Atiku vs. Buhari: Issues at stake

The 2019 election is even more crucial than the one of 2015. It is going to be the mother of all elections. The stakes are also very high.

Robert Obioha

We have come to another election season. And it is going to be very exciting. Outside football, another game Nigerians delight in is politics. It is played by the old and the young. In Nigeria, it is still a male affair and a game for moneybags, who act as godfathers. That is why the older folks are not tired of playing the political game. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo alluded to this fact recently.

READ ALSO: 2019: Obasanjo changes his mind, forgives Atiku, endorses him for presidency

Despite the clamour of youths to be considered for elective positions, it appears the older ones are never in a hurry to retire. Despite the women’s cry over political exclusion, it appears they will wait for a longer period before they can be considered for higher political posts. This might account for why more influential women have joined the presidential race in this dispensation.

Although more than a dozen candidates have emerged from the concluded party primaries to contest the February 14 2019 Presidential/National Assembly poll, the contest is generally believed to be between the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). They are unarguably the hottest contenders to the plum job.

More so, the two leading parties zoned the presidency to the North. It is going to be a straight fight between two Northerners of the same religion and within the same age range although one is younger. The roll call of some of the presidential candidates, in no particular order, include former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke of the Social Democratic Party (SDP); former governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP); former Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Kingsley Moghalu of the Young Progressive Party (YPP); former Vice President of the World Bank and ex-Minister of education, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN); and Publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore of African Action Congress (AAC).

Others include Prof. Peter Nwangwu of the We the People of Nigeria Party; Edozie Madu, the Independent Democratic Party (IDP); Habib Mohammed, Young Democratic Party (YDP); and Dr. Davidson Isibor Akhimien, Grassroots Development Party of Nigeria (GDPN) and Mrs. Eunice Atuejide of the National Interest Party (NIP).

However, the emergence of Atiku from the PDP primaries has already exited the polity and it is hoped that cogent issues will dominate the campaigns which will take off November 18. It also appears that the 2015 scenario is playing out already. For instance, prior to 2015 poll, the ruling PDP produced one presidential candidate in the person of former President Goodluck Jonathan. All other aspirants were apparently blocked.

In 2018, the ruling APC produced President Muhammadu Buhari as its sole presidential candidate in a manner not quite different from what the PDP did in 2014. Just as Buhari’s emergence in 2014 hit the headlines, Atiku’s emergence in 2018 enjoyed wide media coverage and it is indeed the main issue in the nation’s political discourse. In fact, the media celebrated it. It is still too early to predict where the pendulum will swing in the 2019 electoral contest.

READ ALSO: The Buhari/Atiku contest

Atiku’s candidature has changed the tone and texture of the 2019 political permutations and most Nigerians are happy that the PDP got it right on this score. There is no doubt that restructuring is the major issue that will dominate the 2019 presidential election.

It is equally good that Atiku, an apostle of restructuring secured the presidential ticket of the PDP, a party that very much believed in the concept of restructuring the country.

The APC candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari, does not really believe in restructuring. He said that the nation’s problem is more of process than structure. That is why the profound recommendations of the 2014 National Conference were kept in the archives by the ruling party. His party which came to power on the basis of restructuring and other agenda has downplayed it in the past three years. The APC is still searching for the meaning of restructuring. Before it finds it, it will be damn too late.

The 2019 presidential votes will be a referendum on restructuring and the future of the country. This is why the 2019 election is even more crucial than the one of 2015. It is going to be the mother of all elections. The stakes are also very high. That is the more reason why the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must get it right. The mistakes in Ekiti and Osun gubernatorial polls must not be repeated in 2019. Besides restructuring, experience and national outlook of the candidate will go a long way to determine the outcome of the presidential poll. Nigerians would vote to power a president with cosmopolitan outlook and economic experience as well as somebody with a clear cut vision of where the nation is heading to. In the last three years of APC administration the nation’s economy has suffered so much.

We have passed through a recession. And there are signs that we may enter another recession if the economy is not diversified and national debts reduced. The nation’s unemployment level is rising with millions of Nigerians seeking for elusive jobs. Nigerians will vote for a candidate who can create jobs for the growing army of jobless youths. Poverty reduction is another issue that will be in focus in the 2019 election.

Most Nigerians are not happy that the country has won the ugly trophy of the poverty capital of the world, a crown it effortlessly took from India. Just like the late business mogul and politician, Chief M.K.O. Abiola said in 1993 that Nigerians should have no pact with poverty, the electorate will route for a presidential candidate who can say so and mean it. With our human and material resources, any serious government can banish poverty from our shores.

READ ALSO: Buhari, Abiola and June 12 services?

No Nigerian should live below $1.90 a day, a threshold considered to be below poverty level. Nigerians need a president who can fix the decaying infrastructure, the wobbling economy and unite the highly fractured country. They want a leader who will treat all Nigerians, irrespective ethnicity and religion, as one. The electorate will go for the person who is highly prepared for the job. Nigerians want the person who can do the job and not necessarily a saint.

The post Atiku vs. Buhari: Issues at stake appeared first on The Sun Nigeria.

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