BusinessDay

How economy, security, zoning will dominate debate ahead 2023

As aspirants for the position of the president are moving from one part of the country to the other, making wide consultations, analysts say the three key areas that will play a key role in the decision by the electorate would be what the aspirants would say on the economy and security issues.

According to them, the zoning issue is also expected to come into play as many Nigerians are looking forward to seeing how the knotty issue would be resolved.

Nigeria’s economy has been in the doldrums and the quality of life in the country has trended so low that the country is now being described as the poverty headquarters of the world.

Security issue has also become one of the serious challenges of the current administration and Nigerians would want to know how the aspirants would combat that.

As usual, the politicians will be in their element to woo the electorate for their votes.

But considering the failure to fulfill election promises in the past, and especially, the maladministration of the present administration, many wonder what else politicians will promise for 2023.

The scenario is worsened by the fact that no government since the return to civil rule in 1999 has achieved up to 40 percent of the promises in its manifesto, according Transparency International.

As expected, the 2023 election is likely going to be a bit different from the past elections as the electorate who have suffered several disappointments from politicians and are daily weighed down by the burden of economic hardship, especially in recent times, are waiting to hear the content of manifestos across the parties for the 2023 election.

For Sam Ajanaku Onikoyi, a Nigerian historian and Commonwealth researcher based in Brussels, Belgium, Nigerians should be the ones setting the agenda for politicians and determining the content of the manifestos, and not the usual way that has not yielded fruits since 1999.

He argued that the people are the ones suffering, they are ones who know where it is paining them most and should tell politicians what they want and not otherwise.

“The politicians always woo us with sweet stories during campaigns, but even deny saying so months after. Now, the people should present what they want as legal documents and hand them over to the politicians during their campaign and hold them accountable. That is what is obtainable in Europe and also the way to go in 2023 if Nigerians wants change,” he said.

The Commonwealth researcher warned that no matter the content of the manifesto, who presented it, or who is promising it, success can only come when the electorates pressurise politicians to fulfill their promises, hold them accountable, and take action when they failed after warning them.

“Democracy allows for the passing of ‘vote of confidence’ and lastly, recalling of elected political office holders who are not doing well. Why are Nigerians not doing so, yet they complain. A governor can be impeached, president impeached and others can be sacked by the electorates, but those accused of not performing are still in the office. That should stop in 2023 by making sure any of those non-performing politicians do not even smell party primaries”, he suggested.

Chijioke .J. Umelahi, an Abuja-based lawyer and former Abia State lawmaker, shared the same views with Onikoyi but added that power is in the hands of the electorate to determine the content of the manifesto for 2023.

“The electorate should understand that political power is taken and not given. So, if their votes will determine who gets what, they should see themselves as kingmakers and insist on conditions for making kings among which is the manifesto that favours them and assurance of their fulfillment from the politicians and penalty as well,” he said.

However, the former lawmaker, who hopes to seek an elective position in 2023, disclosed that he would want to probe security chiefs as top of the manifesto for 2023 because the country has been wasting money in fighting insecurity without result.

“If you probe security chiefs, you will discover how the security funds were shared because if they were used for the reason they were allocated, Boko Haram or bandits would have been a thing of the past”, he said.

Speaking further, he noted that if the government through reformed security apparatus can secure Nigeria, the economy will pick up and the masses will smile after a long time of being in despair.

Looking at the growing hardship in the land, Anike Daramola, a dentist at the Federal Dental Centre, Marina, Lagos, said that government should spell out how it is going to revive the economy, the step by step approach, time limit, and updates on the project in order to give people opportunity to hold them accountable.

“Have you heard of how expensive things are in the market, do you know how many people that are dying every hour in Nigerian hospitals because the relations cannot afford exorbitant medical bills, people are not scared of covid-19 because the situation is worse than the pandemic? Truly, the situation out there is worse and the masses are suffering it. So, reviving the economy should top the manifesto content”, she said.

Part of the economic revival content of the manifesto for 2023, according to the dentist, is encouraging SMEs, which are the engine of economic growth across the world.

“There are no soft loans, bank interest rates are over 25 percent, the government is introducing new taxes on the many existing ones, inflation is not helping and SMEs staff are intimidated, especially in Lagos by the taskforce, all these stifle their growth and the economy as well”, she said.

With these challenges, she noted that reviving the economy would only be possible if the government put incentives for SMEs as part of its manifestos for 2023.

But Luke Onwuka, an Ahuda, River State-based, mechanical engineer and oil worker, said that government should put ‘no more foreign loans’ as part of the 2023 manifesto.

“We have borrowed more than foreign lenders can loan out and that is mortgaging the future of the country. Let’s look inwards in 2023 because all the loans are not used for the projects government claimed they are meant for, the growing infrastructure gap says it all”, he said.

He further argued that with all the money in River State, Delta and Bayelsa, the Federal Government still claim to e financing projects there, what happens to the allocations, NDDC, Niger Delta Commission, and others he described as a conduit pipe for stealing public funds.

He also said that there should be no mention of fighting corruption in the 2023 manifesto as such will be making further mockery on the intelligence of Nigeria.

“Fighting corruption should have been top in the manifesto for 2023, but the present administration said it would tackle corruption in both the 2015 and 2019 campaign manifesto, but it failed. I don’t see any APC candidate fighting corruption. We should suspend the fight until we get serious with the fight,” he said.

Read also: State of economy seen driving voter turnout in 2023

Adanna Olekanma, a mother of three and school proprietress, decried the falling standard of education and wants quality education as top among the contents of the manifesto. But she feared that the federal government, which she accused of killing education in the country, would not look the way of education.

“Government should give education priority by raising JAMB cut-off mark to where it was before. We cannot all be intelligent at the same level and will not sacrifice the future because we want some to catch up. So, education should be top on manifestos for 2023,” she said.

But Bulus Jonah, a retired banker from Plateau State, thinks that the manifesto cannot make sense if the parties are not going to institute equity and fairness in the selection of their presidential candidates.

He argues that a rotational presidency should be key in the manifesto for 2023.

“I know that power is taken and not given, but the political class should listen to cries for the rotational presidency to ensure equity, fairness and sense of belonging for every Nigerian. As it stands, no Tiv man, Birom, Idoma, Kanuri, Southern Kaduna, Isoko, Urhobo, among other minorities will become Nigerian president because they will not pull enough influence or votes to become president. Look at what is happening to the Igbos after helping to build the country and you don’t want them to be president,” he lamented.

Thinking the same line, Umelahi disclosed that many people who think their region is disfranchised will not vote for the 2023 election, hence making nonsense of the manifesto.

“If you can be voted for and I cannot be voted for, that is unfair and you don’t expect me to queue to vote for you when my interest is not covered. So, no matter what you are promising to a disenfranchised person, what he wants to hear is it is your turn and I will support you,” the former lawmaker said.

Well, many think that addressing insecurity, state police, erratic electricity power supply, multiple taxations, restructuring, devaluation of naira, diversification of the economy, poor quality of healthcare and education, corruption, curbing nepotism which is at its height now, among others should be the content of the manifesto for 2023 general election.

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