APC Presidential: The odds against Buhari -By King Awume

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APC Presidential: The odds against Buhari -By King Awume


In the current struggle to clinch the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential ticket for the 2015 general elections, too many odds seem to be balancing in favour of former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who indeed has gone ahead of the park in being the first to declare his interest, collect the nomination form and even submit the required document when others are still struggling to take a decision.

While other frontline aspirants like General Muhammadu Buhari, Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha , Kano state Governor Engineer Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and Sam Ndah Isaiah seems undecided on how to frontally attack the Presidential ticket, Atiku looks more than prepared for the 2015 race if the steps he has taken so far is counted in his favour.

Interestingly while former Vice President Atiku Abubakar declared his intention to vie for the ticket in September at the Shehu Musa Yaradua Centre in Abuja, former Military Head of State General Muhamadu Buhari took the centre stage at the Eagle Square also in Abuja on Wednesday October 15., Another strong contender and Governor of Kano state Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso also confirmed his intention. The former Vice President under President Olusegun Obasanjo, Atiku however, went ahead of the pack to document a policy position as the main thrust of his campaign and what will set them apart as the transformation agenda.

The most proposed solutions simply outline what his team need do to address unmet needs and which agency, currently believed should be in charge of its implementation and also facilitate implementation, this is to ensure continuity with the current administration’s more sensible initiatives, and solutions will be aligned with existing instruments and institutions.

Interestingly, it is believed that too many Nigerians live in fear of violent crime, communal clashes, and savage acts of terrorism. Most feel betrayed by corrupt and self-serving politicians. Indifferent, ill-equipped, and often brutal security forces and a weak legal and judicial system fuel public distrust of the state and feed into the widely held belief that institutions don’t really matter.

The needs of young children, the elderly, or persons with disabilities barely register in national development efforts. Even groups like women and the youth that fall under the purview of dedicated ministries receive little tangible support. Disinterest in the weakest is symptomatic of an increasingly unresponsive and detached government that conducts its affair with high level of impunity.

The issue of ethno-religious tensions and disputes over titles and entitlements have eroded social cohesion, undermining democratic consolidation and – more recently – threatening national unity and security. Today, Nigeria and Nigerians suffer from terrorist attacks in the north, an insurgency in the Delta, communal violence in the middle belt, cult wars in the south, and kidnappings, armed robberies, and common acts of thuggery throughout the country, hence the debate in Abeokuta is expected to exhaustively discuss the issue accordingly. However, abundant resource rents and a skewed revenue allocation model mean that the distant and insulated federal government does not have to earn citizens’ trust and that state and local governments lack the resources to meet citizens’ needs. Instead of investing in state capacity, the fortunate few rely on expensive self-help systems that give them access to the amenities other citizens can only dream of, such as safe and secure housing, reliable water and electricity supplies, mobility, effective health care, a real education and personal protection.

In urban areas, one third of the population lives below the poverty line, though perhaps as many as two thirds do not have enough to meet their basic household needs, including food, energy, housing, drinking water, sanitation, health care, education, and social security. Even those who get by are more likely to be harassed than helped by public officials, most overpay the erratic basic services they receive, and those who complain are unlikely to get judicial redress. In many of the most densely populated areas and satellite towns, urban dwellers face constant threats to their property and lives, and many doubt that citizenship extends far beyond the right to hand-outs in exchange for the promise to vote for those who provide them.

Again, it is believed that access to justice is a right of all citizens but this is becoming more and more expensive. With the level of poverty and financial distress that many Nigerians face, legal aid could be the only hope for many who unfortunately might have a matter before the courts. The realities however are that majority of our people do not have the financial capacity to successfully sustain a legal action in court either as plaintiff or defendant/accused. This is more, when viewed against the fact that majority of our citizens have forgotten that rights go with obligations. While the government carries out unparalleled act of impunity, ‘civil disobedience’ holds sway amongst the ordinary member of society.

Despite Nigeria’s impressive growth rate in the past decades, one of the big challenges facing the country today is the high rate of unemployment. The non-inclusiveness of the impressive growth that the country has experienced makes the current level of unemployment unacceptable and scandalous.

In essence, too many of our young people, including graduates of tertiary education, are unemployed. Many of those who have jobs are underemployed and are engaged in jobs that pay very little and require very little of skills that they have acquired in school. This is painful for these young people and their families and is wasteful for our society.

Ironically, every successive government had embarked on policies they believed could substantially reduce unemployment but with little result to show for it. There was: The attempt to link capital expenditure to job creation. This failed to yield the desired results. A National Action Plan on Employment Creation (NAPEC), pivoted by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Decent Work Agenda (DWA). Central to the Decent Work Country Programs I (DWCPI 2005-2009) and DWCP II (2010-2015) are the strategic objectives of employment generation, social protection, social dialogue and rights at work in key sectors of the economy accompanied by regulatory environment to stimulate the private sector to complement government effort in job creation. To date, this is yet to flag up special job-creation solution for Nigeria.

Rapid population growth as well as years of neglect and inadequate planning has meant that resources have not been effectively allocated to match the population growth. The country is confronted with a crisis situation where young people are completing higher education year in, year out without any jobs to go into. Even those who are not privileged to have the benefit of formal tertiary education are stuck in the rut of disguised unemployment in the informal sectors of the economy.

Indeed, youth unemployment has reached a level where some commentators have advocated for it to be declared a national emergency. The socio-economic consequences of unemployment are grave. The rising levels of poverty exhibited in the large number of hawkers on our city streets and highways, crimes of different kind and engagement in other social vices portray unpleasant signals.

Currently majority of the people are disillusioned, unskilled and unemployable. We need to invest in the desired infrastructure to support job creation such as power, roads, bridges, schools, ports and other transportation systems. We will pay more attention to agriculture and the excessive reliance on oil which is heavily capital-intensive and employs little relative to its dominance in government revenues. Significant reduction in the rate of unemployment from 25% to Zambia’s 14%, (2013) one of the lowest in Africa. Ghana’s rate stands at 3.6% in 2013. Significant reduction in youth unemployment from 54% to the national rate of 23.9%

When weighed against all the other aspirants the former Vice President may not be enmeshed in the financial quagmire that seems to be the greatest challenge of General Muhammudu Buhari still struggling to convince his backers for funds to prosecute his primaries.