Tinubu, Atiku and the Nigerian project
Ahead of the 2023 Presidential election, the recent primary elections significantly produced two political heavyweights, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar, as presidential flag bearers of their respective political parties, APC and PDP, being the two major political parties in Nigeria.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu was a former governor of Lagos State, Nigeria’s commercial and industrial capital, where he held sway from 1999 to 2007. Atiku Abubakar won his election also as governor of Adamawa state, the same year, but was brought into the villa by former President Olusegun Obasanjo as Vice President of Nigeria.
Interestingly, both of them while in office, respectively engaged the incumbent President, a retired Army General in a battle of wits and will.
I am not a fan of Tinubu, nor am I a fan of Atiku. But I know the two of them too well, having interacted with them during the convoluted political transition programme of retired General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, the self-styled military President. I was a Governorship aspirant under a defunct party in Ondo State at the time. Both of them are experienced and inexorable personalities, strong-willed and unwavering. They are not likely to be surrounded and controlled by self-seeking and insensitive opportunists Nigerians derogatorily refer to as “the Cabal”. We are likely going to see in either of these men, a determined, no-nonsense President poised to reset Nigeria.
Yes, the two candidates are stupendously rich. At the primaries, both reportedly armed themselves with war chests loaded with dollars, a chunk of which was doled out to delegates to secure victory. Though this delegate buying strategy for electoral victory is abhorrent, we cannot blame them because delegate buying is a culture we have embraced and entrenched over the years. However, I believe either of them would consider what to do to put an end to the culture if and when he gets to the Villa in 2023.
In certain quarters, it is believed that Tinubu and Atiku are not likely to loot the national treasury because they are richer than Nigeria. I concur with this school of thought. I think the two men are propelled not by the desire to become richer, but by the desire to make history, and write their names in gold by putting Nigeria on the path of economic recovery, political stability, national unity and progress. I know that in transforming the economy, for instance, each of them will give the MSME sector, regarded as the engine of economic growth, greater consideration.
Any government that creates a conducive environment for this critical sector of the economy to thrive will surely make Nigeria an economic giant and a prosperous nation.
Tinubu and Atiku are likely going to concern themselves with uniting the country rather than pursuing an ethnic agenda that will further exacerbate the already tense atmosphere in the land. I say this because both of them belong to the liberal school of thought. Atiku is a Muslim but not a fundamentalist, he is married to Titi, an Ijesha woman from Osun state. While Tinubu is married to a Christian. Both of them are nationalists; they think about Nigeria and how to make it great. They have built bridges of understanding, friendship and collaboration across the six geo-political zones. Considering their dispositions and antecedents, I am sure that their Ministerial and other political appointments will not be influenced by religious or ethnic considerations, but by merit and adherence to the principle of equity, justice and Fairplay. With a government formed by either of these men, we are not likely going to hear cries of marginalization or we want to leave Nigeria from any zone.
I have a strong feeling that any of them, on getting to power, will attend to those lingering constitutional issues threatening the unity and survival of this country. Already, Tinubu in his manifestos has promised to create State Police. And I know Atiku is in favour of True federalism. Anyone that becomes the next President will rebuild Nigeria. With any one of them, I know there will be the security of life and property, and there will be an end to terrorism, banditry and kidnapping. Every Nigerian will feel at home wherever he or she decides to live and make a living without any fear of intimidation and domination or threat to life and property, our country will be a haven of peace and stability. So with Tinubu and or Atiku, Nigeria will rise again, and the project will not die.
Dr Akinyemi is the chairman, Board of Trustees, Forum of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Business Membership Organisations of Nigeria, (MSME) Forum.