Welcome to Africanews

Please select your experience

Watch Live



Nigeria: a bitter campaign before the presidential election

Nigeria: a bitter campaign before the presidential election
Supporters of candidate Peter Obi at a rally in Lagos, Nigeria, Saturday 1 October 2022   -  
Copyright © africanews
Sunday Alamba/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved


"Parkinson's disease", "stingy", "corrupt": the two main presidential candidates in Nigeria deliver a bitter end to the campaign, each calling for the arrest of the other by resurrecting old corruption scandals.

Nigerian politics is plagued by accusations of all kinds, especially concerning dark money affairs. And the favourites for the presidential election on February 25 - Bola Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar, both extremely wealthy septuagenarians, are no exception: they have been repeatedly accused of corruption, which they firmly deny.

More than 93 million Nigerians will be called to the polls to elect a successor to President Muhammadu Buhari, who is not running after two terms.

Africa's most populous nation faces countless challenges, in particular near-widespread insecurity, a severe economic crisis, and spiralling inequalities. In recent weeks, as the campaign intensifies, insults and accusations have flared between the candidates.

Bola Ahmed Tinubu, candidate of the ruling party (APC), thus accuses Atiku Abubakar, of the opposition (PDP), of having "run a criminal enterprise and built an empire through fraud" by "stealing public funds" between 1999 and 2007, when the latter was vice-president.

Mr. Tinubu, nicknamed "the Godfather" or even "the Boss" for his considerable influence and wealth, calls on his opponent to "withdraw from the presidential race immediately" and "surrender to the forces of the order". He dubs Mr Abubakar "Mr I Sell Everything", describing him as "ready to get away with the takings" and calling him "corrupt".

A US Senate investigation cites Mr Abubakar's name in a money laundering case.

Between 2000 and 2008, one of his wives at the time, who has American nationality, allegedly "helped her husband repatriate more than $40 million in suspicious funds to the United States via offshore accounts" . according to the report.

The couple is also accused of having received more than 2 million dollars in commission for a contract with the multinational Siemens, which pleaded guilty in this case.

Scathing response from Atiku Abubakar camp rejecting APC 'lies' : Mr. Abubakar is blessed with 'impeccable character and integrity' ... Unlike his 'narcotics-ravaged' rival , a sentence full of innuendo.

Mr. Tinubu is accused of having, in his youth, when he was an accountant in the United States, laundered money on behalf of a vast heroin trafficking network , which he denies.

At 70, the APC candidate, former governor of Lagos, has frequently been accused of corruption, without ever being convicted. The "Atiku" team is also calling for the arrest of Mr. Tinubu, accused of preparing an "army of bandits" to "undermine" the February 25 election.

Before continuing: "the candidate of the APC must suffer from manifest Parkinson's disease accompanied by incontinence" . Bola Tinubu "cannot stand straight or climb (steps) without help, he suffers from visible tremor in his hands and throbs with the slightest physical exertion" , they say.

The health of presidential candidates is a sensitive issue in Nigeria, where President Buhari caused a lot of talk by absenting himself for months during his first term to seek treatment in the United Kingdom for an unknown illness.

Many therefore wonder if Mr. Tinubu, once elected, will not also be absent because of his alleged state of health and let his vice-president lead. The person concerned assures that he is in good health, as evidenced by his viral videos at the gym or dancing.

Six weeks before the presidential election, all shots are thus allowed between the candidates who seek to "discredit" their opponent, explains Udo Jude Ilo , analyst at the consulting firm Thoughts and Mace Advisory. "The candidates, mainly from the APC and the PDP, are seeking to rally public opinion against each other ," added Mr. Jude Ilo.

Peter Obi , the presidential underdog and Labor Party candidate, is not spared either. Mr. Tinubu nicknames him "Mr. the stingy" , accusing him of not having spent enough on the population when he was governor of the state of Anambra (south-east). Nigeria "now needs stingy people who keep the money for the development of the country", retorted Mr Obi.

These invectives leave little room for the debate of ideas even though the country is facing immense challenges: inflation that exceeds 20%, nearly 133 million people suffering from "multidimensional poverty" and the daily violence of criminal groups. , jihadists and separatists.

View more