- The main opposition PDP last week reminded Nigerians of the numerous promises made by the ruling APC before the last election, especially the payment of N5000 to 25 million poorest Nigerians. While APC says it is committed to the fulfillment of that promise and many others, opposition parties and groups are doubtful of the sincerity of the ruling party in keeping to these promises writes EMMA ALOZIE
President Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress, APC certainly knew how to tell Nigerians what they wanted to hear.
They looked at the core and vulnerability of Nigerians and promised them exactly what Nigerians wanted to hear. Going into the last election, APC and its candidate never spared any promise, they never left any promise ‘unpromised’. Their promises ranged from the realistic to the utterly unrealisable ones.
When asked how they hoped to fund all the lofty promises, the party and its presidential candidate said they would use proceeds from looted money and that from plugged leakages from the national treasury.
Even Professor Chukwuma Soludo, former Central Bank Governor warned them then that the resources available would not be able to take care of the many promises. In soludo’s intervention before the election, titled ‘Buhari vs Jonathan: Beyond the Election’, the Economics Professor said, “Even with all the loopholes and waste closed, with increased efficiency per dollar spent, there is still a binding budget constraint. To deliver an efficient national transport infrastructure alone will still cost tens of billions of dollars per annum even by corruption-free, cost-effective means. Did I hear that APC promises a welfare system that will pay between N5,000 and N10,000 per month to the poorest 25 million Nigerians? Just this programme alone will cost between N1.5 and N3 trillion per annum.
“Add to this the cost of free primary education plus free meal (to be funded by the federal budget or would it force non-APC state governments to implement the same?), plus some millions of public housing, etc. I have tried to cost some of the promises by both the APC and the PDP, given alternative scenarios for public finance and the numbers don’t add up. Nigerians would be glad to know how both parties would fund their programmes.
“Do they intend to accentuate the huge public debt, or raise taxes on the soon to-be-beleaguered private businesses, or massively devalue the naira to rake in baskets of naira from the dwindling oil revenue, or embark on huge fiscal retrenchment with the sack of labour and abandonment of projects, and which areas of waste do they intend to close and how much do they estimate to rake in from them, etc?”
As poignant as this advice sounded, the party ignored it and stuck by its promise of paying 25 million poor Nigerians a stipend of N5000 per month.
Six months after and with no signs that this particular promise would be kept, Senator Phillips Aduda, (PDP FCT) last week moved a motion on the floor of Senate trying to compel the APC led federal government to start the payment of the N5000 monthly stipend.
And shockingly, he was shouted down by majority of APC senators who argued that the present state of the economy would not support the fulfillment of such campaign promise.
However, since that unpopular action by APC senators, various groups across Nigeria have risen in condemnation of the action and APC’s reluctance in fulfilling such promise. The main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP lashed out at the APC saying that the party rode to power under what it described as “monumental hypocrisy.”
“The PDP declares that it is absolutely obvious to all that the APC came to power riding on monumental lies and deceit in making promises they had no intentions to keep. All they wanted was to get into power and they achieved this with their lying tongues.
“Indeed, the unanimity displayed by the APC senators in rejecting the promised N5, 000 monthly welfare package, especially coming after their party and the Presidency had made futile efforts to distance themselves from it, further stresses the duplicitous spirit of the APC and its reprehensible insensitivity to the feelings and aspirations of Nigerians, especially the unsuspecting youths, women and the indigent, who they shamelessly swindled with false promises.
“From the foregoing therefore, Nigerians should not expect any sincere action from the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC government on the other promises including monthly allowance to discharged but unemployed NYSC members, free meals and scholarship to school children, free houses, bringing the naira to the same value with the dollar.
“Our position remains that the APC has sufficiently confirmed to the world that they have a lot to learn on the leadership values of honesty, integrity, credibility and forthrightness,” the PDP said.
Similarly, the National Secretary of the Labour Party, Mr. Kayode Ajulo said APC and President Buhari sold Nigerians a dummy. “The APC has sold Nigerians a dummy; the party deceived Nigerians. The party’s attitude is uncharitable. We should not believe that Nigeria is broke. The country is not broke in the sense that as of today, we are still selling our oil, though the price of the oil has gone down.
“Secondly, paying the poorest of the poor was not the only promise made by Buhari and the APC. The President promised Nigerians many things, but it’s unfortunate that he has failed to fulfil them, which is why I said he is uncharitable to Nigerians.
“It is unfortunate that somebody will make promises and fail to fulfil them. Governance is a social contract which requires that every party to the contract must fulfill his part,” he said.
The Presidential candidate of National Conscience Party in the last elections, Chief Martin Onovo, added his voice in condemning the hoodwinking of Nigerians by APC and President Buhari. “Buhari has denied all the promises he was said to have made. It is a matter of integrity; he has denied all the promises made by his party and his campaign organisation. So, it will be improper to expect Buhari to fulfil a promise when he has denied that he ever made one.
“Even Buhari has denied the promises posted on the APC’s website. The first thing is to confirm that he made the promises before anyone can begin to hold him accountable for them,” he argued.
Coming on the heels of these heavy criticisms is the expected defense by the APC promising to keep to whatever promises it made in the cause of the electioneering campaign. In a statement by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said it would not renege on its campaign promises, explaining that the non-implementation of the payment policy so far “is due to the fact that it was not included in the 2015 budget.”
According to Alhaji Mohammed, ‘’Now, the Buhari administration has been busy putting into place
measures that will make it possible to start the implementation of this project. Such measures include the introduction of the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
‘’Had the PDP not sacrificed the truth on the altar of political expediency, it would have realized that the APC never at any time indicated it has reneged on its promise to pay 5,000 Naira monthly to 25 million most vulnerable Nigerians. In our press statement of Aug. 30th 2015, we still reiterated our plan
to redeem our campaign promises, including the social security payment policy, despite the primitive looting of the treasury under the watch of the PDP.
‘’Contrary to the disinformation being peddled by the PDP, the Buhari administration is poised to lift millions of Nigerians out of extreme poverty by providing social protection and safety nets with another 2.5 trillion Naira Special Intervention Fund.’’
The N5000 stipend is not the only promise the APC and President Buhari are finding difficult to keep. They promised one meal per day for all school children across Nigeria to be funded by the federal government and monthly allowance to discharged but unemployed NYSC members. The party argued vehemently about the existence of fuel subsidy and categorically described subsidy as a fraud. However, the APC led federal government has just released N413bn to fuel marketers as subsidy payment.
But analysts are concerned that a party and a president that brazenly denied a document they used in campaigning and wining votes soon after winning election may not be in a hurry to fulfill promises made in the frenzy and pressure of campaigns.