For me, Nigeria’s greatest tragedy is that in the year 2018, its only
validly realistic options for president are Buhari and Atiku. These are clearly not the best, or even the third best, Nigeria—or even
northern Nigeria can offer. However, given Buhari’s irreparably manifest incompetence, I was willing to tolerate an Atiku presidency. Unfortunately, I’ve seen no indication that Atiku wants to be president. He is his own worst saboteur. Here are five quick reasons for my conclusion. One, Atiku chose Dubai as his venue to hold a strategy meeting with his associates and then stayed there for days on end. That’s terrible optics that makes him indistinguishable from Buhari’s notorious xenophilia, i.e., his embarrassing fondness for the foreign.
Two, he said he would sell off the NNPC if he becomes president. I’m not an unreflective statist, but glibly talking of selling off a consequential national patrimony like the NNPC is pure neoliberal madness, particularly because the results of similar such ill- advised moves have been disastrous. Where is NITEL, for example?
Three, Atiku said he would risk inflation to attract foreign investment. That’s indefensibly reckless, unfeeling, and an indication that Atiku would be a poodle of racist, anti-people neoliberal rascals in Washington, DC. Four, Atiku cast his candidacy as an opportunity for the northeast. While that is factually true, it shows him as no different from Buhari whose clannishness and provincialism have no parallel in Nigeria’s recent history. I thought he would present himself as a candidate for a united Nigeria.
Finally, even atiku.org , Atiku’s personal website, isn’t up and running. I checked it before writing this. Why advertise a website when you can’t get it to work, when it is not populated with content? These aren’t good signs. In 2015, Buhari didn’t win the election; Jonathan lost it. That’s another way of saying the 2015 election was more a repudiation of Jonathan than it was an endorsement of Buhari. In 2019, it’s looking like Buhari won’t win again, but the opposition would lose. That’s another way of saying the objective factors for the easy defeat of Buhari are already there, but the major opposition to him would bungle it and hand him an undeserved victory.