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October 26, 2014

How can any society in the world think of development and advancement in the prism of three decades ago, when the world and the circumstances then were entirely different? Plans, policies and programmes should be based on futuristic plans, which should project where a country should be in future terms. For example, in economic terms or purchasing power, we had a currency that was stronger than the US Dollar and therefore had more purchasing power. The higher purchasing power made the cost of infrastructural development and provision of services far cheaper than what we can get today or in future, so extrapolating what happened in government three decade (30 years) ago, to present day, without taking into consideration the current dynamics, will be a fatal error, hence campaigning on the past, is to say the least a totally flawed approach. From the photo below, in August 1983, N500 exchanged for $730 (N0.68=$1). As at today, Saturday 25th October 2014, N500 will fetch you only $3.05 (N1=$0.0061). Just think how much the same type of project executed in 1983 will cost today.

With the foregoing analysis, those aspiring to lead us should take into consideration the present and future dynamics, and present to us with what they intend to achieve by 2019, as against dwelling in the past. Nigerians, the leaders and the led, are good at wanting to aspire to where the developed countries are today – qualitative education (hence the leaders send their children to foreign schools and universities); good health care services (hence the leaders, of all political parties, fly oversea for treatment for the slightest ailment); good roads; relatively secured environment; free, fair and transparent elections; and the list goes on. What these countries we aspire to emulate have achieved, was not based on sentiments (religious, ethnic, tribal, regional), but on forward planning, and with functional structures in place. We cannot achieve the type of society we find in the developed climes, if political parties and candidates fail to present their costed blueprints, plans, policies and programmes. Let us emulate the basis on which candidates and parties campaign for elections in the advanced democracies. Let me share the policies and programmes the UK Labour Party, of which I am a member, intends to fight the UK May 2015 General Election. The campaigning is in full swing for an election which is about eight (8) months away. THOSE WHO FAIL TO PLAN, PLAN TO FAIL.

These are bold and radical steps to tackling the problem of inequality in 21st century UK. Hard truths were said at the conference and we knew the public will be on our side. Politics is not just about being in power, it is to change the lives of the citizens for the better, by making society just, fair and equitable. The Labour Party plans are:
1. NHS pledge – Create a “world class” health service. Increasing homecare visits, more nurses, GPs, midwives and careworkers – paid for by clamping down on tax avoidance, using the proceeds of a mansion tax for properties over £2mm and a windfall tax on tobacco.
2. Minimum wage pledge – Raising the minimum wage by £1.50 to over £8 per hour by 2020, to reward “hard work” and halve the number of people in low pay. (Slightly different to speech as Miliband clarified that it would go “beyond £8”).
3. Apprenticeships – By 2025, have as many people doing modern business apprenticeships as currently go to university. Only providing major government contracts to companies that provide apprenticeships.
4. Self-employment – Granting the same employment rights for the many self-employed people in the UK that permanent employees have.
5. Energy – A commitment to take carbon emissions out of the economy by 2025 and through Green investment banks to allow communities to insulate 5 million homes over 10 years.
6. Decentralising Westminster power – Decentralising power from Westminster to the regions, including constitutional reform for England, Wales and Scotland.
7. House building – Make house building a top priority and by 2025 “build as many homes the UK needs” doubling the number of first-time buyers.
8. Breaking up high street banks – Breaking up the big high street banks in UK to allow more competition, to benefit consumers in financial services. These are election winning pledges and promote our social democratic ideals.
Labour - NHS Pledge

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