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Politicians often try to outdo each other by making promises they can’t keep and do not intend to keep, in order to win votes before an election. That is just how politics works around the world.
That is what happened this year too when we had the presidential election. Both former president, Goodluck Jonathan and incumbent, Muhammadu Buhari, made outrageous promises as they campaigned round the country.
A lot of those promises were unrealistic and some even egregious, like when the All Peoples’ Congress (APC) promised to create three million jobs in a year. But at the time people really wanted a change and so they voted for them anyway.
The president might make things better before his tenure ends in four years, but he’ll probably never fulfil most of the promises he and his party made to the people in the campaigns. Look at these six promises for instance.
1. Create 720,000 jobs in one year.
Muhammadu Buhari promised to create 20,000 jobs per state in a year for people with basic education. It is obvious now that the government does not have a clear plan as to how they are going to accomplish this ambitious goal.
It is almost two months already since they took charge and yet they have not rolled out any job program that could whip up 720,000 jobs nationwide.
If you want to create nearly a million jobs within a year, you don’t wait half the time before you come up with a program.
It is very clear that the government has no serious intention to pursue this jobs goal and that they will not produce 720,000 jobs this year or the next.
2. Pay N5,000 monthly to the 25 million poorest Nigerians.
Let us do the quick maths first. That’s N125 billion every month and N1.5 trillion for a year. That’s a load of money.
First up, how does the government intend to determine the 25 million poorest who will be receiving the aid? In a country where records are mostly unreliable and anyone can easily dupe the system, attempting to throw N1.5 trillion around the country is a fantasy program that will never get off the ground, except you fix the system first.
The money is probably just going to end up in the wrong pockets and not reach the poorest people who really need the money. That is just it.
3. Provide one meal a day to pupils nationwide.
Osun state governor, Aregbesola, gave one meal a day to pupils in state schools during his first term and he got a lot popular for it among his people. It was a good populist program that became a hit and so the APC decided to promise it to the Nigerian people.
But today the Osun government is broke and the kids aren’t getting a lot of free meals these days. The program has proven to be unsustainable on a state level.
Now think about what it would be like if the federal government decides to feed kids in every federal government primary school in the country. We are talking about tens of millions of mouths to feed every single day. This is a ridiculous idea.
4. Pay unemployed graduates a grant till they get a job.
A lot of people who finish school and complete the youth service don’t get a job soon after. They have to get-bye for some time until they find a decent employment.
So the APC promised a regular grant to unemployed graduates to support them while they look for work or get some training. It is certainly a brilliant initiative — on paper.
The problem is we simply do not have a system where these things can be properly run. When you put a youth on a temporary grant pending, how do you know when he finally gets a job so you can stop his grant? People would just go on taking the free money until the government gives up and closes the program.
This unemployment grant was all just sweet talk, but at least it is less ridiculous than promising to feed tens of millions of kids every day.
5. Create one million housing units for people with low income.
Just imagine one million new housing units in this country. It will take years just for first level planning and then take more years to actually build the houses.
That is if the government really wants to build the houses, and if it it does, the government clearly cannot achieve it in four years. You don’t have to be a building expert to see that this promise is unrealistic.
6. Provide free tertiary education to students in certain fields.
Before the election, no one was talking about free education except the APC. People wanted government to improve the quality of education while still making it affordable for the Nigerian people. But Buhari and the APC said their government will foot tuitions for students in science, technology, engineering, maths and education.
Today, no one is talking about free education. Not even the APC.
The government needs to stop proposing fantastic ideas that are never going to get off the ground. That’s not what the Nigerian people really want.
What the people really want is a visible improvement in the country, and if President Buhari does not make it happen, it won’t be very long before they stand up to him as they did to the last president.