The Delectable Appeal Of Atiku Presidency -By Chijioke Mbaka

Filed under: Political Issues |

Much of the nation heaved a sigh of relieve on 7th October with the announcement of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as the presidential flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The peaceful conduct of the exercise, and the harmony and congeniality among the contestants, who accepted the results gracefully, gladdened a lot of well-meaning Nigerians, particularly those who were concerned that the exercise could, as doomsayers wanted, degenerate into fracas and terrible recriminations. For many more though, the selection of Atiku Abubakar is a welcomed development in the battle to save the soul of a country that is bedeviled by so many problems. Nigeria is at a great crossroad. She is in distress, in deep trouble. Since it took over power in 2015, the APC led Federal Government under Muhammadu Buhari has shown a conspicuous inability to steer the country from the path of economic and political retrogression. After three years of hopeless ineptitude, criminal insensitivity, habitual buck passing and alarmingly sedentary leadership, Nigeria has derailed considerably; she is off the right track and regressing at an astonishing speed. She has failed to assume a place of honour due her because of her massive human and natural resources. Instead, she is a straggler in the global march to progress and prosperity, a ‘shithole’ country. She threatens to become a pariah among the nations, an object of ridicule and scorn in every corner of the globe, no thanks to a very incompetent and lethargic leadership.

The US president’s uncharitable ‘shithole’ remarks were irritating & condemnable no doubt, but they are a true reflection of the unpalatable state of affairs in this country. Despite her rich oil wealth, Nigeria ranks low in every indices that defines the good life: standard of living is at an all time low; poverty is increasing, and Nigeria now has the highest number of poor people in the world. Accessibility to health care has reduced; Nigeria’s educational system is in shambles, offering nothing that would spur the country towards economic development and productivity. In the maiden Human Development Index released by World Bank a couple of days ago, Nigeria is ranked 152 out of 157 countries in the world, a dismal low especially when one compares it to the enormous resources of the country. Not up to a fortnight ago, Oxfam released their Commitment to Reducing Inequality (CRI) Index with Nigeria ranked BOTTOM, 157 out of 157 countries, the worst country in terms of inequality between the rich and the poor!


Atiku Abubakar


Then security! Thinking of the level of insecurity in Nigeria can change anyone’s mood in an instant. Nigeria has been rated in some quarters as one of the most dangerous places to live or visit. Killings and bloodshed go on every day. This is grim statistics for a country that should be the cynosure and mecca for nationals from all countries, coming for either business or tourism. But come to think of it now, a foreign traveler who puts any premium on security would have visited almost every country in the world before thinking of coming to Nigeria. Such would also be the case if he is an investor. No investors would put millions or billions of dollars in the economy of a country where bloodshed and violence tend to conflagrate on regular basis. Worse still, while we wait in vain for foreign investors, the ones already here leave our shores or downsize due to unfavourable conditions occasioned by poor economic management by this government. The result has been loss of jobs, more than 9 million jobs lost at the last count. And to give us more reasons to fear the worse, HSBC has predicted that Nigeria’s economy will most likely crumble if Buhari wins a second term. God forbids!

Now, how on earth did we find ourselves in this mess? In 2015, APC, working as feverishly as the devil, sold us a wrong candidate; he was packaged as Mr. Fix All, and he rode on the back of fantastic and bogus promises. We did not bother to evaluate whether antecedents as pertain to his activities, in and out of his previous office, showed someone with the capabilities to deliver on those promises. We swallowed the ploy hook and sinker; and before we realized it, grievous suffering has set in. We have since been paying dearly for our oversight. Simply put, Nigerians have suffered because we failed to take cognizance of the critical inadequacies in leadership capability of the man who was deceptively thrust upon us by the All Peoples Congress.

Now that another election year is near, it is the duty of all Nigerians irrespective of political, religious and ethnic affiliations to ensure that the monumental error of 2015 is not repeated. PDP leads in this charge with the presentation of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as its presidential candidate. The choice of Atiku Abubakar as the party’s presidential flag bearer was preceded and informed by critical considerations. PDP went for a man whose acts and deeds – whose antecedents – imply that he has the capabilities to pull Nigeria out of the dungeon of socio-political and economic deprivation. In going for atiku, PDP chose a man who is determined to make a difference, a man who is prepared for the job. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has proven and demonstrable pro-business credentials and economic management capabilities. He demonstrated it in his management of Nigeria’s economy as the Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. And he has for long been showing it in his management of his vast business concerns and his legendary ability to create jobs.

The logic is that if he could keep his business interests afloat in a volatile and unfavourable microeconomic environment as ours, he could get Nigeria’s economy working and thriving again. The difference between the economic management of a country and the management of a large business entity is getting narrower in recent times. The same business mindset needed to keep businesses thriving is now required in the economic management of a country in the 21st century, especially developing countries that need to create wealth and jobs, eradicate poverty and scale down inequality. Equally, countries are beginning to see themselves as economic entities. They strive for economic leverage in the global environment because economic strength now determines global relevance. (Think of US and China juggling for economic leverage, and China trying to exert economic dominance on Africa). Nigeria cannot be different. Atiku is expected to bring this business mindset to the presidency. His economic management skills and ability to attract skilled experts are critically needed to steer this country away from the path of economic disaster to the path of economic prosperity and progress.

Importantly, it is expected that he would improve the standard of education in Nigeria and align it to the quest for national development. This is because he has shown even in a private capacity that he recognizes the importance of education in national development, and has “contributed more than any other person in Africa to the progress of higher education”. On a highly positive note, he is a detribalized Nigerian, having cultivated friendship and goodwill in every part of Nigeria. His wide acceptability across the length and breadth of the country is a testament to that fact. It is therefore expected that he would unify the disparate parts of this country together and put an end to the pockets of insurrections (justifiable and otherwise) threatening the corporate existence of this country. Lastly, he is willing to make sacrifices for the sustenance of democracy in Nigeria. He amply demonstrated this during the Abacha era and in his second term as Vice-President when he put his political career on the line in defense of democratic values.

Frankly speaking, Atiku Abubakar brings a lot of credentials and qualities on the table; his running mate Peter Obi, who demonstrated a high level of competence and prudent economic management in 8 successful years as Governor of Anambra State, also has enviable credentials and qualities of his own. These have made their presidency a highly appealing prospect. Hopefully, this would signal the beginning of an era when aspirants to the office of the president must have proven records of competence and capability to show before a demanding populace. This should be the end of the era where a presidential candidate would come with nothing but promises, like the promise to make one dollar = one naira, and expect Nigerians to entrust him with their lives and fortunes.

A new dispensation in our young democratic history is beckoning; hope has been rekindled. The exciting combination of Atiku and Peter Obi has made 2019 a year of great expectations. All that is left is for Nigerians to give them the opportunity to climb on board and chart a new course for our troubled nation.

Mbaka Chijioke, a political & public affair analyst, writes from Enugu.