With the unveiling of President Muhammadu Buhari's manifesto tagged the 'the Next Level' yesterday, and the launch of the policy document of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) today, the battle for the votes of Nigerians in the forthcoming general elections has begun.
While Buhari enumerated his key performance in the last three and half years, seeking another term of four years, which he said he intended to use to take Nigerians to the next level, Atiku picked holes in his main opponents claims, saying the country was heading south and needed an alternative plan to head back north.
Both of them, however, reviewed the major areas of concerns to Nigerians, national cohesion, security, economy, ebbing jobs, infrastructure decay and deepening corruption in the country, and offered perspectives on the way forward.
Addressing guests at the inauguration of his campaign slogan for 2019, 'Next Level,' a presentation of the achievements and projection of his administration, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja yesterday, Buhari, who is flying the flag of the All Progressives Congress (APC), assured Nigerians that given a second term opportunity, he would remain focused on deepening the achievements of his government.
Charging politicians to desist from actions capable of disrupting peace during the campaigns, the president enjoined Nigerians to support his effort to rebuild the country by voting for him and his party in the next year election.
Buhari said, "The next four years will be quite significant for our country. Nigeria is faced with a choice to keep building a new Nigeria - making a break from its tainted past, which favoured an opportunistic few.
"Our choices will shape us - our economic security and our future prosperity. Nigeria, more than ever before, needs a stable and people-focused government to move the agenda for our country forward."
Underscoring his ambition for a secured, prosperous and corruption-free country amidst the inherent difficulties, Buhari said his government has worked hard to fulfil the promises it made to the country.
He said, "We delivered on our commitment to secure the territorial integrity of our nation in the face of raging insurgency, we liberated 17 local government areas from the grip of insurgency and brokering and sustaining peace in the Niger Delta has also been crucial to stabilising the polity.
"We implemented a responsible and transparent fiscal plan for the challenging economic times that saw us doing more even with lesser oil revenue. Grand scale corruption perpetrated at the highest level of government is now a thing of the past, just as the Treasury Single Account has made it more difficult for ministries, departments and agencies to exercise the unrestrained liberties that helped foster a climate conducive to corruption."
He noted also that the administration has delivered on its promises to spur economic growth, job creation, broad-based prosperity, agriculture and infrastructural development.
He said while foundation has been laid for a stable and prosperous Nigeria, there is still much to be done.
"The next level of effort focuses on job creation across various sectors. From an enlargement of the N-Power programme to invest in technology and creative sector jobs to agriculture and revolutionising access to credit for entrepreneurs and artisans, there is a scope for over 10 million new jobs," he said.
Other notable speakers at the event, which included Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola; Minister of Transportation and Director-General, Buhari Campaign Organisation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi and Special Adviser to the President, Mrs. Mariam Uwais, charge Nigerians to re-elect the president to bring to fruition some of the laudable projects of his government.
The event attracted governors, National Assembly members, top government functionaries, captains of industries and APC supporters across Nigeria.
In Abuja today, it would be the turn of Atiku to lift the veil on his agenda for Nigerians. Tagged 'Atiku Policy Document,' the launch to be attended by PDP big wigs and supporters, the document articulates the main opposition party's candidate's mission and plan to better the lives of Nigerians if elected in 2019.
The 63-page document, which THISDAY obtained yesterday, listed human capital development, job creation, poverty eradication and infrastructure development as the corner stone of his economic policy, if elected president of Nigeria next year.
Atiku said his broad mission is to unite and secure the country by building a strong, resilient and prosperous modern economy that would work for Nigerians' needs.
Specifically, he said his target would be to create three million jobs annually, just as he disclosed that he would re-launch the National Open Apprenticeship Programme (NOAP) and ensure speedy passage of the National Research and Innovation Fund Bill. He stated, "Poverty does not simply have one solution; rather it requires the concerted application of many solutions.
"Nigeria has vast natural resources, but our challenge remains harnessing these resources for the greatest good."
Continuing, the PDP presidential candidate said his vision is to deliver an affordable and easily accessible transportation system that would be fully integrated across the length and breadth of Nigeria.
According to him, "There would be deliberate efforts to increase access to electricity for Nigerians, including those in rural areas.
"My vision is to ensure that Nigeria's economy is responsive to the challenges of the 21st century knowledge economy by keeping the amazingly dynamic technological pace.
"I will like to see a country where our people live and work in an environment that guarantees the highest level of social empowerment."
The former vice president stressed that Nigeria could surpass its growth expectations beyond its dreams, adding that he would ensure an increased inflow of foreign direct investment to a maximum of 2.5 per cent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2025. He said he would work towards achieving the lowest corporate income tax rate in Africa; strengthen credit guarantee initiatives of infra-credit, by substantially increasing its capital base and lower transaction costs; amongst others.
According to him, his pledge to Nigerians is that "we can get Nigeria working again."
With the two main contenders hitting the trail, others are expected to open their campaigns from today, paving the way for a flurry of political activities that would dovetail into the presidential election on February 14, 2019 and the governorship election in March of the same year.