Nigerians want to feel and see the effects of the president’s promises… Can he convince the people that continuity is better than a return to the past?
When Muhammadu Buhari took office, Nigeria had serious security and economic issues. But he promised to tackle the numerous economic challenges that the biggest African economy (560 billion GDP) was facing, and to fight corruption. Where are we now, as the incumbent seeks re-election in February 2019?
Last June, the emergency call against corruption revealed the importance of a phenomena that handicaps this country of 180 million inhabitants. We estimate that 1.4 billion euros of public funds have been taken away. Thus, the reinforcement of the ICPC (Independent Corrupt Practice and other Related Offences Commissions), initially created in 2010, was a priority for the president. “If Nigeria doesn’t kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria,” Buhari declared. It’s still true today… Nevertheless, the President’s anti-corruption policy is not, as many say, a witch hunt. And it is starting to pay. Here is a case in point: the anti-corruption authority, created under Buhari, just arrested several ex-ministers and seized hundreds of million dollars. Diezani Alison-Madueke, an ex-minister of petroleum resources, was recently arrested in London for having stolen 20 billion dollars. This raises the question: is Buhari winning in his fight? Yes, he is, if we look at the recent successes.
Putting an end to the recession?
After the recession of 2016-17, mainly due to the drop in global oil prices, growth is finally back for the biggest oil producer on the continent. In fact, an ambitious strategic plan, aimed at ensuring food security, stabilizing the economy and reaching energy security, is sowing the seeds for a great restructuring. This economic policy also strives to modernize transport infrastructures and bolster the creation of small and medium enterprises, thanks to a $10 billion investment.
Eventually, taxpayers’ money should help the Nigerian State finance economic and most importantly social policies. The black market is shrinking, and economic actors are more and more willing to invest in the country.
The man of the moment?
Regarding security, President Buhari has not overcome all the challenges. Of the 276 Chibok high school girls kidnapped in 2014, only 112 haven’t been freed. But can we be disappointed? Buhari has undertaken a massive security policy initiative. As a matter of fact, the National Economic Council, designed to restore peace in the north of the country, is coping with the issue from an innovative angle. The interior ministry is dialoguing with the governors in the most critical areas, to carry out a more structural policy.
Of course, the threat has not totally disappeared, but President Buhari is working with representatives in the territories affected by Ansaru in the North-West and Boko Haram in the North-East. The latter being responsible of more than 3000 deaths since 2009.
Can there be a second man- date?
Despite his fragile health, President Buhari has a major asset: Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo. The latter is very popular, especially in the business sector. From a security point of view, the workload should be split between the two heads of the executive. As a Christian, Osinbajo should negotiate with the fighters in the Niger Delta region, while Buhari should focus on Boko Haram.
The opposition party, the PDP, has picked the former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar as its flag bearer. This man, despite his heavy and corrupt past, has beaten his most serious opponents, Saraki and Tambuwal, by a landslide.
Now the question is: who can gain the trust of the 74 million electors? Nigerians want to feel and see the effects of the president’s promises. Promises that are starting to shape. The other question is: can the first African president coming from the opposition convince the people that continuity is better than a return to the past …
READ ALSO: ‘Eminent’ Nigerians? Give us a break
Amadou Bä, African Governance Instiute Paris. This article originally appeared in Le Point