The dimension of 2023 election campaign expected to commence in Septemberhas started to emerge as parties and candidates are putting finishing touches totheir campaign plans.To political watchers, the thesis and anti-thesis being generated ahead of the 2023 general election from media interviews and public discussion on socialmedia seem to be focusing more on issues that do not offer the public ideasand strategy that define policy options to address myriad of local and global challenges requiring urgent attention.
For us at COMBAT, we believe that for the citizens to make the right decision as the election draw near, theability of each of the candidates to address the problems of economy,insecurity and infrastructure etc., should be at the forefront, beyond the controversial issue of restructuring.
Without doubt, the four leading presidential candidates include former VicePresident Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); Asiwaju BolaAhmed Tinubu of the All ProgressivesCongress (APC); Peter Obi of theLabour Party (LP); and Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP). What appeared to becommon among the four leading contenders is the fact that they haveparticipated and won governorship election in their states in the past. Inaddition, they have held different political positions at federallevel.
However, the question begging for answers is what are the impacts oraccomplishments of each candidates in their previous political positionsthat make them as favourite to lead the country to the next level. Attempt to provide answers to this important question will redirect the attention of thestakeholders, especially the public to issue-based campaign, in order tohave wider and positive political and economic impact on the country, unlike campaign ofcalumny which usually pervades our past presidential elections.
It is instructive to note that each of the top candidates has nothing less than eightyears experience of governance which is enough to offer records of performanceto convince the voters on their programmes from the manifestos of theirparties. With the current challenges arising out of Covid-19, global inflationand insecurity, the 2023 campaign provides opportunity to ask thecandidates questions on specific policy issues to move the nation forward.
In the light of the multiple challenges confronting the country, one wouldexpect campaign that focus on how each candidate has contributed in the pastto issues such as true federalism, insecurity, local government administration,revenue generation, power/electricity, transportation, anti-corruption.
For a country desirous to have a government and a leader that will address themultitude of problems in the polity, we at COMBAT strongly identify BAT aheadof others as a presidential candidate whose capability is in tandem with thedesire to move Nigeria to next level, based on the following:Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu stands out among the major contenders inpromotion of democratic consolidation to reposition Nigeria before and duringhis tenure as Lagos State Governor. It is on record that his stand forexpanding frontier of governance through creation of LG and efforts to sustainit despite opposition by the PDP government under Obasanjo and Atiku makes him far better in terms of ability to restructure the country if giving themandate to lead the country. This is incomparable with Peter Obi of LabourParty who refused to allow democratic election of local government chairmenfor eight years while in office.
At inception of democratic system in 1999, it is tradition for states to carryhandout bowls to Abuja for survival until Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubuintroduced intervention in the areas of internal revenue generation (IGR) thatled Lagos State to prosperity. From internal revenue generation (IGR) of N600 million toN20 billion, Lagos became a template for 35 statesand lately Federal Government for expanding revenue generation.
Dissecting Tinubu’s economic track records takes him ahead of othercandidates for being recognised as the visionary person behind the success of LagosState economy as a prelude to transform Nigeria’s economy.
Tinubu pioneered efforts in the country by raising N15 billion through bonds, which is a track recordnone of the candidates can match. The enviable records of performance of BATin eight years in office as governor has sustained the state as the nation’seconomic and commercial capital, and currently 5th largest economy in Africa.
The solution to power problems that gulp $16 billion and privatisation under thePDP government which Atiku Abubakar, as a former vice president played aprominent role remains a mirage, despite efforts of current government to clearthe mess. It is a well-known fact that except Tinubu, none of the other contendershave any past record in terms of power solution. Under the administration ofAsiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Lagos State became the first state that generated electricity through Independent Power Project (IPP) handled by the American company, ENRON, which produced 90MW and improved theelectricity supply in Lagos State.
When it comes to national infrastructure, the transformation of Lagos Statewith innovation that brought into existence Lekki Free Trade Zone, EkoAtlantic City and many road projects that have help in solidifying Lagos’ status asa mega city is enough evidence to identify Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as aright successor to improve on achievements of current APC government in areaof new national infrastructural.
One of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s achievements as governor of Lagos State that stood him outamong the contenders for presidency come 2023 include free educationprogramme for all Lagos State public schools, including free registration forWAEC/NECO exams, bursary/scholarship allowances and upgrading ofschools in the state.
Other areas of pioneering accomplishments are budgetary allocation to thehealth sector from N1.6 billion in 1999 to N11.8 billion in 2006; free malariahealthcare scheme for children and old people, reduction in HIV prevalencefrom 6.7% to 3.5%, Rapid Response Squad (RRS) and distribution of N150million worth of Agricultural inputs to small and medium-scale farmers underthe Lagos State Agricultural Micro-credit Scheme.
Therefore, despite the fuss generated by the party’s primaryelection, especially with the issue of religious balancing of ticketin APC and zoning arrangement of PDP, we in COMBAT see Asiwaju ahead ofall, putting all these parameters and many more to bear.
Senator Adesoji Akanbi is the Initiator, Coalition Movement for Bola Ahmed Tinubu (COMBAT).