The Presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, says she sees seven monstrous challenges that are holding Nigeria and its people down.

Dr. Ezekwesili identified the challenges at a press briefing held on Monday at the Sheba Centre to unveil her manifesto to Nigerians. 

The former Minister of Education, who said she was able to address the issue of out of school children when she was Minister to a reasonable proportion, listed challenges that border on the economy, poverty, insecurity, education, healthcare and infrastructure deficit. 

1. Too Little Productivity And Competitiveness Of The Nigerian Economy  

According to Dr. Ezekwesili, for a nation of Nigeria's size and potentials, a low real Gross Domestic Product of $375.77 billion after 58 years of independence is terribly underwhelming.

"Unlike China which grew in double digits over almost three decades to become a $14 trillion GDP economy, Nigeria’s growth has been trapped in cycles of boom and bust in the classic evidence of oil price volatility and effects of Dutch Disease.

"We need a bold economic vision to define a pathway of double digit inclusive economic growth over the next decade. That is exactly what an ACPN administration will ensure," she said. 

2. Too Much Poverty And Inequality

Nigeria has recently been tagged the nation with the highest number of people living below poverty line and the candidate of the ACPN expressed concern over this development. 

She said: "Extreme poverty in Nigeria is increasing by nearly six people every minute.

"In the time it will take me to deliver my speech today, about 250 Nigerians would have become extremely poor.

"Think about that for a second. But that is not even the worst part.

"According to the World Poverty Clock, if the current trends continue - or to put it another way, if we continue to elect this poverty-bringing APC and PDP leadership, the number of people living in extreme poverty in Nigeria would increase from about 88 million today to 120 million in 2030.

"That means that in the next 12 years, over 30 million more Nigerians will join the infamous number of extremely poor people who live on less than 700 Naira per day".

On the amount of inequality in the system she emphasised that when a country had a GINI coefficient above 35%, it meant the income inequality in that country was very high.

"Nigeria’s GINI coefficient is between 46 and 60 percent. Such levels of extreme inequality has all sorts of destabilising implications for the country.

"Tackling the inequality and lifting 80 million Nigerians out of poverty will be the mission of my presidency.

"We need to start the deliberate hard work of pulling ourselves, our friends and our families and our communities from this destructive poverty tsunami sweeping through our nation.

"Time is not on our side," she insisted. 

3. Too Much Insecurity And Conflicts

The former Minister of Education bemoaned the level of insecurity in Nigeria and said the oil-rich nation was now the 14th most fragile nation in the world on the Fragile States Index, and the 16th most dangerous country to live in the world, according to the Global Peace Index.

Dr. Ezekwesi says Nigeria faces at least 14 major security threats across different regions, from terrorism to herders-farmers clashes, from kidnappings to organised crime and trafficking. 

4. Too Much Illiteracy

Insecurity has forced children out of schools in some part of Nigeria and Dr. Ezekwesili told the gathering that the number of out of school children was 13.5 million, a number she highlighted was more than the entire population of Benin Republic.

"Even those who have the ‘privilege’ of attending our schools these days receive an education that is unfit for purpose and unfit for the competitive and productive country we intend to build. 

"Education will be the number one priority of my government.

"As Bill Gates, the founder of one of the most innovative companies in the world, said: “Education is like a master switch that opens up all sorts of opportunities for individuals and societies.”

"I intend to fully turn up that switch if elected your president," . 

5. Too Much Health And Well-being Challenges

Most Nigerians have continued to wonder why the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, has continued to travel abroad for medical treatment, and the presidential candidate of the ACPN provided an answer to this. 

First, she called President Buhari the 'grand-patron of medical tourism' and then highlighted that the World Health Organization (WHO) ranked the Nigerian healthcare system as 187th out of 190 healthcare systems in the world.

"Just last month, the World Bank released its first ever Human Capital Index, and Nigeria was in the bottom 6 out of 157 countries ranked. My position on health is that it is a fundamental human right.

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"Nigeria loses too much when its human capital do not live healthy lives. Health is central to lifting our people out of poverty; it is central to ensuring that we have a competitive and productive economy. And in my government, it will occupy a central place," she stated. 

6. Too Much Infrastructural Deficit

The presidential candidate of the ACPN expressed dissatisfaction over the infrastructure decay in Nigeria and said the nation had become notorious for its horrible infrastructure - roads that are simply death traps, epileptic electricity supply, insufficient broadband connectivity, underwhelming rail and ports development.

"There is little physical links and connectivity for development due to infrastructure deficit in both urban and rural centres. We must heed the Chinese lesson from their well-known mantra that “if you want to improve the lives of your people, connect them to markets by giving them roads."

7. Too Much Structural Faults 

Dr. Ezekwesili is in support of the restructuring of Nigeria to show true federalism, a position she stressed in her address.

According to her, the current federal structure is not effective.

She also took a swipe on the ruling party, saying they abandoned the promises they made during campaigns.  

"The structure of a federation is its skeleton.

"A functional structure gives shape, support, and aids the movement of the federation.

"No wonder Nigeria is handicapped under this dysfunctional structure.

"There was a time when the APC agreed on the need to restructure the federation and devolve more powers to the regions and states.

"The party campaigned in 2015 on a manifesto that propagated the doctrine of restructuring.

"President Buhari went along with it every step of the way because it is all about getting into power for him.

"He won and then began to renege on his promises, including on restructuring.

"He suddenly remembered all the reasons why “structure is not the problem” with Nigeria, "she said.

The task ahead is a tough one, the ACPN presidential candidate said, emphasising that the process of addressing the challenges was the choice of a "bold, visionary leadership and hard work from an intelligent government". 

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