By Dakuku Peterside
We are in another election season. Political parties, jobbers, and candidates deploy everything to convince innocent voters that they mean well and have a clear agenda to transform society. Most people – con artists, comics, and patriotic citizens – attempt to present what they intend to do when elected to office.
In their various interactions with the public and the media, they make statements of promises to the electorate to win their votes. These statements give an indication as to what matters to the candidates and their vision of the future of society.
No tool encapsulates the ideals and priorities of the candidates and their parties like the manifesto. Ideally , a manifesto is a compilation of the broad vision, development philosophy, ideological leaning and sector-specific policy options that a political party intends to pursue once elected.
Parties have manifestos and it is pretty much fixed, however updated regularly. Candidates of parties have an agenda or programme , which should align with the manifesto of the sponsoring party . In our clime, a candidate’s programme is often referred to as a manifesto and that is the context in which it is situated in this column.
A manifesto is one of the ways of evaluating whether candidates understand the issues confronting the people and have good plans to solve them. It is also a tool to hold parties and candidates accountable for promises made during elections.
The reality in Nigerian political culture deviates, albeit in a slightly different way, from the denotative nuances of a manifesto. In Nigeria, a manifesto is more of a tradition, a political culture and not an essential requirement in a political contest.
Whether citizens take it seriously or not is another matter. The belief in Nigeria, following historical precedence, is that manifestos are almost acts of a confidence trick – soundbites and promises that are intended to trick but never kept. Nevertheless, the expectation is that all political parties and presidential candidates will present their manifestoes or agenda to the public.
Two of the four presidential frontrunners have released what is somewhat of a manifesto. Atiku Abubakar of the PDP released an abridged version of his manifesto captioned “new covenant” or “my covenant with Nigerians”. Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the APC issued “Hope Renewed”. One common thing to both manifestos is that they need more detail on how they intend to accomplish what they have outlined. Labour Party’s Peter Obi and NNPP’s Rabiu Kwankwaso are yet to release any manifesto officially. Peter Obi had argued that getting wordsmiths and consultants to write and package a manifesto is not enough; candidates should be able to speak to Nigerians about what they plan to do, how they will do it and where the funds will come from to fulfil their promises.
The campaign managers and spin doctors of the two main parties, APC and PDP, are already jostling to place their manifestoes at the centre of media and public attention whilst attacking the essence and content of each other’s manifesto. Dele Momodu, journalist, and media manager of the Atiku Presidential campaign launched the first attack by describing Tinubu’s manifesto as bad recycling of late MKO Abiola’s 1993 manifesto calling it “APC manifesto of lies”. As expected, he got an immediate reply from Festus Keyamo, who described the Atiku-Okowa manifesto as merely a copy of President Buhari’s projects. At least Nigerians who have consumed enough bad news now have some comic relief.
We expect these attacks, which are part of the election campaign, justling. However, these soundbite attacks are not enough to feed the political appetites of the electorate. I expect a thorough and critical analysis of the manifestoes of each party by their opponents with the view to interrogate it and question the relevance of its content to our common aspiration. They should examine the practicality and workability of ideas and policies contained therein and task each party’s campaign managers to explain to the public some of the grey areas identified. I also expect civil society organizations , media organisations and public commentators to delve into these manifestoes and dissect them to educate the public on the content and the merits and demerits of ideas, policies, and assumptions contained in these manifestoes. The aim is to enlighten the citizens because only an enlightened citizenry will vote for candidates that align with the developmental needs and aspirations of the people.
The APC presidential manifesto prioritises national security, economy, agriculture, power, oil and gas, transportation, social services and education. The major highlight of the manifesto is broadly the ten promises geared to foster a new society based on shared prosperity, tolerance, compassion, and the unwavering commitment to treating each citizen with equal respect and due regard. Some of the promises include building a Nigeria, especially for our youth, where good jobs with decent wages create a better life, manufacturing;creating, and inventing more of the goods and services we require, exporting more and importing less, continuing to assist farmers, modernising and expanding public infrastructure, making primary healthcare, education, and housing accessible and affordable for all, providing electricity, and creating a security architecture to combat crime and terrorism.
On the other hand, the PDP presidential manifesto emphasises a 5-point development agenda that focuses on providing quality education, restructuring Nigeria, building a dynamic economy for prosperity, ensuring the safety and security of life and property, and restoring unity in diversity. Looking at the overall fiscal and general environment, it is doubtful that these manifestos or development agenda are realistic and implementable.
They are manifestos that will not manifest. Promises that throughout our democratic history have been made but never achieved. These promises sound so familiar to the electorate because of the recurring themes of providing electricity, security, a good economy, and infrastructure, yet we have not achieved these things, and they are still the bane of our society. Do candidates plan to rely on the manifesto to run the government? Very often, No. It is time we look beyond manifesto promises to ask candidates how they intend to make these promises a reality. How will it be funded or achieved? What is the implementation strategy?
Once elections are over, the parties and the candidate jettison the manifesto and its promises. What if we treat voting as a transaction between the voter and the elected officials, as a social contract? Should we not hold elected officials accountable if they deviate from the promises, they made in their manifestoes upon which the voters cast votes? Can citizens take legal action against parties and candidates for not implementing the provisions of their manifesto? If a prospective voter has voted based on a promise, should the voter not have the legitimate expectation that the government voted to power perform based on the contract? Therefore, citizens need to take note and keep track of party manifestoes and candidates’ promises during election campaigns to hold them accountable. Besides, citizens must be able to remove nonperforming leaders before another election cycle. Though it runs a parliamentary system, the UK changed Prime Minister in 44 days because she could not deliver on the manifesto.
There is no indication that the content of a party’s manifesto substantially influences how citizens vote. 90% of eligible voters, a good chunk being illiterate by default, in Nigeria do not bother about a manifesto. Even candidates need to learn the content of their manifesto document. It is time we paid attention to party and candidates’ manifestos, interrogate them, keep track, and hold elected officials accountable. We need citizen mechanisms or actions to hold candidates responsible for their manifesto promises before periodic elections. That way, we shall deepen our democracy.
In countries such as Bhutan and Mexico, political parties are required to submit a copy of their election manifesto to the Electoral Commission before General elections. Manifestos are issued to the public only with the approval of the Electoral Commission. This has a way of making the government perform its manifesto promises. A mechanism to track and hold candidates accountable would ensure that promises merely to induce voters are not made and that promises are sincere and well-conceived.
Our democratic evolution requires that we implement systems to hold elected officials accountable for their promises to the voters . A promise is a promise and should not be made if there is no intention of keeping them. That is a fraud! Nigerian voters have been duped for so long. And we intend to bring an end to this in the 2023 general elections.
Therefore, I implore all stakeholders in the Nigerian project to use every opportunity available to interrogate all electoral promises inside and outside the manifestoes. We need to understand the vision a political party’s candidate is selling to the voters and create means of holding them to their words. I also implore the media to shun sleaze and banalities and focus on proper voters’ enlightenment based on the promises of candidates as contained in their manifestoes and other political statements.
In this day of traditional and social media prevalence, such voter education is not a herculean task. All it requires is the commitment of the information producers to enrich their content with quality political information to educate the voters and give them a chance to make informed decisions based on their convictions. Although we have many illiterate voters, this political information must reach them through media like the radio and other opinion leaders’ transmission processes that will give them access to knowledge. Democracy involves democratising knowledge and access, and we must include Nigerian voters in this crucial process.
Group Calls For Protection Of Journalists In Bayelsa, Imo, Kogi States
The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has urged for necessary measures to protect journalists and other media workers during this weekend’s off-cycle elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi States.
The group sent the request to the federal and state governments, as well as law enforcement and security agencies, stressing that the role of journalists in disseminating information about the electoral process is critical to ensuring free, fair, and transparent elections.
In a statement issued ahead of the elections in Lagos and signed by the Communications Officer, Media Rights Agenda, Idowu Adewale, MRA also urged journalists to be cautious and to use its existing hotline (08138755660) to report any threat or attack they may encounter during the process, as well as any obstacle.
Adewale said in the statement: “Given the pattern of heightened attacks on journalists and the media during previous elections, including the recent 2023 general elections, as well as the tense political climate in the three states in the lead-up to the elections, measures must be taken to ensure general security during the elections and provide adequate protection for journalists covering the elections.”
“Access to information allows citizens and other members of the public to have the information they need about political and electoral processes, facilitating effective public participation in elections,” he says.
“Journalists and the media play an important role in ensuring residents and other members of the public have access to information and may participate in the process.
“As part of efforts to preserve the integrity of the polls, it is also critical that the safety and well-being of these interlocutors be assured and safeguarded.”
Lamenting the increased number of attacks on journalists in the run-up to the off-cycle elections, as well as earlier this year in the run-up to the general elections, he emphasised that “a free and vibrant media is fundamental to a healthy democracy, and journalists must be able to carry out their duties without fear, coercion, or violence.” During this vital phase, MRA stands ready to assist them and assure their safety.”
Police Nab Husband, As Mother Of ‘Mummy Be Calming Down’ Boy Takes Own Life
Men from the Edo State Police Command are said to have detained Mrs. Toluige Olokoobi’s husband after he allegedly murdered her.
Olokoobi was the mother of Oreofeoluwa Lawal-Babalola, the tiny boy whose video went viral in 2020 after he pleaded with his mother, “Mummy be calming down.”
Oreofeoluwa rose to prominence on social media after a video of him crying in an attempt to confidently appeal to his mother, who chastised him, went viral.
The film inspired Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who used it to deliver an Eid-el-Kabir appeal to Muslims and Lagos people in general to remain calm during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Following that, the youngster and his family met with the governor, who praised his bravery and poise.
While little has been heard about the family in three years, heartbreaking news broke on social media on Tuesday that the boy’s mother had committed suicide.
According to an X user, Olokoobi committed suicide in Benin, the capital of Edo State, for unknown reasons.
The X user, who stated that he was present at the site on Monday afternoon, went on to say that she had refused to disclose her difficulties with anyone before committing herself.
“The woman in the viral Mummy Calm Down video has just committed suicide here in Benin,” he stated in an email.
“She refused to discuss her problems with anyone.” She abandoned three children for her husband, including the well-known Mummy Calm Down boy.”
Meanwhile, confirming Olokoobi’s death in a chat with BBC Pidgin, the spokesperson of the Edo State police command, Chidi Nwabuzor, said her husband has been arrested and detained for questioning.
Nwabuzor said the husband reported the matter to the police.
The police spokesperson quoted the husband to have said that “he came home from the market when he saw his wife hanging with rope on her neck”.
Nwabuzor said she was rushed to the hospital and then to the mortuary after she was confirmed dead. (Adapted from a Vanguard report).
Anambra: CP Aderemi Adeoye Decorates Promoted Officers With New Ranks
The Anambra State Police Command Headquarters Conference Hall was a hive of activity Thursday as CP Aderemi Adeoye took turns decorating around 18 promoted officers of the command with their new titles.
The delight of some of the officers whose wives assisted the CP in decorating their husbands with their new ranks knew no bounds, as their husbands duly saluted their wives and the CP for their new positions and responsibilities.
Obi Innocent, one of the officers elevated to the rank of Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), whose wife joined CP Aderemi Adeoye in adorning him with his new rank, said it was wonderful that the Inspector General of Police thought him worthy.
CSP Obi Innocent, the officer in charge of the Legal Department at Zone 13, Police Zonal Headquarters Ukpo, stated that his new rank was a call to service and that he would do his best to uphold the charge given to them by CP Aderemi Adeoye to respect and protect the citizenry’s fundamental rights in the discharge of their new assignments.
Charity Akharame, who was honoured with the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) and was the only female officer among the 18 promoted officers decorated with new ranks, said it was not an easy feat but she was grateful to be among those who were decorated with their new ranks.
DSP Charity Akharame, the officer in charge of stores in the Anambra State Police Command, recalled how she began as a Police Constable and worked her way up to her current position as Deputy Superintendent of Police.
She stated that as a very disciplined police officer, she would follow the Police Commissioner’s directions regarding respect for all and sundry in the fulfillment of her constitutional obligations.
Jane-Frances Obi, one of the spouses of the officers elevated to the level of CSP, stated that being the wife of a police officer was not an easy assignment. As a result, she recommended any lady who is married to a police officer to be patient and understanding because the job is quite demanding.
Jane-Frances Obi, whose husband is Innocent Obi, the officer in charge of the Legal Department at Zone 13 Ukpo, believes the promotion is a reward for years of being patient, understanding, and standing in for them when they are not present.
Meanwhile, Emenike Chinenyenwa, who was decorated with the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) and presented a vote of appreciation, expressed deep gratitude to the IGP and the Chairman of the Police Service Commission for considering them worthy of being adorned in their new ranks.
ACP Emenike, the officer in charge of Medicals, stated that the elevation comes with increased responsibility and that they will work harder in their new tasks.
CP Aderemi Adeoye praised the current promotion winners in his remarks, noting that two aspects make the police career very interesting and eventful. He stated that one is for promotion and the other is for positions.
CP Adeoye, on the other hand, urged the newly honored officers to develop more empathy, compassion, care, and dedication in the performance of their jobs.
The police chief insisted that newly promoted officers must first recognise that they share the same humanity as others, and as a result, they must treat all people with dignity and protect their fundamental human rights at all times.
CP Aderemi Adeoye stressed that without the enormous roles of spouses, they wouldn’t have been successful in their careers. He therefore congratulated all the promoted and prayed that God gives them good health to enjoy the new ranks and the energy to discharge the responsibilities of their new offices.
- Source: Independent