by Alexander O. Onukwue
There is no official ‘Millenial’s Checklist’ by which every potential candidate for the Presidency in Nigeria is screened. Beside the requirement for a School Certificate and the approved age of 40, nobody is considered too old or too crude to run.
But if the evidence of the last 10 years is anything to go by, Nigeria could do with a basic checklist with which to make a preliminary assessment of the persons who put themselves forward for public office. If it is not, that should be part of the agitations in support of the Not Too Young To Run bill.
He’s not quite yet the man of the moment, but the PDP people of Adamawa are beginning to water the ground for their biggest political asset to make himself more valuable. They say he is not being used to full capacity in the APC; it can only be supposed that they have big plans for him.
But how do these capabilities compare against the expectations of the Nigerian millennial?
Experience vs Age
Being a two-term Vice President is not exactly an automatic claim to competence and experience, but the man Atiku Abubakar has been in the political arena since his run for the Governorship of then Gongola state in 1991. As much as there is the eagerness amongst young people to be given a chance to contest executive positions, they also want someone who has an understanding of the complexity of Nigeria’s issues. But Atiku would be a 72-year old Presidential candidate if he chooses to do so, a definite red flag given the age of current President Muhammadu Buhari.
Philanthropist vs Pillager
He has been described as a self-made man, who created his business and success out of personal means. From his beginnings in real estate, Atiku’s businesses include Intels, an oil servicing firm, as well as the American University of Nigeria (AUN). Young people want a leader who can run the country with the acumen of a businessman. However, his time with the Nigerian Customs Service has been viewed as the period when he actually “arrived”. The perception of an irreversibly corrupt Atiku Abubakar is not uncommon.
Democratic vs Authoritarian
Atiku was Governor of Adamawa in 1998 but that was about as close he came with being an executive in the Military era. He had emerged in the third position on the SDP’s primaries for the 1993 elections. Unlike two of the last four Presidents, Atiku did not have a military career and as such, will not be judged as a reforming democrat. Atiku was favoured by the Supreme Court to allow him run for the 2007 elections under the Action Congress after moves by Obasanjo to subdue his ambition. Can he be trusted to also be a true democrat who upholds justice and equity?