The security service deployed is worthy of that of a Head of State. Under the paneling of a grand Parisian palace, Atiku Abubakar welcomes us, not without a certain sense of protocol. More than fifteen years after leaving the vice-presidency of Nigeria (1999-2007), the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) would see himself occupying the highest office in his country.
Nothing new for this stubborn opponent of outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari (from All Progressives Congress, APC), which is on its sixth attempt. In this new race the Presidency, which will end in February 2023, Atiku will wear the colors of the PDP, ousted from power in 2015 by the APC, and this time will cross swords with Bola Tinubu, the former governor of Lagos.
Setting the course in West Africa
Former director of customs, Atiku, whose name remains associated with several major corruption cases, is disputed even within his training, torn by internal quarrels. Nothing to hinder his campaign, assures Young Africa one who believes that Buhari’s “catastrophic” record will work in his favor.
If he comes to power, Atiku Abubakar will however inherit many projects, on a triple front: security, economic and social. He will also have to set the course on a regional scale, at a time when neighboring Cameroon is grappling with a separatist crisis and when a coup fever is spreading in West Africa.
Young Africa : You are running for president for the sixth time. What makes you think that this attempt will be the right one?
Atiku Abubakar: Nigerians have tried several formulas. The APC came to power in 2015 promising real change. Buhari had notably promised to bring peace, but his record is a total failure on all counts. Nigerians yearn for change, and I believe I can be that.
Presidential in Nigeria: Bola Tinubu, the godfather of Lagos, candidate of the ruling party
An unwritten rule is that there is an alternation between presidents from the South and the North. You are from the North, like the outgoing president. Aren’t you worried that this factor will work against you?
I do not think so. The philosophy of the outgoing president and mine are almost the opposite and it is on this that the election will be decided. Rather than considering ethnic or religious criteria, Nigerians should judge us on our personal beliefs and our vision for the future of the country.
If armed groups, like Boko Haram, want to discuss with us, we will discuss with them
You judge Muhammadu Buhari’s record very harshly. Are there nevertheless elements of its policy that you would keep? The single Treasury account, for example, which centralizes all resources of the state…