With the events of the last few weeks, there is no doubt that this would be Abubakar Atiku’s best shot at an office he has not hidden his desire for. The former vice president’s campaign would surely be reinvigorated with the goodwill he has been getting from a broad spectrum of Nigerians.
The just concluded raucous primaries conducted by the APC has made Atiku’s campaign easier. Even the senator representing Delta Central, Senator Omo Agege, who had vowed that he and his party would make sure Senator Bukola Saraki was impeached has been expelled from his party – the APC. With this, many senators who were ready to die for President Buhari must now be re-evaluating their position.
Surprisingly, former President Obasanjo, who many political analysts believed would never be disposed to an Atiku’s candidature, has forgiven his former deputy. Obasanjo will continue to throw punches at Buhari’s government from now to the February elections. Yesterday, he said Buhari’s hands were too weak to sign the African Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA). Obviously, this is just the beginning of his vicious attack on Buhari’s government. Jonathan never recovered from these attacks from Obasanjo during the last elections.
Just as Atiku said while he was leaving the APC, many of President Buhari’s associate are very unhappy with him and are just waiting for the right opportunity to make strong statements.
One of President Buhari’s supporters, Emir Lamido Sanusi, who also seems to be dissatisfied with the current government, recently said that Nigeria was on his way to becoming the world capital of poverty in 30 years as a result of its retrogressive policies.
But the eminent and respected economist was wrong, as it were. His economic model has to be recalibrated. A new report by the World Poverty Clock shows that Nigeria has overtaken India as the country with the most extreme poor people in the world. Nigeria is now the world capital of poverty!!
Even though President Buhari could argue that the PDP left a shattered economy for him, evidence on ground suggests that the work done to improve the economy has not really produced much impact. During the last administration, Nigeria’s GDP growth,in most cases, surpassed its population growth, but this has not happened during Buhari’s government.
Even Nigeria’s Central Bank has warned that Nigeria might be heading for another recession, despite the current high oil prices.
Since Buhari would need to campaign on achievements, he would find it difficult to impress the electorate. On the other hand, Atiku would be campaigning on promises. And to Atiku’s advantage, he has a record of assembling crack economic teams. He would not find it difficult to assemble a team that would will put down superb economic blue print for him during the campaign.
Nigeria would have to hope that his campaign economic blueprint and restructuring rhetoric would be implemented if he is given the opportunity to govern.
Currently, his personal views on restructuring does not seem to be the same with the PDP’s view on restructuring. If this is the case, it would be extremely difficult for an Atiku’s government to restructure the country in the manner he has proposed in his numerous public speeches.
To be fair to Buhari, he has tried to fight corruption. But the lack of a clear policy direction on the fight against corruption has obliterated the gains he has made in this area. His administration’s strategy on the fight against corruption has been reactive instead of been proactive. Instead of concentrating on the conditions that give rise to corruption and mapping out institutions that need thorough strengthening and not a lip service one – especially the civil service —this admiration has focused on running after the thieves. This is a reactive approach and has not given the government the mileage it desired.
As a result of this, many even see Buhari’s fight against corruption as a fight against the opposition.
The numerous cases of corruption and certificate forgeries in Buhari’s government might even dampen its main campaign rhetoric –which is on corruption — against Atiku. Analysts expect the APC to have a field day on Atiku’s inability to travel to the US and the many corruption allegations against him.
But Atiku has not been convicted by any court and the public now knows that there are no saints in the APC and PDP. Also, the US would not want to be dragged into Nigeria’s politics and are not likely to comment on any further inquiry about Atiku.
Atiku might even be granted a visa to the US in the coming days.This would reinforce his campaign. This is actually one of the APC’s fear. The party has just accused Obasanjo of working towards this. However, Obasanjo has denied this.
Obviously, the odds favor Atiku but the power of incumbency could play a major rule in the election, as it always does in elections developing countries — where electoral and security structures look up to the incumbent government for directions, as it were.