Buhari vs Abubakar: Same difference?

Author:Raji, Rafiq
Position:Around Africa: Nigeria - Presidential race between Mohammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar

Nigeria's general elections are scheduled for mid-February. As always, the campaigning is reaching fever pitch. While there are many posts to battle for, the big prize remains the Presidential seat. The heavyweight contest this time around is between the incumbent Mohammadu Buhari and PDP leader, Atiku Abubakar. With the help of Nigerian analysts, Rafiq Raji assess their economic policies.

Elections for the Presidency and federal legislature are slated for mid-February; the gubernatorial elections in the country's 36 states and other polls will follow in March. While there are more than 50 Presidential candidates including a few internationally recognised technocrats, all eyes are on the two leading rivals: the incumbent Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), seeking a second four-year term, and his main opponent, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar of the People's Democratic Party (PDP).

Both candidates hail from northern Nigeria, but from different parts. Buhari is from the north-western part of the country while Abubakar is from the north-east. Whereas the northwestern geopolitical zone is quite peaceful, the north-east suffers from insecurity, with terrorists attacking key cities and towns now and then.

Incidentally, the insecurity in that part of the country was one of the reasons why Buhari beat former President Goodluck Jonathan some four years ago. It also helped his chances that Jonathan was a Southerner--Northern voters did not have a difficult choice to make.

Things are not so straightforward this time around, even though Buhari still enjoys a cult following in the north. Inevitably, a significant portion of northern voters are likely to pitch their camp with Abubakar.

Buhari is thus likely to secure most of the votes in western Nigeria and Abubakar the east. Understandably, most forecasts point to a likely close tally. To change the dynamics and perhaps win comfortably, each of the candidates must demonstrate the superiority of their ideas, and in this age of social media, the voting public is able to assess them easily very quickly.

Views from the ground

In view of this, the leading candidates have made a big show of their policy documents. Buhari calls his the 'Next Level' while Abubakar's is 'Let's Get Nigeria Working Again'.

Nigerians are quite used to these well-packaged plans now as there have been many in the past. But since the problems they were meant to solve continue to endure, they cannot be...

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