The people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are on the verge of electing their 16th President. President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, of the Peoples Democratic Party , are the leading contestants. It’s vital for the people to choose wisely.
The West African country is facing grave problems.
Atiku’s party, PDP, left the country’s economy in shatters when it was voted out of power in 2015. The Buhari-led APC has taken measures to revive Nigeria’s financial health, but it has not done enough. Perhaps, because of the scale of the problem that he inherited.
Corruption has been a serious problem in the country. Earlier this week, Buhari ordered the prosecution of two high-ranking Government officials, Babachir Lawal and Ayo Oke, for misappropriation of public funds.
Atiku himself has been implicated on corruption charges. He is reportedly under investigation by the FBI for bribing and money laundering in the United States. He has also been previously disqualified by the Independent National Electoral Commission on the grounds that he had been indicted for financial misconduct by an investigating panel set up by his own party’s President, Olusegun Obasanjo.
Atiku is also essentially a businessman and not really a public servant. He is a co-founder of Intels, an oil servicing business with extensive operations in Nigeria and abroad. He is also the founder of Adama Beverages Limited. He has huge investments in real estate. All his businesses have provided him with immense wealth. Conflict of interest accusations have trailed him for a long time because of his involvement in business while being a civil servant.
Other issues around security, education and infrastructure also plague the country.
The most disturbing matter, though, is the uncaring nature of the voters. Nigerians, driven by poverty, are known to sell their votes to the highest bidder. Many don’t vote. But if the country has to revive itself and move towards prosperity, its people have to take a stand and listen to their conscience and not get swayed by money. It is a question of faithful citizenship.
The political realities of Nigeria today present both opportunities and challenges. This election is an opportunity for Nigerians to elect a candidate more capable and likely to fulfil election promises, someone who is dedicated to the upliftment of poverty, someone who is not stained by corruption. The challenge is whether they will actually wake up and think differently.