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The case for Dangote as third-party candidate in 2019

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Aliko Dangote, billionaire and chief executive officer of Dangote Group, PHOTO: Jason Alden/Bloomberg


Nigeria is at a political crossroads. Recent events in the Senate and the House of Representatives have highlighted how close the country is to a misstep at the next election. Defections from the APC to the PDP and the emerging ADP and ADC are symptoms of healthy fractures within a democracy emerging from 16 years of single party dominance, but, these fractures should be based on principles, not power. They should not dilapidate the Presidency.

In 2015, the current administration was given the opportunity to bring true change to Nigeria. Through its own stubbornness and sabotage from its earliest days from party factions, it has failed abysmally. Three years after election, insecurity still plagues large parts of the country, corruption remains at all-time highs, and when inflation and population growth is factored, the economy continues to move backwards. The elite of the country remain unchecked by rule of law, and, if this pattern continues we must be clear about the eventual result: a military coup, or, even worse, major civil conflict.

Whilst the people of Nigeria gave the APC the opportunity to bring meaningful change to governance of the country, the only clear change that was delivered was the end of the hegemony of a ruling PDP, something once thought impossible. That said, four more years of the PDP or APC offers little hope of bringing the nation back on track. In a pool of undesirable candidates, even Nigeria’s perennial power brokers are hard pressed to find party backed candidates they can enthusiastically support. In a world of Imram Khan, Emmanuel Macron, and Donald Trump, there is no reason why Nigerians too will not embrace a ‘third way’ candidate.

Former President Obasanjo has argued for a third candidate, but the names suggested have no real chance to win against the powerful party machineries of the PDP and APC. For someone to defeat these well-funded monoliths, they need to be of the system, but separate from it. They need to be as big or bigger than the parties they are fighting. They need to inspire hope among every day Nigerians. Today, there is only one person that fits this description: Aliko Dangote. But questions remain: How is he convinced to run? How can it be ensured that enough political power brokers will support him? And how does he then find a path to election? We believe at the end of the year we will have the answer to all of these questions. It will be up to Mr. Dangote to choose.

Naysayers will argue that the risk to Dangote’s commercial interests are too high for him to consider a presidential run. We however believe that the risk posed to Nigeria’s future success if we continue with the current two-party system is a much greater threat to Dangote’s and Nigeria’s interests. Furthermore, we believe Aliko Dangote is one of Nigeria’s greatest patriots, and we believe he cares more about his country than he does about risking political persecution on one or two years’ annual profit reports.

Naysayers will argue that Dangote is of the system as he has made much of his vast wealth through protectionist measures that he, in part, created. We believe, Nigeria itself, much like the United States and other hegemons is a naturally protectionist economy. The impending long-term benefit of the Dangote refinery’s on Nigeria’s reserve account alone, prove he is Nigeria’s only monopolist that has done more for Nigeria’s macro-economic wellbeing than have the last three Presidents. He understands, more than anyone, how Nigeria’s economy actually functions.

Naysayers will argue that a Dangote presidency would turn Nigeria into “Dangote Incorporated”. We believe they assume that Dangote is as greedy as they are. Whilst there are healthy criticisms of Dangote’s self-benefiting tendencies, we believe he has, time and again, shown that he will work hard and create value for any wealth he takes – unlike most of his contemporaries.

Naysayers will argue that Dangote does not want to run for President and efforts to draft him are futile. According to Dangote himself in November 2017, he said he does not want to enter the PDP primary. We believe, in November 2018, when the PDP and APC have their appointed leadership candidates, Dangote will no longer have to consider an arduous and compromising primary. For the first time, both parties will have selected leadership candidates so unpalatable to Nigerians and political power brokes alike, Dangote will be able to convene with a few major players, make his case, and create a path with a near certain chance for victory in 2019.

We believe, as a non-partisan press, that the removal of the PDP after 16 years in power was a good thing. Our great patriots who led the APC to victory have made a huge contribution to democracy. That said, although it will also have its flaws, we believe a strong, independent, and ‘can-do’ third party ‘People’s President’, counter balanced by strong representations of the PDP and APC in the Senate and the House is in the best interest of the nation in 2019. We hope that, as he is the only one that can deliver this, Mr. Dangote agrees. #DraftDangote #Dangote2019 #3rdPartyDangote


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Aliko Dangote
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