Campaigns: More Attacks, Less Substance
THE presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) have been crisscrossing the country, holding rallies and wooing the electorate.
But a critical look at the speeches delivered by the two leading candidates — President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP and General Muhammadu Buhari of the APC — in many of these rallies, shows that they are merely reacting to previous statements made by each other. When they made any attempt at identifying a challenge and proffering solution, it was usually under the general statement that does not provide insightful and pragmatic answers to the nation’s challenges.
For instance, the two candidates agreed that corruption, insecurity, unemployment, power and the diversification of the economy are critical issues that the nation needs to deal with, but the solution each of them has provided cannot be evaluated to see its implication, relevance and the likely defects when implemented.
Is it just corruption that made huge investments in the power sector not yield results? Rather than provide concrete answers and pragmatic roadmap to these problems, it has been attacks and attacks on past policies and programmes, as well as personality contest.
The two candidates promised to ensure better security and curb the ongoing insurgency. Though Jonathan promised better-equipped security unit, alleging that failure of past leaders to equip the military is why the military could not successfully fight insurgency. Buhari did not give a definite answer on how to curb insurgency, except that he promised to meet some former leaders and assemble eminent persons to look at the issue.
The two candidates claimed they would create millions of jobs, but none said how that sector would be opened up to accommodate those new jobs. This would include providing statistics to justify the opportunities in that sector; probably because the current government did not take certain steps. This could be further justified through a similar action deployed by a state government under any of the parties.
When they both said they wanted to create jobs, what kind of jobs? Is it the kind of jobs many of the state governors claimed they are creating —casual jobs and payment of allowance political cronies?
If it is in Agric, what are going to be the new investments; which section of agriculture would absorb more hands and how is the human capacity that would be deployed made fit for the task, since not all those unemployed are agriculture experts? Will the drive be solely public-driven or done in conjunction with the private sector?
Fight against corruption
Buhari talked about jailing people with corrupt practices in Kirikiri. How does he do this in a democratic setting without being labeled a dictator, knowing full well that the process must go through the judiciary, where court cases go on for donkey years? It would have been more pragmatic on the part of Buhari if he had talked about implementing a judicial reform that ensures corrupt cases are completed within a time limit?
Nobody can pin him down on his fight against corruption if he wins because he could easily claim that the judicial process was not friendly to his firebrand approach.
Buhari promised to revamp the coal deposit in Enugu for electricity generation. Jonathan talked about his ongoing reform in the sector and its expected gains in the near future. The drawback for President Jonathan is the APC’s allegation of the reform being too slow and lacking transparency.
Diversification of the economy
Both candidates said agriculture and mining would play critical role in their plan to diversify the economy. They, however, failed to provide detailed information on how they hope to achieve that.
While Jonathan talked about the new universities and almajari schools he had established, Buhari has not made any comprehensive comment on education.
Ironically, when each of the candidates talk, they hardly could give shining examples in any of the states they control in terms of how they had fought corruption and created employment, even if power is a centralised issue.
The two front line contenders have also not proved that they have studied and research into each other’s past attempt at the presidency. When they make statements, they do not provide reasonable explanation on why the policies failed. If this were done, the candidates would have provided an alternative with statistics and enriched discourse on issues confronting the nation.
It is not the first time both are vying for the office; they have had a taste of the office and are only wishing for a return. So it is expected that they know the demands and the understanding of the office. Naturally, they should not just be talking authoritatively; their comments should be highly embellished with statistics and verifiable facts.
Jonathan should be providing data of how he would create the millions of new jobs in his second coming, which sector would absorb them and if they would be jobs that would be created as a result of the policies he has already started implementing or not.
The media has also not helped matters, as it plays up issues of less importance in the rallies. It reports more of the counter-attacks on personalities, rather than policies of the two major candidates. This is probably fueled by the fact that the candidates make little or no critical statement that the media could feast on.