…Vote for the candidates who participate and mentally alert, the ex-governor of Kwara accuses Nigerians
…Campaign promises are not important for voters’ choice of leaders – Fayemi
Interior Minister Rauf Aregbesola has blamed the country’s poor state of development on the country’s huge unemployed population. This is even when the Minister called for a review of the nation’s federalism model to allow the federative units to unlock their various potentials for the benefit of the country and its people.
The Minister made this point at a day-long dialogue on monitoring campaign promises for good governance, organized by the online tabloid NPO Reports in Abuja.
Aregbesola dismissed the perception in some circles that once elected, politicians don’t care about delivering on the election promises they made, noting that as governor of Osun state, he regularly monitored his performance against set targets.
“Why does Nigeria have challenges? It is simple! We have no income. A country of 200 million with less than 10 percent working and productive and you think there will be development? Not! Development is impossible. There is no income. Even our per capita income from oil, assuming nothing is taken from it, is nothing.
“There is a knowledge gap, and I don’t want to sound self-righteous. There is a lot of confusion, but there should be no confusion. Nigeria is not the only federation in the world. Australia is a federation.
“India is a federation; America is a federation just like Brazil. How do other federations work? There is no third level of government in a federation. There are only two levels of government in a federation. We need to educate ourselves on what a federation is.
“How do federations work and why should ours be any different? Why local governments don’t work in Nigeria? Why local governments are working in India? Why are you working in Germany and the United States? They are not working here because they are not self-sufficient. Counties and municipalities, which are the equivalent of local governments, are self-financing.
“Here they only live on alms and that’s where the challenge comes from. What is wrong is not what the media sees. No recipient of the brochure can be held responsible.
“Whoever depends on alms cannot be responsible. He will be responsible for the origin of the money. If you ask him to run, he will run. There is no dignity in charity. This is where Nigeria is having challenges,” Aregbesola said.
On the importance of monitoring the implementation of projects based on election campaign promises, the Minister said: “As governor, I had the Office of Social Services, which was a general institutional body that made sure that all the government programs. His acronym was BOSS, and his job was to serve as the boss. His job was to make sure that everything we set out to do was evaluated and reported.
“In my office, I had a body called the Politics and Economics Team. The body was to make sure that whatever the governor set out to do was done. On my own, every two years, I hired consultants to do an open assessment of our administration, to gauge the government’s perception of how people expected us to perform,” he added.
For his part, the immediate former Governor of Kwara State, Abdulfatai Ahmed, urged Nigerians to seek out those who have what it takes mentally and intellectually to fulfill their campaign promises.
While he did not name any names, the former governor added that those with a genuine desire to serve the people should be willing to engage with them to discuss the “how” of their strategies to address governance challenges, if elected.
“What is the quality of those who are making the campaign promises? Do we bother to check your abilities to perform the jobs? Do we check your suitability? Shall we check your mental alertness? These are areas that are also relevant to making our choices.
“This is 2023 and we are faced with another great task of electing new leaders who will shape this country. How well are we involved in looking at those who are going to run? Have we checked to see if they have the mental acuity to push through those campaign promises encapsulated in the budget?
“Have they been able to commit to us on how they are going to do it? Anyone can say anything. How have they demonstrated knowledge of the issues on which they are making pledges? If they haven’t been able to tell us how through one-on-one engagement, then they’re not ready.”
That being said, the former Kwara state governor added that campaign promises need to be seen in the light of what is captured in the fiscal budget to force politicians to deliver on their promises.
“Campaign promises are made because those who want to advance governance mean well to do those things. Usually people make promises before governments come into being.
“The moment he is elected, reality hits him and now he begins to see what is feasible and what is not. And that’s encapsulated in what we call the budget.
“The budget is a key area to measure what has been done and what has not been done. To what extent have we been able to tie campaign promises to the budget? If we agree that the man has promised to do A, B and C, have we been able to trace those promises encapsulated in the budget?
“The budgeting systems are carried out through the contributions of the members of the State or National Assemblies. How have we been engaging our members of the National Assembly?” she asked.
However, the event chairperson and former Ekiti State Governor, while stressing the importance of following up on promises made by politicians, said there have been cases where elected officials failed to deliver on election promises made by politicians. causes beyond their control.
“Ado-Akure road is a dilapidated road, very bad, and we promised that we would fix it when we got to the office.
“When the president, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (ret.), also came to the campaign, he promised that he would fix that road. When we got to the office, we started the process. We went ahead and got some funds from the African Development Bank with the governments of those states to fix the road.
“Then the Federal Government said, ‘You can’t fix our path. Don’t use that money to fix that road. We will fix our road and we are about to award the contract.’ We were trapped. In the end, we had to transfer the funds we obtained to the Federal Government, which is the sovereign lender anyway.
“They are lending on our behalf because the African Development Bank will not lend money to a state. They lend to the Federal Government on behalf of the states that applied.
“Then the well-intentioned Federal Ministry of Works decided they were going to take the money and they did. At the time, the FG had awarded the road and the bank now said, well, ‘if we’re going to approve this, you need to make sure that your procurement process meets global standards.
“The Federal Government said that we could not fix the road and put a toll on it. In the end, the FG did not take the money. The contractor who was awarded the road had to be taken off the road. Therefore, there may be reasons why promises are not kept. I’m not saying this is always the case,” he said, adding that a pandemic like COVID-19 can also make it impossible for politicians to keep the promises they’ve made.
As important as tracking campaign promises is, Fayemi doesn’t think campaign promises have anything to do with shaping how Nigerians vote during elections.
He continued: “Do the citizens base their votes on promises, especially where populism reigns? You may find that people don’t even remember the promises politicians have made.
“They just decide that ‘this is the way we’re going.’ Ah, I love this politician, he is charismatic, has a nice personality and is on the road eating bolli (roasted plantain) with us. That other one speaks a lot of grammar.
And instead of insisting on the campaign promises of the candidates, the former governor of Ekiti state said that emphasis should be placed on the manifestos of the political parties.
“Political parties publish manifestos and those are the things to track. The four main political parties that we are looking at now have published their manifestos. If any of them come to take office, we have a basis to track them in what is officially disclosed in the party manifestos,” he stated.
Earlier, the former national commissioner of the Independent National Election Commission, Professor Lai Olurode, called on Nigerians to take an active role in holding leaders accountable for their promises, particularly those made during election campaigns.