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2023: Balogun trashes candidates’ manifestos

Prof. M. J. Balogun

Prof. Murtala J. Balogun, former Director-General of The Administrative Staff College of Nigeria and until recently, Special Adviser to the President of the United Nations General Assembly, has berated the flagbearers of the major political parties for the quality of the manifestos they have so far released.

In his contribution to discussions at a recent seminar organised by the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research/NISER on the theme, “Manifestos and issue-based Political Campaigns for the 2023 Elections,” Prof. Murtala J. Balogun, said that the issues that the candidates deem important have little bearing on Nigeria’s current and dominant concerns.

Prof. Balogun said that the manifestos particularly gloss over the challenges highlighted in his upcoming book titled, Towards a Habitable Nigeria: An agenda for Change. Where the candidates promise heavens and earth, the book holds that this is no time to promise either, stressing that Nigeria’s immediate challenge, as the book reminds the candidates, is security of life and property.

Instead of dreaming big dreams, the leaders must, as a step towards long-term, sustainable development, come up with a clear roadmap to national stabilization, reconciliation, and institution reclamation. Balogun asks what good there is constructing world-class infrastructure (or privatizing state enterprises) if the ordinary citizen is not sure s/he will live long enough to enjoy the promised or actual benefits. He commended NISER for having the foresight to raise this substantive question at this critical phase in Nigeria’s life.

Balogun observed that the candidates see politics as a “game of numbers” and further noted that besides playing ethno-religious, demographic, and partisan political cards, all with a view to enhancing their chances of winning, the candidates have not kicked the habit of promising what they know full well that they can’t or won’t deliver. A new election cycle presents a rare opportunity for the presidential candidates to carve their names in gold and to make history, he stressed, pointing out that there is no better way to do either than by stabilizing a wobbly nation and steering it towards peace, prosperity, and self-sustaining development.

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