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Opinion: Buhari vs Atiku: Inconvenient truth about Saturday's poll by Azu Ishiekwene


Editor's note: Azu Ishiekwene, a member of the board of the Global Editors Network writes on Saturday, February 16, presidential election in Nigeria.
Weighing the options of candidates available, Ishiekwene said whatever may be the shortcomings of Buhari and Atiku, their parties believe they are the best candidates they can produce at this time.
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If you walk by sight you cannot help approaching Saturday’s presidential election with a heavy heart. The candidates of the two major parties, Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), have been presented in the worst light possible.
One foreign newspaper said Nigerians have to choose between a former dictator and an alleged kleptocrat.
Another one, The Guardian of London, was not so diplomatic. It said Nigerians have to decide between “a stingy right-wing dictator and an established thief.”
In the same article, the newspaper said, “without a doubt, this race might boil down to a choice between Buhari, a timid, nepotic but stingy rightist who would sit down on the national wealth without a clue about how to invest, and a lavish an irresponsible spender called Atiku, who could share the national treasury with the wolves that currently surround his candidacy.”
The local news menu is not very different, only fouled up a bit more by the sour taste of partisanship. But as I prepare to vote on Saturday, I choose to have my omelette sunny side up, and here’s why.
Whatever may be the shortcomings of Buhari and Atiku, their parties believe they are the best candidates they can produce at this time. Buhari was pressed into the race by APC kingmakers who not only regard him as the party’s best bet to retain the centre, but also as their own insurance to keep the spoils, get re-election or both.
Atiku’s candidacy, on the other hand, is a child of a convenient marriage between a few influential PDP old soldiers feed up with Buhari’s obtuseness and an extremely wealthy business class used to easy money and unhappy with Buhari’s old school economics.
Neither candidate is easy to warm up to. But that appears to be a modern-day problem with politics, the post-modern variety that produced the fantastically ineffectual Theresa May in the UK, the bombastic Donald Trump in the US, and the reprobate Rodrigo Roa Duterte in the Philippines.

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