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Atiku Abubakar woos Nigerians with a reminder of the good times

Atiku Abubakar woos Nigerians with a reminder of the good times

Atiku Abubakar

Atiku Abubakar

Atiku Abubakar is hoping it will likely be sixth-time fortunate in his quest to be Nigeria’s subsequent president having fallen brief on 5 earlier makes an attempt, the primary in 1992.

The 75-year-old has circled the summits of public life for many of his profession as a prime civil servant, a vice-president, and a outstanding businessman, making his fortune within the oil sector and giving a few of it away to charity.

However the highest workplace within the land has eluded him, and in February 2023 he goes once more, providing his credentials as a seasoned political operator and serial entrepreneur because the treatment for Nigeria’s ills.

Africa’s most populous nation is dealing with hovering unemployment, widespread insecurity, excessive inflation, and a sluggish economic system closely depending on fluctuating oil revenues.

Mr Abubakar’s marketing campaign is constructed on his success as vice-president between 1999 and 2007, the place as head of the federal government’s financial staff he oversaw profitable reforms within the telecommunications, pensions and banking sectors that led to jobs and GDP progress.

Nonetheless, his critics level to accusations of monetary impropriety in opposition to him which they are saying make him unsuitable for the highest workplace in a rustic the place corruption is a large problem.

He’s accused of cronyism, particularly when he oversaw the privatization of key authorities belongings. He denies any wrongdoing and says the fees are politically motivated.

Mr Abubakar shall be hoping to unite the fractured opposition Peoples Democratic Social gathering (PDP), the place cracks have emerged since his victory on the major in June.

Some influential southern governors begrudge his emergence, saying it was the flip of the south to supply Nigeria’s subsequent president after eight years of President Muhammadu Buhari, a northerner like Mr Abubakar.


Mr Abubakar has promised to unite aggrieved members of the PDP earlier than the elections

His selection of a operating mate has additionally stirred an open revolt inside the occasion, with many believing that the snub of the extremely influential governor of Rivers state, Nyesom Wike, would possibly show pricey.

A well-liked determine inside the occasion, Mr Wike was thought of the overwhelming favorite, having misplaced out within the presidential major, however Mr Abubakar as a substitute selected Delta state governor Ifeanyi Okowa.

Outdoors his occasion, Mr Abubakar faces a formidable opponent in Bola Tinubu, the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), and a bourgeoning youth-driven marketing campaign led by the Labour Social gathering’s Peter Obi who’s concentrating on votes in conventional PDP areas in southern Nigeria.

There may be additionally the problem of convincing younger Nigerians that he’s an appropriate selection, given his age, and that he’s a break from the political class many have misplaced confidence in.

An affable, enterprising determine, Mr Abubakar strikes adroitly between the worlds of commerce and politics – qualities that, his supporters say, will assist him unite the nation and revive the economic system.

He has been concerned in Nigerian elections for many years and has not too long ago fluctuated between the 2 dominant events, the APC and PDP – the place he was a founding member, searching for a shot on the presidency.

His first exit from the PDP, in 2006, coincided with an investigation into his document as vice-president, when he was accused of getting diverted $125m (£95m) price of public funds in the direction of his enterprise pursuits.

Related fees appeared in a 2010 US Senate report, which accused Mr Abubakar of getting transferred $40m (£30.55m) of “suspect funds” to the US, utilizing his American spouse’s checking account.

The costs have by no means been tried in court docket, and Mr Abubakar has rejected the allegations of corruption as politically motivated. In January 2019, he visited Washington DC, ending hypothesis that he was avoiding journey to the US as a result of he would possibly face arrest there.

Oil facilities in Lagos harbour

Nigeria’s economic system depends closely on its oil reserves – the most important in Africa

He appeals to voters who desire a revival of the economic system and nationwide unity, after seeing Mr Buhari administer a interval of financial stagnation and accusations of ethnicity in political appointments.

Mr Abubakar’s status in enterprise is linked to the spectacular rise of Intels, the oilfield logistics agency that he co-founded in 1982. From its unique workplace in a transport container, the corporate has grown right into a multi-national, multi-billion naira operation, using greater than 10,000 individuals.

He has diverted a part of his wealth to charitable causes, most notably establishing the distinguished American College in Adamawa state, northern Nigeria. The college has supplied scholarships to a number of the “Chibok women” – survivors of a high-profile kidnapping by Islamist Boko Haram militants.

Mr Abubakar regards himself as a fortunate beneficiary of the Western-style schooling supplied on the college and fiercely opposed by Boko Haram. He was born in Adamawa to a religious Muslim household, and his father, a Fulani tradesman and herder, was briefly jailed for stopping him from attending college.

“Father was responding sometimes with worry and nervousness to the onslaught of change in Nigeria,” Mr Abubakar wrote sympathetically in his autobiography.

After ending his research, he joined the customs service, serving at Lagos port and airport. “Corruption was rife in Customs however I used to be not a part of it,” he wrote. “I noticed Customs… as a method of making a living for the federal government.”

Whereas nonetheless a civil servant, Mr Abubakar started shopping for property and farmland for industrial functions, ultimately transferring into the rising marketplace for oil and fuel companies. “I recognised very early in life that I’ve a great nostril for enterprise,” he wrote in a chapter of his autobiography entitled, Making Cash.

His profession in customs introduced him into contact with the navy and political elite, two classes which were interchangeable for a lot of Nigeria’s current historical past. Mr Abubakar grew near the previous military main, Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, relating to him as a political mentor.

Whereas Nigeria was nonetheless beneath navy rule, the 2 males started networking with different regional leaders, hoping to kind a reputable government-in-waiting.

In 1989, Mr Abubakar stop the civil service to dedicate himself to politics. He made his first presidential run in 1992, as a candidate for the faction that had gathered round Shehu Yar’Adua. He stepped down after coming third within the first spherical, and the election itself was later cancelled by the navy authorities.

Atiku Abubakar

Many think about this Mr Abubakar’s final shot on the presidency

The repression intensified within the 1990s beneath the dictatorship of Gen Sani Abacha. Mr Abubakar was briefly exiled in London, whereas his mentor, Shehu Yar’Adua, was despatched to jail, the place he ultimately died.

Mr Abubakar returned to Nigeria in 1997 as Gen Abacha relaxed his grip on energy. He turned vice-president after the elections in 1999 put in the PDP candidate, Olusegun Obasanjo, within the presidency.

Throughout two phrases in workplace, he oversaw a collection of privatisations, incomes reward as a liberaliser in some quarters, and criticism elsewhere as a crony capitalist.

In his autobiography, he took credit score for reforming the banking sector, the public sale of cell phone licences, in addition to for an financial growth that enabled Nigeria to repay a lot of its debt.

Mr Abubakar, from north-eastern Adamawa state, says he’ll convey again the nice occasions if elected president in 2023.

He has 4 wives and 28 kids.

Nigeria’s different important presidential candidates:

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Written by Harry Rosen

Harry Rosen is an accomplished explorer, photographer, creative director, speaker, and author.

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