Editor's note: Making unrealistic promises during electoral campaigns seems to be a must-do point in every politician's agenda. "President Muhammadu Buhari is not an exception," states Ubaka Chukwuka Maximus, Naij.com guest author. In another contribution to the platform, Mr Chukwuka analyses President Buhari's election promises and makes a conclusion that some of them were never meant to be fulfilled.
- "...creation of social welfare scheme...will eject $7.575b from the treasury annually. Where President Buhari hopes to get the money still remains a mystery..."
- "Free meal for each child per day at N200 per meal will cost Nigeria N14.4b. Where will N14.4b nutrition money emanate from?"
- "Empirically, the APC success in the presidential poll is positively correlated with the mindless promises they’ve made".
During 2015 electoral campaign, the APC made a number of promises, both attainable and unattainable, to attract the voters. Thisday newspaper compiled a total of 35 promises, and the mind-blowing ones were:
- Creation of social welfare scheme that will provide 25m poorest and most vulnerable citizens with at least N5,000 per month, help to enroll their children in schools and promote family stability.
- One free meal per day including fruits for the children attending public primary schools.
- Creation of 3 million jobs per annum.
- Naira to dollar equalization.
- Eradication of “state of origin” category by replacing it with “state of residence” category to enhance national unity.
I have issues with these promises for a number of reasons. Firstly, creation of social welfare scheme for providing 25m citizens with N5,000 every month will eject $7.575b from the treasury annually. Where President Buhari hopes to get the money still remains a mystery to most of us as the fall in oil prices has turned this lofty plan into a mirage. Surprisingly, Buhari made the promise when the oil was selling below $50. Workers on the payroll of about twenty Nigerian states cannot receive their salaries, and the country’s treasury is bleeding red ink. Any addition to the recurrent government expenditure will be suicidal.
Secondly, according to the UNICEF, children under 15 account for about 45% of the Nigerian growing population. This entails that 72m children (45% of the the total 160 million Nigerians) attend primary schools at the moment provided the Almagiri children in the north, the Agbero kids in the west and the street hawkers in the southeast also get enrolled. Free meal for each child per day at N200 per meal will cost Nigeria N14.4b. Another illusion, you may say. Where will N14.4b nutrition money emanate from? If this figure is imbedded into the national budget, Nigeria will spend N4.32t just to feed the children excluding the 10% traditional kickback demanded by civil servants. I wonder, do you still remember how much is our national budget?
Thirdly, the APC did not specify how the promised 3m jobs would be created. I don’t believe that the federal, state and local governments will bear the burden because most ministries and agencies are overstaffed, and their budgets are limited. Have we fallen victims of the APC cruel hoax?
Redenomination of naira is a welcome move. It will discourage capital flight, brain drain, curb inflation and stabilize our national currency. Many countries including Brazil, Argentina, Russia and Ghana have done it before and achieved positive results. However, the APC should not be oblivious of the forces that stopped Prof Soludo from pursuing this policy. The consequences of unemployment on the foreign exchange market should be taken into account. I am not a pessimist, but I doubt President Buhari will pursue the policies that may hurt the Fulani who are majorly into dollar for naira exchange business.
Empirically, the APC success in the presidential poll is positively correlated with the mindless promises they’ve made. This is because the bargaining power of the electorate are votes. Thomas Hobbes impliedly noted that by voting people surrender their inalienable right to govern in exchange for good governance as captured in the campaign manifestoes.
What poor family won’t vote for Buhari for N5, 000 per month? What poor family won’t give their votes for a free balanced meal for each of their children? What unemployed graduate or especially non-graduate will ignore a promise of 3m jobs? The current economic and social situation in the country gave the change party a fertile ground to make such bogus claims. President Buhari told us what we needed to hear, and in our enthusiasm for change we didn’t ask him for a blue print.
Nevertheless, we have delivered our own part of the contract by voting Buhari in. How President Buhari goes about delivering his own part is not really the business of Nigerians. What Nigerians need is result and not excuses as he has already started mentioning some. Time will pass, and we will find out if these promises were false or genuine.
Finally, Nigerians have faith in President Buhari’s strength of character. A careful x-ray has shown that Buhari of 2015 is different from Buhari of 1983 because environment around him has changed. This is democracy, not military rule anymore.
Mr Chukwuka is a graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
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