Atiku has openly pledged a one-term presidency, if given the opportunity to serve, because by then the North would have held the presidency for eight years.
In order to survive in a fiercely competitive contemporary world, the existence of a modern nation state must be more economic than political. Modern nation states can be likened to business entities competing for global resources, with each trying to secure an advantageous share of revenue from world trade by sharpening its comparative competitive edge. Modern nation states that have made successes out the fiercely competitive international economic systems are manifestly those that predicate their existence more on economics than politics. From the Americas to Europe, South East Asia and the Arab Gulf kingdoms, there is a common thread of existence around defined economic goals that is oriented towards securing an advantageous share of world trade and resources to grow wealth through increased revenue.
From their structures, internal administrative processes and foreign policies, successful modern states are guided by the fundamental principles of economic common sense. A close scrutiny of their political process reveals a deliberate mobilisation of citizens to align their democratic choices with their legitimate personal business (an aggregation of which forms the economy) away from sentiments of ethnicity, race and religion. In other words, their politics is firmly hinged on economics.
Contrary to the configuration of successful nations of the world, Nigeria exist more for political than economic reasons. This problem is compounded further when a close scrutiny of Nigeria’s political processes reveals that they are rigidly hinged on ethno-geographic and religious sentiments with near nothing to do with the economy. Whereas politics is firmly hinged on economics in successful modern nation states, economics is rigidly hinged on politics in Nigeria.
As the 2019 presidential election approaches, the fundamental agenda for the drivers of the political process is the transformation of Nigeria from its current status as a political wasteland whose peoples are divided along ethno-geographic and religious fault lines over its meagre revenue from oil mineral resources into a successful modern nation whose peoples will be united around a purposeful economic ethos to extract a sizeable share of global resources with resultant increase in collective prosperity. To bring about this transformation, a leadership with the ability to unite Nigerians around a pan-Nigerian vision for global competitiveness among well-managed nations of the world is required.
Clearly, the current President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, does not have the capacity to transform Nigeria from the abyss of helplessness to the pinnacle of progress and prosperity. His three-year rule has rather regressed Nigeria deeper into division, insecurity, corruption and economic high fever.
Among the millions of Nigerians with the capacity to lead this transformation agenda, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar stands shoulder to shoulder with the best of the best. Going by the general consensus among Nigeria’s political establishment about the expediency for the presidency to remain in the North, Atiku is discernibly the most liberal-minded, pan-Nigerian politician from the conservative North, who can be trusted to unite the country and begin the fragile process of healing the wide cleavages of its fault lines in the last three years. From his inner circle of associates, family ties and business dealings, Atiku typifies a united Nigeria where he is at home with all and all are at home with him. Atiku has consistently demonstrated commitment to the unity and cohesion of Nigeria at important times in its history. The success of the June 12, 1993, presidential election was preceded by Atiku’s stepping down in favour of MKO Abiola, a southerner, against a fellow northerner, Babagana Kingibe. Following the annulment of the June 12 presidential election and the subsequent death of the winner, Abiola, Atiku was among eminent political leaders that arrived at a consensus to democratically cede power from the North to the South to appease aggrieved Nigerians of South-West origin. In keeping faith with this power shift measure, which stabilised Nigeria and guaranteed its continuous existence, Atiku sacrificed his opportunity to upstage his boss, President Olusegun Obasanjo, in the 2003 presidential election. Even now, Atiku has openly pledged a one-term presidency, if given the opportunity by Nigerians to serve, because by then the North would have held the presidency for eight years.
Throughout his public service career, Atiku has resisted the temptation to appeal to a sectional base. Although a devout Muslim, he saw through the destabilisation effects of the politically-motivated introduction of Sharia law in some parts of northern Nigeria and urged caution. True to his foresightedness, the clamour for Sharia law in a frenzied wave of religious populism in the Muslim North was a precursor to the deadly Boko Haram insurgency. Without prejudice to his Fulani ethnicity, Atiku has condemned the murderous activities of killer herdsmen while proffering pragmatic solutions to the perennial land dispute between itinerant cattle breeders and peasant farmers. Atiku has also featured prominently in the renewed call for Nigeria’s restructuring as a result of Buhari’s elevation of sectionalism to levels unprecedented in history, which has left the country very divided. Beyond his liberal pan-Nigerian credentials, Atiku comes across as a great manager of men and resources. As a successful businessman whose enterprises run more on capacity than contact, Atiku is equipped with the requisite skills and knowledge of practical economic management to lead Nigeria’s economic renaissance. As a major player in critical sectors of the economy with a distinction for massive job creation, Atiku is better positioned to be entrusted with a nation in economic doldrums than a professional politician. As a business owner, Atiku understands the true meaning of enabling environment and the imperatives of public-private partnership to spur economic growth and development. He is most likely to deploy his vast business experience to develop and implement government policies that will stimulate wealth creation for business, create urgently needed jobs, pull millions of Nigerians out of desperate poverty and exit Nigeria’s status as the poverty capital of the world. Only a detribalised Nigerian with an impeccable nationalist credentials like Atiku can shun the temptation of sectionalism and recruit the best brains and strong arms irrespective of ethno-geographic and religious backgrounds to help carry out the urgent task of socio-economic transformation of the Nigerian state from helplessness to greatness.
The choice before Nigerians is limited. A lot of energy is being dissipated by the various ethno-geographic groupings in Nigeria that are locked in a fierce mortal combat for its meagre revenue from oil mineral resources.
Atiku’s incontestable nationalist credentials and business acumen confer on him the legitimacy to unite Nigerians across all divides around a purposeful pan-Nigerian economic agenda that will transform Nigeria from a political wasteland to a successful competitive modern economy that can grow its wealth base by securing an increased share of global resources through external trade and overseas investments.