Mixed reactions on Monday trailed the Sunday inauguration of the campaign documents of President Muhammadu Buhari and the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Buhari who is the candidate of the All Progressives Congress and Atiku are the leading contestants in the presidential election slated for February 16, 2019. The President unveiled a campaign document called ‘Next Level,’ while the PDP candidate released a documented titled ‘Let’s get Nigeria working again.’ The two documents have elicited different reactions.
Civil society lambasts Buhari, Atiku over campaign promises
The first salvo came from two civil society, the Campaign for Democracy, and the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership. The organizations said neither Buhari nor Atiku had clear-cut programmes for the country in their policy statements for 2019. In separate interviews with correspondents, the civil societies said it was unfortunate that Nigeria had to choose between two unpleasant choices ahead of the general elections. The CD President, Mr. Usman Abdul, said, “If not for the immaturity of our democracy, I would say that neither of the two presidential candidates is worth the votes of Nigerians in 2019. “This is because if the incumbent President is campaigning on economy and security, what has his administration achieved in the last three years? He has not got it right yet.
“Also on Alhaji Atiku, it is wrong, in my opinion, for him to say he is going to sell a substantial part of the country’s refineries. Someone who is still trying to build a brand should not come up with such campaign pledges. “I would have preferred a new brand of Nigeria not in the hands of either of these candidates. But I know Nigerians will make their choices in 2019.”
Also, CACOL’s Director, Mr. Debo Adeniran, said, “It is unfortunate that Nigerians don’t have better options but to choose between the two so-called prominent candidates. “This is because stereotype has eaten deep into the minds of the electorate. They no longer even consider other presidential candidates as able to make headway. This is why we have to choose between the devil and the deep blue sea. “However, if you look at the antecedents of the two candidates, the current President does not seem to be enmeshed in as many scandals as the PDP candidate.” He added, “Basically in my opinion, there are lots of things working against the opposition than the incumbent. This is despite the ailing economy and insecurity. I believe that three years may not be enough to fix a country that has gone wrong in 16 years.”
Buhari’s ‘next level’ will be disastrous for Nigeria – PDP
The next critical reaction came from the National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, Uche Secondus. He warned Nigerians to be on their guard, saying that Buhari’s second coming would be disastrous for the nation and its people. In an interview with one of our correspondents, Secondus asked Nigerians to consider the high cost of living which he claimed Buhari had subjected them to since he assumed office in 2015. He said the “forthcoming election is not between the PDP and the All Progressives Congress alone, no. It is simply between Nigeria and the calamity called the Buhari Presidency.”
Secondus said what the President meant by saying he was taking the country to another level was to punish the citizens more, adding that what the nation experienced in the last three and half years was nothing but disaster and calamity. He said, “We listened attentively on Sunday when the President was making his speech. We thought he would say anything new that could make Nigerians have a rethink about his first term that has taken Nigeria and Nigerians from glorious days to gloomy days. “The President may actually mean he is going to punish the electorate more by adding to their yokes and make them more debtors to things they never enjoyed. “When President Buhari assumed office, the cost of a bag of cement was N800, but it is N2, 600; dollar was exchanged to naira at 180 to one dollar but it is now N360; fuel was sold at N87 per litre but is now selling at N145.”
He added, “Before he brought us to this level, the cost of one way local flight was N10,000 but it is now N30,000; while a bag of rice was just N8,000 before his first coming but now selling at N18,000. “Ask him and his party, which level is it taking Nigeria to again? To a level where its citizens will not be able to feed themselves and where herdsmen will send them away from their homes and farmlands?
“Nigerians are not docile, and there is no way they will allow such corrupt, nepotism and insensitive government to ruin their lives and that of their children and generations yet unborn to continue in power.” He asked Nigerians to visit the Debt Management Office to know how much the Buhari Presidency had borrowed without accountability in the last few years, saying, “If you are told, you will cry for the country.” He also urged Nigerians to visit the office of the National Bureau of Statistics to find out the number of those who had lost their jobs to the “painlessness of this government.” Secondus alleged that the ruling party, the APC, “is not planning to win the election but to rig.”
PTP presidential candidate dismisses Buhari, Atiku documents
Meanwhile, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Trust Party, Mr. Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, on Monday said the policy documents of Buhari and Atiku did not offer solutions to the challenges confronting the country. He said the documents were not grassroots-based, adding that his government would pursue masses-oriented and development-focused policies and programmes, if he was elected. Speaking in Abuja during a meeting with his party members, Olawepo-Hashim said the Buhari administration had not provided the expected leadership to drive growth, security of lives and property as well as economic prosperity and business growth for the people. He claimed that 88 million Nigerians under the APC government lived under acute poverty. He said, “There are people who have been living on government pay since they are barely 23 years old. They drive cars they did not buy with their money. They take free money. They do not know how to create money.
They do not know what the grassroots are feeling, that is why when they were unveiling their policy document, they sat down in the Presidential Villa; they did not go to the grassroots. “We know the policy of the APC. The policy of APC is poverty forever. So you cannot believe any policy document from them because after four years, what have they got to show? He claimed that 88 million Nigerians under the APC government lived under acute poverty. Olawepo-Hashim said Atiku’s government would further impoverish Nigeria and sell the nation’s assets to their cronies at ridiculous prices. He promised to provide quality leadership that would guarantee prosperity and safety to all Nigerians and decried the killings of people in some parts of the country.
He said, “The other party (PDP), we already know what their policy document is. It is corruption, corruption, corruption; selling of government property at cheap prices to themselves. That is their policy document. “APC policy is poverty, PDP’s policy is looting and corruption. Between corruption and poverty, which one is a good choice? 2019 election is not just going to be a mere election; for us, it is a revolution to totally upturn anything so that it can favour ordinary people.
“It is a not a revolution to kill anybody, it is a revolution to save life and to stop the killings. It is not going to be a revolution to stop business; it is a revolution to bring back businesses to Nigeria so that there will be jobs for our children. That is the people’s peaceful ballot revolution that is going to happen.”
Atiku’s document meets Nigerians’ aspirations – PDP
But the PDP has argued that the public endorsement that heralded the policy document articulated by its candidate is a confirmation that the document embodies the collective mindset, yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians in their quest for new leadership and better life. The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement on Monday said whereas Buhari failed to articulate any solutions or operable policy direction in his document, Atiku Abubakar’s policy document offered solutions and practical direction for delivery in all sectors. The statement reads, “The negative reactions of Nigerians to the “Next Level” mantra have shown that the document is dead on arrival as Nigeria cannot afford the reinforcement of failure, especially as the electorate have already seen through the deception and cheap attempt to beguile them again ahead of the elections. “The Atiku Abubakar policy document is a product of very wide, painstaking and productive consultations with Nigerians from all walks of life, critical stakeholders and development partners in key sectors, in the overall determination to chart a new course for our nation. “The policy document foretells a new dawn as it articulates practical solutions and answers to the myriad of economic, social and political challenges facing our nation and sets out all-inclusive templates for national rejuvenation, cohesion, protection of human rights and democratic tenets, wealth creation, transparency and elimination of corruption in governance. “In line with the PDP’s people-based manifesto, the Atiku Abubakar policy document places utmost priority on the people by focusing chiefly on their yearnings for job creation, infrastructural development, poverty eradication, human capital development, inclusiveness and national unity. “Nigerians are particularly happy with the Atiku Abubakar policy document as it seeks to implement pro-poor policies that grant all citizens, irrespective of financial and social status, unhindered opportunity to participate in economic activities to achieve self-reliance and become active contributors to national development.” He claimed that unlike President Buhari, perceived to be aloof, detached and unconcerned, Abubakar had maintained a strong bond with the people; hence his ability to understand their challenges, collective aspirations and to proffer solutions with underlining political will. “Finally, the PDP counsels President Buhari to note that he has come to the end of the road. Nigerians will never follow a leader on a journey to next level of failure, lies, poverty, hunger, disease, bloodletting, extrajudicial killings, humongous corruption, nepotism, and disdain for citizens and institutions of democracy, decayed infrastructure, national divisiveness and embarrassment in the international arena,” he added.
Oshiomhole condemns Atiku’s campaign policy document, says Ex-VP can’t be trusted. The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, has criticised the campaign policy document of the People’s Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
The former governor of Edo State queried how he hoped to create millions of jobs when he could not do anything as the Vice to President Olusegun Obasanjo. Speaking with journalists in Abuja on Monday after the National Working Committee meeting, Oshiomhole said the campaign ahead of the 2019 elections must be issue-based and not hate speech or smear campaign. In a veiled reference to Atiku, he said, “If you are going to create 10 million jobs, how come that when you were in government and you produced a SEED document where you promised to create seven million jobs, by the time when that government was out, we had lost Michelin; Dunlop closed down, textile industries closed down, we witnessed unprecedented industrial obituary and factories were closing one after the other?
“So, these are the issue we really want to engage. It is going to be a very interesting season for the media. They have to play back what people are saying and to compare to what they did when they had the opportunities. So, l think that there would be more to keep us busy rather than to resort to primitive tactics of harassing and using thugs to intimidate state leaders of our party.”