The 2019 general elections in Nigeria gradually inches towards its climax as the electioneering Friday, December 14, at 1900hrs local time, recorded yet another landmark.
There were exchanges of verbal fireworks as the Vice Presidential candidates of five parties squared up at a debate in Abuja, organised by the Nigeria Elections Debate Group and the Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria to x-ray the agenda of their principals.
Vice Presidential candidates of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Young Progressives Party (YPP) were in attendance.
While speaking on how the economy would be improved if his party wins the election, Peter Obi of the PDP said that his party would ensure a demand driven government.
Noting that there are about 87 million Nigerians without jobs, Obi pointed out that issues within the system need to be addressed vis a vis the ease of doing business.
Giving an example, he asserted that “it costs more to bring goods out of Apapa Ports than it costs to bring those goods from Europe”.
While answering a question on a policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, the incumbent Vice President and candidate of the APC, Professor Yemi Osinbajo said “we are now able to deliver fertilizer at half the price it was before now.
“We were importing $ 5 million worth of rice everyday, look at toothpicks for instance, so if you are going to protect local industries, you may have to do what the CBN is doing. What is happening now is that you cannot go to the Central Bank of Nigeria for foreign exchange for items that can be produced locally”.
Asked whether her party would build new refineries, Khadijah Iya-Abdullahi of the ANN said her party would adopt the Public-Private Partnership model and look at getting the private sector involved in building more refineries.
She however opined that the economy needs to be diversified, instead of depending on petroleum.
Ganiyu Galadima of the ACPN did not mince words as he decried the attitude of the leadership of Nigeria to government business. “Government business is not anybody’s business. All Federal Government interests will be privatised,” he said.
Umma Getso of the YPP was blunt in her remarks. She was quick to point out that “Nigeria needs patriotic leaders who have the interest of the country at heart”.
Meanwhile, the debate recorded mixed reactions from members of the public, just as many were quick to call on the organisers to bring to the fore presidential candidates of the parties to present their arguments.