It is up to seventy-nine days to the 2023 general election, and presidential candidates are taking their campaigns around the country.
A former president of the Nigerian Bar Association, Olisa Agbakoba, while making his observations about the ongoing campaign, says candidates should do more to proffer solutions to Nigeria’s existential threats.
For the Senior lawyer and activist. the present realities in Nigeria make the 2023 polls ae defining moment, which it says raises the need for a thorough search for who will succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, Olisa Agbokoba has now released a policy report of some of the big concerns which should be addressed by the next president.
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The document also offers solutions which it wants presidential candidates to consider and include into their agendas as a way to hit the Nigeria’s political and economic transformation.
Mr Agbakoba said this is the most issue based elections in the history of Nigeria, a good opportunity for the candidates and electorates to contribute to the country’s rebirth.
Mr Agbakoba Speaking about his policy document released on TVCBreakfast said politicians are generally more interested in themselves than in the nation.
“We have at least three major fault lines ethnic, religion, and language. The politicians, unfortunately, have played into this and created the most divided country in the last eight years.
“The issues in the current electoral cycle is very exciting, because for the first time, we have real issues thrown up by all the candidates. I’ve read them and I complement all the candidates, at least for the first time, focusing on some of the issues which, if implemented by whoever wins, is likely to see a new Nigeria, and that’s what we are pray for.
According to Mr Agbakoba, in the last eight years, in the 2019 elections, there were no issues. 2015, none. 2011, none. So the fact that we have issues today is very encouraging.
“All the candidates speak about how they will unite Nigeria, they all recognise the divisions that we have. All the candidates speak to the issue of insecurity, so they recognise that that’s a problem. All the candidates speak to the issue of restructuring, even though they do it in different ways, All the candidates speak to the issue of mass poverty, so at least they recognize what Nigerians are looking for.
“What I thought was a bit missing, which is why I would encourage the candidates to perhaps take a second look at their manifestos, is the issue of insecurity.
“Insecurity started in the Boko Haram area, and it’s like a small mustard seed that has absolutely swallowed up Nigeria. Some candidates say that they will upgrade the police force to about 1 million, Others say they will look at the Lake Chad area, which is a very hostile area for Al Qaeda activity in west Africa. But whatever they need to do, What’s important is for them is to be able to provide clear cut solutions that we as voters can say yes, this candidate seems to be the one who, if voted, is likely to deal with the problem.
“The other point that was raised in our report concerns the local government structure. I thought the candidates should have addressed that in more detail. 90% of Nigerians reside at the local government region, I’d like to see the candidates speak to the issue of protecting the funding of local governments. Right now we know that state governments take all their money and give them whatever they want.
“I’ll like for the candidates to really tighten up that part of their manifesto, we need to see a democratically elected local government structure in 2003. So some of the candidates need to speak to that issue in a more aggressive way.
Speaking about the matter of insecurity, Mr Agbakoba noted that it is important to identify insecurity as a big issue, and in doing so, the candidates need to spend a bit more time reflecting on the nature of the security architecture that they will put in place if elected.
The candidates need to consider the importance of space technology as none of them have addressed that issue.
He spoke further saying resolving the issue of insecurity is not a big issue but what is most important is for the candidates to be very clear in their manifesto as to exactly what they will do if elected to resolve the issue of insecurity.
Speaking on local government autonomy, the former Nigerian Bar Association President said the local government structure is not working.
” It’s not rocket science,. If you want the local governments to work, then I need to hear a presidential candidate say, I’m going to make it work. President Buhari was very correct when he indicated that most state governors do not fund the local governments to the extent budgeted from the federation accounts, and that is why they’re not developing.
“A recent poverty report just came out indicating that 133 million Nigerians, live in abject poverty. Education, health, living standards and employment. The only way you can turn this around is if you have a new government structure close to their people.
“But if the state governments of whatever party would continue the practice of disabling the local government process, we are not going to go anywhere, We’ll just have another four years, and in 2027 we will be probably 200 million Nigerians in abject poverty. It is therefore fundamental that whoever comes into office will take practical, immediate steps to correct that anomaly, Agbakoba said..