As Nigeria’s presidential election draws near, a top US media, CNN has analysed the candidacy of the two leading contenders, incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party.
In the report by Stephanie Busari for CNN, Buhari and Atiku were described as old men vying to lead the continent’s youngest population.
The report notes that although both top candidates are Muslims from the north, above 70 and experienced in the country’s governance, they have different ideologies.
It indicates that “Incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, of the All Progressives Congress party, known as the APC, and Atiku Abubakar, of the Peoples Democratic Party, or PDP, will face the Nigerian electorate on February 16 when Africa's largest democracy votes.
"Although they share demographic similarities, ideologically, the two men are opposed.
"Buhari, who took power in a military coup in 1983 and was ousted in another coup before waiting almost three decades to be eventually elected president, relies more on the government and public sector and is suspicious of investment, both domestic and foreign, says financial analyst Bismarck Rewane.
“Abubakar, who served as vice president from 1999 to 2007, is a staunch capitalist who made his fortune investing in various sectors in the country.
“Regardless of who the electorate picks -- and there are 70 more candidates to choose from -- the outcome will dramatically shape the fortunes of Nigeria's more than 190 million people.
"The vote comes at a critical time for the country's economy, a lynchpin of the region. The recent oil price crash sent Nigeria's economy into turmoil when the price of a barrel plunged to $40 at its lowest from a high of $100, leaving the country's major revenue source depleted.
"Although the country has emerged from recession and GDP grew slightly, 87 million Nigerians now live in poverty, the highest number of impoverished people in the world, overtaking India to move into the top spot in 2018, according to The Brookings Institution."
The report quotes Senator Ben Murray-Bruce as saying an Atiku win will help revive the economy.
The senator reportedly said: "Nigeria is a Fortune 500 company, and Atiku is the man to lead it. He wants to grow a trillion-dollar economy and create jobs. He has made and lost billions and knows how to do this."
The report describes Atiku as a multimillionaire entrepreneur who has interests in many sectors such as agriculture, real estate, and a microfinance bank, which according to him gives 80% of its loans to women.
“He also owns the American University in Yola, where some of the freed kidnapped Chibok girls -- taken by Boko Haram -- attend on government scholarships.
"Abubakar, who has three wives and 28 children, describes himself as a supporter of gender equality.
“Abubakar has been trying to become president since he was vice president and has campaigned four times.
“Now 72, this is perhaps Abubakar's last chance at the top job. But his candidacy has been dogged by persistent allegations of corruption, which stem from his time in office," the report added.
Abubakar has faced claims that he used his time in office to enrich himself and his friends.
“Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who he served under, was one of his most vocal critics, but the pair have since reconciled, with Obasanjo recently endorsing him for the presidency.”
Atiku’s reaction to the report of corruption has been dismissal claiming he was innocent since he has not been charged.
He reportedly said: "They are all allegations. I have dared people publicly that if anybody has any evidence of corruption against me, let him come out. I've never been found wanting. But people will always accuse you. But you cannot stop being accused of corruption as long as you're a politician in a developing country."
The report also focused on Buhari’s health citing the long period he had to spend in London for treatment.
One of his aides, Abike Dabiri has insisted that he is healed.
She said: "He is now healed. He had a debilitating illness and had to go through blood transfusions but he has come back stronger and healthier.
"You can be sure that President Buhari will not take your money. That is why the African Union declared him the anti-corruption tzar for Africa.”
The report said the latest Corruption Perception Index has shown that Nigeria has not improved in the fight against corruption in spite of Buhari’s claim that things were better.
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“Buhari swept to power on a promise to tackle the scourge of Boko Haram. However, the jihadi group appears strengthened and one faction has forged stronger links with ISIS to create the Islamic State of West Africa Province, and the group is staging attacks on military bases and displacing thousands of Nigerians.
“This faction also executed two International Red Cross aid workers last year.
"Dabiri defended Buhari's record on the militant group, saying he has done more than previous administrations to contain the Boko Haram threat. She pointed to Buhari's infrastructure projects and a recent social welfare program as achievements from his term as president.”
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