EXCLUSIVE: Two years on, Jonathan, PDP rule Nigeria with three-page “clueless” manifesto

PDP Manifesto word cloud

Apparently, the PDP is not interested in solving the key challenges Nigeria and Nigerians are facing.

In 2011, before casting his vote in the presidential elections, Bayo Babalola, a Nigerian investment manager, did a critical review of the top three candidates.

On the eve of the elections, he published his review entitled “On Your Marks” in which he announced he would “pless [his] hand on the umblerra” – a comical phrase made popular by Nigeria’s first lady, Patience Jonathan – interpreted to mean that he will vote the Peoples Democratic Party.

Mr. Babalola is one of the 22 million Nigerians who voted for President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2011 election.

Mr. Babalola’s decision, like millions of other voters, depended solely on an isolated review of the candidates. Millions of voters pressed their inked thumbs on the umbrella logo of the PDP on ballot papers without considering the manifestos of their preferred candidate’s party.

“My voting decision was not based on the party’s manifesto, but individuals,” Mr. Babalola said while admitting he never sighted the party’s manifesto before the election.

PDP, which likes to describe itself as Africa’s largest political party,  has ruled Nigeria since 2011 with a scant three-page blueprint that has no mention of job, employment or even corruption (or anti-corruption).

The party’s manifesto, last updated in 2010, ahead of the 2011 general election, is a scant 12-page handbook containing the guidelines the ruling party depends on for internal party governance as well as to draw up policies and programmes to rule Nigeria. The manifesto was conceived the party’s guiding principle.

The PDP adopted the current manifesto after dumping a more detailed version drawn up in 2006 by Nasir Elrufai – now in the opposition – and Osita Chidoka, boss of the federal road safety commission.

The current manifesto was written in support of the 2011 election of President Jonathan, but was not widely circulated to the Nigerian people as the party’s campaign relied largely on a grass-to-grace narrative the President Jonathan promoted during his campaign.

Linus Okafor, a philosopher who also voted PDP in 2011, played down the party’s manifesto in his voting decision-making process because he believed the document was drafted by some consultants and would not have much influence on the candidate.

“Party manifestos are not, at the moment, something that is applied in governance in Nigeria,” he said.

But a well drafted manifesto holds the advantage of spelling out clearly the core values that provide guidance to all governments elected on the party’s platform.

Since returning to democratic rule in 1999, the PDP has held on to power at both the centre and the states. Currently, the party has majority in the National Assembly, and controls 64 per cent of seats in state assemblies.

“I am satisfied that in addition to providing guidance, this manifesto constitutes the threshold menu which we, and future members of our party shall use to develop our policies and programmes,”  President Goodluck Jonathan, said in a forward he wrote for the document.

Scantiest

The PDP operates the scantiest manifesto amongst its peers, globally.

The Democratic Party of Japan’s manifesto is a 35-page – A4 paper sized – blueprint detailed down to issues like pensions, children support, nuclear energy and health care.

South Africa’s ruling party, African National Congress has a 15-page – A4 paper – sized manifesto , supported by a 23-page policy framework  and an additional local government manifestos.

The ANC manifesto has detailed plan on broad issues from job creation to food security.

The Democratic Party of Kenya also has a manifesto  detailing plans on all key human development areas, including its plans for families and Kenyans abroad.

The Liberal Democrats in Britain has a 111-page manifesto  covering citizens’ values, finances, jobs, life, family and rights.

Inside the manifesto

The PDP manifesto starts with a foreword written by Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan, where he declared the party was set up in 1998 “for the sole purpose of contesting and winning democratic elections” in all states and at all levels of government.

He argued that the manifesto would advance democracy and entrench the core values of decency, accountability, transparency, justice, equity and fairness in public life.

The following six pages of the handbook summarises the party’s philosophy of government, mission and vision statements, its covenant statement and political objectives.

The last three pages of the handbook described the party’s manifesto, covering only governance, economy, and judiciary – in one page each.

Economic policy

The party’s economic policy aims to establish Nigeria as Africa’s leading economy with a projection of 10 per cent “sustained growth” per annum.

PDP outlined its economic policy in three paragraphs, without a mention of “job” or “employment” the key economic challenges blamed for the skyrocketing insecurity in Nigeria.

“At the root of Nigeria’s political and social problems is poverty and low access to economic opportunities,” the party admitted in the manifesto, offering to solve it through a “virile diversified economy” that discourages rural urban migration. The prescription lacks specificity.

PDP’s economic policy is built around the realization of the Millenium Development Goals, developing the middle class and infrastructural improvements. All policy areas are mentioned without detailed realization plans.

Nigeria has a GDP of about $235 billion, the second-highest in Africa, according to World Bank data. But the country’s wealth does not trickle down to the masses. More than half of the population live below the poverty line, and the unemployment rate is over 20 percent. Infrastructure, especially in the country’s rural areas, is underdeveloped in most areas and deteriorating in others.

The PDP has continually made rhetorics of its willingness to solve Nigeria’s poverty, unemployment and infrastructure challenges.

But the ruling manifesto clearly misses to say so and how. Rather the party’s  fiscal mismanagement is overshadowed by corruption, inconsistency and ineptitude since 1999.

Ezenwa Nwagu, vice-president at Transparency in Nigeria, a non-profit that aims to promote transparency in government businesses, is not surprised by PDP manifesto’s lack of depth.

“The level of impunity right now does not suggest there is any political value guiding the decisions of party,” he said.

Mr. Nwagu read the founding manifesto of the party and said it was comprehensive, like the one that guided the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s regime.

Governance

PDP’s governance plan is simple, stated in six paragraphs and on one page.

The party’s policy direction on governance does not state plans, rather, it states how the party “shall be committed” to a selection of principles including ‘participatory democracy’, equal opportunities, federal system of government, accountability and transparency, and preservation of Nigeria’s secular status. Again, no specificity.

Judiciary and Justice

The party’s policy direction on justice and judiciary takes up less than half a page. The section was stated in four short sentences, describing general intentions but not detailed plans.

It is centred around upholding Nigeria’s constitution, the independence of the judiciary and “security of lives and property.”

The party’s manifesto clearly misses an opportunity to state the PDP plans to rid Nigeria of its chronic corruption. Not a mention of “corruption” was made in the entire document.

The PDP’s ruling manifesto, unlike its peers, has no policy framework or blueprint on key issues like education, health, taxes, transportation, energy, internal security, foreign relations and food security.

Although the PDP’s manifesto has been around since 2010, and was recently uploaded to the party’s new website, not so many people have seen it.

Guiding principle or manifesto

At the PDP’s national secretariat in Abuja, only few staffs admitted having knowledge of the manifesto.

When handed a copy, the party’s national publicity secretary, Olisah Metuh, flipped the pages and dismissed it as a guiding principle.

“This is not our manifesto,” he said. “This is an abridged version for the public, for the election. It is a guiding principle.”

Mr. Metuh argued that the party’s ‘manifesto’ is the founding manifesto, published in 1998 and the very detailed 2006 edition, used by the party between 2007 and 2011.

“We expect all our candidates to apply this,” he said, pointing to a 1998 founding manifesto. “This (2011 manifesto) is a guiding principle.”

A former official of the party (who sought anonymity) said a manifesto was never in the party’s plan in the run-up to the 2011 elections.

“This (2011 manifesto) was printed to make money off the party,” she said. “Nobody really sat down to draw a manifesto for this regime.”

Who needs a manifesto?

Many political analysts, including the party’s sympathisers and opposition, admitted they have never seen the PDP’s 2011 manifesto but expressed no shock about its lack of depth when given a copy.

“Has the PDP a manifesto?” Rotimi Fashakin, spokesman for the opposition Congress for Progressive Change asked.

Mr. Babalola does not however consider his last voting decision a mistake. In fact, he loathes the PDP, but insists he trusted the president’s personality. President Jonathan promoted his personality, during the campaigns, through an I-had-no-shoe campaign storyline.

“In deciding who to vote, more information is better than less, but the manifesto document is not key,” he says. “I don’t think we are at that age where manifesto counts. When I am voting, I look at the individual, not the party.”

Mr. Okafor, like Mr. Babalola, did not sight the party’s manifesto before taking his voting decision. He argued that comprehensive manifestoes are insignificant documents in Nigerian politics.

“Even if it is one page, its implementation depends on the individual who is the president,” Mr. Okafor said. “The reality is that in Nigeria the flag-bearer is more powerful than the party (PDP) instead of the other way round.”

The opposition disagrees. They argue that a detailed manifesto describes and guides the use of political power. And that it is impossible to plan for a country in a three-page handbook that has no specificity on programme implementation.

“You can’t plan for a country in three pages,” Nasir El-Rufai, a former member of the party said.

Isaac Ikotun, a sympathiser of the opposition Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, argued that the PDP’s lack of a comprehensive manifesto “explains why the current government appears clueless.”

 


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  • el-Chimo

    PDP is the larget party in Africa, yes, but at the same time it is the most empty of all political parties on the continent period.

    • my b℮st frі℮nd’s m○tհ℮r-іn-lаw mаk℮s $75 ℮v℮ry հ○ur ○n tհ℮ с○mput℮r. Sհ℮ հаs b℮℮n wіtհ○ut w○rk f○r 6 m○ntհs but lаst m○ntհ հ℮r pаyсհ℮сk wаs $13122 just w○rkіng ○n tհ℮ с○mput℮r f○r а f℮w հ○urs. G○ t○ tհіs w℮b sіt℮ аnd r℮аd m○r℮,,,.,,…. Fℴx85.ℂℴm

  • Mr. Myle

    No wonder no one sector is working. Pdp is just an empty vessel with blocked headed miscreant who only but never mind who the other man is. End of the road for them.

  • Afam

    All i can say is that some of you junk journalists and your paid masters can rant outside the power but when one of you guys is voted in he or she will be worst than GEJ…it is easier to call president many names because your not on that seat.

    • Jadesola Fakayode

      afam, why dont you just respond to the issues as your own contribution to building Nigerian and even African democracy? Why must you always think that when a critique is advanced it is targeted at someone? Look, my friend ethnic and tribal politics dominate our polity precisely because the parties DO NOT HAVE IDEOLOGIES/PROGRAMS /MANIFESTOS THAT WE CAN DEBATE AND DISAGREE WITH. So we vote for X because X looks like us. That is all. Is that what you call democracy in the 21st century? You need to wake up my friend. I do NOT want to vote for someone Z because he/she looks like me or because he/she comes from my area//village/ethnic group/zone-or whatever people call it. It is just ridiculous. And the way to do that is to begin to return our party system to an ideology/manifesto based system. We used to have this. Go and read your Nigerian and African history properly. We are this backward today, looking at everything from ethnic and religious standpoint because we abandoned the road to building program based/ideological based/manifesto based parties our founding fathers and mothers started. That is why those days of NCNC/AG/NPC/UPN/NPNUMBC/ etc you will hear concepts such as federalism/unitarism/welfarism/conservatism/progressive/socialism/social democratic policies etc-just as those concepts define voters’ choices in developed world. And Nigerians voted on those basis. We were on that path but suddenly we abandoned that path. And my friend, nature abhors vacuum. In the absence of ideologies, there has to be something to fill the vacuum. And unfortunately, that vacuum has been filled with sectional politics/zonal politics/ethnic politics/religious politics etc. So Mr. afam if you are honestly looking for a way out for the Nigerian/African societies so that we avoid all these backward, stone age atavistic sectional politics the way forward is the building of ideology based parties. That is when Nigerian citizens will vote across ethnic and religious lines. You will say this is impossible ONLY IF YOU AFAM BELONG TO AFRICANS WHO BELIEVE WE AFRICANS ARE GENETICALLY INFERIOR AND THAT WE ARE DOMINATED BY THE TRIBE AND ARE INCAPABEL OF ANY RATIONAL ACT. SOME OF US DO NOT SUBSCRIBE TO THAT SELF CONTEMPTUOUS BELIEF. SO WE BELIEVE THAT RATIONAL POLITICS WHICH IS IDEOLOGY BASED POLITICS IS POSSIBLE IN AFRICAN SOCIETIES. AND THAT IS THE LEGACY OF OUR FOUNDING FATHERS AND MOTHERS BEFORE WE DERAILED. WE NEED TO RETURN TO THAT PATH. Does this help afam?

      • AbdurRasaq

        FAKAYODE!!!! YOU ARE FORCING ME OUT OF MORAL. WHY DO YOU KEEP CALLING ME TERRORIST and READING SENSELESS MEANING TO MY WORDS, PLS I WILL ONLY LIKE TO SPEAK WITH PEOPLE OF UNDERSTANDING and WISDOM, going by the look of things I.e from you messages YOU ARE CERTAINLY NOT PART OF people of wisdom and understanding. You are explaining US and OUR foolishly against my interpretation to mean all Nigerians and Nigeria values, cultures, laws. AND I EXPLAINED THAT IS NOT WHAT I MEAN ( fakoyode, are you so FOOLISH to understand that?) I wish I can have this whole discussion with you face to face in the presence of thousand of thousands of Nigerian then I will expose your FOOLISHNESS and IGNORANCE IN PUBLIC so that people you ever know will be aware that YOU a JUST AN EMPTY VESSEL (Agba Ofifo) Imagine that you have commented like 6 times yet you keep saying same old crap ( oun fi ila we ila) are you that daft? I explained that your erroneous interpretation was not what I have in mind by NAILING the Muslim you sighted in the scenerio you gave ( how else do I convince you to know that I DON’T share your gory and murderous THOUGHT (interpretation)
        Now. Let me go academic maybe that will help you. I started my words by saying “Islam to Muslims…….( To the end of that quotation) the word Muslims is a noun (name of group of people that believe in Islamic faith as way to serve their Lord) the English language has it that after the FiRST mention of a NOUN subsequent refrence to it (noun) should be made with pronoun. The part “Islam to US ” US mentioned here follow the english rule I sighted above, US here is an objective case pronoun, its subjective case is WE. Referring to MUSLIMS which is the noun that has been mentioned earlier, OUR is a possesive article that refers to the PRONOUN and THE NOUN hence we have NOUN > PRONOUN > POSSESIVE ARTICLE. Does this academic explanation click in your brain? IF NOT pls refer back to your old school teacher and or any other person that can help you out. COMPASSIONATE FELLOW NIGERIANS PLEASE SAY TO THIS (help this poor guy)
        Ofi ete sile oun pa lapalapa) you left the main issue and you wonder around foolishly – I shake my head for you. Am not going to call you name such as you are doing I should not join you in folishness rather I should seek to help you out of the mess you found yourself because 1. You are a Nigerian too 2. You are a Yoruba guy like me. PLEASE WELL, THINK PROPERLY and RESPND WITH YOUR RIGHT MIND. Thank you and All.

  • nija pikin

    Pdp is not a party but a cult a clueless one for that matter, its a disgrace to africa and democracy. The party doesn’t add value to nigeria or nigerians its a hob of criminals and mumus am begining to believe that its the one affecting and sabotaging the perfomance of prez Jonathan.

  • Ndidi

    Let’s remember, we, the people voted PDP back into power despite knowing what their track record is. If we want change, we ourselves must bring it about – when we care enough and have suffered enough. Only Africans tolerate living without electricity, water etc. No other race would allow their rulers to do to them what we allow ours to do to us. By now, if we had been serious about change, we would have gone on non-violent mass gatherings to FORCE our rulers to take our demands seriously. The ball as always is in the people’s court.

  • akpos1

    all of u shud stop talking nonsense. Is Nigeria a country? No. It isn’t. It is a continent. When you run a continent like a country then what you have is Nigeria. Where else on the planet will you have a siting president terminally ill for 9 months & his Vice President is not allowed to speak with him or see him? In what country will you have Terrorists who are members of Police force, army & the Legislature? In fact about 5 Senators are either In-Laws, cousins or personal friends of most wanted Terrorists in continent Nigeria. But we pretend we do not know. We would rather continue with one Nigeria bcos of my sweet oil money. Nonsense.

    Gideon Orkar’s formular or something in that mold, is what will solve the problem. Disintegration? Yes! NOW!!!!!

    Long live the United Republic of the SS&SE

    • Dominic’s

      Pls exclude Akwa Ibom n Cross River States from your SS/SE agenda cos we are left out in GEJ wealth sharing formulae

  • Innocent

    There was never a time PDP meant well for Nigeria. Not even the opposition.

  • Es3

    I’m hardly surprised at the author (of this article) or the Nigerians that jumped on his cart to express their band waggon opinion on this issue?! My reason is simple: No party in Nigeria has an ideology in the first instance, talkless of having a manifesto!!!
    What’s ACN’s, CPC’s, ANPP, APGA’a and others ideology??? Nothing!!! Manifestos are primarily products of the ideology that gives rise to it and NO ONE can claim to have a manifesto out of nothing!
    This further lays credence to my persistent call for Nigerians to consistently vote persons (individuals) and not political parties since the national refused to add independent candidacy to our electoral law, we can help ourselves by voting individuals – irrspective of party affiliations?! For instance, if Fashola had moved from ACN to any other party when Bola Tinubu refused to allow him have 2nd term, I would have voted for Fashola in the next party! Afterall, the Fashola we are commend today is a mistake by Tinubu who never thought he could attempt to exert himself in a bid to attempt to deliver which explains the fight to stop him at all cost that ensued then???!
    My vote of no confidence on all Nigerian political parties is well known to all. So someone here wanting to satisfy his paymasters by running down only PDP should go back to the drawing board, clear his eyes by correcting his myopic vision before attempting to address some of us again through the mass media!!!

  • Dr Pat Kolawole Awosan

    President Jonathan and PDP are bunch of criminals and axis of evils virus infecting our nation

    and as long as they remain in control of the liver of power in the Nigeria presidency.Corruption grows everyday with PDP president Jonathan in control of the presidency.

    President Jonathan wastes away our national scarce funds maintaining ten presidential jets fleet despite the open sore truth that our national highways are death traps nationwide.Hospitals are short-cut-center to early death,education declines in quality as Nigerian certificates are no more acceptable overseas and our graduates and youths face bleak future of declining employment generation labour sector as most graduates are now gainfully employed as motorcycles-commercial-okada-ridersPresident Jonathan and PDP have attained outright F9-score card in governance.

  • Dr Pat Kolawole Awosan

    Two years on of president Jonathan regime has not benefited Nigerian people and as the picture is coming out gradually,the regime is an outright failure as our roads are death traps and no regular power supply and healthcare is in archaic state while our graduates and youths best employment is okada riding.

  • Olatunbosun Suara

    There’s no doubt that President Jonathan has embarrassed his critics into empty vituperation with his performance in just two years , which beats that of any other government in the same time, one million APC and two billion Premium Times can never ever stop his RE election, based on his record