The People’s Democratic Party presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has taken his campaign to Britain, presenting his ideas while faulting the tenure of Nigeria’s incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari.
Atiku, who will contest the February elections against Buhari and over 50 candidates, wrote in UK’s Daily Express an article titled “Beyond Brexit – Nigeria wants a new trade deal with Britain”.
Britain’s Prime Minister, Theresa May, visited Nigeria in August 2018 to discuss trade deals and economic partnerships and to sign defence and security partnerships. She also pledged to assist in bolstering the rule of law and in the fight against organized crime.
However, Atiku stated in the article that while the trade deals and partnerships are welcome and necessary, Buhari’s government cannot deliver on the deals. The former vice-president pitched that a change was necessary if Africa’s most populous country is to progress, hence, deliver on the deal.
“Unfortunately for Mrs May, the government that she met with led by President Muhammad Buhari cannot deliver any of this. For Nigeria to move forward, a change is required.”
With the possibility of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, May sought to improve commercial links and trading opportunities between Nigeria and Britain in her three-day trip to Africa. The UK looks to help development in Africa and take a greater market share amidst competition from the US, China and France.
However, Atiku believes that the current administration’s handling of the country is a clog in Britain’s trade routes into Nigeria.
“In the four years of President Buhari’s Administration, Nigeria has regressed by almost every domestic and international metric. We have fallen in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report; we have fallen in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index; we have fallen in the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index.
“And Nigeria suffered the indignity of being named officially the poorest country in the world: We now have more people in extreme poverty than any other country in the world.”
Atiku, who hopes to become president of Nigeria after the February 16 election, said “President Buhari had his chance: but the international rankings do not lie”
Despite Buhari’s promise to the international community for a free and fair election, Atiku called on the UK to put pressure on the Nigerian government to “ensure that Nigerians have the right to determine their own futures, and to do so free from harassment, vote-suppression or outright fraud.”
“The Federal Government, the Nigerian Election Commission (INEC), and local and State officials must understand that the international community is watching and will not accept anything less than a fully free and fair election.
“This must include an end to the government’s ongoing use of state apparatus to hassle and harass opposition candidates and supporters.”
Buhari became president in 2015 with the promise of a strong anti-corruption drive but there are talks of his anti-corruption campaign being selective and partisan against the opposition parties.
“A real anti-corruption process is required so that Nigerians, and foreign investors, can have confidence in our domestic laws, not show trials perpetrated as ‘crackdowns’ on corruption, where corrupt cronies were allowed to flourish,” Atiku said.
Atiku tacitly promised to “create jobs, stimulate economic activity, and provide long-term benefits to people across the 36 Nigerian states.”
“I foresee a new trade partnership between Nigeria and Britain, enhanced cooperation on security and counter-terrorism, and deepening our historic links of culture, family and language.”