Mr. Peter Obi of People Democratic Party (PDP), Yemi Osinbajo of All Progressives Congress(APC), Mrs. Khadijah Abdullahi-Iya of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), Mrs. Umma Getso of Young Progressives Party (YPP) and Mr. Ganiyu Galadima who represents the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), organised by Nigeria Election Debate Group, NEDB and the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON)
The five vice presidential aspirants including Nigeria’s Vice-President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo addressed the audience at the 2018 Vice-Presidential debate held at Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja, the discussion became aligned to the best ways to develop the country.
Vice Presidential candidates in a two and half hour debate where the APC vice presidential candidate and the current vice president of Nigeria disagreed vehemently with the Vice Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Mr. Peter Obi and others on the issue of fuel subsidy.
Four aspirants at the debate agree on a need to remove subsidy on petroleum products because it has had no meaningful impact. They challenged the existence of subsidy on petroleum products because it has not had any positive impact in the lives of citizens. Here are some of the main points shared by speakers at the debate:
Investing in SMEs like China
The discussion among the VP aspirants centred on China identified as a country with more investment in SMEs. Nigeria is currently in a situation where it is unable to surpass its 16% investment in GDP. Peter Obi has a response to this by sowing into the private sector.
Removing subsidy on petroleum products
Most speakers at the debate except Professor Yemi Osinbajo the incumbent Vice-President of Nigeria agree on a need to remove subsidy on petroleum products because it has not yet had a meaningful impact on the living condition of Nigerians. Osinbajo’s input on the subject seem the opposite. He fears that the removal of subsidy has the potential to increase the price of petroleum products. The VP favours a gradual stoppage of subsidization as opposed to an abrupt one. Obi said, oour country today has the highest number of out-of-school children in the world today. Our inequality has worsened, our misery index has worsened. Within the same period that China produced 7m jobs, Nigeria lost 4m jobs. What we are subsidizing today is inefficiency. There is no way a country can have N400bn for health which translates to N5 per citizen, yet paying trillions for subsidy. On the missing impact of subsidy, Mrs. Khadijah Abdullahi Iya asks, “what is the government presently doing with the subsidy that has been removed? It is not affecting the common man and we don’t know what is going on.”
No falling out with Nigeria’s president
Peter Obi dismisses the fear of a clash between the president if he becomes the Vice-President of Nigeria at the 2019 polls. He feels assured of avoiding a rivalry with his boss Atiku Abubakar who didn’t enjoy a healthy relationship with former President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo. His focus is on building the economy of Nigeria which he reckons is possible through an 80 billion dollar investment would have made falling out with the president an unlikely occurrence. Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo retorts on a need to deal with the mismanagement of public funds by persons occupying political office. He considers this one of the steps required in order to direct Nigerians on the path of sustainable growth.
Spending too much time-fighting corruption
While there is a need to eradicate the issues affecting qualitative governance in Nigeria such as corruption, the PDP’s candidate running for VP Peter Obi thinks it best to multi-task by addressing other problems including unemployment. “It is not that you cannot fight corruption but you can fight it more aggressively while addressing economic issues. For example, in 2015, unemployment was 24 percent. Today, it is 40 percent, “Obi notes in his remark about fighting the menace of corruption. Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo retorts on a need to deal with the mismanagement of public funds by persons occupying political office. He considers this one of the steps required in order to direct Nigerians on the path of sustainable growth.
More Involvement For Women
Gender equity is center to the developmental policies YPP’s Mrs. Umma Getso plans to introduce if she becomes the Vice-President. Allowing more participation for women seem of great interest to the speaker. She said, under Professor Kingsley Moghalu, Nigerian women may see more involvement in leadership. “There is no other party in Nigeria that has given priority to women. Professor Kingsley Moghalu’s Presidency is about giving 50-50 opportunity to women to participate in his government at all levels.” Also, with her background in humanitarian services, but Mrs. Khadijah Abdullahi Iya of the ANN hopes to do things differently by putting the “economy before politics”.
Effective Devolution of Power
Mrs. Khadijah Abdullahi Iya is interested in sharing responsibilities with 774 local governments in Nigeria to ensure an effective devolution of power. With her resource control policy, the ANN candidate hopes to get more from lower level officials. This can help a great deal in dealing with the problem of poverty in the country. In a bid to eliminate the feeling of lack among Nigerians, Professor Yemi Osinbajo reckons an investment in the country’s infrastructure is key. According to the VP, the current administration has expended a sum of N2.7 trillion on this project. The effort is captured under the social investment policy of the Buhari-led government. “We have a social investment policy, possibly the largest ever in the history of our country,”Osinbajo mentions while addressing the audience.
Jobs Creation Necessary To Foster National Growth
According to the candidate of the ACPN, Mr. Ganiyu Galadima the creation of more employment is one of his plans in addition to ending the subsidy regime which appears to favor only the rich. Peter Obi is thinking in the same direction in his note addressing a need to energize the economy. “The number one problem of this country today is its economy. The vice president is in charge of rebuilding the economy to where it can create jobs.”
YPP’s Umma Getso highlights that Nigeria can grow if it is able to check the import and export margin and hopes to boost the capacity of young Nigerians by introducing N1 Trillion intervention fund.
Osinbajo also mentions that loan schemes targeted at helping SMEs is already in place. The Trader Moni initiative by the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) is used as an example emphasizing this.