Presidential Candidates and Their Lofty Plans
INSIGHTS & OPINIONS
INSIGHTS & OPINIONS
Ahead of this year’s general elections in Nigeria, presidential candidates have released their manifestos to tackle a host of issues from the economy and energy to national security. Below we explore each of these three pillars—economy, energy, and national security—in depth:
Fixing the country’s economic woes is of paramount concern, according to the Labour Party candidate Peter Obi. Obi’s overall plan is to create a thriving, diversified economy and to move Nigeria from consumption to production by running a production-centred economy driven by an agrarian revolution and export-oriented industrialization. To achieve that, he plans to prioritize the mechanization of the huge endowment of arable land across Nigeria and pursue policies and programmes that will enhance the productivity and competitiveness of all sectors.
On unemployment, Obi aims to devise programmes for re-skilling youths and to create venture capital-like funds for young entrepreneurs. He supports zero-based national budgeting to address the budgetary deficit overhang that causes issues of non-performing budgets in the past. For economic growth, he plans to implement radical economic policies that will reduce the country’s debt-servicing ratio and debt-to-revenue ratio. With his proposed macroeconomic and fiscal restructuring plan, he plans to discontinue unaffordable subsidies, expand the tax net, cut down the cost of governance and dismantle the opaque multiple exchange rate regime.
APC candidate Bola Tinubu believes that the dependence of the country’s annual budget on the dollar value of projected oil revenue restricts the Federal Government’s fiscal latitude. Therefore, he plans to review federal budgetary methodology to base national budgeting on the projected level of government spending which optimizes growth and jobs. He expressed interest in supporting laws to suspend the limits on government spending.
To limit foreign debt, Tinubu wants to link new foreign currency debt obligations to projects that generate cash flows from which the debt can be repaid. Just like other candidates, he aims to increase production and supply to control the current surge of inflation. On exchange rate management, Tinubu says he will work with the Central Bank and the financial sector to carefully review and better optimize the exchange rate regime. To improve trade, Tinubu says he will incentivise international brands with tax credits, rebates, and other fiscal incentives to establish manufacturing plants in Nigeria for export and to meet the needs of Nigeria's population. To address unemployment, he plans to extend urban youth employment incentives to domestic manufacturing entities in addition to business mentorship for youth, development of an Employment Action Plan and expansion of incubation centres to support youth innovators.
PDP candidate Atiku Abubakar is committed to optimizing the fiscal space to generate more revenue. He has promised a fiscal regime that is stable and reliable and that can bridge the gap between the national revenue yield and national expenditure. He reaffirms the criticality of private sector leadership and its participation in driving economic growth. He plans to break government monopoly in key sectors by encouraging investment from the private sector into other sectors of the economy, especially agriculture which is the domain of the poor. His administration plans to ensure that the market will determine key prices to eliminate persistent price distortions occasioned by the current interventionist exchange rate management policy. In addition, he plans to deepen monetary and fiscal reforms to ensure a low inflation rate, stable exchange rate and interest rates.
On unemployment, Atiku has pledged to provide 3 million new jobs annually, most of which will be created in the informal sector. He highlighted some of strategies his administration will employ to include the re-launch of National Open Apprenticeship Programme, introduction of a Graduate Trainee Internship Programme, and support of the formal technical and vocational education and training system (TVET) and the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME). Atiku also promised to improve local production and enforce the buy-made-in-Nigeria initiative.
Atiku Abubakar says he will increase the number of security personnel to meet the security needs of the Nigerian population. He assured the recruitment of up to one million personnel into the police force to combat current security challenges across all regions. To address terrorism, kidnapping and other crimes, he plans to re-activate and enforce birth registration, decentralize security institutions, improve border control and strengthen the National Security Council.
Bola Tinubu believes that the Nigerian security challenges can be best addressed by adopting a proactive and intelligence driven security approach. He plans to accelerate the reform started by the Buhari administration in building a robust armed forces. He will also create a highly trained and equipped anti-terrorist battalions (ABATTS) to combat terrorists, kidnappers and bandits. Additionally, he wants to expand emergency and economic support offered to local communities distressed by terrorists.
Peter Obi wants to rebuild Nigeria’s military power, re-organise its security architecture and enhance its technological prowess to improve security. He plans to pursue a robust reform of security agencies to improve their functional effectiveness and operational efficiency. Obi says he will deploy state-of-the-art military technology to fight terrorists, bandits, insurgents and kidnappers. Furthermore, he plans to increase the personnel of armed forces and security agencies and train them to respond to security threats.
Bola Tinubu has proposed to introduce Nigeria's first power policy. In addition, he plans to support power projects that can be delivered quickly to optimize grid reliability, grid interconnectedness, and grid wheeling. He also plans to streamline and relax regulations to enable private sector, local and state government actors to electrify rural Nigeria in a safe and secure manner with reasonable tariffs. He promised to ensure that all electricity bills are meter-based.
To maximize the growth and development benefits of the oil and gas sector, Tinubu proposes to strengthen partnerships with key producers in order to modernize oil infrastructure. He also plans to establish a Special Enforcement and Monitoring Unit to protect pipelines by deploying technological interventions toward curbing production disruptions. Finally, Tinubu plans to increase the efficiency of the sector by hastening the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and reforming the sector's regulations to stimulate investment in deep-water assets.
Peter Obi has pledged to engineer the transition of Nigeria from fossil fuel dependency to climate and eco-friendly energy use. He aims to do this by launching a solar power revolution across Nigeria, particularly Northern Nigeria, with a view of ensuring that all cities and industrial parks in Northern Nigeria have uninterrupted power by the end of 2024. Additionally, he also plans to develop 100,000 mini-grids across the country by end of 2024.
In an effort to improve the oil and gas sector, Obi plans to incentivize the mid-stream segment of the petroleum sector by facilitating gas processing plants and privately-owned small and medium scale boutique refineries, with a view to reducing the importation of refined petroleum products. He plans to eliminate the petrol subsidy regime, which has become a huge burden on the budget. Finally, Obi plans to enforce the mandatory National Strategic Reserve of premium motor spirit (PMS), diesel (AGO), aviation fuel, and cooking gas to reduce national vulnerability to sudden disruptions to the supply of these fuels.
Atiku Abubakar wants to reform the power sector and diversify Nigeria’s sources of power to include power generation capacity generation mix of non-renewable energy (solar, hydro, nuclear) and other thermal fuels (coal and biofuel) in addition to natural gas. He assured a 10,000 to 15,000 MW transmission capacity over the short term and 25,000 MW over long term.
On promoting oil and gas sector, Atiku wants to expand oil and gas reserves and boost upstream and downstream production. He plans to do this by creating a transparent incentive regime for growth of the national reserve base for oil and gas and by engaging with local communities in the oil production zones. Finally, he plans to re-consider the introduction of the Marginal Fields Bid Round and Blocks’ Bid Round with a goal of expanding participation in Nigeria’s petroleum sector through inflow of investments.
This article was written by Malcolm Durosaye.