Youth political participation and Atiku-Buhari candidacy| Afeez Adiatu

Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar presidential race have indiscriminately lacerated Nigerians, especially the so-called ‘Gullible Youths’ into two unequal parts. Many Nigerians already have in mind that the emergence of any presidential candidate aside the two major political gladiators is a nightmare. I strongly believe that the yardstick to measure candidate competency is just to reflect on his or her past achievement, whether it could be quantified or not. The general perception is that President Muhammadu Buhari has failed beyond indemnification and it is on this basis that some people claim to withdraw their support. Can we say Atiku is the Messiah to take away the hardship created by this current dispensation?

Dynamics of voting behavior in Nigeria is bedeviled as people persistently follow politicians dogmatically and establish their support on the principle of personal interest. Youth are now vehemently conducting an aggressive campaign and social media crusade on Buhari /Atiku candidacy without considering their interest in political transformation and respect to democratic principles. Many youths are affiliating politically to celebrate politics of belly and prebendalism. The reason for this is not far fetched, most youths are intellectually bankrupt and fail to apply the cerebral approach in making political decisions.

The greatest pathogen that hampers development in Nigeria is intellectual poverty. Aristotle, a great philosopher said, the greatest good one could do is to ensure the happiness of all man. Nigeria is a state where every man is so conscious of his own welfare and security. We care not about what happens to our neighbor or immediate environment. Martin Luther King Jr. once said that we must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools. In order to understand these candidates, let’s take a look at their pedigree.


Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is also known as Turakin Adamawa, who was born in Jada, Adamawa State on November 1946. He joined the Customs and Excise department in 1968, eventually rising to the rank of Deputy Director before leaving in 1988 for full-time politics. He fell out with Obasanjo in 2006 when he refused to support the then president’s bid to alter the constitution in order to make his third agenda a reality. In order to achieve his own presidential ambition, he was forced to leave PDP and join the defunct AC. even so, INEC tried to disqualify him from contesting until ordered to do so by the Supreme Court. He polled third with 7% of the vote (2.6 million).


Allegations of corruption have hounded him for many years although he himself claims that his wealth is the result of ‘wise investments, hard work, and luck of being at the right place at the right time’. However, according to a 330-page report by the US Senate, Atiku and his Fourth Wife, Jennifer Douglas also known as Jennifer Iwenjiora, used a network of accounts at US financial institutions to bring over $40 million in suspected funds into the United States of America, through multiple wire transfers supplied by offshore corporations located in Germany, Nigeria, Panama, the British Virgin Islands and Switzerland between 2000 and 2008. The report had particularly harsh words for Mrs. Abubakar, which accused her of paying credit card bills and household expenses in the range of $10,000 to $90,000 per month, including substantial legal and accounting bills. Some of the money came from Atiku’s share of the $12.7 million bribe paid payment made to top government top officials by Siemens AG of Germany in exchange for four telecommunications projects between 2000 to 2002. In all,    the Atikus were charged with transferring up to $40 million, a large chunk of which was wire transferred by offshore corporations into more than 30 US bank accounts opened by Mrs. Douglass, primarily by Guernsey Trust Company Nigeria Ltd., LetsGo Ltd., Inc., and Sima Holding Ltd. Some of the funds were used to establish the American University of Nigeria, which Atiku founded in 2003 in his home state. Matters reached a head in the run-up the presidential primaries when the US government, which didn’t hide its opposition to Atiku’s candidacy, started exploring ways to prosecute his wife, who is a US citizen:

In a letter signed by the chairman, committee on Judiciary, John Conyers, Jr dated January 7, 2011 and addressed to the US attorney-general, Hon. Eric H. Holder, the Congress, based its request on the report by the US Senate permanent Sub-committee on investigations (PSI), which indicted Atiku and his Wife of financial crimes.

According to the ranking member of US Congress, ‘In its bipartisan staff report titled, “Keeping Foreign Corruption out of United State: Four Case Histories,” the sub-committee details four serious matter involving potential crimes, including one involving US citizen Jennifer Douglas, Wife of Atiku Abubakar, former vice president of Nigeria. His desperation to get back into office was seen as a way of guaranteeing immunity from prosecution in the US.

(Content Extracted from Adewale Maja-Pearce, Make or Break….)


General Muhammadu Buhari was born in Daura, Katsina State on 17 December 1942. He has held high office in successive military regimes. He was military governor of the defunct North-East State (August 1975- March 1976), Federal Commissioner for Petroleum Resources (March 1976- March 1978), Chairman, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (1978) and Executive Chairman, Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund (March 1995-May 1999). He was also Military head of State from 31 December 1983 to August 1985 when he was overthrown in a palace coup led by the then General Major General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida.

His tenure as Head of State was controversial. Although he and his deputy, the late Major General Tunde Idiagbon, were praised for their War Against Indiscipline (WAI) which sought to bring sanity to the country, his assault on civil society was eventually his undoing. During his tenure, he proscribed the Nigerian Medical Association and the National Association of Nigerian Students, enacted Decree 4 which made it an offence to publish information that could embarrass a public official even if the information was substantially true (and under which two journalists were imprisoned), and enacted Decree 2, which allowed for six months renewable detention without charge or trial at the instance of the Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters. Under the guise of WAI, about 500 politicians, officials, and businessman were imprisoned without charge or trial. Finally, his regime caused the execution of three young men – Lawal Ojuolape, Bartholomew Owoh and Bernard Ogedengbe with a retroactive decree (Decree 20).


The most important of President Muhammadu Buhari’s political manifesto is his commitment to anti-graft war. Most of the electorates that participated in his campaign did so because of their expectation toward his political performance. The public perception toward the pattern of the anti-corruption is nothing but selective justice. Can we say Buhari is truly fighting corruption? Thousands of people have died and we are still recording casualties on daily basis while the government continues echoing the anthem of anti-corruption. We should ask the president that if the economy is finally revived and loots are returned, then for who does this benefit? I think the ghost and the dead ones in their grave. If President Buhari claimed that corruption killed more than terrorism under the previous administration, he should conceive the fact that it is the other way round in his own administration.

We could look at some selected corruption cases under this administration and how poorly they have been handled. What has happened to the allegation raised against the Kano State Governor, Abdullah Ganduje, whose name has unconsciously metamorphosed on social media to “Gandolla”? We all know that justice delayed is justice denied. Necessary action has not been taken in order to justify what this administration stands for, rather than political favour in respect of 2019 is the priority. What has happened to the hearing of party members who out of fear crossed to APC to seek protection of the invisible broom? We have celebrated the exit of justice, equity, fairness, sincerity, and human freedom in our polity.


The increase in the patron-clientism pattern of interaction between elements of body politics (governed and governor) has shown how docile we are in Nigeria. Our leaders consider their interest before doing the needful and sabotage the common interest. I wonder how long politics of “je ki un je- chop make I chop” will end in this country. What does it take the government to utter the necessary statement at the right time which directly reveals the mind of the government to the people? Only the force of social media drags the presidency out of silence. It is only a useless and irresponsible government that leaves his own national television and address the nation through foreign media. It’s easy to conclude that Nigeria is only retrogressing and development is far from reality.

Afeez Adiatu is a graduate of Department of Political Science, University of Ibadan.


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