BusinessDay

Nigeria faces three-horse race in 2023

The 2023 general election scheduled to kick off in February promises to be interesting and tension-soaked.

Unlike in 2019 when the race was purely between President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president and candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), this time around, the battle will be among the PDP candidate (Atiku); Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) and whoever that would emerge from the APC’s Residential primary scheduled to hold from June 6 and 7.

Already, the political scene is charged and excitement is high that there are more choices than there were in 2019. Atiku emerged from a rancor-free primary election that observers however, say witnessed a great deal of wheeling and dealing.

Peter Obi, who had a few days to the PDP convention tendered a resignation from the party and stood down from his presidential aspiration on that platform, joined the Labour Party to achieve his dream of re-engineering the country.

The APC on the other hand, which had played a “mind game” with the PDP, by shifting dates for its conventions, will eventually pick its standard bearer in a few days from now.

Atiku Abubakar

He is not a new comer on the Nigeria’s political scene. He is an astute politician and a juggernaut at that. A master strategist who has made marks in business, and education sectors, Atiku has pledged to unify the country. He has consistently claimed to be a “Unifier”; and makes no pretense about what he hopes to do when he gets to the Aso Rock in Abuja as the chief occupant.

The politician is a detribalised Nigerian, who has over the years, built bridges across the country. This is evident in his choice of wives as a Moslem. He picked one from each of the major blocs. The Board of Trustees (BoT) chairmen of his major businesses are people from other regions other than the north. He founded one of the best higher institutions in the country – American University of Nigeria (AUN) in Yola, his native home. The university is run by the best brains in the education sector with an American as its president (Vice Chancellor). A visit to the institution would convince any doubting Thomas that with an Atiku in the saddle as the next President of Nigeria, industrial actions by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) would be a thing of the past. The AUN offers scholarship to indigent students. A number of the girls who escaped from the Boko Haram den on that dark day in 2014 when the terrorists abducted hundreds of school young women, found habitation and rehabilitation in AUN. Some are also pursuing their academics in several other places across the globe on AUN’s scholarship. A number of those girls have become hopeful as they have graduated from AUN and other institutions.

Atiku’s success in business is positively touching everyone in his native Adamawa State, particularly those who live in the Yola Township. From real estate to manufacturing and to media, he has established formidable institutions that contribute heavily to the nation’s economy. Although a Moslem by religion, Atiku is broad-minded and accommodates the views of people of other religions.

When he contested with Buhari in 2019, he did so excellently that some Nigerians still believe, very strongly, that he may have been robbed of that victory. But with Buhari not going to be on the ballot in 2023, pundits say his chances are brighter this time around.

In a message he sent out in the morning of Sunday after the party’s primary, Atiku said: “Last night was a momentous episode in our march to reclaim our dear country. Although I am not unaware that there was so much apprehension about the direction that the election could go, I was confident that with God on our side and based on the enormous work that everyone has put into this, we should record a resounding victory. And so it was!

“But this victory is not enough. Indeed, it is a further call to duty. Now that delegates of our great party, the People’s Democratic Party have done their bit, the challenge now is on you, and I, to present as ONE to get the job done.

“Let me remind you, once again, what this job is all about, dear compatriot. The job at hand for us is to ensure that we uproot the vestiges of bad governance that the ruling All Progressives Congress represents and begin to plant our UNITY SEED that will birth the New Nigeria of our dreams.

Last week, I revealed an abridged version of my policy document, which contains details of my 5-point UNITY SEED agenda.

“Dear compatriot, I will take it for granted that you’ll ingrain the content of this policy document. Ours shall be a disciplined and issue-focused campaign, and I will urge you to get prepared for the task ahead, as we set forth.

The victory last night is yet another chapter in our historic the journey to redeem our country. It is my prayer that come this day, 29 May, next year, we shall get to work together in a government that will accommodate all Nigerians, especially the youth.”

Read also: ‘We do not see voting patterns changing in 2023’

Atiku Abubakar’s biography

Atiku Abubakar a Nigerian politician was born in Jada, a village which was formerly under the administration of the British Cameroons, which later joined Nigeria. He became the only child to his parents, Garba Abubakar and Aisha Kande when his only sister died at infancy. Abubakar is married to four wives and has been blessed with twenty eight children. At an early age of eight, Abubakar started schooling at the Jada Primary School, Adamawa, which he completed in 1960. In the same year, Abubakar was admitted into Adamawa Provincial Secondary School. He graduated from the secondary school in 1965 after he made grade three in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination. Abubakar continued to study at the Nigeria Police College in Kaduna. He progressed to work as a tax officer in the regional Ministry of Finance; he gained admission to the School of Hygiene in Kano in 1966, where he finished with a diploma. He served as a student Union President at the time, and in the same year he enrolled for a Law diploma at the Ahmadu Bello University Institute of Administration.

Career

Abubakar was employed by the Nigeria Custom Service after graduation in 1969. He is known to be a serial entrepreneur; he served with the Nigeria Customs Services for twenty years, and at some point, became the Deputy Director, the second highest position held within the system.

Abubakar has been into the government system for a long time, precisely 1980s. He was elected the National Vice-chairman of the Peoples Front of Nigeria (PFN) which was denied registration by the military government. The PFN merged with the Social Democratic Party (SDP) when Abubakar contested and won the SDP primaries in November 1991, and got disqualified by the government. He contested for the SDP presidential primaries in 1993 where he came third with 2,066 votes. He also showed interest in the contest for the gubernatorial seat of Adamawa State under the United Nigeria Congress Party. In 1998, Abubakar joined the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and won the December 1998 governorship election for Adamawa State but also received an option to be running mate with Olusegun Obasanjo to the PDP Presidential seat in 1999, and won the election. Abubakar lasted as the vice president of the federation in the first and second term, although joined the Action Congress (AC) in 2006 toward the 2007 election, where he came third position. He returned to PDP, and in October 2010, he announced his intention to contest for the presidency which he lost in the primaries stage by having 805 votes compared to Goodluck Jonathan who garnered 2736 votes. In 2014, he joined the All Progressives Congress (APC) in a bid to run for the president’s office but he lost at the primary stage to Muhammadu Buhari (3430 votes), Rabiu Kwankwaso (974 votes), and himself with 954 votes. He announced his exit from APC and claimed to return home as he joined the PDP in December 2017. He campaigned and won the primary election for 2019 under PDP, but lost to the incumbent president who won with over 3million votes against him.

Business

Abubakar is also into real estate, which he started long ago in 1974, when he applied and was given a loan of N31,000 which he used to build his first house in Yola; he eventually purchased lands and continued building houses he would usually rent out, and eventually he built a portfolio of property in Yola, Nigeria. He ventured into Agriculture at the age of 34 which eventually failed after five years and then he ventured into trading, buying and selling of truckloads of rice, flour, and sugar. Abubakar also ventured into the transportation sector of business; he joined Gabrielle Volpi, an Italian businessman in Nigeria to create the Nigeria Container Services (NICOTES), a logistics company that operated within the Apapa ports. He also co-founded Intels Nigeria Limited, which at a point featured in an accusation of money laundering by the U.S government. Abubakar generated other businesses which include an animal feed factory, Adama Beverages Limited, among others. He also plays in the education sector of the nation’s economy. He is the founder of the American University of Nigeria (AUN). He also owns television and radio station, GOTEL Com.

Peter Obi

He needs no introduction in the country right now. He has become a household name in many parts of the country. He scripted his name in the hearts of people by consistently saying the same thing and living out what he says in many practical ways. Many of those who tried to traduce him ended up bruising their noses. Peter Obi shut into Nigerian’s consciousness when he turned Anambra from a collapsing state to a vibrant one with hope.

Before his arrival in the driver’s seat of the state as governor, the state had been run aground. Schools had shut down for a whole academic year and things were really going wrong. Killings were everyday affair like what is going on currently, because of the reign of terror by a bloody vigilance group called “Bakassi Boys”. He did not only return normalcy to the state; he also returned it to profitability as several records in the media space can attest. Unlike many politicians, Obi has no skeleton in his cupboard. His down-to-earth lifestyle, which unnecessarily infuriates some people, is his winning Joker.

Gradually, he has become a brand in the country. Even his virulent critics, in their sober moments, confess that Obi is the best Presidential material for Nigeria at this time. Obi’s vision is to retool the country. His heart bleeds at the massive looking going on by those who were supposed to plug the high level of malfeasance going on. That was why when he saw the bazaar going on in the PDP in the name of delegates’ votes and list, his heart bled. Anambra people can attest to his Midas touch in the state and they strongly believe that “Okwute” as he is fondly called is the antidote to Nigeria’s numerous malaise.

Obi believes that the country has been hijacked by a few privileged elements, but must have to be returned to its rightful owners- the masses.

Hence, smarting from his victory at the Labour Party’s primary Monday, he urged Nigerians, “Let us return Nigeria to the rightful owners.”

According to him, “History beckons. Nigerians remain hopeful for a national rebirth, which implies returning Nigeria to Nigerians – farmers, teachers and students, lecturers, artisans, workers, pensioners and over a hundred million poor Nigerians who are not sure where their next meal will come from.

“Therefore, what you are doing today is a patriotic duty towards seeking the desired political emancipation of our dear country, which stands wounded by many years of cumulative leadership failure.

“Painfully, our current dysfunctional system rewards unearned income and conspicuous consumption; allows university lecturers to remain on strike for months; keep our youths at home; and owe pensioners, who gave their patriotic sweat and their youthful energy to serve this country.

“The despicable contrast is that those responsible for the mess -those elected to take care of them – have abandoned the national currency and are living in opulence and like kings, spend dollars to buy delegates as well as houses all over the world. Meanwhile, they owe most workers, lecturers and retirees.

“Yes, our country stands hijacked by forces of retrogression. We are almost zero in all indices of development. As a result, our future, especially those of the youth and generations unborn is in ruins. We have become a laughing stock among other nations, including African countries where we were once revered.”

Obi also said: “I note with humility that the journey is going to be a collective one that will certainly require the cooperation of critical stakeholders in our country, especially the youth, whose future has been thoroughly degraded.

“I therefore, thank all of you and call for your sustained support towards returning Nigeria to Nigerians from forces of bad leadership and retrogression. Such a noble tasks brooks no conscientious objectors.

“I hardly use war metaphors for political analysis due to my belief that politics is not adversarial and not war. However permit me a little indulgence here, to relate what we are embarking on to the ancient battle of Thermopylae, where the Greek forces, conscious of fighting for the life of Greece held on against great odds in the defence of their country.

“In the battle to re-take Nigerian, the odds are great and seemingly insurmountable, but with our commitment, patriotism and understanding that we are doing, what we are supposed to do for our country, lest she shall die, we shall move on discontent with what is and focused on enthroning what ought to be. In doing this, our battle cry shall remain: get your PVC and become part of this great libration!

“Our governance mission will be twin-tracked. Secure Nigeria in every ramification: national security, human security, food security and tackling insecurity created by unemployment.”

Biography

Peter Obi was born on 19th July 1961 at Onitsha. He had his secondary school education at Christ the King College, Onitsha. In 1980, Peter proceeded to University of Nigeria, Nsukka where he graduated with a B.A (Hons) in Philosophy in 1984.

Afterwards, his love for academic took him outside the shore of Nigeria to Ivy League and Oxbridge schools. He also went to Harvard Business School, Boston, USA; London School of Economics where he studied Financial Management/Business Policy; Columbia Business School, New York, USA (Marketing Management); Institute for Management and Development, Switzerland; Kellogg Graduate School of Management, USA; Oxford University; Lagos Business School, Nigeria and Cambridge. Obi got married to Margaret BrownsonUsen in 1992 and they are blessed with two children.

Career

•Former Chairman: Board of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

•Former Chairman: Fidelity Bank Plc.

•Former Chairman: Guardian Express Mortgage Bank, Ltd.

•Former Chairman: Future Views Securities, Ltd.

•Former Chairman: Paymaster Nigeria Plc.

•Former Chairman: Next International (Nigeria) Ltd.

•Former Director: Guardian Express Bank Plc.

•Former Director: Chams Nigeria Plc.

•Former Director: Emerging Capital Ltd.

•Former Director: Card Centre Plc.

•Member, Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG).

•Member, Nigerian Chartered Institute of Bankers.

•Member, British Institute of Directors (IOD).

Political career

2006 – 2014 – Governor, Anambra State of Nigeria.

2006 – 2014 – Chairman, South-East Governors’ Forum.

2008 – 2014 – Vice-Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum.

Till May 2015 – He was the Honorary Special Adviser to the President on Finance.

Till May 2015 – Member, Presidential Economic Management Team

During his tenure as the Governor of Anambra State, he served as a member of;

• Federal Government Committee on Minimum Wage.

•Federal Government Committee on Negotiation with Labour on Subsidy.

•Federal Government Committee on Mass Transit.

•Federal Government Committee on Natural Resource.

• National Economic Council Committee on Power Sector Reform.

•National Economic Council Committee on Sharing of MDGs Funds.

•National Economic Council Committee on Accurate Data on Nigeria’s Oil Import and Export.

•Agricultural Transformation Implementation Council.

•Sub-Committee on Needs Analysis of Public Universities in Nigeria.

•National Economic Council Review Committee on the Power Sector.

APC candidate

The nation is eagerly awiating the candidate of the APC. Some people are predicting it is either going to be Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State and national leader of the party; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, or Ahmad Lawan, Senate president from Yobe State, North East.

According to pundits if it is Tinubu, a man who is a specialist in raising men, he would give the country a new direction, despite the thinking of some Nigerians to the contrary. Pundits say that Tinubu, knowing that the government he hatched in 2015 had become a nightmare to Nigerians, would try to right the wrongs by swinging things 360o (degrees). Although it is difficult to point at some establishments by Tinubu, such as flourishing schools, and other businesses that have directly benefited the masses of the country, beyond politics, it is believed that the Jagaban is a creator of wealth and philanthropist. Love him or hate him, Asiwaju is not a push over and he promises to bring his Midas touch to bear on Nigeria’s multifarious maladies from May 29, 2023 when and if he succeeds Buhari. But some analysts are predicting that the power pendulum is likely to swing to Ahmad Lawan. The analysts based their prediction on some of the information garnered that some powerful northern elements insist that Lawan must succeed Buhari since nobody from the North East has tasted the Presidency. A governor of the North West State was quoted as saying that he was not going to buy into such scheme which according to him was against his personal conviction that power should move to the south in the interest of equity and fairness.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is seriously in the race and he is being touted as the man who the President is holding close to his chest as his preffered successor. Those who think that Osinbajo has the chance couched their analysis from the free hand the President allows him to move across the country on consultation in Presidential Jet and also deploying other resources of state to that advantage. Osinbajo is hoped to galvanise the southern votes as well as pull massive winning votes from the north on account of the influence of the President in the region.

But it is generally believed that whoever that emerges from the APC primary must get ready for a fierce battle as Atiku and Obi are strong forces to contend with.

“It makes it easier for Atiku or Obi to win the next election because Buhari’s name is not going to be on the ballot. Yes, he will lend his support, but it is not the same thing as when he was on the card. Do not also forget that the APC will be going to be poll weaker this time around because of the attitude of the party to governance in the last seven years. If Nigerians vote with their conscience, the party has no business coming back to power,” Rufus Ali, a political science lecturer with one of the nation’s private universities, said.

It is being touted that the APC may choose Lawan to counter-balance the PDP’s Atiku from North East also.

“I think the game plan here is to get someone from Atiku’s zone that would split the northern votes; then the entire south becomes a battle ground. The calculation is that if anybody else is chosen from the south, the north could decide to vote en bloc for Atiku, and this will defeat the mind game the APC has played with the PDP all this while. It is a political calculation and the hand writing is clear on the wall,” Alli said.

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