Bulwark Intelligence




In the first part of this series, we analyzed the chances of numerous presidential candidates in the PDP and APC in view of the primaries and made some valid predictions. As the campaign begins, we present to you the second part of the series; an overview of the two major contenders for the office of President with an interesting categorization, encompassing background, political philosophy, the prospect of winning, and obstacles. This classification is based on a few factors, such as political party, political structure, national reach, support base, network, and popularity. Atiku Abubakar Atiku’s public career began in the Nigerian Customs Service, where he would eventually retired in 1989 and ventured into business and politics. His foray into politics can be traced to his days in the People’s Front (PF), a political organization created by the late Major General Shehu Musa Yar’adua. This formed the background for his formidable political network of different supporters across the country, as the People’s Front was an organization of influential politicians. A former Vice President from 1999–2007 and a sixth-time contestant, having been on the ballot in 2007 and 2019 and contested his party’s primaries in 1993, 2011, and 2015. Atiku would be giving his presidential bid all he got because, being his sixth attempt as a septuagenarian, it is likely his last shot at the top office of the land. Prospects of winning Atiku Abubakar was the People’s Democratic Party candidate in the 2019 Presidential election, where he garnered about 11 million votes (39%) against the 15 million votes (53%) of the winner, President Muhammadu Buhari. While the numbers he would poll this time around are uncertain, based on his previous performance, his chances are still bright because, for many Nigerians disaffected with the status quo and seeking a change, he’s a viable alternative to the ruling party’s being the presidential candidate of the major opposition party. His party is also in control of 13 states: Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Bauchi, Sokoto, Delta, Edo, Oyo, Rivers, Bayelsa, Abia, Enugu, and Taraba. PDP’s control of these states is going to come in handy for a solid performance during the election. In other states where PDP is out of power, it’s the main opposition and therefore has a strong reach into the nooks and crannies of the grassroots, having been in existence for over 20 years. Political Philosophy Political restructuring Atiku is a believer in political restructuring, which, to him, means devolving power to the states for more autonomy at the sub-national level and better fiscal federalism. At a conference where he was represented by his doctor, Ifeanyi Okowa, Atiku said, “I advocate a proper federal structure that recognizes the federating units and the federal government as mutually coordinated and not subordinate one to the other, yet cooperative among themselves, distinct from the current structure where states exist as mere appendages of the center.” This philosophy has gained him popularity amongst Nigerians with grievances against the country’s power structure and who perceive the problems bedeviling Nigeria as structural. Restructuring is a hot-button topic and hobby horse, especially in the south of Nigeria. Neoliberalism Atiku believes in neoliberalism; a political ideology that favours privatization, liberalization of different sectors of the economy, lean government, disfavors unionization, promotes financial deregulation, and frowns at subsidy. In his abridged policy document, titled My Covenant with Nigerians, Atiku outlines three basic principles that guide his agenda: “greater private sector participation, discontinuation of government monopoly in infrastructure, including refineries, rail transportation, and power transmission; greater market leverage in price determination, and elimination of persistent price distortion due to interventionist exchange rate management policy.” Atiku’s neoliberalist predilection came to full glare when he presided over Nigeria’s privatization program from 1999-2007 as Vice President. Obstacles The Internal crisis in PDP His candidacy would be affected negatively by the rancor in the ranks of the People’s Democratic Party. Atiku Abubakar, the Presidential candidate of the party, and the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, are locked in a fundamental disagreement. The latter is bitter over his loss in the Presidential primaries and Governor Wike has stipulated some conditions for reconciliation, including but not limited to the resignation of the party chairman, Iyorcha Ayu, on the premise that Atiku and Ayu, both presidential candidates and party chairman, come from the North. Ayus’ removal seems very unlikely, but should he be removed, the PDP constitution stipulates that a chairman should be replaced by a deputy chairman from his zone, which is far from being a solution to the bone of contention. There have been several meetings between the representatives of Governor Wike and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, but the inability to reconcile differences has lingered. Recently, a concession was offered as Senator Walid Jibrin resigned as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the PDP and Senator Adolfus Wabara took over. But it wasn’t enough as Governor Wike’s caucus within the party pulled out of Atiku’s Presidential Campaign, insisting that PDP Chairman, Iyorcha Ayu, must go. There are fears that an inability to reconcile differences could see Governor Wike tacitly supporting the presidential candidate of another party in the 2023 election. Apart from being a political heavyweight in Rivers state and, by extension, his South-South region, Governor Wikes’ dissidence against his party is supported by four other governors, ex-ministers, and former members of the national assembly. An inability to get Wikes’ buy-in would affect the chances of Atiku in the 2023 election, as the bulk of his 11 million votes polled in 2019 came from the South. Party’s record The People’s Democratic Party was the ruling party for 16 years and Atiku was VP for 7 of those years, misgovernance of the PDP created conditions ripe for a merger of parties [APC] to emerge victorious in 2015. Many Nigerians don’t perceive the PDP as a valid alternative due to their previous record in government. Old Order A generational power shift has dominated political discussions for a while. The youth of the country have grown largely antagonistic to


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