The tough challenges facing Buhari

pMuhammadu Buhari has been re-elected for a second four-year term as president of Nigeria – Africa’s most populous nation, which faces a range of problems including corruption, an economic slowdown and security threats. BBC Africa Editor Fergal Keane examines the challenges.

This was never an election that promised the possibility of a new era. The 76-year-old president and his defeated rival, Atiku Abubakar, 72, have been around the Nigerian political scene for decades and represent two parties often associated with cronyism and corruption.

Indeed Mr Buhari’s victory may in part have to do with public mistrust of his opponent who had to reject allegations of corruption during the campaign.

The president did make some efforts in his first term to counter the graft which has seen tens of billions drain out of the exchequer.

His personal financial integrity has never been questioned. But he has been widely criticised for not going fast or far enough. Will he be more vigorous in his second term?

A dose of realism is needed: the breadth and depth of corruption is so great, it affects so many aspects of public life that making serious inroads into the problem would require focus, energy and application that was lacking in President Buhari’s first term.

His absence from the country for long periods due to ill-health – he sought treatment in London for a still undisclosed illness – gave the impression of an administration that often crawled rather than strode.

President Buhari has been lucky in his choice of deputy.

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo showed himself to be dynamic and brave when he stood in as acting president, notably reining in the security services and acting to stabilise the naira, the local currency, at a time of deep economic uncertainty.

By contrast, Mr Buhari has been nicknamed “Baba Go Slow”. It took him six months to appoint his cabinet first time around.

The second problem he faces in fighting corruption is having the necessary political support.

There is undoubted public backing but Mr Buhari’s party is compromised by senior members suspected of enriching themselves through graft. The fear is that across the board, the looters will carry on pretty much as normal, undermining economic development.

Economically, the country remains dependent on oil prices for 70 per cent of government revenues – a long-term vulnerability that helped pull Nigeria into recession between 2016-17. –BBC

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