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2019 Elections: Politicians hit the road for votes

By Bisi Olominu
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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) last week lifted the ban on campaign for 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections slated for February 16, 2019.

The Commission in a statement by its Director of Voter Education and Publicity, Mr Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi  said that political parties who fielded candidates for both elections would commence campaigns across the country.

Osaze-Uzzi said that the commencement of campaigns was in line with the timetable and schedule of activities issued by INEC.

He added that it was also in accordance with Section 99 (1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) which provides that “the period of campaigning in public by every political party shall commence 90 days before polling day and end 24 hours prior to that day”.

“Political parties are expected to conduct their activities in an organized and peaceful manner, devoid of rancor, hate and inflammatory speeches.”

He reminded political parties and their candidates that campaigns for Governorship and State Houses of Assembly would commence on December 1, 2018.

Since the advent of present political experiment, Nigerians have been traumatised and nearly annihilated by promises made but unfulfilled.

Expectations of Nigerians are high, more than the verbal attacks coming from the two major political parties, All Progressives Congress, APC and the People’s Democratic Party, PDP. The descend to the abyss and character assassination by the two major parties are not what Nigerians want, but programmes and policies that will transform the country.

What’s presently going on in the country is mere slogans of the parties, not programmes, policies that can transform the economy, create employment, provide adequate security for Nigerians, end the Boko Haram insurgency in the North and stop the incessant Fulani killings in some states in the North.

Speaking on the focus of APC in the coming election, the party National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomole called on Nigerians to scrutinise the parties and engage the two prominent parties on programmes and policies that would create better Nigeria for all.

The APC National Chairman said further that President Mohammadu Buhari as the party’s presidential candidate for the 2019 general elections, is set to engage the main opposition, PDP, on issue-based campaign.

He maintained that APC is ready for the forth coming election,adding that Buhari had given a good account of himself as the president of Nigeria in almost four years .

Oshiomole said that the party will scrutinise the records of PDP flag bearer, so also, the flag bearers of other parties. He added that this would be done in view to bringing to the fore their past deeds to the public glare to enable the electorates make right choices.

“Nigerians must be well informed as they vote for people who will take us to the next level. We will look at his pedigree. We shall challenge them on their track records,” he said.

The People’s Democratic and Party, PDP, on its part has promised that its campaign will focus on issues and solutions that have bearing on the welfare of Nigerians. The party speaking through its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan said that ” The PDP and our presidential candidate will focus on ensuring water tight security in the country. We will focus on how to increase the purchasing power of Nigerians, as well as revamp our economy through strategic intervention in critical sectors, especially power, food security, road and railway infrastructure “.

” We will focus on education, energy, health, water provision and labour issues among others. The PDP will proffer solutions to reduce the cost of governance and release funds for development purpose, cut harsh tariff and tax regimes and eradicate corruption.

Two Sundays in Abuja, three political parties finally kicked off their campaigns with promises to transform the country if given the chance.

President Muhammadu Buhari in a grand style, presenting a document called the ‘Next level,” of where he wants to take Nigerians.

Coming symbolically on the eve of his main challenger, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP), manifesto launch, the president effectively set the ball rolling for the presidential contest.

Notable members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), including state governors, ministers, National Assembly members, Captains of industries converged at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa Conference  Center for the official presentation of the ‘Next Level,’ which is a presentation of the achievements and projection of the president’s  administration.

The 17-page document, which the leadership presented as “some of the ideas and priorities that will shape how we govern,” presented a blow-by-blow account of what the administration has set out to achieve if elected for a second term.

For instance, in the aspect of job creation, what will be the next level is to engage 1, 000, 000 N-Power graduates, skill up 10 million Nigerians under a voucher system in partnering with private sector, anchor borrowers scheme to support input and jobs to 1 million farmers, livestock transformation plan to create 1.5 million jobs along dairy, beef, hide and skin, blood meal, crops, agricultural mechanisation policy with tractors and processors to create five million jobs.

The president also promised to provide $500m innovation fund to tech and creative sector to create 500, 000 jobs, train 200, 000 youths for outsource market in technology services and entertainment.

In the area of industrialisation targeted at creating jobs, the agenda is to create six regional industrial parks and special economic zones, while the next level will be 109 Special Production and Processing Centres (SPPCs) to spur production and value additive processing, the provision of tractors and processors plants in each senatorial district to create extra jobs and there is also the plan to continue to create more jobs through the school feeding programme.

By increasing children fed from 9.3 million to next level of 15 million, the government hopes that 300, 000 extra jobs will be created for vendors and farmers alike.

In the area of road and rail infrastructure, Buhari promised to complete the Ibadan-Kano phase of the Lagos-Ibadan-Kano rail, complete Eastern rail (Port Harcourt-Maiduguri) taking the network through Abia, all South-east states capitals, Makurdi, Jos, Bauchi and Gombe, complete the coastal rail project (Lagos-Calabar) and complete the link on Itakpe-Warri rail to Abuja through Lokoja and make it operational.

In the aspect of power generation, government vowed to add a minimum of 1,000  MW new generation incremental power capacity per annum on the grid to bring to a total of a minimum of 11, 000 MW and distribution is to get to 7, 000 under distribution expansion programme.

On Peoples Moni, the agenda is to expand the scope of the soft loan from its current 2.3 beneficiaries to 10 million, to provide financial support of up to N1m to small traders, artisans (carpenters, tailors, mechanics, hairdressers, barbers, plumbers, vulcanisers, commercial drivers, taxi, keke and motorcycles operators).

Government will also help beneficiaries to remove restraints such as skills, government bureaucracy and others. The government also plans to launch an Entrepreneurs Bank to support  young entrepreneur with loans to support business ideas across different business value chains.

For MSME, 109 one stop shops of all regulatory agencies (CAC, NAFDAC, SON (MSME Clinic) etc under one roof will be located in each senatorial district.

He said, “To achieve our aspiration of a knowledge economy, ‘Every child counts,’ is our roadmap to make our primary and secondary schools students digitally literate with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM). “We will reinterpret the curriculum by imparting functional skills such as coding, robotics, animation, design thinking, collaboration, critical thinking and project management. We will emphasise civil education

“All teachers in public primary schools will be retrained in their primary areas of teaching and 10, 000 schools per year will be remodeled and equipped transforming classrooms to labs, workshops and collaboration centres.

To guarantee health for all, using co-payments to share the cost between individuals, the private sector and government, the poorest 40 percent will be exempted from such co-payment, the president said.

According to him, “In compliance with National Health Act, we achieved this in 2018 building the backbone for primary healthcare centres,” they noted, projecting that N5,000 monthly contribution leads to 45 percent increase in the population covered by primary health care by 2023 up from the present 12.6 percent and that a concept of N-Power Medic will pay young doctors to stay in rural areas.”

To secure the country and make the anti-corruption war more effective, Buhari said his next administration will decentralise funding of police operations and foster true community policing by implementing direct transfer of funding to police division all across.

He also vowed to execute the second phase of the farmer-herder and National Livestock Policy to end the decade-long conflict between farmers-herders.

The Minister of Transportation and the Director-General, Buhari Campaign Organisation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, who reiterated the achievements of the President-Buhari-led APC government in the transport sector, particularly in the area of railway development, said Nigerians are compelled to make a choice between good and bad in the next election but that the PDP has nothing tangible to show for having been in government for 16 years.

The Presidential Candidate of People’s Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar in his 63 page document titled “Let Get Nigeria Working Again”, promised to attend to all the critical sectors of the country.

The document said: “The State’s critical policy priority is to build a broad based, dynamic and competitive economy with a GDP of US$900 billion by 2025

“By 2025, we shall increase the inflow of direct foreign investment to a minimum of 2.5% of our GDP Working towards achieving the lowest corporate income tax rate in Africa.

“Accelerate investment to double our infrastructure stock to approximately 50% of GDP by 2025 and 70% by 2030.

“Achieve a sustained increase in manufacturing output from 9% to 30% of GDP by 2025.

“Reduce the sector’s dependence on imported raw materials. Looking inwards will promote value addition.

“Achieve a diversified production structure with more processing of domestic raw materials.”

On electricity, Atiku said: “Power sector reform will be a critical policy priority. By 2025, Nigeria shall make giant strides in diversifying its sources of power and delivering up to 20,000 MW.”

The document indicated that the same 2025 timeline was assigned to crude oil production.

It said: “Prioritise investment in nameplate capacity and ensure that Nigeria starts to refine 50% of its current crude oil output of 2 million bpd by 2025.

“Privatise all four-outstanding government-owned refineries to competent off-takers with mandates to produce agreed levels of refined output.

Owena Press Limited (Publisher of The Hope Newspaper), Akure

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