The Nigerian electorate will go to the polls to elect a new president. Will they stick to the current underperforming President Muhammadu Buhari or opt for alleged kleptomaniac ex-Vice-President Atiku Abubakar?
Words by Tunji Offeyi
This is no doubt an interesting time in Nigerian politics, considering that the current president, General Muhammadu Buhari of All People’s Congress(APC) a former military ruler ‘converted democrat’, first ruled by the gun through a military coup in 1983. Although he became a civilian president in 2015 having defeated former president Goodluck Jonathan, he has underperformed in office and is seen as highly divisive and deeply enmeshed in cronyism despite his saintly anti-corruption mantra. He is also seen as too weak and indecisive when it comes to tackling national emergencies and other security threats from cattle rustlers, kidnappers and Boko Haram terrorism in the north of the country. On the opposition side, the People’s Democratic Party(PDP) candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President of the Nigerian republic from 1999 to 2007, is seen as a better candidate by the international community based on his pro-business policy when he led the economic team during the regime of former president Olusegun Obasanjo whom he served as a deputy.
In addition, President Trump is said to be not so inclined to having Buhari returned to office. He has allegedly described him as ‘lifeless’. It could be because ex-president Obama campaigned openly for Buhari’s election in 2015 that makes Trump uninclined towards him, considering his anti-Obama stance. Despite the international support enjoyed by Atiku, the Jefferson enquiry in the US linked him to the financial scandal involving former US jailed congressman William Jefferson, which made Nigerians continuously see him as very corrupt. The allegation is corroborated by the fact that he was prohibited from travelling to the United States until January 17th 2019 when he landed in Washington to address the American Chamber of commerce and equally to put to rest the rumour that should he step on American soil he would be arrested. It should also be noted that his former boss Olusegun Obasanjo once said he can never forgive Atiku and openly described him as corrupt. Curiously after Obasanjo fell out with the Buhari regime he switched allegiance to the PDP candidate.
When the Voice of America, (VOA) asked Atiku if he is confident the US supports his candidature he replied with an emphatic ‘Yes’! Pressed further on why he has been unable to visit the US, he replied ‘the whole thing is about misinformation for a long time ‘and that he’d visited because he was just issued the visa after 13 years’. Regardless of American endorsements. President Buhari has continuously boasted he can never lose the coming election making many believe he is desperate and planning to rig the election in his favour by all means.
The real problem facing the Nigerian electorate now is not just the incompetence of Buhari or Atiku’s corrupt tendencies but the fact that neither of the two candidates, who hail from the northern part of Nigeria, are good enough. Whilst Buhari’s despotic nature is a great source of worry so is Atiku’s alleged fraudulent inclination not too desirable.
Who then do Nigerians look to? Perhaps it’s time to give the youth a chance as both controversial candidates are septuagenarians. Human right activist turned politician Omoyele Sowore of African Action Congress (AAC) and erstwhile United Nations chief Kingsley Moghalu of Young Progressive party (YPP) are other options to look at.