As Nigerians go to polls this Saturday, Nigerians living in Britain are hoping for a better future. They tell Muritala Bakare of their expectations.
(JollofNews) – The delayed upcoming presidential election in Nigeria has attracted massive interest among its Diaspora community. Those in the UK are not allowed to vote but will be monitoring events as they unfold this Saturday.
The election is between two high profile figures; the incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari of the APC and an ex-vice president, Atiku Abubakar, who was part of the opposition PDP that ruled Nigeria for 16 years until 2015.
At the Roots restaurant in Manchester, a cross-section of Nigerians converge every weekend to socialise and have dinner. The Roots is one of the eateries many Nigerians come to have a feel of home, where they discuss everything from football to politics.
Many of those who visit the restaurant are equally split between the two candidates while others think Nigeria needs a young and vibrant candidate to lead a country which its youth amount to half of its population.
Fola Animashaun, a staunch supporter of the president believes the president deserves a second term in office. “Buhari is fighting corruption, and improving the lives of the poor,” says Fola. “Some of the corrupt politicians are either in jail or on trial. This is the type of leader we want.”
Since coming to power, among the major things the Buhari administration boasts of are the creation of a Single Treasury Account, STA, that makes it difficult for any government official to steal money, the Economic Crime Commission’s (EFCC) recovery of stolen monies, and the stemming of attacks by Boko Haram, a terrorist organisation in the North East of the country.
The EFCC says it has so far secured more than 300 arrests and convictions of various types relating to corruption and money laundering. One of those successfully prosecuted is a former senator and former govern
or of Plateau state, Joshua Dariye.
But the president’s corruption crusade has been faulted by the opposition party who says it is a witch-hunt and politically-orchestrated.
Mathew Okafor, an opposition supporter thinks Buhari is not suitable for Nigeria and claims the country is still corrupt.
“The president is turning a blind eye to corruption within his circle and those around him are given immunity to steal.”
Recently, Transparency International published its global Corruption Perception Index and placed Nigeria at the same spot.
But the president followers are a bit sympathetic with him. “You can’t eradicate corruption in just a few years. Buhari needs to be given more time. That’s why I want him to win,” says Tunde Bello, a student at the University of Manchester.
Buharists, as many of the president’s supporters called themselves would point to the infrastructural projects the government has embarked on since coming to power.
“We now have rail lines, and trains are already running between some states to ease transport problems, new roads are being built and old ones repaired,” says Tunde. “We need this government for another four years.
Those supporting the opposition think otherwise. They say installing their candidate, Atiku Abubakar will bring better prospects for the country and strengthen the economy. “We have a candidate who understands the economy and would create jobs for Nigerians,” says Samuel Ogbe, also a student at the University of Manchester. “Buhari is old and inept, and Nigerians need someone that has the energy to drive our country forward.”
The opposition candidate, Mr Abubakar is however a controversial figure who has been allegedly accused of diverting $125m of public money to his own business. He is also been accused of privatising public institutions, such as the Nigeria Telecommunication Company, NITEL, which many say were bought by his own private business interest when he was the vice-president. Though there are no known prosecution charges brought against him, his records have largely been tainted by these accusations and some Nigerians in the diaspora say he is a bad choice to lead the country.
“Give Atiku the presidency and you have handed our treasury to looters. We can’t afford to let those who have looted our treasury rule again,” lamented Tunde.