• Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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BusinessDay

Towards a framework for dealing with campaign promises

There is a schism, a gulf, between PROMISES and PERFORMANC​E by holders of elective positions in Nigeria. Increasingly, it is becoming exceedingly difficult for even the most alert citizen to track what is said at electioneering campaigns and what is actually implemented when political aspirants get into office.

Frequently, the promises are cast in language lacking the attributes of SMARTG & SI (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound and gender and socially inclusive).

Figure 1 conceptualises the relationship between campaign promises and outcomes/performance. It illustrates the idea that in a democracy, an aspirant to public office, especially at the gubernatorial and presidential levels, is expected to present to the electorate a detailed manifesto based on the policies and programmes of his/her political party. If the candidate is returned elected, he/she is expected to prepare a governance blueprint before inauguration day. After taking the oath of office as governor or president, the governance blueprint is revised/updated to generate a three-year medium term sector strategy (MTSS) document for each key function of government grouped into a sector, e.g., education sector or health sector.

A three-year medium term expenditure framework is then developed/updated to generate the revised annual budget, the instrument government uses to drive its revenue and expenditure plans for a year. Once the budget is submitted to the legislature for approval, government machinery must set to work on a robust monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework that allows government to measure progress or the lack of it. The process ends with performance reporting and management until work on another budget cycle begins.

The process described in Fig. 1 is very poorly followed in Nigeria. There are, however, a few oases of sanity across the federation. This discourse is intended to raise the ante of political campaign promises and performance through a rigorous process of formalised documentation.

It is expected to help aspirants to high political office prepare very well to deliver the dividends of democracy when they get into office.

It will also help the citizen to vividly document campaign promises, how these are translated into governance blueprints (STRATEGY DOCUMENTS) and how these are implemented and monitored/evaluated and reported on by government. By confirming performance reporting practices in use at all levels of governance – federal, state and local government – this framework will promote a culture of effectiveness in governance across the country.

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Good governance has eluded Nigeria since the country achieved flag independence in 1960. The result is that governance at all levels has largely been anti-people with the exception of a few oases of sanity in the country. One reason is inadequate preparation by holders of high political office on how to govern or what to do with the mandate of the electorate.

The problem is evident in all nooks and crannies across geopolitical zones of the country. The absence of good governance in Nigeria means that governments in the country generally fail to entrench transparency (openness) and accountability in their operations to the detriment of sustainable economic growth and development.

The problem is traceable to the tendency of aspirants to elective office to avoid sharing with the electorate their blueprints for governance when they get into public office. This practice makes it more difficult for civil society organisations and individuals to hold such public office holders to account.

The goal is to have politically-aware citizens who know their rights and are able and ready to defend their votes at elections and hold governments to account on their application of scarce resources.

One specific objective is to provide aspirants/occupants of high public office a platform to share their blueprints for governance as well as performance reporting. Another is to discourage the recycling of failed leaders.

If widely adopted, this framework herein described will encourage aspirants to political office to produce or commission blueprints for governance documents and exhibit evidence of strategic and development planning including MTSS and MTEF documents.

The framework will also make politicians see the need for quarterly and semi-annual and annual performance reporting.

In the final analysis, this framework will positively impact politicians and the electorate in many ways. Firstly, more aspirants to high political office will embrace the need to prepare detailed political manifestoes. Secondly, there will be an increase in the number of aspirants to elective political office who develop and publish governance blueprints.

Thirdly, there will be a rise in the number of elected political office holders who publish evidence of /strategic planning. Lastly, there will be appreciable increase in the number of elected political office holders who publish regular performance reports.

Weneso Orogun