• Thursday, May 30, 2024
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BusinessDay

Political parties fail to offer electorate choices in their manifestoes

As campaigns hot up, four months to Nigeria’s 2015 elections , with political parties intensifying efforts to harvest votes, analysts say party manifestoes tend to be identical and that the electorate must therefore look beyond these statements on paper, in order to make informed choices.

The manifesto, which is a published verbal declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of a political party to give the electorate dividends of democracy, has been shown to be similar across the dominant political parties in Nigeria.

A look at the manifestoes of the two major political parties in the country reveals that they are centred on agricultural and educational reforms, infrastructure, job creation, war against corruption and improving the general welfare of Nigerians.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) in its manifesto says it will create employment, restore Nigeria’s agriculture by aiding subsistence farmers in increasing food production, as well as improving on electricity generation and distribution.

The party also promises in its  manifesto, to embark on vocational training, entrepreneurship and skill acquisition schemes to create at least 1 million new jobs yearly.

The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) manifesto promises to bolster youth employment and sports development, fight gender inequality and gender insensitivities, as well as improve the agricultural sector.

On infrastructural (housing, transport, health) issues, APGA believes that with the right programmes of public enlightenment and democratic dialogue with the people, a great deal can be achieved via democratisation and decentralisation of the institutions responsible.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP’s) manifesto’s guiding principles are centred on human rights and social justice, restructuring Nigeria and investment in modern agricultural methods.

The improvement of the well-being of Nigerians is the ultimate objective of the PDP’s economic policy. In other words, basic infrastructural necessities like good roads, healthcare, housing, employment, etc. would be made available to every Nigerian.

Given these similarities on paper, some analysts have said the electorate must read the body language and look at the past records of states controlled by the political parties. The analysts add that the electorate will seek to know the level of implementation of party manifestoes in their constituent states before casting their next vote.

Some pundits however say that body language cannot be trusted as a parameter, as it can at times be deceptive.

“I quite agree that the manifestoes of the dominant parties are similar, but body language can be deceptive. It doesn’t tell much,” Abubakar Momoh, a professor of political science and director-general, The Electorate Institute, says in a telephone interview with BusinessDay.

“The electorates have to be empowered and enlightened in order for them to be able to make informed choices. Not all candidates who are good have the resources but the onus lies on INEC and the media to sensitise the people,” Momoh says.

Ayo Opadokun, convener, Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reform, says body language is corrupted in the Nigeria scene.

“The electorate’s belief doesn’t matter; people’s votes don’t count as elections are rigged. The moment people’s votes start to count, government will be very careful and then parties will adhere to their manifestoes,” says Opadokun.

However, Femi Gbajabiamila, APC minority leader in the House of Representatives, says if there are any similarities in the two manifestoes, it is just on paper.

“We differ in our roadmap to achieving the manifestos,” he said earlier in the year while addressing the European Political Counsellors’ Working Group in Abuja.

Bala Augie, Edozie Ifebi & Daniel Ojabo