Recent decision by President Muhammadu Buhari to renege on the campaign promise of the APC to pay monthly stipend of N5, 000 to vulnerable Nigerians is negatively impacting on the public perception of the party, writes MIKE ODIAKOSE.
President Muhammadu Buhari has finally dashed the expectation of huge population of poor Nigerians that the All Progressives Congress, APC, administration will pay monthly stipend to 25 million most vulnerable Nigerians as promised by the party during the 2015 electioneering campaign.
The Nigerian leaders made the unexpected pronouncement, as usual, from outside the country in the Middle East when he said he would rather invest in infrastructure than share that amount monthly to vulnerable Nigerians.
He said: “This largesse N5,000 for the unemployed, I have got a slightly different priority. I would rather do the infrastructure, the school and correct them and empower agriculture, mining so that every able bodied person can go and get work instead of giving 5,000, N5,000 to those who don’t work.” It will be recalled that All Progressives Congress, APC had during its campaign supported the promise of paying N5, 000 as monthly stipend to the most vulnerable in the country.
In the heat of the campaign and in its desperation to upstage the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the APC had made catalogue of promises to Nigerians. One of the campaign promises that swayed millions of votes to the party was the promise of paying N5, 000 monthly to 25 million Nigerians. Nigerians, especially the down trodden believed the APC will fulfill the campaign promise if the party takes over the leadership of the country.
Even President Buhari’s wife, Hajia Aisha, appears to be among the Nigerian that believed the APC made sincere campaign promise to Nigerians to pay the meager amount to cushion the effect of debilitating poverty in the land. This was the reason Hajia Aisha Buhari came out last year to appeal to APC to commence the payment of the N5, 000 monthly stipend after several months of arguments, denials and debates over what APC actually promised Nigerians during the electioneering campaign.
Hajia Aisha Buhari issued a press statement from the blues where she charged the APC to stop reneging and fulfill their campaign promises to Nigerians, especially the payment of N5, 000 to 25 million unemployed Nigerians.
According to a statement signed by her Special Assistant on Media, Adebisi Ajayi, Hajia Aisha Buhari also urged the party to fulfil its promise of giving school children one free meal a day.
Hajia Buhari said in the statement that the APC must keep its words.
“The APC is a party of integrity and has assured Nigerians during the campaign that it will pay N5, 000 each month to 25 million most vulnerable citizens.
“Nigerians should be patient with the APC government as the change they had been yearning for has come to stay,” she said.
The APC also got the clear message from the President’s wife that she will not be party to any deceit or attempt to renege of campaign promises after Nigerians had given the party their mandate. If the party initially had intention to dance around their campaign promises the strong signal from the President’s wife made them beat a hasty retreat. Late last year the party officially came out to assure Nigerians that it will not renege on its campaign promise to pay N5, 000 each monthly to 25 million most vulnerable Nigerians.
In a statement issued in Abuja by its former National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the APC said it has devised creative means not only to pay the money but also to fulfill its other campaign promises to Nigerians.
It said the non-implementation of the payment policy so far is due to the fact that it was not included in the 2015 budget, which was prepared by the PDP-led administration, and also because of the need to first block all financial leakages.
“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).
To buttress the position of APC, the Minister of Youths and Sports, Mr Solomon Dalong, reiterated when he paid a condolence visit to the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, at the national secretariat in Abuja on the demise of Prince Abubakar Audu, the late governorship candidate of the party in Kogi State election that the Federal Government will commence the payment of the N5,000 stipend to the unemployed Nigerian youths will commence this year.
He regretted that the payment could not take off immediately in 2015 because it was not included in last year’s budget.
Said he: “I would want the youths to understand that every promise must be backed up by budgetary provision and our promise to pay N5000 is not contained in the 2015 budget. So, definitely, it is going to begin in 2016 as we have made budgetary allocations for that.”
Nigerians are scandalized that apart from reneging on its campaign promise, the presidency is bringing a new dimension to the issue by claiming that it was the APC that made the promise to pay N5, 000 monthly stipend and not its then presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari.
The Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, brought the new dimension while speaking to newsmen.
Conscious of the fact that Nigerians are suspecting that the APC used promises it had no intention of keeping to fraudulently obtain votes during the last general election, the minister of information Alhaji Lai Mohammed has come out with alibi on why the APC-led federal government of President Muhammadu Buhari has to renege on some of the campaign promises made before the last general elections
Speaking on Channels TV on Sunday, February 28, the minister explained that when the All Progressives Congress was campaigning and making of those promises, the price of crude was $100 a barrel, but now it is $30 a barrel.
“When you campaign, you say you will do A,B, C, but when you win election, you prioritise. “We are still faithful to those promises, but as you have rightly said, when we were campaigning the price of crude was $100 a barrel, today it is $30 a barrel so definitely, we will have to downsize some of the things intended to do but this does not mean abandoning those promises.
“You do not make a budget for four years, you make an annual budget and in this year’s budget, we have outlined those parts of the policy that we intend to keep. “Those we cannot keep this year, we will keep in 2017, 2018 and 2019. This is how government works,” he said.
Feelers from across the country indicate that Nigerians are unimpressed with the alibi Lai Mohammed was attempting to create for the administration to evade fulfilling its campaign promises. Ekiti state governor, Ayo Fayose, who has been keeping the APC on its toes since it came into power, spoke the mind of millions of Nigerians in his reaction to Buhari’s u-turn in payment of N5, 000 stipends to vulnerable Nigerians.
Fayose accused President Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress of obtaining the votes of Nigerians by trick.
His words: “Everything Buhari and his party promised Nigerians when they were looking for votes, they have denied and it won’t be a surprise if one day, Buhari comes out to even deny that he was elected on the platform of APC.
The Ekiti governor, who spoke through his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, added that “They have not fulfilled any of the promises they made to Nigerians. In fact, they have even told us that they never made any promise. It is close to one year that Buhari assumed office; no single job has been created. Instead of the three million jobs per year that they promised, what we have been witnessing is job losses, economic hardship and budget padding.”
Observers of political development in the country are of the view that President Buhari urgently needs to go back to the drawing board to reappraise most of the decisions and policies his government is churning out as his popularity rating across the country has continued to nose dive. It is believed that close aides of Mr. President may be shielding the true feelings of Nigerians to their principal over these unpopular policies that are further improvising hapless Nigerians. The angst against the policies of the administration is getting to its zenith as demonstrated last week at Wuse Market, Abuja, where a school proprietress that went to purchase several brooms for her school was almost mobbed by angry Northern youths who mistook her for APC chieftain. These same youths were the ones that were shouting “Sai Buhari” less than one year ago.