Election in Nigeria 2019: The challenges are waiting for Buhari

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Muhammadu Buhari celebrates his victoryimage rights
Reuters

Muhammadu Buhari was re-elected as President of Nigeria for a second term of four years – Africa's most populous country facing a range of problems, including corruption, economic slowdown and security threats. BBC Africa Editor Fergal Keane examines the challenges.

This was never a choice that promised the possibility of a new era. The 76-year-old president and his outnumbered rival Atiku Abubakar, 72, have been part of Nigeria's political scene for decades, representing two parties often associated with crime and crime.

In fact, Mr Buhari's victory could be partly due to his opponent's public distrust, which had to reject allegations of corruption during the election campaign.

In his first term, the president made some efforts to counter the transplant, which left tens of billions of billions out of the Ministry of Finance.

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

"Baba Go Slow"

It takes a dose of realism: the breadth and depth of corruption is so great that it influences so many aspects of public life that the intervention of serious issues would require a concentration, energy and application that was lacking in President Buhari's first term.

His long illness-absence from the countryside-seeking treatment in London for a still-unknown illness-gave the impression of an administration that crawled rather than strolled.

President Buhari was lucky in the election of his deputy.

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo was dynamic and courageous in his role as President-in-Office, particularly in security services and stabilizing the naira, the local currency, at a time of economic uncertainty.

In contrast, Mr. Buhari was called "Baba Go Slow". It took him six months to appoint his cabinet for the first time.

More about Nigeria's vote

Can he stop plundering?

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

There is undoubtedly public support, but Mr. Buhari's party is being compromised by high-ranking members suspected of being enriched by transplants. The fear is that the plunderers continue the normal development along the line and undermine economic development.

Determined disciplinarian

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AFP

  • Born in 1942 in a Muslim family in the north of the state of Katsina
  • The former soldier, who led a military regime in the 1980s, recalled his stern stance – officials had to perform frog jumps in public
  • In 2015, won the presidential election, the first opposition candidate to defeat an incumbent, and pledged to defeat the corruption and insurgents of the Boko Haram
  • The alleged woman was in the kitchen after complaining about his government in a BBC interview
  • After a long illness-related absence, he had to deny the rumors that he had been replaced in public by a doppelganger

Economically, the country remains dependent on oil prices for 70% of government revenues – a long-term vulnerability that has led Nigeria into recession between 2016 and 17.

The World Bank has predicted weak economic growth: 2.2% for the coming year in a country with more than 20% unemployment and almost half of the population living in extreme poverty.

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AFP

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Nearly half of the Nigerian population lives in extreme poverty, says the World Bank

Ending dependency on oil revenues needs to be much faster.

President Buhari also faces a series of security threats posed by clashes between farmers and shepherds in the Middle Belt, continuing instability in the oil-producing Niger Delta and, most worryingly, a revived threat from Islamist extremists in the north of the country.

There, the offshoot of Boko Haram – ISWAP (Islamic State West Africa Provice) – used the term to stage a series of high-profile attacks, including an attempt to fire missiles at Maiduguri on election day.

Militant muscle

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AFP

Low turnout

For a president at the height of his power, this would be an enormous range of challenges. But Mr. Buhari is in his 70s and had health problems.

It may be that he is rejuvenated by victory and his second term is more dynamic than the first one.

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AFP

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Voter turnout was the lowest in 20 years

If not, there is a danger that Nigeria will be subject to drift policy and that frustration among young people, who make up more than half of the population, will increase.

In order to bear the belief in democracy, the elect must achieve tangible results.

This could explain – at least in part – why turnout was a record low of just under 35%, compared to 44% in 2015.

This is the statistic that should alarm all political parties in Nigeria.