The Oasis Reporters
August 25, 2018
According to a Bloomberg analysis on the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s chances in the 2019 presidential poll, it says that Buhari’s party “may be wracked by defections and his battles against corruption and an Islamist rebellion under fire, but he has one crucial advantage in securing re-election: incumbency”.
If Bloomberg really had an ear to the Nigerian ground and eyes that see beyond official propaganda, they would have seen and known that people’s anger, hunger for power by regional power houses turned the tide against Nigeria’s best performing President, Goodluck Jonathan. Incumbency did not secure his bid. It is doubtful if it will help Buhari either, barring any unforeseen anti democratic deals at the Independent National Electoral Commission.
“At his disposal, analysts say, is a record with some policy successes, as well as the state power to reward or punish. Buhari “seems prepared to deploy the institutions of state to his advantage,” said Clement Nwankwo, executive director of the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre in the capital, Abuja. “It’s kind of a plan to beat people into line. ”Buhari — who was briefly Nigeria’s military ruler in the 1980s — will be fighting against perceptions the country hasn’t gotten any safer nor less corrupt during his tenure. A promise to shatter Boko Haram’s northern Islamist insurgency may have been partly fulfilled, but inter-communal violence has replaced it as Nigeria’s deadliest threat. Nigeria’s corruption perception ranking soared this year despite a much-touted war on graft.Buhari is benefiting from a recovering economy with rising crude prices after a 2016 recession triggered by the sharp fall in the price of the commodity that is the country’s main export”.
Nwankwo’s analysis craftily exposes the hubris in the race of 2019. Yes, State power is being deployed to whip opposition politicians into line. But this is being viewed as high handed and the misuse of state power. It brought down the first military regime that Gen Buhari headed in 1983 to 1985, lasting only twenty months.
The wild jubilation that followed his overthrow in 1985 by his then Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida sobered him up. He therefore understands what resentment can cause and has been cautious in the deployment of state power.
This may be one of the reasons he endorsed the humiliating sack of his kinsman, Lawal Daura by the Vice President, Mr. Yemi Osibanjo while he was on medical vacation.
Within Buhari’s inner circle are politicians who resent the tyrannical use of state power for self help. The massive defections suffered by the ruling party is therefore a sign that greater tyranny would be punished at the polling booths.
If Buhari would want to retain a level of approval at the polls, he’d better tread more carefully with excessive display of state power. Power belongs to the people, not to politicians who must remain accountable to the electorate.
Bloomberg was wrong to say that “Foreign-exchange reforms by the government have helped to stabilize the naira”. This is an attribution to a party that did all the wrong things.
Nigeria is dependent on the crude oil economy that is Foreign-exchange based, in addition of foreign direct investments, inclusive of home remittances.
Excellent reforms had been put in place by the former government of President Jonathan that saw Nigeria soaring up to the number one position for foreign direct investments destination in the Africa. The Buhari led administration reversed the policy of a free flowing foreign exchange regime and the sources of cash inflow simply dried up leading to massive inflation and a quarter on quarter inflation that led the nation into an unprecedented recession.
While President Buhari was on extended medical vacation, the acting president, Yemi Osinbajo quietly lifted the restrictions put in place by Buhari, and the economy started it’s slow climb to recovery. In other words, the reversal back to Jonathan era free flowing policies was what started the recovery, not any policy initiative of the government.
“Oil output has been fairly steady and prices are better than anticipated,” said Antony Goldman, West Africa analyst at London-based PM Consulting. “Economic fundamentals are better than when Buhari was elected.
”When the head of the Senate, Bukola Saraki — Nigeria’s third-most powerful politician — joined more than 50 APC members in leaving for the opposition People’s Democratic Party over the past month, the reaction was swift. First his home was blockaded; days later security officers barred entry to the legislature itself. It’s an exodus that Buhari needs stemmed if he’s to keep afloat a party with a campaign machine spanning Africa’s most populous nation of almost 200 million people.The PDP said the move was an attempt to smuggle in Buhari loyalists and remove Saraki, who’d adjourned sittings until late September. Amid public outrage, the government and APC condemned the deployment as unconstitutional and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who’s acting head of state while Buhari’s overseas, dismissed the state security chief”.
“It was a crucial act of damage control by the acting president,” said Nwankwo.Saraki said he’s considering challenging for Buhari’s job in the coming vote on the platform of the PDP, as the country needs a business-friendly leadership that is currently lacking.
Buhari’s war on corruption gives him a way to coerce his opponents, according to Cheta Nwanze, an analyst at Lagos-based business advisory, SBM Intelligence.
Buhari signed an executive order in July empowering him to freeze the bank accounts of those implicated in graft investigations. The opposition says that it will be used to punish defectors, undermines Nigeria’s courts and violates the principle of presumption of innocence.
Critics point to the case of Benue state Governor Samuel Ortom. Shortly after he left the ruling party for the PDP, the Buhari-controlled financial crimes agency moved in to freeze Benue state’s bank accounts, citing a corruption investigation.
Ortom’s office has asked why the probe only happened once the governor had left the APC.
Concrete Achievements .
“Buhari has other elements in his favor. Amaka Anku, an Africa analyst at Washington D.C.-based risk advisers Eurasia Group, pointed to national railway lines and a metro system in the capital completed during his first term. “Buhari will have concrete achievements to point to on the campaign trail,” she said.
The surprising part of the above paragraph is the analysis of Amaka Anku, a Nigerian sounding name.
How come she doesn’t know that Railways revitalization was the handiwork of former president Goodluck Jonathan?
The president may also get a boost from the opposition’s disunity. Still to name a presidential candidate, the PDP has at least a dozen would-be contenders.
While former President Olusegun Obasanjo — a powerful voice — is campaigning against Buhari’s re-election, he’s also, due to long-standing differences, opposed to the candidacy of his former deputy, Atiku Abubakar. A northerner, like Buhari, who may be able to win support on the incumbent’s home turf, Abubakar is widely seen as the only challenger proposing coherent policies.
“Compared to 2015, the president has lost some support, but the challenge for the opposition will be to win that support,” Goldman said. “The PDP is still in search of a personality to unite the party.”
It is safe to say that within this write-up are specific grounds to question the likelihood of a Buhari win. The writer and contributors did not search deeply enough.