Atiku Abubakar recently unveiled his much-touted policy document in an online broadcast to the nation.
Mr Abubakar’s proposal, unveiled on November 19, covered issues ranging from jobs, national security, healthcare, education, infrastructure and other critical sectors of the economy.
The Peoples Democratic Party presidential nominee — who opponents, especially Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, have accused of lacking policy substance — appeared even-keeled and undistracted while highlighting a handful of specific policy ideas in the live Facebook and Twitter broadcast.
Mr Abubakar’s campaign office said besides presenting his vision directly to the electorate, the former vice president aimed to set a standard for future presidential electioneering, saying the hitherto culture of political leaders failing to come up with concrete plans on how they will approach governance had sent many floundering when confronted with challenges upon assumption of office.
But while the proposals may appear fresh to many, the ideas have actually been on Mr Abubakar’s campaign platform for more than four years, mostly drawn from his restructuring Nigerian mindset. He uploaded key elements of the policy document on his website while pursuing the presidential ticket of the then-opposition All Progressives Congress in 2014.
The updated plan unveiled to Nigerians last month has been on the main opposition presidential candidate’s back-burner for months, as a host of policy experts his campaign engaged worked to fine-tune it for a broader yet compact version that removed all references to the APC.
Still, critics argue the overhauled plan is still woefully lacking in specifics, saying it came up short on how its enumerated ambitions would be funded.
Mr Abubakar, nonetheless, argues his plan is exactly what Nigeria needs to get out of its current socio-economic malaise, and charged Nigerians to hold him up to his promises if he is elected president at the general elections next February.
Below is a list Mr Abubakar’s policy priorities as gleaned from his official campaign documents.
Mr Abubakar’s top selling point has been his achievement in jobs creation. He has touted himself as a man grounded in economic issues because he has built profitable businesses in food and beverage, agriculture, logistics and education.
According to his policy document, Mr Abubakar plans to create three million jobs annually.
Potential sectors where most of the jobs would be created include private sector through informal sector, entrepreneurial, school to jobs and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), information and communications technology and special entrepreneurship pathways.
His government plans to launch a new, more efficient, cost-effective and sustainable entrepreneurship development and job creation programmes, target the creation of up to three million self and wage-paying employment opportunities in the private sector annually. This would target all categories of youth, including graduates, early school leavers, as well as the massive numbers of uneducated youth who are currently not in schools for employment or training, create incubation centres, clusters and industrial-commercial hubs. This would provide a marketplace for MSMEs and SMPs as well as champion the repositioning and streamlining of the activities of the existing federal and state government job creation agencies.
Mr Abubakar plans to provide skill-acquisition opportunities and enterprise development for job and wealth creation rather than direct cash distribution of the Buhari administration, improve citizens’ access to basic infrastructure services – water, sanitation, power, education and health care, remove all forms of discrimination against the marginalized and vulnerable citizens and enhance their access to education and income-generating activities.
He plans to implement pro-poor policies that will enhance their participation in economic activities and improve household income, work more closely with the non-governmental organisations, the private sector and other development partners to mobilise resources for the effective implementation of the nation’s empowerment strategy.
Mr Abubakar said there would be streamlining of functions and transfer of responsibilities for greater efficiency. For example, by 2024, responsibility for funding and control of public primary education shall be transferred to the local governments. He says there would be development and promotion of science and technical education to create skills for the new economy, improved access to qualitative as well as industry-relevant education with access, equity and quality receiving prominent attention. He said there will be more investment in social infrastructure.
Based on the gaps currently observed in the health sector, a comprehensive reform of the Federal Ministry of Health and its agencies will be implemented, he says. The administration will accelerate Nigeria’s transition towards achieving universal access to affordable and quality healthcare services for all by 2030.
The candidate plans to expand access to basic primary healthcare, improve quality of care and clinical governance, unlock market potential of the health sector by engaging the private sector, encourage medium and large scale pharmaceutical industries for the local production of essential drugs and expand healthcare professionals to the front line and attract Nigerian doctors in the diaspora to reverse lingering brain-drain.
Mr Abubakar said he would achieve this by decongesting the exclusive and the concurrent list in the constitution while the central government would also retain the role of providing the required direction for the economy, defence and national security, internal law and order, currency, international affairs and foreign policy, customs, citizenship and immigration, firearms, and related matters.
He said that issues bordering on minerals and mines, internal security including police, law and order, railways, communications, transport, environment, land matters, etc, would be devolved to the concurrent list while local governments shall become an independent tier of government and that federating units will be supported in economic management.
Nigeria’s common resources will be shared equitably in accordance with a new revenue allocation formula to be negotiated across the board.
To ensure that anti-corruption efforts become more effective and for the rule of law to hold sway, Mr Abubakar says his government will champion institutional reforms of anti-corruption agencies and strengthen them for more effective performance. He will also launch a comprehensive national anti-corruption strategy that is based on the rule of law, separation of powers, neutrality and non-partisanship.
He will strengthen policies and measures for detecting corruption through a strong technology infrastructure that supports the end-to-end operations of government businesses for transparency, accountability, efficiency and effectiveness. He will also ensure that judgments on corruption cases are fully followed through and enforced by the appropriate law enforcement agencies.
He would review the reward system for public and civil services, strengthen anti-corruption, public enlightenment, enhance whistle-blowing and witness protection policies and promote rule of law.
Mr Abubakar promises to re-activate meaningful registration at birth as a way to reduce crime and protect Nigerians, conduct the next national population census as the basis for further development planning.
He would deal with the insurgency by deploying alternative approaches to conflict resolution, such as diplomacy, intelligence, improved border control, traditional institutions and good neighbourliness.
He would restructure and decentralise security institutions, promote regional security cooperation. He would resolve militancy in the Niger-Delta, improve civil-military relations, strengthen the national security council, handle the North-east development issues, deal with terrorism, kidnapping and other crimes.
For Nigeria to take its rightful position in the committee of nations, Mr Abubakar promises to retool Nigeria’s foreign policy instruments, re-activate the Presidential Advisory Council on Foreign Affairs, convene an All-Nigerian Conference on Foreign Policy to promote national consensus on our national interest to guide foreign policy, and provide for a smooth and effective running of Nigeria’s diplomatic missions.
He also plans to implement the Diaspora Commission Act 2017.
WOMEN AND YOUTH
Mr Abubakar says his administration would encourage state governments and the private sector to incentivise studies for girls in Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) while microfinance and financing schemes specifically targeted at the youth and women will be provided.
On violence against women, special tribunal will be created to handle crimes against women including domestic violence, physical or sexual abuse and rape while there will be an increase in women representation and retention rates in politics and business, through positive action such as quotas for women on political platform and corporate boards just as there will be Increase in the number of appointments made to young people in government and in government committees.
To tackle Nigeria’s acute infrastructure deficit, the PDP candidate says he would create Infrastructure Development Unit (IDU) upon the assumption of office, to be domiciled in the presidency. It would have a coordinating function and a specific mandate of working with the ministries, departments and agencies to fast track and drive the process of infrastructure development in the country.
The private sector will be provided with incentives to enable it to establish an Infrastructure Debt Fund (IDF). The IDF will primarily mobilise domestic and international private resources for the financing and delivery of large infrastructure projects across all the sectors of the economy.
Furthermore, the scope of infra-credit will be broadened to complement the operation of the IDF by de-risking investments in infrastructure to build investor confidence in taking risks and investing capital.
Mr Abubakar said he would propose to the legislature, a framework and regulation overhaul to develop 5,000 kilometres of roads by 2025 through public-private partnerships and community interventions.
Government will develop and rehabilitate the connecting road networks across the geopolitical zones, encourage transportation development around the nation’s agricultural and industrial clusters, construct up to 5,000 kilometres of modern railways through privatisation, PPPs and public investments as well as improve existing port efficiency and achieve accelerated development of alternative container ports especially inland dry ports.
The National Electricity Regulatory Agency (NERC) will be allowed to perform its regulatory functions without interference and guarantee its independence while there will be a review of the Aggregated Technical, Commercial and Collection (ATC&C) losses existing in the power networks and extract firm commitments for a revised ATC&C loss reduction target from the power distribution companies.
The candidate says his government will create an environment that would enable distribution companies to recover full costs for power supplied to their consumers. Creative solutions will be introduced towards addressing the huge debt overhang and liquidity challenges in the power industry while at the same time ensure enforceability of industry contracts just as there will be an upgrade of transmission grids while short-term emergency measures will be adopted.
Mr Abubakar says this area would witness prioritised investment in nameplate capacity that will ensure that Nigeria starts to refine 50 per cent of its current crude oil output of two million barrels per day by 2025.
.He says there will be privatisation of all four-outstanding government-owned refineries to competent off-takers with mandates to produce agreed levels of refined output, issuance of new licenses for greenfield investment in crude oil refining and allied activities and the introduction of market-friendly fiscal and pricing policies.
Greater attention will be paid to the sports sector as the document reveals that sporting facilities in all the states will be improved while there will be a diversification into the promotion of minority sports to give Nigeria a better chance of winning international laurels.
The sector will be encouraged to be a job and wealth creation platform just as it will serve as a mechanism for national unity and foreign policy. The sector will also partner with the private sector to open sports academies for persons with disabilities that will operate across the regions.
CULTURE AND TOURISM
Mr Abubakar says his government will encourage talented individuals to harness, and showcase abroad, certain aspects of our literary material and performance traditions and promote local traditional festivals.
He promises to revive national parks driven by the private sector, restore the conduct of the bi-annual National Festival of Arts and Culture, encourage intervention fund and increase budget support for culture and tourism, and advocate the granting of loans and grants to qualified practitioners.
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
A PDP administration would enact right policies and legislation that will provide the latest infrastructure, financial and business development facilities. It would also create specific finance and strategic support tailored to each segment of the entertainment industry, define the rights of practitioners in the industry, including their intellectual property rights.
There would be intervention schemes focused on offering subsidies to the creative arts industry in order to promote stand-alone businesses, ratify the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production, improve enforcement to address the issues of piracy and review international treaties or conventions relating to Intellectual Property (IP) rights.
The Niger Delta which has accounted for over 85 per cent of Nigeria’s annual revenues for the past 50 years, but still battles stark under-development and continues to lag behind in almost every key area of development will witness the genuine implementation of the Niger-Delta Master Plan, Mr Abubakar says. He also promises to relocate the Niger Delta Ministry from Abuja to the region to ensure it is closer to beneficiaries.
There would be an overhaul of the Niger-Delta Ministry and the Niger-Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to remove overlaps and make them more efficient while a comprehensive review and impact assessment of the Amnesty Programme will be carried out.
In the North-east states facing desert encroachment, erosion, insurgency, infrastructure deficit, high levels of unemployment, poverty and illiteracy, Mr Abubakar as president would establish and operationalise the North East Commission for Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Development, encourage industrialisation in the region through the development of clusters and dedicated economic zones, develop and implement a security master plan including security architecture overhaul and greater border control collaboration with neighbouring countries, develop and implement a social and re-integration program.
Mr Abubakar says Nigeria’s debt stock has been exhibiting a rising trend, since 2014, increasing from N11.20 trillion to N17.50 trillion in 2016 and doubling to N22.40 trillion in mid-2018.
Therefore, he would slow down the rate of debt accumulation by promoting more public-private partnerships in critical infrastructure funding, review the current utilisation of all borrowed funds and ensure that they are deployed more judiciously, utilise funds for economic diversification, review debt strategy by focusing on concessional and semi-concessional sources.
He also plans to enhance the internal revenue generating capacity of the three tiers of government, improve spending efficiency of the federal government and drastically reduce the share of recurrent revenue in the budget from 70 per cent to 35 per cent by 2025. He says he would streamline the functions of the sovereign wealth fund, excess crude account and the stabilisation fund and utilise them for what they really are or should be and improving the budgeting process to facilitate more effective budget impact on the economy.
DOMESTIC SERVICES SECTOR
Mr Abubakar says he would maintain macroeconomic and financial system stability; pursue policies that minimise systemic risk and boost investor confidence; endeavour to bring inflation to single digits, maintain exchange rate stability and institutionalize fiscal discipline, guarantee the independence of the regulators of the different segments of our financial system, financial education shall be introduced and required through all levels of our education system.
In addition, he vowed to pursue an ambitious financial inclusion strategy that aims to bring access to basic financial services to all Nigerians. He said his government will address bottlenecks and other challenges inhibiting access to needed finance for our real sector enterprises, particularly for MSMEs.
He would introduce new incentives to encourage savings and investment by Nigerians and encourage large-scale investment in improving financial system technology while a robust policy regime that will encourage the growth and adoption of financial technology products in Nigeria will be developed.