Nigerians will know soon who their next President is. As usual, tension is high and rumours are flying. Schools have closed and people have curtailed their movement. The whole nation is waiting!
Those who have electricity or can fuel their generators are glued to their TVs and radios, while others requiring more in-depth analysis rush to the newspapers.
Who is it going to be? Will there be or not be? Will the loser accept defeat? These are questions on people’s lips and they are not strange to Nigerian elections.
The National Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) has promised us a free and fair election and we expect nothing less. The two prominent candidates from the two major political parties are APC’s Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar of the PDP. Prof kingsley Moghalu, the presidential candidate of the Young Progressives Party, (YPP), though qualified and represents a new dawn in Nigeria’s politics. Political pundits say he will win only by a miracle or unbelievable luck.
All eyes are on the old brigades Atiku and Buhari. If Buhari wins, Nigerians would have re-elected him and the APC for another four years. Buhari came into power in 2015 riding on the back of popular support built on his integrity profile. It took him months to announce a cabinet as if the victory took him by surprise. He has staged an unsuccessful fight against corruption, seen as Nigerian’s biggest challenge. But experts believe that there is a good level of accountability in Government and other sectors under him. Agencies of government are said to be more accountable. JAMB for example remitted N7.8 billion into Government coffers in one year more than it did in 40 years.
Buhari’s infrastructural development, particularly the revival of the rail system in some areas is laudable, so is his ability to pay pension arrears left by the previous Government. He initiated several social investment programmes meant to create jobs but his regime lacked specific economic direction and critics emphasized that fighting corruption is not an economic policy as he was trying to make it.
Buhari’s integrity has also come under question as he reneged on his promise to serve only one term. He is no Nelson Mandela! Buhari’s selective appointments that has favoured mainly the north and his Muslim brothers, and the questionable hiring and firing of even senior Government officers have also come under serious criticism and suspicion.
On the other hand, PDP’s Atiku Abubakar is an accomplished businessman is former career customs officer who knows how to create wealth and jobs. As VP to Obasanjo, he was chairman of the administration’s economic council which came up with strategies for economic growth which gave Nigeria a record GDP of 6 per cent per annum; making it Africa’s fastest growing economy.
Analysts say Atiku would run a better government and handle the economy better than Buhari. But it is hard to built hope on that as Atiku had a bad report card from his boss, Obasanjo, although the later has now given him a clean reference letter and thinks he will do a good job.
Many Nigerians are convinced that the PDP stole much money and entrenched the worst kind of pilfering, corruption and criminality. At the same time, the same Nigerians are questioning the competence of a “sick” Buhari whose Government was said, by his own wife, to be hijacked and run by a Cabal.
It remains to be seen whom the electorate will choose.