Nigerians To Presidential Candidates – Tell Us How You Intend To Provide Affordable Housing
Since the campaigns began some weeks ago, ahead of next February presidential poll, candidates of the different political parties in Nigeria have been touring different parts of the country to seek support from Nigerians towards the success of their ambition.
In the course of the on-going campaign, the candidates have been unfolding their agenda on restructuring, economy, power, corruption, among others.
The high expectation among Nigerians is that the next president should reposition the country and put it back on the pact of prosperity.
Some Nigerians say there is the need for greater scrutiny of the manifestos of the presidential candidates in the on-going campaign and that the candidates must be more serious and definite about what their intentions are and how they hope to bring about the desired change.
Across Nigeria, there is the yearning for that right leader that would reshape the country and guarantee good governance in view of the worsening state of affairs in every sector.
“I think some of them can be more convincing on how they would implement their agendas. In western societies, it is on the basis of your vision that you are elected. But here in Nigeria they think they can subvert the system and that is why some of them don’t even want to attend debate,” Kunle Okuade, Political analyst, said.
Okuade noted that he is not impressed with the agendas of some of the presidential candidates and solutions they had offered to tackle them, stressing that it was an indication that they are far from Nigerians.
According to him, “It is obvious they are just riding on the intelligence of Nigerians. Except for one or two, most of them don’t even know the problems facing us well enough, not to talk of having solutions. For me, part of the problem is because they are far from the masses. It is up to the electorate to decide next February, but I don’t expect much from these candidates.”
Many Nigerians are not satisfied with the quality of conversation going on and the promises being made by the presidential candidates.
Contributing to discussion on housing agenda on HDAN platform , Mr Femi oyedele, a respected Estate surveyor said none of them is giving housing serious attention because housing, though a basic need, is not in the front burner of our list of needs in Nigeria. Despite the huge housing deposit of about 20 million housing units, we are still coping. So none of the major presidential candidates is giving housing provision its due prominence. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s manifesto is an 8-point agenda highlighting SECURITY, ECONOMY, AGRICULTURE, POWER, OIL AND GAS, INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORTATION AND EDUCATION. Asiwaju said he will “make basic healthcare, education and housing affordable and accessible”. Considering the fact that he built only 6,000 housing units in 8 years as the governor of Lagos State, one may need to be sceptical about this promise. HDAN will need to look for corporate partners in the housing products manufacturing and real estate development like Lafarge and Dangote Group, Crosgrove and Julius Berger to organise a break session for one or all the presidential candidates. This will afford HDAN of knowing their actual plans for housing.
HDAN director, Festus Adebayo says housing is top in the mind of electorate but wonders why it is not giving serious attention. We cannot vote on the basis of religion and tribe and except a greater Nigeria.
Also Remi Sonaiya, a former presidential candidate of KOWA Party, said it has been the same old story without substance and depth.
“We are talking about the need for issue-based campaign. But what have we been hearing? Where is the robust conversation; when even some candidates refuse to participate in debates? These debates should offer us the opportunity to listen to them and compare them,” she said.
Sonaiya, who was the keynote speaker at an event themed, ‘Roadmap for electing female governor in 2027’ organised by Africa Agriculture Agenda ( a subsidiary of Surveillance Media Limited), said: “ We have a country ravished by serious insecurity. Disunity, corruption, among others; what the question should be is what kind of leader do we need now? But what we see in our country is those aspiring to lead ignoring the major challenges. They term those who are calling on them to address the real need of the country as disgruntled. That is what we see.”
Speaking in tandem, Olisa Agbakoba, a senior partner, Olisa Agbakoba Legal (OAL), in an interview with BusinessDay SUNDAY, said he was yet to see the quality of debates he expected from the presidential candidates.
“I will want the quality of the debates to be a bit more engaging, a bit more detailed. For instance, if a candidate is asked, what is your programme on poverty? If he answers that, I will eliminate poverty, that’s not an answer. I’d like to see something specific. And as I
said, the way to know a candidate who is genuine about programme is to have
some details because the basic power of the president is in his budget, as
happens abroad, but it doesn’t happen here,” he said.
According to him, “I would have wished that some of the candidates would say if I’m elected, this is my likely estimate, I’m going to be spending money on crucial areas that can eliminate poverty; improve on education, tackle unemployment, improve on health, I’m going to spend less money. I’m going to run a very lean government. So, we can see from the candidate’s manifesto what type of person he will be but that’s not been done which makes it a bit hard for the voters to pick, but the bottom line is, if you want to have your life turn around, you must put somebody in office who will best project and protect you.”
Agbakoba, who also is a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), had recently presented a document by his company titled: ‘Policy Report 2022; Big Issues for the 2023 general elections.’
“We thought that the candidates’ manifestoes should have emphasised a lot more about ‘the how to’, not just about ‘will.’ A lot of the manifestos say, ‘we will’, ‘we shall;’ we would like them to be specific on how to tackle the challenges,” Agbakoba said.
Public Affairs Analyst and senior lawyer, Idowu Omolegan blamed the electorate for being docile; adding that the candidates know that their manifestos or suggestions they give on how they tackle Nigeria’s problems may not be the deciding factor.
“I think it is a combination of many factors, some candidates have been talking and telling us how they would implement their agenda, others are not doing the same.
“But I think it is because they know Nigerians don’t look at all that. On Election Day, the voting pattern would be based on; party, ethnicity and religion bases. These candidates know,” Omolegan said.
Speaking recently at a book presentation, former governor of Cross River State, Liyel Imoke enjoined Nigerian leaders and candidates to commit themselves to finding solutions to the challenges facing the country.
Imoke said rather than sit down to lament the country’s problems, leaders should focus on working hard toward solving problems.
According to him, “We are still evolving as a developing country, and we must remain optimistic despite challenges. Yes, we may all sit back and lament our predicament, but what is important for us is to seek solutions to our problems.”
After more than two decades since the return to democratic rule, Nigeria is still beset with combating vices that trailed prolonged years of military dictatorship in the country.
From the tenure of Olusegun Obasanjo to the late Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan as well as the incumbent Muhammadu Buhari, the sore points include the bad state of the economy, mass poverty, insecurity, corruption, infrastructure decay, unemployment among others.
Each successive administration has taken initiatives to tackle those challenges that have continued to deny the citizenry the real benefits of democracy.
However, there is the general conclusion that these policies and initiatives have made little impact to improve the living condition of Nigerians. Many observers say it is obvious that these administrations have not really satisfied the yearnings of the people, particularly, the incumbent administration.
Under the current administration, the country, the observers noted, has maintained the infamous title of world poverty capital, according to the World Bank since 2016. The World Bank data has shown that four in every ten Nigerians live below the poverty line of $1.9 per day.
In light of the recently released report by the NBS on the high poverty rate in Nigeria, Agbakoba urged presidential candidates who had earlier released their manifestos to go back to the drawing board in order to capture the realities on ground in their documents.
“The candidates may need to look at their manifestoes again in relation to the newly released poverty index. The manifestos are good but they could incorporate a lot more. We want to hear them tell us how they want to address the issues they have raised in their manifestos. They have good intentions, but how are they going to go about delivering on those intentions? This is what we are calling their attention to,” he said.
Four candidates are seen as front runners in the February 25th2023 election, they are; Bola Tinubu, of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP), Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP).