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“I Will Make Nigeria Work Again” — Atiku Abubakar

As the PDP candidate revs up his presidential campaign

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The opposition presidential candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is a multimillionaire barnstorming politician who, having changed his party allegiance four times, is running on the ticket of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party [PDP].

His rival, former military ruler and sitting President Muhammadu Buhari, is reserved, with an obvious distaste for the manoeuvres of partisan politics. Buhari’s main concerns are pushing out state-backed investment projects and taking down grand corruption.

At the centre of Atiku’s campaign is his promise that he will make Nigeria work again – both its system of government and its people. His remedy is deregulation and privatisation: getting the government out of the way of full-throated capitalism and attracting billions of dollars of investment from international conglomerates.

Information minister Lai Mohammed concedes that Atiku is the strongest candidate the opposition could put up against Buhari.

“But their best won’t be good enough,” he adds.

With the business lobby behind him and a commitment to restructure the federal system, Atiku Abubakar has turned the presidential election into a battle of substance and style is the epitome of the big-money politics that has haunted Nigeria since its return to civil rule back in 1999.

Based in a 10-storeybuilding in Abuja with a team of top Nigerian and international strategists and pollsters, Atiku has been preparing for the past 18 months.

A week after securing the nomination in early October, he picked as his running mate Peter Obi, a former governor of the south-east state of Anambra with a reputation as honest and efficient.

Atiku’s next move was to orchestrate a high-profile reconciliation between himself and former president Olusegun Obasanjo, a decade after their very public falling out.

Although this election will be about jobs and money, the rival campaigns will be mobilising big regional voting blocs.

Buhari will start ahead in the northwest and north-east; Atiku has the south-south and south-east behind him.

But in the volatile north-central region and the south-west, home to the commercial capital of Lagos, there’s everything to play for.

Continue reading below for the full interview with Alhaji Atiku Abubakar by TAR:

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