9 November 2018
Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) tweeted late last night:
The most important question in this election is ‘Are you better off today than you were 4 years ago?’ Are we richer or poorer?
This is why our primary focus is on getting Nigeria working again.
— Atiku Abubakar (@atiku) November 9, 2018
This is really what the 2019 (s)election is all about. Elections are mostly a referendum on the ruling administration and less about the opposition. And this should have President Muhammadu Buhari and his supporters really worried, because his record in office has been one of unmitigated failure. Atiku’s own faults, serious flaws as a candidate and history of fraudulent activity pale in comparison to the reality of the Buhari administration for Nigerians since he came to power in 2015. Many of Buhari supporters seem to fail to grasp this golden rule about elections – Buhari’s misrule is what has made the Atiku candidacy a viable one.
Interestingly, the PDP reportedly hired Brian Ballard, whose Florida-based lobbying firm worked for the successful Donald Trump campaign in the US presidential elections in 2016.
Ballard may be the brains behind the above tweet, a question that was asked by another Republican presidential candidate in 1980. Ronald Reagan was up against the Democrat incumbent Jimmy Carter and in their only presidential debate, the challenge delivered what was seen then as the knockout punch: “Are you better off than you were four years ago? Is there more or less unemployment…than there was four years ago?”
Carter never fully recovered and a week later, Reagan was elected president.
There are very few Nigerians that could claim, in all honesty, that they are better off today than they were four years ago. There isn’t less unemployment, less insecurity, more power supply, less inflation, better healthcare, more food on the table, and so on.
These are the “bread and butter” reasons why Atiku has a very good chance of being Nigeria’s next president. His history of corruption will be of little interest to most voters, as the answer to the “Ronald Reagan question” for most Nigerians is a resounding: “No!”. It remains to be seen whether Atiku’s asking of that question would have the same knockout effect as it did for Reagan 38 years ago.