Tomorrow, Nigerians will cast their votes for the sixth time since the resumption of democratic rule in 1999. While the country propounds a mixed economic policy (including the current administration), government (and to some extent, crude oil earnings) have played a key role in the health of the economy.
Shortly after the Buhari administration assumed office, the economy fell into recession. While GDP growth has since recovered, it remains weak and the effects remain present.
Atiku Abubakar, one time Vice President and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is the leading opposition candidate. Abubakar is running with the theme of getting Nigeria to work again.
The two camps have since released their manifestos, though the APC has a much smaller document, circa 40 pages. This in part could be due to having done a first term, and the encapsulation of its philosophy in documents such as the current MTEF and ERGP.
The PDP manifesto, on the other hand, runs at nearly 200 pages, with much greater detail.
Here is a contrast of the key points espoused in the two policy documents:
The Buhari administration intends to double down on policies embarked on its first term such as the N-Power programme, which has seen it employ 500,000 graduates. It also targets 3 million direct and indirect jobs through an expanded school feeding, anchor borrowers and livestock transformation plans.
Here, the Atiku document goes a bit more expansive. In addition to the emphasis on vocational training and several funds, the government will also pay attention to the film and sports industries which could be huge money spinners.
The two candidates support a mix of both the private and public sectors, in terms of infrastructural spending. The Buhari administration has embarked on key projects in the railway sector, and recently signed an Executive Order which will encourage companies to build infrastructure such as roads and get refunds through tax credit.
The Atiku document, however, takes a much more private sector-driven outlook. There are plans to privatise the railways and limit the ministry of transportation to policy formulation. Atiku also plans to create an Infrastructure Development Fund with the support of the private sector.
Here again, both candidates have expressed opposite sentiments. The Buhari document states his administration’s commitment to increase power generation and transmission output, in addition to off-grid solutions for rural communities. It also expresses a zero policy for estimated billing. This, in a way, is somewhat nebulous, because no specific plans were provided.
On the flip side, Atiku in his policy document has taken a more holistic view. From giving industry regulator, NERC, the space to operate independently, to find a solution to the debt overhang in the industry.
Education is one of the areas where both candidates show arguably the widest diversity. The Buhari administration intends to focus on implementing a STEAM curriculum as well as equipping 10,000 classrooms. Here once more, “We” is the operative word.
The Atiku document has a somewhat radical plan to devolve education to other tiers of government and focus on policy.
The Atiku document also expresses its intention to privatise the country’s four refineries. In addition, the support will be given to companies operating in the petrochemicals industry such as pioneer industry status, preferential gas availability, and attractive pricing to enable them to operate at full capacity.
The administration aims to tighten security across borders and decentralise funding of the armed forces. It will also execute the second phase of the Farmer-Herder and National Livestock Policy to end the decades-long conflict between farmers and herders.
The Atiku document essentially has the same template but goes ahead to specify how it will deal with other pressure points in the country such as the Niger Delta militants, and improving military-civilian relations. In addition, it draws up a framework for Nigeria’s foreign relations.