While campaigning across the country ahead of the 2015 general elections, the All Progressives Congress, APC, had adopted “Change” as its central campaign theme.
At well-attended rallies, town hall meetings, consultations and on social media, the party tackled then ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for failing woefully to address core security and socio-economic problems of the country.
To convince Nigerians it could change the nearly hopeless situation and offer a better deal, the APC unveiled an ambitious manifesto, arguably one of the most elaborate in Nigeria’s political history.
The party christened itself “A New Party for A New Nigeria,” and adopted as theme for the election manifesto, “Building a New Nigeria”.
The introduction to the manifesto reads, “In the past, political manifestos in Nigeria were hardly different from mere platitudes and general statements to which parties could not be held accountable.
“The manifesto of APC is different. We have clearly stated what we will deliver to Nigeria when elected to office,” the framers of the manifesto wrote apparently to underscore the party’s seriousness.
But how far has the APC administration, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, implemented this manifesto in the last one year?
The APC promised to urgently increase the capacity and capability of Nigeria’s military, police, and other security agencies through the employment of additional personnel, provision of modern equipment, and a commitment to professionalism, merit and excellence in the respective services to meet the needs of Nigeria’s growing population.
Specifically, it promised to provide an average of 200 patrol vehicles per annum to each state police command in the country with the 36 commands and the FCT getting 7,400 vehicles at an average cost of N5 million each, thereby spending N37 billion annually. In four years, the party said it would spend N148 billion on providing patrol vehicles for the police.
Apart from vehicles donated by corporate bodies and state governments, the Federal Government is yet to deliver patrol vehicles to the police. However, N283.091 billion is provided for the police commands and formations in the 2016 budget. That goes into police salaries and other operational needs, not exactly vehicles.
Additionally, the APC promised to create immediate new jobs by employing an average of 5,000 police officers and other security personnel per state and the FCT to improve the police to population ratio nationwide. In fulfilment of this promise, the Police Service Commission is currently recruiting 10,000 people into the force.
On the other hand, the Nigerian military consisting of the Army, Navy and Air Force have recruited officers and men though this newspaper could not establish the number recruited.
The administration has also ensured proper procurement practices within the military, police and paramilitary bodies as contained in its party manifesto.
While the APC promised to review hazard allowance, increase death and disability insurance from N100, 000 to N1million and provide better logistics to the military, the police and paramilitary services, PREMIUM TIMES is not aware the federal government has implemented any of those in the last one year.
Overall, the government has evidently pushed back the deadly Boko Haram sect, but has failed to rein in rampaging herdsmen who have unleashed terror on communities across the country. The government has also failed to check the brazen destruction of strategic national assets in the Niger Delta by the militant group, Niger Delta Avengers. Besides, kidnapping, armed robbery and sundry crimes have not abated.
Rule of law and electoral process
While it is yet too early to evaluate APC’s promise on electoral reforms, some of the elections conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, under the Buhari administration in the last one year have not been very successful.
For instance, the governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states were inconclusive just as the National Assembly by-elections in Nasarawa and Rivers states were inconclusive. The Federal Capital Territory Area Council election also ended inconclusive, thereby questioning the ability of the electoral body to handle free, fair and credible elections in the country.
The party had in its manifesto promised to uphold the rule of law by building more courts, police formations, prison facilities, crime prevention, and detection and management systems, such as forensic laboratories. However, nothing concrete has been done in this regard during the last one year.
Rather, many have questioned the government’s respect for the rule of law in the handling of the anti-corruption war, where mainly opposition elements are believed to have been arrested and detained for longer periods even when some of them had secured bails from courts of competent jurisdiction.
Transparency and anti-corruption
The APC promised full implementation of the Freedom of Information Act and its domestication in every state of the federation. So far, the federal government has not done anything in this direction.
Public offices and officers rarely respond to FOI requests from media houses. A typical example is the request PREMIUM TIMES made to the Code of Conduct Bureau for the details of Mr. Buhari’s assets declaration. Months after the request was made, the bureau is yet to release the document.
On the promise to attack the foundations of corruption by strengthening money laundering laws and encouraging the use of cheques and electronic transfers in financial transactions, the Buhari administration under the last one year has kept that promise. It has also curbed financial recklessness and abuses in the procurement process. The government has also stepped up prosecution of senior government officials, past and present.
True to its manifesto, the APC government has increased the nation’s capital budget and reduced the number of ministries, stopped arbitrary import waivers, implemented the Treasury Single Account, TSA. However, the government has not cut down the high cost of governance.
The controversy that surrounded the presentation of the 2016 budget cast doubt on the integrity of the government and its ability to stay true to its anti-corruption stance. Besides, the failure of the president to dispose of some of the aircrafts in the presidential fleet and the alleged N13million loan demanded by the Information and Culture Minister, Lai Mohammed, from the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, for an official trip to China, exposed the weakness in the government’s ability to cut cost and avoid the path of impunity.
It is yet to change security votes into line votes to enhance accountability as provided for in the party’s manifesto.
The party in its manifesto has true federalism as a major action point and promised to encourage the devolution of powers and functions to states and local governments in order to entrench true federalism and implement past studies in devolution of powers and revenue allocation towards enacting a new sharing formula.
But a few days ago, the party came hard on former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, when he called for the restructuring of the country and the entrenchment of true federalism. Both the presidency and the National Chairman of the APC, John Odigie-Oyegun, condemned Mr. Atiku’s call.
While Mr. Oyegun said the call was ill-timed and diversionary, a presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina, drew attention to APC “Roadmap to a New Nigeria,” which does not reflect what is in the manifesto. The development unarguably indicates the Buhari administration is not giving it a thought.
Education and health
Although it is still early to evaluate the performance of the party based on its broad-based human capital development plans, the fact is that the APC-led government is yet to initiate any of the plans one year after it came into office.
The party’s plans include enforcing nine years of compulsory basic education to every Nigerian child, implement multi-pronged educational policies and programmes that promote skills acquisition, teacher-training, vocational and commercial education, provide incentive for domestic manufacture of pharmaceuticals, reduction of import dependency, and ensure unadulterated drugs are easily available and affordable and appoint women, senior citizens, and vulnerable groups into government. Currently, the party is yet to make good these promises.
Under healthcare delivery component, the party promised to collaborate with states to raise the gross national health expenditure per person per annum from less than N10, 000 to about N50, 000 and urgently raise the quality of all federal government owned hospitals to world class standard within five years through investments in infrastructure, diagnostic equipment and continuous professional development.
It also promised to get states to provide free ante-natal and maternal care for pregnant women; free healthcare for babies and children up to 12 years old, the aged and free treatment persons with infectious diseases, ensure timely payment of benefits for pensioners and design a nationwide poverty safety net for all aged citizens above the age of 70 and ensure the domestication of the Child Rights Act nationwide to protect the Nigerian child, particularly the girl-child.
Currently, the APC government is yet to carry out any of these policy initiatives including its policies on preventive and curative healthcare services.
The party’s manifesto also provides for the strengthening of the nation’s educational system through an ambitious funding, incentivized personnel, support for quality research, technologically driven learning, investment in science and technology, increased grants and scholarships, create legal framework for private participation and encourage states governments to establish centres of excellence to address special educational needs of the people.
Apart from the statutory budgetary provision for the sector, it is not known whether the APC government has taken any step to address the problem in the nation’s educational sector.
Youths, sports and entertainment
Among other mouth-watering promises, the APC planned to establish world-class training academies nation-wide, identify talents, revive football, hockey, tennis, basket ball leagues and assist the arts, entertainment and creative industry with funds to develop into world-class industry within a short time.
So far, the Buhari administration is yet to initiate any policy or programme towards making good, the promises contained in his party manifesto.
Social safety net
Under this, the APC manifesto states, “The social safety net for Nigerians must not only protect them for today, it must secure them for the future, in their older years and less productive period. However, we do not believe in a Nigeria where those who are vulnerable, unable, or physically challenged are left behind.”
It is, perhaps, based on this premise that the party promised to pay N5, 000 monthly allowances to unemployed youth. These were promoted on billboards across the country.
Shortly after it won the presidential, a controversy broke out on whether the APC did make the promise.
After series of denials and buck passing, the party reviewed the promise through the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige. Mr. Ngige, who spoke on April 2, at the 27th Enugu International Trade Fair, said, “Instead of paying youth N5, 000 monthly for doing nothing, the government has initiated plans to engage hundreds of thousands of youths in the country with over 10 empowerment programmes.” The government is yet to fulfil that promise one year after it took over power.
Economic development policies
Some of the party’s policy initiatives to grow the national economy include reduction of power supply deficit and dependence on imports of petroleum products; provision of a country-wide multi-modal transportation network that integrates the economy using roads, railways, air transport, inland waterways, and seaports with modern equipment and services; implementation of a National Industrial Policy that grows the domestic economy, increases the stock of locally made products, keeps the people in paid jobs, reduces our trade deficits, and strengthens the value of the naira.
It also vows to strengthen agriculture in order to provide food security, as an instrument for national security, industrialization, and job creation and provide a guaranteed market for agricultural produce at a competitive market commodity exchange linked prices.
While the government has consistently assured that it is working hard to grow the nation’s economy, many have insisted that the administration has no clear-cut policy initiative to stem the high level of inflation and falling value of the naira against the United States dollar.
A former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili and renowned economists, Pat Utomi, have criticised the government of lacking the ability to manage the country’s economy, which they say is nearing recession.
The government is facing its most devastating crisis in the economic sector where revenues have plunged, and a foreign exchange crisis is in full swing, pushing the economy to a recession.