2019: Atiku solicits UK support for presidential bid

Atiku Abubakar
Atiku Abubakar

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said the current partnerships between Nigeria and Britain will be enhanced if he is voted into office in 2019.

The former vice president, who said this in an article he wrote for the UK Sunday Express, said the incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari, has failed to strengthen the relationship between Nigeria and its former colonial master.

The article which was published on Sunday, a copy of which was also sent to PREMIUM TIMES outlined Mr Abubakar’s plans to invigorate the economic and cultural links between the two nations.

The British Prime minister, Theresa May, in August, 2018 visited Nigeria in a bid to explore mutual investment opportunities for both nations.

She is currently overseeing the tumultuous ‘Brexit’, which is the impending withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.

The move follows the referendum of June, 23, 2016 when 51.9 per cent of those who voted supported withdrawal from the union.

Mr Abubakar, in the piece, defended why he would be the best bet to lead Nigeria in view of the British government’s foreign and investment policy rather than Mr Buhari.

”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,” Mr Abubakar said. ”This agenda will benefit ordinary Nigerians and Britons alike, as well as increasing mutual investment in our respective economies.”

He said President Buhari ”had his chance but the international rankings do not lie”.

”He (Buhari) has proven himself neither a leader who can elevate the domestic situation of the Nigerian people, nor one who can inspire foreign investors and international partners,” he said. ”The future relationship between Britain and Nigeria can be bright and prosperous but it requires a change of leadership in Abuja.”

He fell short of saying that Mrs May’s recent visit to Abuja recently was a wasted venture, with Mr Buhari still in power.

”Unfortunately for Mrs May, the government that she (May) met with led by President Muhammad Buhari ­cannot deliver any of this. For Nigeria to move forward, a change is required.

”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.n the past four years, India and others have sprinted ahead in the race to reduce poverty,” he said.

He said the forthcoming elections in February offer the opportunity for a change, which the British should ‘support’ by ensuring credible polls are conducted.

”President Buhari has promised the international community that the elections would be free and fair, but there is little confidence amongst Nigerians that he will stick to this promise.

”What is needed is pressure from the international community to ensure that Nigerians have the right to determine their own futures, and to do so free from harassment, vote-suppression or outright fraud. As a major funder of democracy initiatives around the world, the U.K. has a real stake in this process.”

He also explained what an Atiku presidency means for Britain and other nations.

”What does this all mean for Britain, and the future relations between our nations?”, he said. ”Taken together, my new agenda aims to increase the purchasing power of Nigerians across our country: providing economic security, improving quality of life, reducing poverty.

”This, in turn, provides a platform of security and certainty for (British) investors to take advantage of new opportunities for collaboration ­not just oil ­and a chance to work with a government that is serious about building a prosperous Nigeria.”

More Knocks For Buhari

In the piece, Mr Abubakar made some uncomplimentary remarks on his main opponent in the presidential polls.

”President Buhari’s track record proves that he cannot be trusted to safeguard democracy, if left to his own devices, he must be pushed by the international community to do the right thing. President Buhari’s regime is tired, and a truly democratic change is needed. That means re-establishing the rule of law, the respect for the courts, and a crackdown on corruption.

”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.

”Equally, as our roads and railways crumble, a new infrastructure programme is needed to revitalise them: such a programme would create jobs, stimulate economic activity, and provide long-term benefits to people across the 36 Nigerian states,” Mr Abubakar said.

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