The much anticipated Presidential debate organised by the Nigeria Election Debate Group (NEDG) and the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) between the leading candidates running in the February 16 presidential election held on Saturday and it was a revealing experience, especially for potential voters who desired a platform to hear the candidates present their plans and programmes, as well as explain practical solutions to the country’s myriad of challenges.
Although the candidates of the two major parties, Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) were absent at the contest and have offered varying explanations, three candidates turned up for the challenge; Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Fela Durotoye of the Alliance For New Nigeria (ANN) and Professor Kingsley Moghalu of the Young Progressive Party (YPP).
Here are 6 things we learnt from Oby Ezekwesili’s presentation at the debate:
- A political class needs to pave way for Nigeria to develop
“It is urgent for us to change the direction of our country. Because it is failure of leadership, it means that our politics has become politics by the politicians for the politicians and of the politicians. Many of you know me not to be a politician, however, I have been a technocrat that understands the political context of this country.”
“It’s very clear that except we disrupt the pattern of politics that we have, we will continue to fail and we must no longer fail our people and that is why I am running for office. I bring with me a track record of being able to fix problems.”
2. Improvement in the productivity of majority of Nigerians will reduce poverty
“Our plan is to lift at least 80 million Nigerians out of poverty. When you look at Nigerians who are poor, it is clear that they earn below N700. We need to improve their productivities. When people earn they lift themselves out of poverty.”
“The structure of our economy is such that services constitute 60 % of it. The services are not high-end services, they are low productivity services and so our focus would be on removing the barriers that stand in the way of operators in the services sector.
3. Our educational system needs to be structurally balanced.
“The public schools are the basics to lift people out of poverty. The education of the government schools will be paramount in my presidency. One key thing that needs to happen to education is that we need to be structurally balanced. There are innovative ways of teaching today that do not require massive structures. We have to be analytical to know what matters most.”
She added that her government would focus on identifying learning gaps in the system, improving the quality of teachers, including their remuneration, as well as setting up curriculum reforms.
4. Female role models play a vital role in improving girl child education
“The number one thing that matters for girls in school is to give an incentive to their families to send them to school because barriers that keep girls away from school are social, cultural, economic and each of those have policy solutions to tackle them and we will use those tools.
Part of the way to do that is role modeling and so female teachers go a long way in making girls want to achieve more.
“We would also focus on the productivity on the parents of the girls because we have found that when women are economically empowered, they spend 70% of their income on the education of their children.”
5. A nation which “educates the girl-child” has a higher track to progress and development
“The economic empowerment of women is simply smart economics. It enables the entire society to benefit. It’s not the girl child that benefits from access to education; it’s actually the community, the family, and the nation.”
6. When there is no consequence for criminality, it mushrooms.
“There’s a huge supply of bad behaviour, savagery in our country because there has not been any judicial process that has led to the conviction of anyone that has killed a fellow Nigerian.”
Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq is a Political Journalist, Analyst and Social Change Advocate with major interest in Nigerian Politics, Governance and Sports.