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Two days after campaigns officially kicked off, the long wait for the manifestoes of political parties and their presidential candidates continues.
A manifesto is a public declaration of objectives and policies of political parties and candidates, which is made available before an election.
As of Tuesday, the eve of the beginning of the presidential campaigns, no flag bearer had released his document on how to fix Nigeria’s socio-economic and security challenges once elected.
Findings by Saturday PUNCH revealed that nearly all the candidates, aside from the standard bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, were in no hurry to release their manifestoes for public assessment.
Despite releasing his manifesto, Atiku had come under fire from the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who described his economic blueprint as a poorly packaged copy of that of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
Reacting to the allegation, the Atiku Campaign Organisation hit back at the Federal Government, saying the minister lied and made a barren attempt to catalogue perceived achievements of the All Progressives Congress administration.
Just like others, the candidate of the APC, Bola Tinubu, who is presently out of the country, has failed to announce a date for the launch of his manifesto.
The Director of Media and Communications, APC Presidential Campaign Council, Bayo Onanuga, told our correspondent that his principal’s manifesto was ready and would be unveiled once Tinubu gives the nod.
Recall that a viral document, touted as Tinubu’s manifesto, had circulated on social media earlier in July.
The document gained traction mostly on WhatsApp and Facebook for days before the Tinubu Campaign Organisation was compelled to issue a disclaimer.
A worried Onanuga had disclosed that what was being peddled online was a mere draft of suggestions on probable programmes that Tinubu could implement if elected in February 2023.
Titled, ‘My Vision for Nigeria’, the 28-page document said to have been prepared by a former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Olufemi Pedro, and Legal Director of the Tinubu Campaign Organisation, Babatunde Ogala, highlighted security improvement and creation of thousands of new jobs.
It also discussed how the APC candidate would transform Nigeria into an enviable country and one where there would be justice, peace and prosperity for all with “a robust economy.”
However, due to the chain of reaction and complaints that trailed the newly-constituted Presidential Campaign Council, the media director disclosed that all activities had been suspended until the candidate returns from his vacation on Monday, October 3.
Tinubu had last Friday unveiled a 422-man committee comprising political heavyweights and other notable members to pilot the various sub-committees of the campaign council.
The list of members released by Secretary of the PCC, James Faleke, in Abuja, followed a series of postponements and conjectures about those who would be saddled with the task of leading the ruling party’s bid to retain power at the federal level.
The campaign council chaired by the President, has Tinubu and the APC National Chairman, Adamu, as co-deputy chairmen.
Also on the campaign council are APC governors, ministers, lawmakers, ambassadors as well as some serving and past public office holders.
Zonal and state coordinators, advisers, campaign patrons, directors, deputy directors and secretaries of directorates were also named.
The sub-committees include media and publicity; support group coordination; national youth mobilisation; parliamentarian; trade and economic; agriculturists/commodities; campaign planning; civil societies; Diaspora directorate; election planning and monitoring; finance; fundraising; and humanitarian/social.
Others on the list are ICT/data management; intelligence and security; labour; logistics and support service; medicals; policy research and strategy; protocol and events, and others.
But the composition of the PCC reportedly did not go down well with some APC governors, especially Ben Ayade of Cross River and AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara states.
The governors were said to have expressed shock over the exclusion of their nominees after the painstaking efforts they took to identify potential candidates, who could mobilise support and deliver votes for the party in 2023.
They were said to have tabled their grievances with the Chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum and Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu, and the national chairman of the APC.
Members of the National Working Committee also disowned the PCC list, saying the presidential candidate did not allow them to properly vet the names before he made the premature announcement.
While arguing that the composition of a presidential campaign council was something that ought to be done jointly by the candidate and the party, the aggrieved NWC members maintained that the list contained certain names that should not have been added because they had little or no electoral value.
‘Obi’s manifesto ready’
The story is not different in the camp of the Labour Party’s presidential standard-bearer, Peter Obi.
The former Anambra State governor, however, gave the assurance that the manifesto of his party was 95 per cent ready and would be unveiled in a few days.
Obi, who made the clarification when he appeared on Arise Television on Wednesday, reiterated that his policy document would be hinged on the Sustainable Development Goals, economic development and security of the country.
“Our manifesto is anchored on the Sustainable Development Goals and that the key issues are security, unifying the country, ensuring our cohesion comes down to law and order, fighting corruption, making the country productive and creating jobs among others,” he stated.
In a related development, the leadership of the Labour Party said it would formally unveil the names of leaders and members of the Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Council in a few days.
This was contained in a statement released in Abuja by National Chairman of the party, Julius Abure.
Abure disclosed that the announcement of the PCC composition would also herald the beginning of the party’s electioneering in full compliance with electoral guidelines.
The development is coming hours after The PUNCH reported that the LP presidential candidate had not constituted his campaign council as he was said to be making consultations across the country.
Abure reassured supporters that the constitution of Obi’s PCC and campaign would be ready in a few days.
The statement read in part, “For our numerous supporters and members across the nation, this is to inform you that we are yet to commence our own campaign.
“The Labour Party will officially open its campaign in a few days from now and the world will be formally notified. It will also formally unveil a list of leaders and members of the party that will form the campaign council.”
In a related development, the spokesman for the New Nigeria Peoples Party’s Presidential Campaign Council, Ladipo Johnson, disclosed that the NNPP flag bearer, Dr Rabiu Kwankwaso’s manifesto was ready.
“The manifesto of the party is not like any regular compendium. It is a thick and heavy document. You know we have to trim it down for election purposes. But I think you will get it very shortly,” Ladipo said.
SDP manifesto night
But the poster boy of the Social Democratic Party, Prince Adewole Adebayo, has a different approach to his campaign.
Adebayo told our correspondent that his manifesto had been ready four years before he joined the race for the 2023 presidential election.
According to the lawyer and founder of KAFTAN Television, the document will be officially launched on Independence Day (Saturday).
“We will hold the SDP manifesto night on October 1, 2022 for public release to avoid being accused of campaigning ahead of the official start of the campaign season on September 28, 2022,” he stated.
In the four-page document, the media entrepreneur anchored his ideology and goals on five cardinal points namely, good governance, social justice, wealth creation, defence and security as well as economic development.
Political experts, however, warned in separate interviews that it would be out of place for any candidate to be seen marketing himself or flaunting any policy document until the campaign was fully underway.
The Chairman of Inter-Party Advisory Council, Yabagi Sani, frowned on the development, saying it was out of place.
He said, “By releasing their manifestos and policy documents before their campaign starts, don’t you think they will be violating the Electoral Act?
“After all, a manifesto tells you what the party and candidate plan to do to win votes. Personally, I think the candidates themselves are being cautious.”
Human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, also shares the same sentiment when he stated that it would be a violation of the stipulated guidelines of the Independent National Electoral Commission for candidates to announce manifestoes before they kick off their campaigns.
According to him, no candidate should be seen selling himself before the campaign.
Effiong said, “The manifesto is part of the campaign. Even though the candidates have been seen moving around, but they can’t be seen doing much until the campaign begins in line with the INEC guidelines.