What will Nigeria look like in Buhari’s second coming?


Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari won the presidential election in February 2019 PHOTO/Reuters/Luc Gnago

When President Muhammadu Buhari is sworn in on Wednesday for a second consecutive democratic term in office, it will be a low-key affair: no pomp or pageantry, no retinue of world leaders.

This is because last year the incumbent made the smart decision to move “Democracy Day” from May 29 (when traditionally inaugurations are held) to June 12 in honour of MKO Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, who was denied his mandate by military dictator Ibrahim Babangida and eventually died in detention.

The quiet inauguration, however, is also a foretelling of what to expect of Buhari’s next four years: they will be economically drab, ideologically uneventful and nothing distinct from the past four. A low-key inauguration will prepare the ground for a lower-key exit in 2023. Buhari himself implicitly admitted as much recently.

But what of the election campaign promises he made? Will he stamp out corruption, fix the economy and provide security for his people?


Buhari earned a sizeable fraction of his early-office goodwill from hunting corrupt former public office-holders, most notably former National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki, accused of presiding over the embezzlement of $2bn allocated for arms deals.

It makes sense that this ought to continue in his second term but, having largely limited the anti-corruption war to opposition politicians, Buhari has already arrested or intimidated every notable name on his list. There are only few opposition politicians left to go after and the president is unlikely to change his mind about prosecuting corrupt elements in his own camp. And those are plenty.

Only on Sunday, First Lady Aisha Buhari impugned the $16m expended on mosquito nets under the Social Investment Programme (SIP) coordinated by presidential aide Maryam Uwais. The nets are nowhere to be found, she lamented, insisting that the promised distribution of $14 to Nigeria’s poorest hadn’t reached the North despite the allocation of $1.4bn for the purpose.

The matter, though, doesn’t interest Buhari since his aide is the alleged villain. Within the next four years, expect many more instances of the president turning a blind eye to corruption and inefficiency among his appointees.


Nigeria slipped into recession a year into Buhari’s reign and exited it after another year. Just one more year later and the central bank warned the exit was under threat, followed by a similar warning just last month by the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Abdulaziz Yari.

The problem is that despite Buhari’s promises to diversify the economy, the Nigerian economy is still completely oil-dependent. The concerns about a potential return to recession stem from the recent fall in global oil prices. Meanwhile, the provision of electricity – the single biggest impediment to the survival of small-scale businesses – hasn’t improved in Buhari’s first four years.

By 2023, would Buhari have weaned Nigeria off its over-reliance on oil? Probably not.

Al-Jazeera for more

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