Just as parties try to distinguish themselves in terms of nomenclature and brands, manifesto remains one of the key areas of distinguishing factors amongst political parties. Manifestoes define plans, programmes and broad policy directions that a political party articulates as its plan of action when voted into power in an election. Wikipedia puts it succinctly. According to the free encyclopedia, a manifesto is a published verbal declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government.
As part of the ongoing electioneering and campaign season, political parties are expected to present their manifestoes to the electorate to enable them assess development programmes and policies they have mapped out to implement if voted into power. The electorate are expected to vote for candidates standing for election on the basis of their manifestos and personal track records.
Experts say that a manifesto is as important to both politicians and electorates in party politics as anything because it provides the ideological direction of the party and blueprint for its development aspirations. For the electorate, it’s the window through which they peep into the inner soul of a party and see through litany of promises candidates and their campaign team make during electioneering season. “In order to advance the reasons for the choice of the party’s policy direction, the party might have to give a background to the particular problems that the country or state is facing in that particular area. By providing this background before spelling out its plans on how to solve the problems, the political party, through its manifesto, enlightens the people on the peculiar problems of the country and how they can be dealt with”, explains Mr. Macdonald Uzoh, a political scientist.
The manifesto also becomes a yard-stick for measuring success or failures of political parties in power. Our findings show that Nigerian political parties and their elected officials hardly look at their manifestos once they are sworn in after winning election, even when they made spirited efforts to campaign on the basis of mouth-watering promises in the document. The people are therefore able to determine whether the party has been able to fulfill its political promises or not and to what extent it has done so.
For instance, General Muhammadu Buhari enthusiastically signed a social contract with the Nigerian electorate which contained some lofty promises espoused under the campaign slogan- CHANGE. Amongst the promises was “empowerment scheme to employ 740,000 graduates across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory; establishment of a free-tuition and scholarship scheme for pupils who have shown exceptional aptitude in science subjects at O/Levels to study ICT-related courses; 720,000 jobs by the 36 states in the federation per annum (20,000 per state) and three million jobs per year”.
Many Nigerians can easily hold Mr. Buhari accountable based on these promises if he was unable to provide evidence of achievement on those promises or credible reasons why he failed, when he finally began to seek re-election in 2019.
Incidentally, Orient Daily findings show that candidates of most political parties contesting for the Anambra governorship election have no handy copies of their party manifestos; and those who have not been proactive in selling their manifestoes to the electorate, merely gave vague and conflicting statements on their electoral promises.
Further checks reveal that their campaign speeches hardly flow from or synchronize with the agenda set in their manifestos. “Nigerian politicians contesting for elective positions, whether executive positions or legislative seats often speak extempore and as their spirits directs and based on what they feel people want to hear at that moment, and that is why many of them end up making promises that they cannot redeem when they come to power”, says Mr. Austin Okoro, a public affairs analyst.
Barrister Ebuka Aniekwe, a human rights activist and lawyer, who noted that even those parties who have manifestos often disregard them, however blamed the development on the lack of political enlightenment amongst the electorate which politicians take advantage of.
“People are only interested in what they will gain, how much they will get, what they politicians are offering in monetary terms and not what they will offer when they get to power.
According to him, “90 per cent of what APC have in their manifesto which they pledged prior to 2015 election has not been fulfilled, yet nobody has thought it wise to hold them accountable. We are the only people who should hold our leaders responsible as it were, especially in Nigeria, nobody has held anybody accountable. So, it still boils down to us, we the masses that are being hoodwinked. We, the masses that are going to vote, what do we want? We have not been able to do anything.”
Incidentally, the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), which has been in power in Anambra State since 2004, is one of the political parties that does not have clear agenda on youth empowerment and job creation. In fact, the only place the party’s manifesto came close to articulating a plan for youths and jobs was under its sub-heading YOUTH, SPORTS & CULTURE. In its number 7, APGA pledged: “Will encourage in more concrete terms, youth who are involved in sports, athletics through the provision of better facilities for training and recreation. In the same vein, our national sports team shall receive full government support at all times and youth who excel in this pursuit will receive national recognition.
However, APGA’s candidate and incumbent Governor, Willie Obiano has been making pledges on youth empowerment, with skill acquisition featuring on his agenda. For instance, Obiano declared recently at the 2017 2nd Synod of Cathedral Church of St. Silas, Ihiala, that his vision was that every youth should be meaningful engaged to reduce the involvement of youths in anti-social activities and criminality.
His words: “Before I became governor, security situation was bad, several youths were seen idle on the streets. But today, I have tackled insecurity by engaging the youths meaningfully in different skills and agriculture. We are doing this to transform the lives of our youths positively.”
The national ruling party is one of the parties with clear policy on job creation but nothing concrete on youth empowerment. In its vision statement, APC claims it is “committed to the primary purpose of good governance which is the welfare of Nigerians and shall strive to eliminate poverty and create job opportunities for all.”
The APC job creation promise reads: “Embark on vocational training, entrepreneurial and skill acquisitions scheme for graduates along with the creation of small Business Loan Guarantee Scheme to create at least 1 million new jobs every year, for the foreseeable future.”
Meanwhile, the APC candidate for the Anambra governorship election, Tony Nwoye has made the following promises on youth empowerment and job creation: “Provide opportunities for skill acquisition and capacity building through local and international trainings; facilitate grants to enable our youths to own their businesses/soft loans (interest free) to young business people through the various duly registered and recognised market associations”.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) which ruled Nigeria between May 1999 and May 2015 has job creation and youth empowerment clearly spelt out in its manifesto. On ‘job creation and youth empowerment’, the party said it would focus primarily on human development capital anchored on education and sustainable developmental goals (SDGs).
Although it gave little details on what exactly should be expected of the party in this regard, the manifesto professed that youth unemployment would be tackled through vocational training and certification.
The party emphatically stated that if elected, it would establish a social welfare safety net as it focuses on industrialisation and commerce anchored on sustainable security architecture.
Meanwhile, the PDP candidate, Oseloka Obaze has said he would commit himself to achieving everything contained in the party manifesto in a single four-year term in office, stressing that it would be four years committed to intensive and productive hard work.
“I have committed myself and my administration to a single four-year term in office – 2018-2022. It will be four years of intensive and productive hard work. Our focus will be primarily on human development capital anchored on education and sustainable development goals (SDGs).
“We will also tackle youth unemployment through vocational training and certification. We will establish a social welfare safety net as we focus on industrialisation and commerce anchored on sustainable security architecture.”
For the People’s Redemption Party (PRP), one of the parties that prides itself as pro-poor and socialist oriented political organisation in the country, youth empowerment and job creations remain a crucial factor in its development agenda. The PRP defines the youths as “the active vessels that moves the state” and so need to be adequately engaged and empowered by the state to curb crime in the society.
The party’s youth empowerment policy reads: “Youth self-sufficiency in agriculture, promote skills acquisition through youth empowerment in agriculture, education, plumbing, mechanical, electricians and others”.
The PRP candidate for the Anambra governorship election, Mr. Stephen Obiora Mbah, has pledged that his government will “make sure the youth see agriculture as a lucrative business that will help their lives. Also, skills acquisition will be provided in every sector of life. This will help the youths of the state in whatever they do to earn a living.
“In the area of job creation, lesser subjects will be assigned to teachers to enable them perform. In so doing, more jobs will be created in the educational sector. Also, in the sporting sector facilities will be improved to engage the youths, this will not only help the state in doing well in sports but also create jobs and empowerment.”
The Labour Party, which describe itself as a democratic socialist party, says it is interested in creating the enablement for the masses to realise their true potential in a manner that “power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few, where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe, and where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect.”
However, not much was said by the party on the issue of job creation and youth empowerment instead what we have at the back of fliers of its governorship candidate for the Anambra election, Christian Okechukwu Enemuo reads: “Full and gainful employment and improvement on the welfare of the workers and public servants.”
The Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA), which professes ‘progressivism, federalism, anti-communism and unionism is one of the parties that believes in the fusion of education and empowerment as a means of addressing human capacity development challenges and unemployment. The PPA candidate for the Anambra governorship election, Mr. Godwin Ezeemo says in his manifesto that his government would deal with the issue of youth empowerment and job creation through the following measures: “Partner with private investors and organisations to develop skill acquisition centres, sports and arts academies, specialised science schools, ICT and technological training institutes, to carry every youth along in meeting the 21st century demands. Provide hands-on training of youths on artisan skills and minor construction works, rural roads and drainage maintenance, etc.”
The Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance (APDA), will probably come out top of the ranking if manifestoes are yardstick for voting candidates of political parties into power. The party has over 180 pages of plans on job creation and youth empowerment. APDA says it “will address the issue of job creation through the policy of intensive focus on human capital development that is demand-driven and this policy would be tied to natural and mineral resources exploration, exploitation, beneficiation that would be evidence-based and result driven and that is intractably tied to the development of national infrastructure”.
It went further: “In pursuit of this goal, APDA will retool/return all the presently dysfunctional skill development centres and abandoned mines and beneficiations facilities to service. APDA would focus on the exploration of the over 450 different mineral resources across the country and commence with the exploitation of the bentonite belts in the north – east, the coal belts in the south east running to the south- south and the north- central up to the north- east and the bitumen belts in the south-west.
“Deliver a reformed and improved work programme in partnership with states and local governments. By devolving support to local governments, we can ensure that help and training which is tailored to local employment markets are better integrated with other services. This we can do by establishing and resourcing job centre and work programme providers to ensure there is real help for those furthest from the labour market.
On youth development/empowerment, APDA pledged: “Full implementation of the 2nd National Youth Policy and the Nigerian Youth Employment Action Plan (NYEAP); creation of an agency backed by law to be saddled with the responsibility of drawing up policy framework and work plan for youth development.
“Initiate an enterprise and innovation development fund geared primarily at supporting creativity, arts, innovation and sports development for the Nigerian youth.
“APDA shall as a matter of priority revitalise skill acquisition, vocational training centres, which are lying fallow across the country; seek the required legislation to restructure the NYSC scheme in line with the under listed recommendations of the National Conference. APDA will invest in urban and regional economic regeneration schemes every year, to ensure graduates and job seekers alike are meaningfully engaged in meeting national and regional goals.
The Democratic People’s Congress (DPC), just like APDA, has well-articulated youth empowerment and job creation policy in its manifesto. DPC pledges to “create various incentives for manufacturers, allow favourable tax holidays, and give special recognition to particularly innovative Nigerian entrepreneurs in the award of national honours. We shall give boost to the development of small and medium businesses (SMB’s) through the setting up of special industrial parks for them, with provision of standard factory buildings on lease basis, and all infrastructure.
“We shall create a special agency for SMB’s with minimum bureaucracy, to prepare standard feasibility studies for prospective SME investors, link them with sources of finance and with major industries to which they can be vertically integrated, and which can serve as a ready buyer for their products.
The National Conscience Party (NCP) simply says it will actively invest in all sectors of industry from education to manufacturing to tourism, etc. as well as create new public productive corporations and agencies. “We shall set up planning and coordinating departments. All public corporations and agencies shall be placed under democratic control and management of those working there. All these shall go very far in smashing unemployment and move society forward”.
The United Peoples Party (UPP), is one of the many parties which does not have clear-cut policy on youth empowerment and job creation. However, the party which has Osita Chidoka as its candidate for the Anambra governorship says as part of its economic agenda that it “will promote deregulation, privatisation and globalisation as polities necessary for the modernisation of the economy.
“UPP believes that equal emphasis should be placed on small-scale enterprises, the rural economy and the informal sector. The party will make every effort, through government-funded research schemes, easier bank credit and technical assistance, to breathe new life into the work and welfare of the people.
KOWA party, just as many others, does not have clear policy on youth empowerment and job creation. However, the party says it is “committed to pursuing a people-centered development process which is planned to ensure that the public owns and controls the key and strategic sectors of the economy, and the state regulates the private sector and the activities of the informal sector in a manner that enhances the overall well-being of the economy and the living standards of the entire citizenry.”