While Muhammadu Buhari is a seasoned political leader (he was head of state of Nigeria from 1983-85 during the military interregnum), Atiku Abubakar is an unknown quantity in terms of national leadership.
How does Buhari's track record measure up? Buhari's current term as President has been marked by his absence from office. It is estimated that for almost 30% of this term, he was out of the country on 'routine medical grounds'. While exactly what is wrong with him has been kept a closely guarded secret, there is no doubt that he has serious health issues. Will he be able to cope with the rigours of office if re-elected? In fact, the question many are asking is if he will actually survive his full term. This can be a factor in the way voters decide.
The subject of his absence reached ludicrous levels when he was asked by a Nigerian while on a trip to Poland if he had been replaced by a clone'. Buhari angrily retorted: "It is the real me, I assure you!" but the point had been made.
In a move that seems to have backfired, the First Lady, Aisha Buhari blamed the slow pace of change in the country on the alleged influence of some henchmen with a self-serving agenda on her husband.
She is reported to have said that there were two powerful men responsible for the lack of progress in the Buhari administration. She did not name names but the impression left behind was that Buhari himself was not totally in charge.
Worse, there have been a number of serious defections from the Buhari camp. These include the academic Ango Abdullahi (an influential opinion leader in the Nigerian northern districts where Buhari comes from), retired General Yakubu Danjuma, who used to be the Chief of Army Staff and Buba Galadima, who some consider the backbone of Buhari's pre-2015 Presidential campaigns. In addition, a number of governors who were elected on the APC platform have also left lately to go to the PDP. The rash of defections is such that the APC, which started off with a majority in the National Assembly, is now in the minority.
Those who have turned antagonistic to Buhari's re-election include leaders of both chambers of the legislature: the president of the Senate, Bukola Saraki and speaker of the house of representatives, Yakubu Dogara.
Rather than help re-elect Buhari, General Obasanjo mended fences with his former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, despite having sworn some years back never to support him again. Obasanjo cited the worsening security...