While seeking reelection in 2003, the then-President Olusegun Obasanjo kicked off a campaign that included a 12 point agenda: fighting insecurity, a war against corruption, education, diversification of the economy, power generation, employment and healthcare delivery.
Umaru Musa Yar’adua‘s campaign promises were fewer. They covered security, the Niger Delta, mass transportation, education, power and energy, employment and agriculture.
Goodluck Jonathan, during his campaign in 2011, toured the entire nation, promising each region specific and different things. His promises included the improvement of the economy, security, education, power generation, agriculture, the Niger Delta, infrastructure – you get the gist.
81 campaign promises – that’s what President Muhammadu Buhari made when he was seeking to be elected president. He was very specific, promising a war on corruption, 20,000MW of electricity within 4 years (power), 720,000 jobs every year for 4 years (employment), and a ban on all government officials seeking medical care outside the country (healthcare). Others covered security (the establishment of a crime squad to combat terrorism and communal clashes), infrastructure (construction of an airport in Ekiti State, railways and superhighways), and education (prioritization of the girl-child and a scholarship scheme for ICT related courses).
Basically, all our presidents since the start of the 4th republic have been making the same promises while seeking election.
These people really have been taking us for a ride.
Time and time again, Buhari and his handlers have come out to insist their campaign promises have been met. They say security in the nation is stellar as if Boko Haram isn’t killing soldiers every day, as if the herdsmen clashes haven’t taken thousands and thousands of lives. Promising 20,000MW and delivering 4000MW is campaign promises met? In what universe?
Is there an airport in Ekiti State yet? Is it invisible? Has the Ajaokuta Steel Company been revived? Can you revive something that has never been alive? Where is the free STEM education? The crime squad to combat terrorism and communal clashes nko? The nationwide sanitation plans to keep Nigeria clean? As if the streets of Lagos and Kano, two of the biggest cities in the country, aren’t lined with dirt.
And the economy. Nigeria went into a recession shortly after the administration went into power. The IMF has said Nigerians are getting poorer. The World Poverty Clock has named Nigeria the Poverty Capital of the World. So, yeah, so much for fulfilling campaign promises.
The House of Representatives members, this year, were jumping over the fence of their offices. The Lagos State Government has kicked thousands out of their homes in Otodo Gbame and other coastal settlements and in their place planned high rise buildings people will buy but not live in. Our senator jumped out of a moving police vehicle. The Edo State government has justified its governor sleeping and embarrassing the nation, while the president addressed the UN General Assembly.
The Kogi State Governor, best buddies with the president, is always in Aso Rock, owes salaries and pension, has built a mansion for himself, turning the entrance to the street into the entrance to his home. And civil servants keep committing suicide in his state.
The Imo State Governor, who also owes salaries, has built gigantic statues honoring African leaders who, to be honest, haven’t done anything to deserve the honor. The Ekiti State Governor will buy roasted corn by the roadside to come across as approachable, but he, too, owes a backlog of salaries.
The state legislature is too often a joke. Most times they are nothing more than instruments of the state governor, to be used as he wills. When one of them errs, speaker, deputy speaker, or just a random member of the house, the others still loyal to the state governor begin to plot how to remove them.
It would perhaps be a little rote and naive to ask that we begin holding our leaders accountable – after all, what have we been doing all along? We have prayed prayed prayed, but things actually are getting worse.
In a nation where our politicians seem to continuously sell us pipe dreams, it is time to take a look inwards and ask ourselves, what are we doing? We are a nation of smart, resourceful and ambitious people. Although crippled by distrust and consistent failure by our governance, we have to start pushing back. How long are we going to be promised energy? How long are we going to believe that we are going to get power supply? How long are we going to continue to consume the same old tired rhetoric? It’s important that as we go to the polls next year, we take responsibility for what we want, as Nigerians. The power lies with you, so ask yourself: what do I want and how am I going to get it?