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2023: Atiku, Obi, Kwankwaso differ on strategies to revive education, others

The presidential candidates of the three leading political parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Labour Party (LP), and the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), have expressed differing opinions and strategies on how to revive the education and healthcare sectors and also eradicate poverty in Nigeria if elected president in February 2023.

The frontline candidates who were part of the lively debate, which was the third instalment of the Presidential Town Hall series hosted by Arise TV, presented their plans on how to tackle some of the critical challenges currently confronting the nation.

The debate that took place on Sunday was a great opportunity for Nigerians to assess the plans of these frontline candidates in a more competitive environment.

On healthcare, Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the PDP, said that he would review the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and make it more inclusive and very affordable for all Nigerians.

“I will review the NHIS system initiated while I was vice president and make it inclusive and affordable for all Nigerians,” Abubakar said.

Peter Obi, of the Labour Party, however, responding to the same question on healthcare, said that he would do massive training of medical personnel as part of a holistic strategy to increase investment in the healthcare sector.

He said, “The idea is to do massive training of medical personnel; the investment rate in the healthcare sector is unacceptable; it must be a minimum of 10 percent. This is where the government should do subsidy not in the oil and gas sector”.

Rabiu Kwankwaso of the NNPP, on the other hand, promised to make healthcare services more affordable and accessible to nearly 133 million Nigerians living below the poverty line.

“The insurance scheme is critical to my health agenda; I will bring reforms to strengthen it and make it as accessible and affordable as possible to cover the 133 million Nigerians below the poverty line,” Kwankwaso said.

On education, Obi promised to increase the nation’s investment in the sector by devoting 10 percent of the country’s budget to it. He believes this would absolve many out-of-school children.

He said, “Our investment in education is low—just 3.5 trillion in six years. 10 percent of Nigeria’s budget should be allocated to education.

“Our whole education system is in crisis currently. Apart from an increase in investment, there needs to be increased supervision.”

Abubakar also agreed with Obi on increasing the nation’s investment in education, particularly in the Northern States. He said, “There needs to be more investment in education, particularly in the Northern States. It requires additional funding and infrastructure. Once you provide the right type of education, you will also solve insecurity.”

Kwankwaso, on the other hand, promised to encourage private sector investment in education. “We will do everything to ensure our citizens can be educated at all levels. We shall encourage the private sector to make educational investments,” he said.

On poverty, the moderator asked the three candidates how they intend to get more than 133 million people living below the poverty line out of poverty.

The three candidates promised to work even harder to lift most Nigerians living below the poverty line out of poverty. Abubakar promised to retrain the youth so that they can acquire and develop the skills needed to excel in the private sector. He said, “We have to undergo educational reform so our youth are prepared for the private sector, which is the engine of any economy.”

Kwankwaso agreed with Abubakar but promised to take a different roadmap to tackling the issue of poverty. According to him, “Education is the way we raised people out of poverty in Kano. Insecurity aggravated the issue of poverty. Our responsibility is to secure the nation through recruitment, equipment, and technology.”

Obi accused the government of worsening the situation in the country, stating that the poverty situation is what it is because of the insecurity in the country, especially in the northern part of the country.

“The major cause of poverty in Nigeria resides with the Nigerian government. The environment is not conducive for investment due to insecurity, and I will fix it,” he said.

Read also: Town hall: Kwankwaso promises to restructure Nigeria

2023: Baba-Ahmed claims that LP is the party to beat

Datti Baba-Ahmed, the Vice-Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), has said that the Labour Party is the political party to beat in the forthcoming 2023 general election. He also claimed that the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are as good as gone as political parties because their relevance among Nigerians has filtered away because of their damaged reputations.

Speaking as a guest on Channels TV Sunday Politics, Baba-Ahmed said, “APC is as good as gone.” The PDP’s votes do not exist. “There is only one political party genuinely standing: the Labour Party.”

Baba-Ahmed added that Nigerians are looking forward to voting because the ruling party—the APC—and the main opposition party—the PDP—have failed, and their misrule is what is going to motivate voters to express their anguish by voting them out at the polls.

“Go out in the market, go out in every public space, and find out,” he said, adding that “the pains in Nigerians’ bodies and hearts are what is going to their thumbs in February.”

According to the running mate of the LP presidential candidate, Peter Obi, the APC and the PDP only have structures for the distribution of stolen money and are not effective in the promotion of good governance that is needed to transform the lives of the majority of Nigerians.

“Only one party has a genuine structure, and that is the Labor Party,” Baba-Ahmed said.

Since 1999, the PDP produced three presidents (Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’adua, and Goodluck Jonathan) for 16 years before the APC administration of President Muhammadu Buhari took over in 2015.

Furthermore, Baba-Ahmed said Buhari has finished with Nigeria and he is going to “unmake APC presidential candidate Bola Tinubu after all his political successes.”

“He (Buhari) says at the UNGA (United Nations General Assembly) that the only legacy he can leave is a credible election. This is a heartbreak for APC right now,” Baba-Ahmed said.

“Who made Buhari after Almighty Allah?” Tinubu. After all of Buhari’s failed attempts, Tinubu came in and added millions of votes, propelling Buhari to victory.

“Who is going to unmake Tinubu after all his political successes?” Buhari, because Buhari has finished his eight years. It is not about how well or how badly Nigeria was run; they have finished with Nigeria, as they have with everybody else. “Tinubu can go to blazes; it means nothing to Buhari, and that is Buhari for you.”

Baba-Ahmed added that the difficulty, which many admitted was going to be a challenge for Obi to garner enough votes in the note, is now something of the past because he has played a great role in removing that roadblock. Obi, he claims, is now well received among youths and other demographic groups in the region, which has traditionally boasted numerical strength during presidential elections.

The economist turned politician said that Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar don’t have enough days to spend the money they have “kept.”

“Tinubu does not have enough days in his life to finish spending that money. Atiku does not have enough days in his life to spend all that money. So they need to spend it on the 2023 elections. “And people, if you have money to spend, they will collect it,” Baba-Ahmed said.

PDP appoints Dogara as Atiku campaign council member

Yakubu Dogara has been appointed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) as a member with “immediate effect.”

Dogara, the former speaker of the House of Representatives in the eighth assembly, was announced as a member on Sunday in a statement issued by Aminu Tambuwal, the Director-General of the PDP-PCC.

Tambuwal said it was “part of our continuous effect in joining hands with our Presidential Candidate, Atiku Abubakar, to recover our great country, Nigeria.”

Just on Friday, Dogara’s concern about the decision of the All Progressive Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, to appoint a Muslim running mate was seen as not taking into account the Christian votes in Northern Nigeria.

Most Christian Northerners saw this as a complete disregard for their voting influence in deciding the direction of their votes.

Dogara had led a group of mainly All Progressives Congress (APC) members of northern extraction to adopt Atiku as a candidate for the 2023 presidential election.

Ghana to swap domestic debt in fight to regain economic stability

Ken Ofori-Atta, the Minister of Finance for Ghana, has said the country’s launch of a domestic debt exchange on Monday would help restore macroeconomic stability and end the West African country’s worst economic crisis in a generation.

Ofori-Atta said in a video address on Sunday that the government had finished its sustainability analysis but didn’t provide plans on how to utilise the foreign debt that is anxiously awaited by international creditors.

“We are confident that these measures will contribute to restoring macroeconomic stability,” he said.

Under the domestic debt exchange, local bonds will be exchanged for new ones maturing in 2027, 2029, 2032, and 2037, and their annual coupon will be set at 0 percent in 2023, 5 percent in 2024, and 10 percent from 2025 until maturity.

The government is in talks with the International Monetary Fund for a support programme to relieve its debt distress, Reuters said.

Oil rises as OPEC+ stands firm

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose above $81 per barrel on Monday morning after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) + decided to maintain current production levels as more Western sanctions on Russian oil are set to take effect, while China eased COVID-19 restrictions.

According to the trading economy, OPEC+ decided to maintain the status quo with their existing policy of reducing oil output by 2 million barrels a day from November through 2023. a decision that is influenced by the assessment of current market developments.

The European Union will restrict most seaborne Russian oil imports beginning Monday, while the G7 has agreed to impose a $60 per barrel cap on Russian crude.

In response, Russia has condemned the ban, saying that it was willing to cut output if needed.

On the demand side, the decision by authorities in the Chinese cities of Shanghai and Hangzhou to relax COVID-19 restrictions over the weekend is likely to reawaken economic activity and boost energy demand.