2023: How I will stimulate economic growth, create jobs —Kwankwaso
In continuation of our analysis of the economic blueprints of presidential candidates, today we turn to Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso. As a former governor, former minister, former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and former senator, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, the presidential candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), understands the workings of both the executive and legislative arms of government which he plans to deploy for the purpose of making Nigeria better and greater. SULAIMON OLANREWAJU x-rays Kwankwaso’s economic plans as contained in his manifesto, christened My Pledges to You: The RMK2023 Blueprint, as well as his press engagements.
When he arrived Maiduguri on August 27 this year to inaugurate the office of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) in Abbaganaram, Shehuri North Maiduguri, Borno State, the party’s presidential candidate, RabiuKwankwaso, was so moved by the demonstration of love to him by the populace despite their apparent poverty that he promised to make the economy work for their good should he win the February 25, 2023 presidential election.
He said, “I have seen a mammoth crowd of young people walking on foot in the rain and cheering us all over 4km to the venue of commissioning our new office. And that made me sober because they want a change and a better life. And by the grace of God, that is what our government would focus on, providing opportunities for education to young ones, and job creation for the youth.
“The questions that throb my mind as we walked through the thick crowd of these supporters is ‘how do we restore education for them, how do we restore electricity, security and improve their economic lives by transforming Borno as we did in Kano?’
“You know what, Borno has everything to be like Kano, but only a few are ripping off the resources of Borno. The IDPs deserve decent homes and empowerment opportunities to resettle. We shall provide free maternal and child medical care to our women and children.”
This shows the depth of Kwankwaso’s understanding of the relationship between the economy and the people’s quality of life. A well-managed economy holds the key to the prosperity of the country and the wellbeing of the people. When the economy blossoms the people thrive, but when the economy heads south, the people groan in agony.
Apparently, the NNPP presidential candidate knows the difficulties he would be up against turning around the economy if he wins the election coming up in less than 100 days. With high unemployment rate, rising poverty rate, epileptic power supply, huge infrastructure deficit, soaring cost of fuel subsidy and problematic foreign exchange rate management, the nation’s next president must be someone who can think on his feet, someone who is resourceful enough to turn the economic challenges into opportunities for the people otherwise the people would sink deeper into poverty and deprivation.
On how he intends to transform the economy to improve the people’s quality of life, Kwankwaso said, “We have an economic plan that is centredaround the individual and the family. We shall improve the income level and strengthen the purchasing power of every Nigerian citizen. Our Nigerian Economic Revamping Strategy has a three-deck implementation scheme: Stage I: Emergency Rescue Plan (ERP), Stage II: Targeted Stimulation/Job Creation and Stage III: Long-term and Sustainable Investment.”
Knowing the importance of job creation to the nation’s teeming youth, Kwankwaso said he would make job creation a cardinal programme of his administration.
He said, “Jobs, jobs, and more jobs will be created at multiple levels through the Economic Revamping Strategy as well as through constructive engagement with the youth by honing their skill sets and providing them with the necessary support.”
On poverty reduction, the presidential candidate said, “We shall lift Nigerians from the poverty ditch through targeted poverty alleviation and poverty elimination strategies that ensure families at the bottom of the social ladder have access to food, clothing, quality education, basic healthcare, and basic housing needs. Preventing those lifted out of poverty from returning into the poverty bracket will receive special attention from my administration. Specifically, we shall ensure that beneficiaries of our poverty elimination programs maintain good-paying vacations, high-yielding investments as well as strategic savings to ensure individual, family, and community prosperity.”
Kwankwaso takes the issue of power and energy seriously. According to him, “These are the backbone and the central nervous system of the economy. Conscious of the fact that growth will be stunted and development will be paralyzed if these two economic pillars are not adequately and sustainably provided, we shall deploy our energy and power master-plan that is aimed at ensuring availability, adequacy, sustainability, affordability, and safety.”
On infrastructure, Kwankwaso said, “The development of our country must be comprehensive, all-inclusive and evenly distributed across the length and breadth of the country. The provision of critical infrastructure that supports the development and the well-being of the people shall be in every region and every state of the Federation. Every injustice, real or perceived, must be tackled and eliminated.”
The NNPP presidential candidate has great plans for agriculture and food security. He said, “We pledge to revolutionize farming practices by investing in technology, training and extension work with the objective of attaining national food security as well as capturing a substantial market share of food in the African continent. We pledge to ensure the deployment of global best practices in the establishment and management of forestry, plantation, animal husbandry, livestock, poultry, and fisheries as well as guarantee an agriculture value chain that protects the farmers, the livestock owners as well as the consumers.”
On his plans for the entertainment industry, Kwankwaso said, “We pledge to support and ensure the growth of Nigeria’s Entertainment Industry as a major national image launderer, job creator, national unifier, cultural promoter, and a major contributor of forex inflow. We will create more training and mentoring opportunities, provide special funding support as well as enforcing copyright laws to prevent piracy and counterfeiting.”
On how he would finance budgets without ramping up more debts, the candidate said, “In Kano, we never had the issue of an unbalanced budget because we keep our eyes on whatever is coming and we look at what is necessary, or important to be done. I am not one of those in a hurry to borrow money to do anything.
“There is so much money in this country. Anybody who says there is no money in this country either doesn’t know or wants to be mischievous. There is enough money to take care of each and every one of us in this country.
“We have done it before in Kano from 1999 to 2003. We met a lot of debt and we paid them off. After eight years, when I went back as governor, I met debts of hundreds of millions of US dollars and we settled them before I left in 2015.
“I am talking of borrowing money either from banks or individuals. We never borrowed for the eight years while I was governor.”
On his plans to ensure adequate housing for Nigerians, he said: “The opportunity to own your own house should be available to every Nigerian that works hard. We shall build more affordable houses that Nigerians can acquire. We shall strengthen and encourage the Federal Mortgage Bank and simplify its operations and procedures so as to remove bottlenecks and liberalize access to mortgages and other housing facilities.
The apex bank will be encouraged to support commercial banks in this respect. We shall create an enabling environment for private developers to complement government efforts in the affordable housing revolution.”
Kwankwaso, speaking on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), said his administration would create an enabling environment for small businesses to thrive and empower women and youths to stimulate the economy.
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He added, “Through these measures, we will be able to check growing inflation and by doing so, create wealth for the people. We have done that before in Kano and we will do it for Nigeria.
“We will boost local production and check the importation of goods and services that can be sourced locally. These and many more are the issues putting pressure on our currency.
“You wake up every day to discover that the value of foreign currency the previous day was better than today. This is what a responsible government must address; otherwise, it will be difficult to see an end to the economic crisis that we are in today.”
On making the environment safe and enabling for businesses to thrive, he said: “We shall work assiduously to combat climate change and its negative impact such as flood, erosion, desertification, etc. We will work to improve the conditions and, preserve the natural beauty, of the environment. We shall beautify our cities and ensure the creation of parks and gardens as well as green belts across the country. We shall ensure the preservation of the natural flora and fauna of our country and work deliberately to save all endangered species.”
Kwankwaso said his administration would reform the public service: “For the past three decades or so, Nigeria’s public service has virtually collapsed. We pledge to reform the service so as to revitalize and reinvigorate it to be able to operate with competence and professionalism. We shall rebuild the service in a manner that the basic values, principles and necessary standards of operation are its guiding light.”
Although DrRabiu Musa Kwankwaso’s economic plan looks grand without being grandiose as it contains programmes and projects that can transform Nigeria and put it in the midst of leading countries in the world, it contains so many execution gaps.
The candidate spoke about a three-deck implementation scheme to revamp the economy without explaining how the stages would result in the economy’s improvement. He also spoke about job creation without explicating how this would become a reality should Nigerians vote for him to be the next president.