About two months ago, the All Progressives’ Congress (APC) became registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as a political party formed by the merger of now-defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the All Nigeria Peoples’ Party (ANPP) and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).
Even though I was excited about the prospect of the opposition becoming organized and closing ranks against the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), I had written quite a few articles in the months preceding the registration about whether this new party would really be different from the PDP, or if it was just an act of desperation to ensure that President Goodluck Jonathan does not get re-elected in 2015. To avoid sounding like a broken record, I would not go into that here.
The APC has started making efforts to prove to Nigerians that, indeed, it has an agenda and a program of actions for Nigerians. It has released a 31-page manifesto, 8-point agenda in which it listed what it intends to do in office when it is elected at the centre come 2015. However, I am not impressed in the least by the manifesto. It was long on grand promises and very short on the specifics of intelligent arguments.
Let us take for example the APC’s plan for solving our epileptic power supply problem:
The APC has proposed to increase Nigeria’s power generation to 40, 000MW from 2015 to 2019, and it proposes to do that by first, “making the electricity private-sector driven”, and then “by making investments in renewable energy, particularly coal, solar and wind energies.”
The ironic thing was that not long after the manifesto was released, the Federal Government successfully completed the sale of the nation’s power generation and distribution companies, as the bidders paid the balance of 75% after the deposit which was paid in February. With that transaction completion, the biggest since we started privatizing our government enterprises in 1999, the government has successfully withdrawn from being involved in the power sector save for regulation. Even the National Grid has been concessioned to be run by a private company.
So how does the APC want to make the sector more private-sector driven? Did they miss the news?
The next thing is their intention to invest in renewable energy sources such as coal, wind and solar. Sadly, coal is not a renewable energy resource, but a fossil fuel. Nigeria sits on a large coal belt, from Enugu through Benue up to parts of Gombe State, and indeed, it can be put to use to generate the much-needed power, environmental consequences notwithstanding.
However, as for wind, Nigeria does not enjoy optimum wind speeds for power generation at 3.5km/hr, compared to countries in Northern Europe such as Germany and Denmark, who enjoy average speeds of 12km/ph and where wind power is used most. As a result, a heavy investment in a wind farm would not generate for us an impressive amount of power. A good example is the Katsina Wind Power Station which at nothing less than N6bn generates only 10MW of power, which is a drop in the ocean compared to GWs needed.
Almost the same goes for solar energy, as it consumes a lot of space and funds, but does not generate a lot of power for municipal supply. It is better off used for individual power generation.
This is but one of their plans that I have dissected so far. Due to constraints of space, I will avoid analysing their promises of free healthcare and education.
One major problem that this analyses is the lack of involvement of policy experts in drawing this manifesto. Rather, the APC merely wrote ideas that they felt would have appeal with the electorate, even if they are not feasible. The danger is that they risk setting the bar by with their performance if they get into government too high.
My expectation for the APC is to borrow from British politics, where the biggest opposition party in parliament forms a shadow government. A shadow government is composed of ‘ministers’, who analyse the government in power, critique them and give their own proposals of how they will handle the portfolio or situation differently.
For example, one would expect APC to seize the current strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to lay out how it intends to revolutionize Nigeria’s tertiary education sector rather than throwing unverifiable accusations that the PDP spent more than N92bn in rigging the last elections.
Nigeria is not lacking in brilliant minds and professionals in different, if not all the sectors who can contribute to formulating policies if only they can be engaged. The APC can use these professionals to form policy working groups made up of these professionals who will formulate policies that the party can run with in campaigning.
The APC has a prime opportunity to up the ante of politicking in this country by bringing intelligent, well-formulated ideas into political discourse.
Merely throwing up ideas that cannot even hold their weight on paper is not enough anymore.