Failure of APC government: The colossal failure of the All Progressives Congress (APC) government of President Muhammadu Buhari gives an extra edge to Atiku Abubakar who was vice president to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo under whose eight years Nigeria experienced the best democratic government with evidence in infrastructure, telecom revolution, debt forgiveness, increased foreign direct investments; respect within the international community. The insufferable hardship visited on Nigerians by Buhari APC government as typified by job losses, increasing unemployment rate, spread of insurgency, kidnapping and banditry from the north east to every part of the country, no cash, no fuel (with high cost where available) and general suffering give Atiku edge over any other candidate.
Experience: Atiku has garnered cognitive and hands-on experience as an entrepreneur and public office holder. He understands the nuances of free enterprise and the language of public service reforms. Under his guidance as Head of the National Economic Council, he midwifed a telecom revolution which earned Nigeria a respectable place in the hall of fame of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and created both direct and indirect jobs in millions.
Capacity: One of the required competences of modern day leadership is capacity to deliver at critical moments. The Buhari government has led Nigeria into a hole, into a critical case requiring critical thought leader. Atiku provides such leadership. He and Obasanjo met the same mess left behind by the military including a huge debt overhang but they navigated the nation out of the contours. He is the only candidate with such experience at the federal Executive level.
Nationalism: Nigeria is a nation of multiple diversities: religious, ethnic, ideological, etc. Atiku has over the years demonstrated his inclination to being able to manage the nation’s diversity which is a strength not a weakness. Atiku is neither a tribal champion nor a religious bigot. He is a liberal Nigerian burning with nationalistic fervor. He will unite a fractured Nigeria, left broken by the APC government.
A Good Head Hunter: A good leader is never the best but one who identifies the best and uses them to achieve set goals. He showed this under Obasanjo era when he brought into government some of the young technocrats that helped that government to pull Nigeria from the cesspit of insolvency which long years of military rule shoved her into.
Restructuring: Only Atiku has been consistent with the message of restructuring. To him, it is not just about socio- political restructuring but also economic re-calibration of the nation to bring governance closer to the people, ensure self-sufficiency among the different federating units as well as create an atmosphere that guarantees a thriving of the primary and services sectors to create jobs and opportunities for Nigerians.
His message to focus on MSMEs by funding and helping them to upskill and upscale resonates with global standard of national economic engineering. Atiku understands and has practised private-sector led economic agenda. When he says his government will encourage such, he speaks from experience. He has as an individual created jobs and wealth with visible and verifiable enterprise.
Ade-Ajay is a pan-African public policy analyst