Polithinks: A SWOT Analysis on Atiku Abubakar
A SWOT analysis on the PDP's presidential candidate for the forthcoming 2023 elections.
Atiku Abubakar was the former vice president of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007, at the dawn of the new democratic dispensation. He has traversed the political scene in Nigeria, having been a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Action Congress (AC), and the All Progressives Congress (APC) at different times. He has also contested the presidency of Nigeria five times in the past (1993, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019) without success, and is taking a go at it once again. Will he succeed this time?
We will evaluate Atiku Abubakar’s chances at the 2023 polls by doing a SWOT analysis of the man. The SWOT analysis is usually used by organizations for evaluation, but can be easily adapted to other situations. SWOT stands for Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat.
He has travelled the road of presidential campaigning and contestation more than his closest contenders. Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the APC is contesting for the presidency for the first time, as well as Peter Obi of the LP, even if Peter Obi had contested as a running mate to Atiku Abubakar in the 2019 elections.
He possesses personal wealth, which is much required in the very expensive campaign in Nigeria. His wealth comes from the various business interests he has. They include Intels, a company that provides logistics services in the oil and gas industry; Prodeco, a company that has interests in property development and the oil and gas; Atiku Abubakar farm; ABTI schools, the most prominent of which is American University of Nigeria (AUN), Yola.
His unstable political junketeering may portray him as insincere and having no clear political ideology. Even though political ideology may not be a strong predictor of electoral victory in Nigeria, the recent yearning for a more clear-cut ideological position of politicians, especially by the younger generation of voters, may not serve him well if he is continually seen as being everywhere and nowhere.
He is perceived in some quarters as corrupt. This may dampen his chances in the elections given that a lot of Nigerians believe that one of the most critical problems bedeviling the country is corruption; solving it was one of the factors that helped propel President Buhari to electoral victories in 2015 and 2019. Details of some of the corruption charges against him can be found in a website of the US Senate hearing report of 2010 titled “Keeping foreign corruption out of the United States: Four case histories”
He comes from the northern region of Nigeria, and for sentimental reasons, voters from that region may prefer him over other contenders. Besides, in 2019, the northern region cast the most votes of the regions in the country. Although he needs the votes of other regions to win the presidency (a winner must pull at least 25% of the votes in at least 24 out of 36 states in the country), he needs to be sure that the battle for votes he will engage in will not be in the states/regions where he should take for granted.
He seems to lean towards a presidency that is pro-business, as some of his policies tend towards more power to the market. He has advocated at various times for the privatization of some of the country’s assets. This may give him the backing of the business community, even if such support may not be public.
Perhaps Atiku Abubakar’s biggest challenge is from within his party – the PDP. After winning the presidential party primary of the PDP in May 2022, he announced the governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa as his running mate. This did not go down well with the runner-up in the primary, the Rivers state Governor, Nyesom Wike, who may have felt slighted over the choice of Okowa. The angst of Wike led him (and his allies) to demand for the resignation of the PDP chairman Iyorchia Ayu, on the grounds that Ayu promised to relinquish his chairmanship if a northerner emerges as the presidential flag bearer of the party but has not done so. The instability in the party may threaten the success of Atiku at the polls if it is not resolved on time.
Another major threat to his presidency is that he comes from the same ethnic group as the incumbent – the Fulani ethnic group. Quite a number of Nigerians are seeking a change of guard. The fear of domination from the other ethnic groups in the country may push them to prefer a southern presidential candidate than one from the north. The quest for a southern successor to the present president was given a nod to by APC northern governors themselves. It will be an uphill battle for Atiku to convince Nigerians that it will serve their interest to have another Fulani man succeed his “brother” as president.