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2019: Expectations as political campaigns begin today

…Buhari launches ‘Next Level 2019’, Atiku’s debuts with ‘Peoples Policy Launch’
With the lifting of ban on campaign activities ahead of both 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the expectations of Nigerian electorate are high as they look forward to issue based campaigns.

The high expectations could not be divulged from the fact that myriad of socio-political and economic challenges facing the nation need to be addressed and the electorate are desirous of determining which party or candidate to vote into political offices based on policy thrust presented during campaign tours.

The Daily Times recalls that the present All Progressives Congress (APC) government under President Muhammadu Buhari came to power in 2015 on the platform of its ‘Change Mantra’, promising to correct the many ills identified as hallmark of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

But three and a half years down the line, some people have expressed reservations over the promised change.

With the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as the presidential candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) respectively,

voters now have the opportunity carefully scrutinise the manifestos and programmes of the two major parties before deciding on who to vote for in 2019.

The ruling APC set the ball rolling with the launch on Sunday of President Buhari’s campaign slogan tagged ‘Next Level’.

At the launch held at the State House Conference Centre, Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari appealed to politicians in the country to eschew violence and go about their campaigns peacefully and to avoid divisive tendency that would set the county ablaze.

He told supporters of the governing APC, top party officials and government functionaries at the event that, “I am not unmindful that the National Assembly and the presidential campaign starts today (Sunday). I will employ candidates to go about the campaigns peacefully and decently.

The president said: “We have no other country, let us not set it ablaze because of politics.”

He said that his administration was implementing policies that ensure modernisation of modern projects that will grow the economy.

According to the President, the next four years will be quite significant for the country,

“Nigeria is faced with a choice to keep building a new Nigeria – making a break from its taints of the past which favoured an opportunistic few. Our choices will shape us – our economic security and our future prosperity.

“Nigeria, more than ever, needs a stable and people-focused government to move the agenda for our country forward,” he stated.

Buhari urged Nigerians “join us on the journey to the next level of our nation’s prosperity. He appealed to Nigerians to him a second term mandate, urging contestants to go about their campaigns peacefully.

Speaking further, he said that to succeed, moral integrity and conscience must continue to form the dominant character of “our nation and its leadership.”

He said that corruption is an existential threat to Nigeria, adding “despite that gains we have made in closing the gates, we know that there is still much ground to cover to stop systemic corruption.

We are committed to deepening the work we started this first term such that the nation’s assets and resources continue to be utilised to do good for the common man.”

Buhari said: “We believe that our people who are still in poverty have direct way out and up through our expanded National Social Investment Programme. We believe we can implement the painstaking and comprehensive policy and work we have done to bring an end to the perennial conflict between farmers and herders.

Meanwhile, Atiku Abubakar will kick-start his campaign for president in the 2019 election through an address to the Nigerian people on Facebook at 12 noon today where he will launch his policy document.

In his address, the PDP presidential candidate will present his vision for Nigeria and his action plan to achieve it as encapsulated in his policy document.

The document will promptly be uploaded on his website (www.atiku.org) for all Nigerians to access at no cost.

The decision of Atiku Abubakar to kick-start his presidential campaign with the launch of his policy document is to reiterate his commitment to run an issue based campaign.

The intention is to take his policy directly to Nigerians and to register his belief that it will take the collective efforts of every Nigerian to rebuild the country, hence the reason he wants Nigerians to access the policy directly and ultimately take ownership of it.

“Our campaign offers a simple message: united, the people of Nigeria can begin anew, creating a prosperous and secure future and a better life for every Nigerian.

“On the first working day of the campaign, the PDP and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar, will put forward his plan to get Nigeria working again.

“We have chosen to do this by having the PDP Presidential candidate speaking directly to the Nigerian people on Facebook. This medium came about as part of the telecommunications revolution that he helped start as Vice President in 1999-2007.

“We have also chosen to have our candidate speak online as it facilitates the ability for anyone to download a copy of his policy document at no cost, as we intend this to be the policy of every Nigerian.

“Our policy document focuses on creating jobs, ensuring security, growing business, developing power and water infrastructure, agriculture and education and how we will empower women.

“Our policies outline the goals and methods for developing and revitalising Nigeria as the foundation of our campaign”, said the Atiku’s Presidential Campaign Organisation.

This policy document is being launched to encourage a dialogue with the people of Nigeria, inviting everyone to join in helping to get Nigeria working again.

The PDP presidential candidate, it was said, looks forward to conducting vital discussions as he travels across the length and breadth of Nigeria, meeting and talking with stakeholders: famers, small business people, workers, students, mothers, and children.

Reacting to Buhari’s campaign inauguration, Atiku noted that it is very vague on policy and very big on promises.

He said: “Promises are cheap. Anyone can make promises and indeed, President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress did make quite a number of promises which they either denied or did not fulfil, such as the promise to create 3 million jobs per annum and to equalise the value of the Naira with the dollar.

“However, policies are the plans and roadmaps that will be used to achieve those promises. Promises made without policies are like a house without a foundation, they will fall. And we have seen proof of that in Nigeria in the last three years.

“Without a concrete policy, these ‘next level’ promises are nothing more than next level propaganda. We counsel the Buhari campaign that the time for propaganda has gone and Nigerians are now interested in proper agenda”, he said.

The presidential candidate bemoaned that over the last three and a half years of the Buhari administration, Nigeria was officially named as the world headquarters for extreme poverty.

Speaking through his campaign organisation, Atiku said: “Under this government, 11 million Nigerians have lost their jobs and the administration is so panicky that it has refused to fund the National Bureau of Statistics to release the latest unemployment numbers.

Nigerians are asking if this administration is planning ‘next level’ unemployment for them?

“Under Buhari, the value of the Naira has been so devalued that Bloomberg rated the Naira as the worst performing currency on earth. The nation wants to know if this government plans ‘next level’ devaluation of the Naira for them?

“In 2018, Transparency International announced that Nigeria made her worst ever retrogression in the Corruption Perception Index moving 12 steps backwards from 136 under the Peoples Democratic Party to 144 under Buhari.

Nigerians are asking if this administration is planning ‘next level’ corruption for them?”

Atiku said the so-called ‘next level’ launch was an anti-climax in that it just exposed the fact that all that the Buhari government is promising Nigerians is more of the same.

He urged Nigerians not to lose hope, but to await the launch of the policies, plans and programme of the PDP candidate to Get Nigeria Working Again.

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