*By Lloyd F. UKWU, Esquire
With the end of the party primaries, the battle line for the 19th of
February 2019 presidential election is drawn between two presidential
candidates: Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and
Muhammadu Buhari of the All Peoples Congress (APC). Already, Nigerians are
exasperated by Mohammuadu Buhari’s presidency because it has proven an
unmitigated disaster for the country. Many Nigerians consider him the
worst Nigerian president ever. Apart from his inability to make good on
any of his electoral promises, his presidency has plunged the country into
hitherto unknown levels of violence, poverty, hardship, insecurity and
disunity. The former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, offers a refreshing
alternative to Buhari’s bungled and deceitful presidency.
President Buhari anchored his presidential campaign on three electoral
promises. He promised to revamp the economy, and consequently, reduce
unemployment; curb corruption; and tackle insecurity, especially, Boko
Haram insurgency, in the country. After more than three years, the Buhari
administration has plunged the economy to almost a screeching halt, ground
zero and has failed to resuscitate it. Despite the doctored figures by the
federal government that gives the impression of improving economy, there
are empirical evidences that the Nigerian economy remains in a doldrums.
Unlike in 2015 when the Nigerian economy grew at 7%, it is now growing at
1.60%. A recent United Nations’ report crystallized the increasing
incidence of poverty in Nigeria, resulting from the irresponsible and
dangerous economic policies of the Buhari administration. Nigeria now has
the highest concentration of people living in poverty than any other
country in the world.
His administration’s much vaunted war on corruption has failed. The
Nigerian electorate had fallen for Buhari’s posturing as a paragon of
incorruptibility and moral rectitude. The proverbial Nigerian street
parlance of “ One Chance” It is now evident that Buhari is neither
incorruptible nor genuinely committed to fight corruption. It is a point
succinctly articulated by the Afenifere chieftain, Chief Ayo Adebanjo,
“All the qualities that were attributed to Buhari are fake. He does not
really have integrity; he is a collaborator in the corruption he claims he
is fighting”. He is tolerant of corrupt activities within his entourage;
he has refused to punish glaring cases of corruption by his associates and
subordinates. As a result, his war against corruption continues to falter.
The Transparency International Corruption Index, attests that corruption
in Nigeria has worsened under Buhari’s watch.
More lamentable than the Buhari government inability to defeat the Boko
Haram insurgency, is the added problems of insecurity brought on the
country by the Fulani herdsmen. Fulani herdsmen, armed with high powered
automatic assault rifles have been wrecking havoc on the farming
committees in the Middle Belt and other parts of Nigeria. They attack
these villages, maiming, raping and mass-murdering the innocent. They burn
down villages, drive away their original owners and occupy the villages.
Ostensibly, the herdsmen are fighting over grazing routes. But, evidently,
there is more to the murderous fanaticism of Fulani herdsmen in the Middle
Belt. They have a hidden expansionist agenda.
It has been rightly argued that the average Fulani herdsman lacks the
resources and sophistication to acquire automatic assault rifles; they are
armed by their masters, the members of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders
Association of Nigeria. The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of
Nigeria is an association of wealthy Fulani cattle owners. Buhari is a
member – a grand patron – of the Miyetti Allah. Many Nigerians suspect
that the federal government has been unwilling to protect the farming
communities in the Middle Belt and punish the murderous Fulani herdsmen
and their sponsors because Buhari, in his nepotism, religious bigotry and
tribalism, is sentimentally attached to the Fulani murderous, expansionist
design in the Middle Belt.
For the most part, Nigerians are unified in their resolve to vote out
President Mohammudu Buhari on 19th February 2019 because four more years
of Buharism will almost utterly destroy the country. It will reinforce
economic deterioration, relegate preponderant numbers of Nigerians to
raw-dirt poverty, heighten corruption, and further subvert the security
and unity of the country.
Nigerians were impressed by the recent PDP primaries. The process was
flawless and the outcome splendid. It produced the most qualified of the
contenders, and further unified the party. It was devoid of the usual
division and rancor that mar most party primaries in Nigeria, as all the
thirteen contenders for the PDP presidential ticket stated their
stratification with the electoral process that produced Atiku Abubakar as
the party’s flag bearer. They all considered the process fair, free and
credible, and all pledged to support Atiku and work with him and the party
to ensure a PDP presidential victory in February 2019.
Atiku is an antithesis of Mohammadu Buhari. Unlike Buhari that is renowned
for his nepotism and tribalism, Atiku is a totally detribalized Nigerian.
He is a Moslem but not in any way a fanatical Moslem. He has respect for
other religions of the world, and is acutely conscious that Nigeria is a
secular state. Unlike the ailing and “lifeless” Buhari, Atiku is healthy
and ebullient. In contrast to Buhari’s parochialism, Atiku is a national
figure, a unifier. He is enlightened and well-read. He is the author of
two books. He is also a every successful entrepreneur and one of the
biggest employers of labor in Nigeria.
He has the good will and national following to defeat Buhari in the polls.
And he has the knowledge, experience and mettle to lead Nigeria out of its
present morass of declining economy, ethnic strife and violence,
divisiveness and inequity to new heights of economic vitality, security,
unity and equity. An elderly Nigerian statesman summed it up in his own
words, “Atiku is the best available candidate”.
*Lloyd F. Ukwu, Esquire, an international lawyer, writes from Washington