When the names of presidential candidates for this year’s elections were released in December 2014, there were 14 names on the list; but since the campaign started only two candidates appear to be visible on the scene, thereby raising questions about the fate of the remaining 12 presidential candidates
| By Olu Ojewale | Mar. 9, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT |
IT IS very easy to assume that there are only two candidates in this year’s general elections. After all, since the start of electioneering campaigns, the only two visible candidates are President Goodluck Jonathan of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and General Muhammadu Buhari of the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC. Both Jonathan and Buhari have so dominated campaign issues and activities that the election has been narrowed down to be a contest between the two of them. But there are 12 other presidential candidates who seem to have been made to look inconsequential. Ironically, the electorate are supposed to pick from the pool of the 14 presidential candidates even though lack of visibility have rendered them ineffective in electioneering campaigns. The other 12 candidates are Allagoa Chinedu of the Peoples Party of Nigeria, PPN; Ambrose Owuru, presidential candidate of the Hope Party, HP; Ayeni Adebayo of the African Peoples Alliance, APA; Chekwas Okorie of the United Progressive Party, UPP; Oluremi Sonaiya, of the KOWA Party, KP and Ganiyu Galadima, candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, ACPN. Others are Godson Okoye of the United Democratic Party, UDP; Mani Ahmad of the African Democratic Congress, ADC; Martin Onovo of the National Conscience Party, NCP; Rafiu Salau of the Alliance for Democracy, AD; Sam Eke, the Citizens Popular Party, CPP and Tunde Anifowose-Kelani of the Accord Alliance, AA. Efforts to get in touch with some of the parties proved abortive because they were not found on the website and even when our reporter tried to communicate with those of them who left addresses on their websites, his messages were returned undelivered.
Of the 12 presidential candidates, only three of them appear to be active. They are Sonaiya, Onovo and Salau who are trying to be relevant by appearing on television and radio programmes and giving newspaper interviews where they speak glowingly about their manifestos on how they would want to transform the nation if given a chance.
Sonaiya is a professor of political science and the only female presidential candidate in the race. As the flag bearer of the Kowa Party, she does not see her lack of visibility in terms of rallies, billboards and posters as a handicap. In a recent interview, she said of her campaign methods: “I’m reaching out as best as I can to people. I’m reaching out in social media, I’m reaching out in small groups and maybe not so small groups. I’m not trying to play up to some expectations. If people are saying they do not see me. I can also say that if you think what I’m doing is worth supporting, are you supporting it?”
On the state of the nation’s economy, Sonaiya said she wasn’t convinced if things could be turned around in no distant time. “We must be clear of what our expectations are. We know the depletion of our resources that have taken place, the excess crude account is almost completely gone. We’ve had a government that has consistently spent beyond its earnings and we know that this cannot be kept for a long time. Therefore, cutting government spending will be important,” she said. Besides, the Kowa party manifesto said government must seek to increase sources of revenue. That means that it is important that we look beyond oil as a source of revenue and this would be a priority if I am elected into office. “It is important to convince ourselves to remember that we were a country that produced several other products before oil was discovered. Can we seek to return to where we are coming from? Where are the cocoa, the groundnuts and so on that we used to produce that got us quite some amount of wealth? We have a lot of mineral deposit that we’re not sufficiently exploiting in various states,” Sonaiya said, adding that there was also the need to revamp the nation’s infrastructure so that they could lead to greater economic benefit.
According to her, tackling the problem of electricity would increase productivity and put a lot of people to work. “If we have a good rail system, it would stimulate our economy. Many issues are really quite related with respect to the economy. People are talking about diversification and so on, yes, we must diversify and we must be serious about it,” she said.
While admitting that the Kowa Party manifesto is similar to that of the APC, Sonaiya said that challenges before Nigerians was not about the manifestoes. “Because there’s absolutely nobody who’s going to put it in their manifesto that they’re coming to steal your money; that they are coming to use all the country’s resources for their private interest. Nobody would tell you that. But the challenge for Nigerians is who would you trust with your affairs? And you have to look at the record of the people that you have. Those that have public records that you know or somebody like me that has not be in public political service. I have been in public service. I’ve worked for 30 years in a university and those who knew me can testify and attest to my character and so on. These are the challenges before us. So, don’t bother about manifestoes. All the promises that people have made in the past even from their manifestoes, have they fulfilled them? We were supposed to have electricity by the year 2000, where is it today? So that is what people have to make their decision on,” she argued.
In view of the general insecurity in the country, the Kowa Party would like to tackle poor information and communication capabilities of Nigerian police. “Our police force lacks the technology, skill, and organization to effectively communicate on an operational level. Also, data management systems used by the police agencies are outdated and inadequate. As a result, there is a dearth of accurate crime statistics, proper evidence documentation and storage, and forensic technology. “Over the years, the police forces have acquired a reputation for holding prisoners without trial, arbitrary arrest, extortion, torture, use of excessive force and even murder. As a result of failed policing, vigilante groups have arisen in various regions with their own agendas. In addition, the military is stretched thin in its efforts to enforce order nationally and regionally,” the party said.
The party similarly promised to tackle crime and improve the security of lives and property through the consistent pursuit of economic and social policies that would generate employment, foster cohesive communities, and stabilise families. “We will also ensure the strategic reformation of the criminal justice administration as well as upgrade and enhance law enforcement and security agencies including the judiciary,” the party further said in its manifesto.
At the regional level, Sonaiya said Nigeria was not the only one under threats. “Our neighbours are under threat too. Cameroon already is being attacked. Niger, our immediate neighbour, has reason to be jittery and the whole of West African region. If Nigeria sneezes, the region would catch a cold. So, it is important for us to make effort to establish a regional cooperation to fight the insurgents. I’m not sure they are doing enough in that approach. Another dimension is that terrorism is a global phenomenon so we must equally join hands with international agencies in seeking an end to it.
For the country to eradicate corruption, Sonaiya said the vision of Kowa Party would be to create a nation where nobody suffers exclusion. “What do you think I mean by that? What makes people suffer exclusion if not corruption? So, I do not need to splash corruption all over the place. The issue that I’m addressing, of course, are dealing with corruption. What is it that makes our hospital not to function, as they should? It is not that we do not know how hospitals are supposed to be managed. It is because of corruption,” she argued.
Despite Sonaiya’s high hopes of being elected, Martin Onovo, presidential candidate of the National Conscience Party, NCP, believes that he is the best person that could solve the coun¬try’s myriad of problems. Onovo who said he had been preparing to become the nation’s president since 1988, was now fully “prepared spiritually, mentally, physically, psychologically, politically and socially,” to lead the country.
He believes that if a proper evaluation of candidates based on vision, vigour, integrity, competence and national acceptability were to be carried out he would emerge as the best candidate.
According to Onovo, the two leading presidential candidates in this year’s election represent the problems of Nigeria. “They do not have what it takes to salvage Nigeria. Both have ethical issues. Both belong to the same class of old, failed, illegitimate and re-cycled rulers that led Nigeria to this predicament. General Buhari in the absence of General Idiagbon, could not protect his government from the Babangida coup, and as a 72 -year-old man is now promising Nigeria that he can protect us from Boko Haram. Dr. Jonathan that made many false promises of employment, power and second Niger bridge, is here again making false promises. Nigeria needs a younger, stronger and more ethical professional as president to overcome our current challenges using global best practices,” he said.
The NPC presidential candidate, therefore, warned that electing either Jonathan or Buhari would have great and unimaginable consequences for the country. He promised that his administration would tackle issues of governance with the kind of seriousness it required. “We will effectively tackle corruption, using our Four Es (enlightenment, example, empower¬ment and enforcement) strategy. We will reorganise the EFCC, ICPC and Police’s SFU for improved effectiveness.
“Our NCP government will reduce fuel price by improved domestic crude oil refining. We will increase minimum wage by reducing maximum wage, while maintaining the total wage bill. We will use about $9 billion to double power generation, transmission and distribution in two and half years. We will improve employment, food, health, housing, education, water, electricity, transportation, telecommunications and security,” Onovo said.
He acknowledged that inadequate power supply has been the bane of industrial, infrastructural, economic, social and human development in Nigeria. This, he said, would be tackled through “increasing generation capacity, building new gas power stations since natural gas is super abundant in Nigeria; gas power costs much less than solar or nuclear power and presents less safety and technological challenges. Revamp all existing hydro, gas and coal stations; upgrading transmission and distribution facilities; existing facilities may only need to be revamped, upgraded, modified and extended.”
The NPC administration, he disclosed would spend $9 billion to double power generation, transmission and distribution, in two and half years. He remarked that since 1999, the nation had spent $50 billion on power and only got less than 1,000 MW additional power supply capacity but with the NCP in government, the current power supply capacity would double in two and half years with only $9 billion.
On oil sector, Onovo promised that there would be an increase domestic refining to boost employment and therefore, also increase the country’s GDP. “Then, we will reduce prices to domestic cost recovery levels to promote economic and industrial activities. Reducing petroleum products prices will reverse or at least, arrest inflation. Current importation of petroleum products subverts domestic productivity and energy security,” he said.
Apart from that, the NCP flag bearer said his administration would prioritise the reduction of revenue losses while it would also exploit Nigeria’s solid minerals to provide additional revenue. “Luxury tax appropriately structured may also increase revenues. We will also further expand the local petrochemical industry,” he said.
On education, Onovo said other parties had been copying the NCP and present same as theirs. “Education is key to human development, which is fundamental to social, economic and infrastructural development. The following proposals can improve literacy and ethical values: free primary education to ensure that more people have basic education to improve their skills and knowledge. We are also going to modify curriculum to include moral instruction and civic education in the primary education curriculum. Discipline must be enforced at all educational insti¬tutions to promote sound conduct and ethical values,” he said.
The party similarly intends to refurbish dilapidated facilities in federal educational institutions to meet modern standards, while it also provides adequate teaching tools. In the same vein, it promises to upgrade institutions, motivate teachers and provide effective supervision of teachers, and education administrators so as to improve educational standards.
On Agriculture, the NCP said in order to ensure sufficient food production in Nigeria, a quantum increase in mechanised agricultural output would be necessary. And to increase agricultural production, the party says it would seek to increase local fertiliser production by revamping and upgrading of existing fertiliser facilities and the development of new plants.
For Rafiu Salau, presidential candidate of the Alliance for Democracy, AD, creating jobs is the party’s top priority. Speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, while unfolding the AD manifesto recently, Salau promised to create two million jobs if elected into office.
To achieve the goal, the AD presidential candidate said his administration would ensure more local content involvement in the exploration and sale of crude oil as well as shipment by local maritime companies. “First, a minimum of 70 percent of the exploration of the crude oil in the nation must be done by local companies. Whatever the profit made by local companies will be invested in the economy of the nation. This will go a long way in increasing the revenue that will be generated in the industry.
“Secondly, at least 70 percent of the shipment of the crude oil shall be assigned to local maritime companies. Thirdly, 100 percent of the oil products used locally shall be refined by local refineries, meaning 50 percent of refined products will be enough for local consumption while 50 percent will be for exportation to countries without oil or refineries,” he said, adding that the strategy would create two million jobs and increase oil revenue.
Besides, Salau said the national revenue being spent on the importation of oil products and subsidy would no longer be spent on consumption, but invested on capital goods. “This will generate more national revenue for decades while the increase in national revenue from the investment of the crude oil income will take the nation to the path of G20.
“Nigeria will have $200 billion in foreign reserve before the end of my term in office”, he said.
But for Salau or any of his 11 other presidential candidates to be elected, they would need to get out of obscurity and be more visible to the Nigerian electorate before any of them can be counted as a worthy alternative to the current frontrunners. What makes the case of the 12 presidential candidates dicey is also the fact that most of them are not also visible on social media.
In an interview with a daily newspaper, Aliyu Madugu, director-general of the Centre for Good Governance and Accountability, CGA, said that poor presence of the candidates and their parties could be traced to the absence of ideologies and good programmes to convince the electorate.
“When parties are not convened out of conviction and vision, what do you expect?’’ Madugu asked, adding: ‘’these parties don’t exist for the common good of the society. Behind the reasons for these parties are selfish and pecuniary interests. I expect the INEC to prune the number of these so called parties after now.”
But Sam Eke, presidential candidate of the Citizens Popular Party, CPP, disagreed, citing the current insecurity across the country as the major factor limiting the visibility of most parties. Eke, who is also the national publicity secretary of the Inter Party Advisory Council, IPAC, said: “The insecurity in the country is what makes it look as if some parties are not participating. So, long as the Boko Haram insurgency has not been brought to submission, people would be discouraged to get involved in the electoral process.”
He also dismissed the assertion that most of the parties were lacking in ideology, saying: “It is unreasonable for some people to suggest that the parties exist for personal reasons because the INEC is so powerful now that it can deregister any party. The parties primarily exist to win elections. We are working to correct these impressions at the level of the IPAC but IPAC is a toothless bulldog. Efforts are ongoing to introduce the IPAC bill in the next dispensation to enable the IPAC carry out its functions efficiently. The system now is not too enabling for other parties to thrive, since the PDP and APC are making it a do-or-die affair. Both parties are at war at the expense of the political space.”
That notwithstanding, he cautioned against limiting the number of parties to be involved in elections. “Any attempt at limiting the political space to accommodate few parties is wrong. That amounts to inviting anarchy. All the parties should be allowed to develop at their own pace,” he said.
Sonaiya is similarly concerned about the PDP and the APC domination and show of opulence at rallies. “There’s something called moderation. I do not see why thousands of people have to be clothed in the same kind of clothing as part of the campaign, going around to meet the voters… I’m convinced that we’re wasting a lot of money and that we do not have that kind of money to waste because we are a country that still has much to accomplish in terms of infrastructure, it terms of our health services and so on. Does it seem normal that we would be spending 20 something billion on campaigns when we do not have the same amount of money to give for research in our tertiary institution. What’s the priority? That’s what I’m talking about,” she said.
Yunusa Tanko, national chairman, IPAC, agreed that funding remains a major challenge limiting the conspicuousness of most of the presidential candidates. “The parties lack the financial resources required to sponsor candidates. Most of the parties are weak because they depend on elected people for sponsorships. Some are trying their best but there are limits to that. That is why we have been calling on the INEC to make funds available for the parties. Until this moment nothing has been done in that respect. All over the world, electoral umpires provide financial support for political parties,” Tanko said.
Fredrick Fasehun, chairman of the Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN, whose party adopted as its presidential flag bearer, said the party should field candidates according to their abilities to sponsor them. He said the UPN did not field any candidate for the presidential race because the party had only been in existence for 15 months and therefore, could not get the kind of resources needed for the race. Nevertheless, he said: “The more the merrier. I will not support any attempt to prune down the number of aspirants because they don’t have resources to prosecute elections.”
But with the 12 presidential candidates relatively wallowing in obscurity, it would be a miracle for any of them to make any impact at the March 28 presidential election.
|Allagoa Chinedu||Arabamhen Mary||Peoples Party of Nigeria||PPN|
|Ambrose Owuru||Haruna Shaba||Hope Party||HOPE|
|Ayeni Adebayo||Anthony Ologbosere||African Peoples Alliance||APA|
|Chekwas Okorie||Bello Umar||United Progressive Party||UPP|
|Oluremi Sonaiya||Seidu Bobboi||KOWA Party||KOWA|
|Ganiyu Galadima||Ojengbede Farida||Allied Congress Party of Nigeria||ACPN|
|Godson Okoye||Haruna Adamu||United Democratic Party||UDP|
|Goodluck Jonathan||Namadi Sambo||People’s Democratic Party||PDP|
|Mani Ahmad||Obianuju Murphy-Uzohue||African Democratic Congress||ADC|
|Martin Onovo||Ibrahim Mohammed||National Conscience Party||NCP|
|Muhammadu Buhari||Yemi Osinbajo||All Progressives Congress||APC|
|Rufus Salawu||Akuchie Cliff||Alliance for Democracy||AD|
|Sam Eke||Hassana Hassan||Citizens Popular Party||CPP|
|Tunde Anifowose-Kelani||Ishaka Ofemile||Accord Alliance||AA|
— Mar. 9, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT