With Adetunji Ayobrown
Couple of weeks ago, I wrote a poem on ‘Oh My Certificate’ and its analysis, instantly, the waves became so high, the article trend for so long, is still the talk of town. Many alike felt this new style of writing is here to stay. Then, more than what I bargained for…many new friends. Friends, not only those who agreed with my lines on social and political philosophy but including the very few ‘nonaligned’, whom we often disagree with but to later agree with.
One of such friends engaged me in a chat on the latest APC and PDP campaign plans. Trying to ‘Atikulate’ President Muhammadu Buhari’s #NextLevel with former Vice President and People’s Democratic Party’s candidate, Atiku Abubakar 2019 presidential campaign tagged “TheAtikuPlan”. This policy document details on the “vision to get Nigeria working again”. Let us juxtapose these plans to know where the 2019 tide may swing and what becomes of #TheAtikuPlan and #NextLevel before, during and after next year’s general elections. In doing this, each candidate will be fairly measured.
Highlighting major items of these plans, on jobs creation, #TheAtikuPlan want to champion the repositioning and streamlining activities of the existing Federal and State Governments’ Job Creation Agencies to ensure that their objectives are harmonised, as well as ensure that efforts and resources are better. While #NextLevel of Buhari’s government on its own official information shows Mr Buhari has had a worsening national job situation with unemployment rate standing at 18.8 per cent -15.9 million people – by the third quarter of 2017 up from 16.2 per cent in the earlier quarter. Though, the country’s statistics bureau has not released new data on the job situation since 2017, warranting criticisms stating that the body is failing due to political considerations. This situation negatively relates to the government’s efforts such as Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, N-Power, improving Ease of Doing Business. Truey to their own assessment, ‘not much is different, however, but the targets are bigger’.
On Infrastructure, #NextLevel – while unveiling his second term plans to improve the country’s infrastructure, admits that desperately, we need to buoy the economy and ease living for citizens. Mr Buhari commits to four areas, expectedly roads, rail, power, and the Internet, marked to be treated as ‘a critical infrastructure’. #TheAikuPlan is ready to slow down the rate of debt accumulation by promoting more Public Private Partnerships in critical infrastructure funding and identify more innovative funding options. Also, It will encourage investment in agro-processing cluster by offering concessional financing, tax breaks and seed funds for upgrades or construction of access roads, embedded power plants and water/waste management systems.
Expansion of domestic gas production to meet power generation and manufacturing demands were part of #TheAtikuPlan on power Infrastructure; ensuring effective regulatory environment, to deliver contract-based electricity market compliant with market rules while intensifying rural electrification projects to ensure electricity access to over 80 million Nigerians currently without access to grid electricity if they must indeed move to #NextLevel. Atiku claimed to be ready to create an environment that will enable distribution companies recover full costs for power supplied to their consumers with firm commitment to a metering programme for all customers.
Though, renewable, clean energy sources such as solar are on #NextLevel list, ‘energise’ universities and up to 300 markets across the country to have uninterrupted power supply are also in Buhari’s plan. #The AtikuPlan targets at least 50 million people to be lifted out of extreme poverty by 2025.
As for business, entrepreneurship and related development, Atiku was quoted to have taken a stand on ‘supportive enabling business environment’, with a commitment to the promotion of a private sector-driven, competitive and open economy supported by efficiently run public institutions. This also include promoting economic diversification, better relationship between agriculture, industry, micro and small enterprises, all of which will potent great prospects for employment generation and poverty reduction.
For ease of doing business, he promises to “legislate and enforce deadlines for issuance of government licences and permits” and “simplify investments, Customs, Immigration, trade and production procedures”. There would be one-stop shops of all regulatory agencies (CAC, NAFDAC, SON, etc) under one roof in each senatorial district as Next Level for MSMEs (MSME Clinics) in each Senatorial District, according to #NextLevel.
Setting up a Special Purpose Fund for the utilisation of all monies saved from subsidy removal in building infrastructure in education, health and the empowerment of women and youth. Quantify budgetary leakages and redirect savings to priority areas (education, health, funding of revised compensation structure). Based on the above, deliverables can be specified and monitored accordingly. These are #TheAtikuPlan plans in the area of human capital enhancement services, such as healthcare and education.
While for #NextLevel, “Every child counts”, a brilliant idea, but acknowledgement at least should have been forwarded to the originator, Kwara State. Students will be digitally literate in Science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, while all teachers will be retrained to deliver digital literacy with a vow that 10,000 schools per year will be remodelled and equipped. In healthcare, Buhari only promises insurance for all using “co-payments to share the cost between individuals, the private sector and government,” while “the poorest 40 per cent will be exempted from such co-payments” if voted in 2019.
“On political inclusion, 40% of my govt. will be youth oriented” – quoting Atiku Abubakar; if voted into power, his administration will cut 30% for the womenfolk and the balance of 30% for the adults, according to his sharing formula which MAY be acceptable to all.
Buhari went a little bit further by promising to ensure that 35 per cent of his appointments go to female folks. He did not mention if there would a kind of legislation compelling 35 per cent affirmative action on women inclusion in government – a proposal that failed in the National Assembly last year. He also said he would increase the number of youth for appointments to boards of public agencies. He also promised “special mentoring programme in governance with young graduates working with ministers and other senior government appointees”.
With all these, we can all see that there are differences between #TheAtikuPlan and #NextLevel, however, a good way to judge a man is by what he says. A better way is by what he does. The best way is by what he gives.
News sources said President Buhari “stole” #NextLevel campaign blueprint from an Associate Professor called Kelly Costner. Plagiarised?…OMG! Even without this, Nigerians are not expecting much from #NextLevel rather, they are ready to move to next level politically.
Several series of tweets made over this comment also accused Buhari of spending N83 million in promoting his alleged stolen #NextLevel agenda on the front pages of all Nigeria’s major newspapers. As far as many Nigerians are concerned now, ‘mere noise’ produces nothing…it is a known fact, often hen that has merely laid an egg cackles as though she has laid an asteroid*****.
Nigerians are challenging our president, who allegedly “stole” #NextLevel concept from the professor but had the guts and nerves to call Nigerian youths lazy. The tweets go thus: “Not only do they plagiarise speeches (‘I belong to everybody, I belong to nobody’), …… they are so intellectually lazy and empty that they plagiarised #NextLevel from The Rex Institute. Can such people take you to any level?” quoting one of the twits. “President @MBuhari called Nigerian youths lazy. Who is lazy between Nigerian youths who created Nollywood and a President with no plans for the future that stole #NextLevel from Associate Professor Kelly Costner? And called on #LazyNigerianYouths to retweet #LazyNigerianPresident “@MBuhari spent N83 million promoting his #NextLevel agenda on the front pages of Nigeria’s major newspapers, but forgot to tell those papers that he stole the Next Level from Associate Professor Kelly Costner. I urge all #LazyNigerianYouths to retweet #LazyNigerianPresident” – Pastor Omokri twitted. APC is yet to react to these facts, which are sacred.
Parading our worst eleven is never the best, unreserved presidential apology to Nigerian youths is a must and which may not be enough. So also, prevention of future occurrence of such avoidable national embarrassment… of how else can you ‘atikulate’ plagiarised #NextLevel?
*Ayobrown, Senior System Analyst, National Pilot Newspaper, writes via firstname.lastname@example.org