Seun Onigbinde, Co-Founder of BudgIT, believes that among the three major contenders—Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), and Peter Obi of the Labour Party—seeking to take over the presidency from President Muhammadu Buhari in May 2023, the APC flagbearer is the least enthusiastic when it came to supporting state policing.
His organization, BudgIT, founded in 2011, has been involved in using technology to engage Nigerians in making meaningful societal change.
On Tuesday, Onigbinde appeared on Channels TV Politics Today and provided a detailed yet insightful analysis of the manifestos of the three main contenders, taking a dissecting view on their philosophy, security, economy, infrastructure, education, health, and a few others.
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On security, Onigbinde picketed Tinubu’s position. “I don’t think Tinubu is committed to state policing,” he said. State policing has been a contentious issue in the Nigerian polity, creating a huge divide among politicians. With insecurity having claimed more than 8,300 lives in 2021 alone, according to Beacon, a data consulting firm, many stakeholders have suggested decentralising the current federal police architecture to accommodate state policing—a situation that has led to the establishment of regional security outfits such as Amotekun in the South West and Ebubeagu in the South East.
However, the former Lagos State Governor intends to adopt a more confrontational approach to dealing with insurgency, terrorism, kidnapping, and general insecurity by increasing the personnel size of the security apparatus.
According to Onigbinde, Tinubu, the plan is to create more battalions to fight terrorism and improve the welfare package of our men at the forefront of securing the nation.
“I felt that there are so many battalions created specifically for the Navy, the Military, and the Army, like special squad forces for fighting terrorism,” he said of the plan. So why do you want to build a lot of duplication in that regard?”
On Atiku’s security plan, Onigbinde applauded the job creation objective behind his decentralisation and restructuring of the police force, but questioned where the funding to actualize this will come from. With over a million people earmarked to be absorbed into the federal police system, questions about funding would become more of a challenge, he said.
“Atiku talked about restructuring and decentralising policing, as well as hiring over a million people,” he said. “As we discussed last week, that is contentious because you want to decentralise and you also want to expand the federal policing system. And I don’t think he is talking here about hiring police for the system because that will be out of his revenue.”
For Obi, Onigbinde praised the former Anambra State governor for taking a more legal and different approach to policing. He observed that Obi’s plan was to harmonise the justice system with the security architecture.
“I like Obi’s approach to security because he also linked it to the justice system because he believes that the military cannot stand alone; civilian assistance is also critical to help harmonise that,” he said.
On the economy, Onigbinde was less impressed with Tinubu and Atiku over their overly ambitious economic growth targets. He felt that promising Nigerians a GDP growth rate of 10 percent and above was unrealistic and playing to the gallery to win people’s votes.
In his manifestos, Tinubu said that he plans to grow the nation’s GDP by 10 percent. He intends to spend big on infrastructure, engage the N23 trillion in deficit financing, and raise non-oil tax revenues to get it, Onigbinde said.
“If you look at Bola Tinubu, he is big on continuing what the current president is doing,” Onigbinde said. “Spend big on infrastructure, and make sure you put a whole lot of people behind you as an engine of growth.”
He agreed that the former Lagos State governor’s experience in driving internally generated revenue should help him meet his ambitious 10 percent economic growth target.
Onigbinde took the same cautious approach to Atiku’s $5,000 GDP per capita by 2030 target, arguing that it is rather overly ambitious and calls for more detail on how he intends to achieve it. His $5,000 GDP per capita by 2030 amounts to an annual growth rate of 13 percent.
“He wants to make sure that our GDP per capita gets to about $5,000 by 2030,” he said. “Which means he wants to double the quality and standard of living within a period of seven years.”
“That is a whole lot of work,” he said, with a much louder voice.
With the current GDP at less than 3 percent, Onigbinde stressed that “we have to grow by 13 percent annually if we are going to achieve that objective.”
For Obi, his mantra, “From consumption to production,” has reverberated all over social media and in every public forum he has engaged in. Onigbinde praised his plan to place more emphasis on exports rather than imports—diversifying the economic frontiers of the nation’s economy.
“He said he wants to shift from consumption to production, and he also wants to diversify the economy for engine growth,” he noted. “His big push is on export, and he is big on the fact that we consume a lot.”
He agreed with the former running mate to Atiku Abubakar in the 2019 presidential election, saying, “We need to be an economy that is an export engine, and we need to be production focused.”
On health care, Tinubu perhaps had the most ambitious agenda. Onigbinde said that the APC presidential flagbearer intends to take the mandatory health insurance programme to 40 percent coverage from its current 6 percent.
“I like the fact that Bola Tinubu talked about mandatory health insurance programmes which are to cover at least 40 percent,” he said. However, the timeline for its actualization was of major concern to Onigbinde. “But the timeline is what I am worried about—2 years. But right now, it is 6 percent. To take it to 40 percent is a whole lot of work.”
On the other hand, Obi plans to spend about 15 percent of the national budget on health, an 8 percent increase from the current 7 percent, which is “a bold move,” he argued.
“Now Obi talks about putting 15 percent into the national budget for health, which is somewhere less than 7 percent, and to do 15 percent is a huge push, and you also have competing priorities.”
Atiku’s mantra is driving private-public partnership in every sector of the economy, and according to Onigbinde, the healthcare sector isn’t exempted.
Oniigbinde added that Atiku plans to transition the country’s healthcare system to a universal one through increased private sector involvement.
“As usual, Atiku talked about the transition to universal health care but with not a lot of commitment. He is also big on the fact that the private sector can unlock opportunities.”
Onigbinde talked about the candidates’ plans for education, infrastructure, and their economic philosophy.