’s plan to address that is to recruit one million police officers in line with the United Nations’ recommendation. The recommendation states that the ideal ratio should be one police officer to 450 citizens. Statistics agree that Nigeria is severely under policed. However, does the country really need a million new police officers? Let’s do the math:
It’s also unclear if Atiku has thought of how he would pay these officers. The cost of weapons, training and welfare also come to mind. For example, if one estimates ₦150,000 a month as the average salary for 500,000 additional police officers, that’s an additional ₦900 billion yearly to a budget heavily financed by debt.
Continue to improve the agriculture sector’s access to financial services, through NIRSAL by de-risking lending to the sector by commercial and development banks. The overall goal is to improve the financial capacity of the farmers and other agricultural producers to adopt new technologies and increase their resilience to economic shocks.
Even though Atiku’s plan for agriculture isn’t comprehensive enough on problem-solving, it’s impossible to disagree with him on the need to improve access to finance for farmers.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has spent over ₦1 trillion in the past seven years. These seven years were used to fill the gaps in food supply with interventions like the Anchors Borrowers Programme
Our primary concern shall be the maintenance of macroeconomic and financial system stability. We shall pursue policies that minimise systemic risk and boost investor confidence. We shall endeavour to bring inflation to the single digits, maintain exchange rate stability and institutionalise fiscal discipline.
Atiku’s answer to inflation is developing the financial sector — banks, pension, insurance and capital markets. But he wasn’t clear enough on how he’ll address the root causes of inflation like soaring food prices, naira depreciation, and overdependence on imports.
Government shall create an environment that will enable distribution companies to recover full costs for power supplied to their consumers with a firm commitment to a metering program for all customers. The scourge of electricity theft will be dealt with through a viable partnership between investors in the distribution companies and the government with legislative support for prompt action against electricity theft.
No power system is free of losses. For distribution companies, these losses include metre tampering, false metre readings and unmetred supply. One thing Atiku could have clarified was his plan to remove the commitments of these power losses from firms.
It’s not entirely a new idea, as distribution companies suggested performance improvement plans and loss-reduction targets in 2021. A project like this clearly needs money. But with ₦1.3 trillion electricity intervention fund already down the drain, who will help these firms?
Responsibility for funding and control of public primary education shall be transferred to the local governments. Senior secondary and tertiary education, provided through universities, polytechnics, monotechnics, and Colleges of Education (CoEs) will be under the jurisdiction of State governments in the manner that best suits their individual or collective purposes.
It’s hard to tell if this was just a blindspot in Atiku’s manifesto, but local governments already fund and control public primary education.
On the issue of senior secondary and tertiary education to be given control under the state government, Atiku first mentioned in August 2022 that this was due to the fact the first set of schools were originally under regional government, and the successors are the states.
But one of his aides, Paul Ibe, later covered for him, saying that he instead plans to have a “phased devolution of power.” Something looks fishy.