Promises, Promises: How Nigeria’s Main Parties Are Wooing Voters

Nigeria’s political parties vying for control of Africa’s most populous nation, largest economy and top oil producer are going all out to woo voters ahead of March 28 presidential and parliamentary elections.

Incumbent Goodluck Jonathan’s People’s Democratic Party and former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari’s All Progressive Congress are the standout favorites -- each won 42 percent support in a poll of 2,400 adults conducted by Afrobarometer in December. Here’s a synopsis of their main election manifesto pledges:

Economy PDP *Encourage and step up the sale of state assets *Diversify the economy to reduce reliance on oil *Target full employment and reduce income disparities *Pursue lower interest rates to encourage investment *Intensify direct government involvement in the steel, mining and petro-chemical industries in partnership with private companies *Improve pay for state workers

APC *Boost average annual economic growth to 10 percent *Create at least 1 million jobs a year by providing loans to new small businesses *Preserve the central bank’s independence *Establish a national mortgage system that will lend money at below 10 percent interest rates, enabling 1 million additional people to buy homes each year

Oil & Gas PDP *Reorganize and strengthen the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. *Promote the use of natural gas and make it a major foreign-exchange generator *Reorganize energy industry

APC *Promote clean oil and gas technology *Strip the NNPC of its regulatory powers and enable it to tap international capital markets; consideration will be given to breaking the corporation into more efficient, commercially driven units *Ensure gas producers sell at least half their output within Nigeria *Promote oil and gas exploration in the Niger River delta and Anambra, Benue, Lake Chad, Niger and Sokoto basins

Electricity PDP *Aim to supply power to all cities, towns and villages *Encourage private companies to become involved in power generation and distribution *Promote use of solar power

APC *Generate as much as 40,000 megawatts more electricity within four to eight years, 10 times Nigeria’s current capacity *Encourage generation of energy from gas, renewable sources *Ensure the private sector plays a bigger role in energy supply

Education PDP *Target free education at all levels *Make attendance at primary and junior secondary school compulsory *Improve teacher training, introduce minimum qualification standards

APC *Implement and enforce free, universal basic education *Reintroduce teacher training colleges *Spend as much as 10 percent of the national budget on education *Establish at least six new science and technology universities

Health care PDP *Provide free health care especially for children and the aged *Increase the number of qualified health-care personnel and improve their training *Regulate private hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies to prevent patient exploitation

APC *Reduce the infant mortality rate to 3 percent and the HIV infection rate by 50 percent by 2019 *Increase average life expectancy by 10 years *Increase annual national health expenditure to about 50,000 naira per person, from less than 10,000 naira currently

Defense and security PDP *Build up a defense force capable of safeguarding national security and supporting foreign policy *Improve pay and training for the police and military and provide them with better equipment *Promote local procurement of weapons

APC *Improve the capacity of law enforcement agencies *Establish a serious crime squad to combat terrorism, kidnapping, armed robbery and ethnic-religious militancy *Establish a national coast guard

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