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The Explainer: Have the presidential candidates answered important questions about Nigeria’s economy?

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The Explainer: Have the presidential candidates answered important questions about Nigeria's economy?

The 2023 general elections will be the first time since 2007 that the incumbent president will not be on the ballot. This has created a level playing field for candidates contesting in the election, especially the top three candidates. 

Currently, campaigns are still ongoing ahead of the elections. The campaign period has become an avenue for presidential candidates to address topical issues and make promises to voters on what they plan to do once elected. 

Since a presidential debate for all candidates seems unlikely given antecedents, it has become necessary to see if the major candidates have answered some important questions. 

In an earlier article, questions were asked regarding what the presidential candidates needed to do to improve the country. Taking a look at the manifestoes of the three major candidates and political parties (in the order of their release), this article will examine their plans for the economy based on their manifestoes. 

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Atiku Abubakar of the PDP 

Atiku was the vice president of the country between 1999-2007 under president Olusegun Obasanjo. He is no stranger to the Nigerian political scene. He has unsuccessfully contested in presidential primaries since 2007 and was the flag bearer of his party in 2007, 2019, and 2023. On May 28, 2022, Atiku was declared the winner of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and weeks later, he chose the governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, as his running mate. 

Atiku unveiled a 74-page manifesto titled “My Covenant with Nigerians”, detailing his plans for the country. 

Exchange rate: The candidate plans to maintain exchange rate stability and institutionalize fiscal discipline. 

Fuel subsidy: The candidate plans to immediately review government spending on PMS subsidies to free up fiscal resources for the government. 

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Nigerian exports: The candidate plans to do a comprehensive review of the Non-oil sector. Also, plans to increase the non-oil sector consisting of primary & processed commodities to contribute 20% to GDP by 2030. 

Taxation Revenue: The candidate plans a lot of tax reforms which include simplifying personal and corporate tax filings and creating a transparent corporate tax register, tackling multiple taxations, making the tax environment investment friendly, tax breaks & rebates to MSMEs and SMPs, harmonizing state and federal tax laws. 

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Unemployment: The candidate plans to solve unemployment through four pillars of job creation which are hinged on, A growing economy, A productive MSMEs sector, innovative skills & entrepreneurship programs, and policy & institution strengthening. 

Inflation rate: The candidate plans to bring inflation to the single digits. 

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Education system: The candidate plans the provision of affordable and approachable quality education up to the secondary level. Also, plans to commit at least 25 per cent of the annual budget to education. 

  • Also, plans for the devolution of power in the educational sector to see respective state governments take up monitoring of federal and unity schools located in their area, among others. Also, plans to reward high-performing states in education. 
  • The candidate also plans to encourage private-public partnership, construction and rehabilitation of current infrastructures, and the review of the educational curriculum. 

Healthcare provision: The candidates’ plans for the healthcare sector are hinged on seven pillars which are; Undertake administrative reforms, facilitate universal health coverage, expand access to primary healthcare, improve care and clinical governance, unlock market potential of the healthcare sector, healthcare delivery initiative, and Increasing the number of professionals in the Health Sector 

Electricity supply: The candidate plans to upgrade the power transmission grid, empower the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, and Intensify rural electrification projects to ensure electricity access to over 85 million Nigerians currently without access to grid electricity. 

Bola Tinubu of the APC

The former governor of Lagos State between 1999 to 2007 and a one-time senator is currently contesting under the All Progressive Congress (APC), a party he was instrumental to its establishment. Tinubu alongside his running mate, Kashim Shettima released an 80-page document titled “Renewed Hope, 2023.” 

Exchange rate: The candidate plans to work with the Central Bank and the financial sector to carefully review and better optimize the exchange rate regime. 

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Fuel subsidy: The candidate plans to phase out the fuel subsidy yet maintain the underlying social contract between the government and the people. Also, plans to use funds that would have been used for subsidy for targeted infrastructural, agricultural and social welfare programs. 

Nigerian export: The candidate plans on investing in the agricultural sector to diversify the economy. 

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Taxation Revenue: The candidate plans to create a progressive tax regime, plug harmful loopholes, enhance the efficiency of collection and give the people a greater sense of responsibility concerning their taxes. Also, plans to introduce tax luxury, tax rebates, and tax credits where necessary. 

Unemployment: The candidate plans to create new jobs, and reduce youth unemployment by half within four years. 

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Inflation rate: The candidate plans to studiously assess the sources and causes of inflation and deploy the right mix of fiscal and monetary tools to contain it. 

Oil revenue: The candidate plans to safeguard oil revenue by curbing oil theft – he plans to establish a Special Enforcement and Monitoring Unit whose sole mandate will be to protect the nation’s pipelines by deploying technological interventions (stationary aerial monitoring platforms, drones) towards curbing production disruptions. 

Education system: The candidate plans to restructure and improve education in the country through educational infrastructure. Also, improve tertiary education through student loans and special education funds. 

Healthcare provision: The candidate plans to improve healthcare through, healthcare sector governance & leadership, equity and quality primary & secondary healthcare, preventive care, health financing & National Health Insurance, caring for healthcare workers and Jon creation, the next public health emergency, domestic research, and Mental Health and Drug Abuse. 

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Electricity supply: Improve electricity through generation and transmission targets, eliminate estimated billing, support for domestic manufacturing of electricity meters, renewable energy plans, rural electrification, power sector governance reform, and Nigeria’s first power policy. 

Peter Obi of the Labour Party 

The former Anambra State governor served between 2007 to 2014. Peter Obi according to reports has created a third force in the Nigerian political space ahead of the election following his cross carpeting to Labor Party (LP). Alongside his running mate, Yussuf Datti Baba-Ahmed unveiled a 72-page manifesto titled: IT’S POSSIBLE: OUR PACT WITH NIGERIANS. 

Exchange rate: The candidate plans to simplify the exchange rate regime, but discontinue multiple exchange rates. 

Fuel subsidy: The candidate plans to incentivize the mid-stream segment of the petroleum sector by encouraging private-owned small and medium-scale refineries or modular refineries, to help reduce the importation of refined petroleum. 

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Nigerian exports: The candidate intends to shift emphasis from consumption to production by running a production-centred economy, which is also export-oriented. 

Taxation Revenue: The candidate plans to empower the federal and state ministries of finance to harmonize taxes and tax databases, consolidate all tax databases into one centralized system, and determine tax delineation. 

Unemployment: In solving unemployment, the candidate plans to empower the youths with digital skills to get offshore jobs in the new gig economy. Also, create jobs through the sports, creative, electricity, and other sectors. 

Public revenue: The candidate plans to cut the cost of governance. Also, promptly review the recommendations of the Steve Oronsaye Commission on the restructuring of the Federal Civil Service for implementation.  

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Education system: The candidate plans to create educational policies such as “No Child Left Behind” and address the funding of UBEC and TETFUND. Also, the Ministry of Education plans to work out a Public-Private model that involves private corporations assuming funding and managerial responsibilities in a specially restructured taxation plan. 

Healthcare provision: The candidate plans to commit at least 15 per cent of the annual budget to healthcare. Also, stop medical tourism, and encourage public-private financing of healthcare. Also, provide cover for the 133 million poorest Nigerians including pregnant women, children, the elderly, and people living with disabilities. 

Electricity supply: The candidate plans to improve the electricity sector through transmission, generation, distribution, and financing. This includes improving the national grid and completing the $2.3 billion Nigeria -Siemens network improvement deal. Also, solar power revolution across the country, especially in the north. The creation of 100,000 mini-grids by the end of 2024, and deliver 5,000 direct jobs and 100,000 indirect jobs in the Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry (NESI). 

The manifestos of the three leading political candidates show their plans for the country if elected. As Nigerians go into the polls in the coming weeks, they must vote for who best answers the questions raised in this article. 

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