The Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar at the weekend beat his closest challenger at the February 16 presidential polls, President Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the “Man of the Year” award category organised by DAAR Communications PLC in Abuja.
At the awards gala, 72 winners emerged in different categories.
The major honours, “Man of the Year” category was won by PDP presidential candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
At the end of online voting which was conducted using the official Twitter account of the awards, which had 3,074 respondents, Atiku Abubakar emerged winner with 44% of votes cast. Business mogul, Aliko Dangote beat President Buhari to the second place clinching 19% of the votes. Buhari came joint third with the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen with 18% apiece.
The award was held same day both Atiku and Buhari were expected to participate in a presidential debate organised by the Nigeria Election Debate Group (NEDG) and Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON). Atiku, however,was at the venue of the debate but declined to participate in protest of Buhari’s absence.
In a statement issued later by the former vice president, he said he was willing to debate with the president at any date and venue of his choosing. A challenge Buhari is yet to accept as at the time of filing this report.
Atiku is hoping to capitalise on the several failings of the Buhari’s administration to win the presidential election. He has promised to create millions of jobs for teeming population of largely unemployed young people out of job and revive the struggling economy. He has also pledged to restructure the country, privatise the state-owned Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and tackle Boko Haram insurgents head on.
The former vice president who returned to the country from the United States on Saturday was labelled as corrupt by the Buhari’s administration,a charge he has consistently denied challenging the administration to present evidence of his corrupt activities.
He was also accused of running away from the United States for fear of arrest over his involvement in some corrupt dealings. Atiku’s successful visit to the United States last week silenced his critics including the APC-led federal government that admitted through the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed that it wrote the United States government not to grant a travel visa to Atiku. An advice the United States officials ignored. The federal government was forced to conceded defeat in the matter.
On the other hand, Buhari is campaigning on what he called the successes of his first term which many Nigerians including former president Olusegun Obasanjo have described as mediocre and not good enough to deserve re-election.
Obasanjo a foremost critic of the Buhari’s administration on Sunday in a state of the nation address accused the president of planning to rig the elections in his favour and return the nation to the Abacha dark days. He lambasted the administration for using instruments of state to hound political opponents and critics citing the recent travails of the Chief Justice of Nigeria,Walter Onnoghen in the hands of the Buhari’s administration as one of the several evidences. He tasked Nigerians on the need to resist the tyrannical moves of Buhari’s administration by rejecting him at the polls next month.
Will the Nigerian electorates ditch Buhari and vote for Atiku? Only time will tell but if the result of online polls conducted by DAAR is anything to go by, then the president has a lot to worry about ahead of the polls.