One of the most widely read international magazine in the world, Time Magazine has summed up four major challenges President-elect, Gen Muhammadu Buhari must overcome when he officially resumes his role as the president of Nigeria.
According to the editorial analysis of the political situation in Nigeria and the coming years ahead, the four most pressing issues are more difficult for the president-elect than winning the Presidency!
The editorial took credit that Buhari made history by making himself the first President to unseat a sitting President via the ballot box and hence cementing the foundation of democracy in Nigeria.
The four major challenges Buhari must deal it when he assumes office are listed below:
1) Reducing Corruption
The editorial acknowledged that when Buhari was the military Head of State from 1983 – 1985, he did not take advantage of the opportunity to enrich himself like his previous predecessors or successors. However, the editorial laid out the immense challenges of the entrenched system of political patronage where kickbacks are a norm that is very difficult to overcome.
“The APC line is that there will be no corrupt individuals in Buhari’s cabinet, but there will have to be some wiggle room,” says Elizabeth Donnelley, assistant head of the Africa program at London’s Chatham House foreign policy institute. “Deals have been made, and things are owed.” Buhari may not be able to sweep away graft in the short term, but if he immediately strengthens existing anti-corruption institutions that had been intentionally weakened under previous administrations, such as Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and oversees the prosecution of standout cases, he will set the right tone.
A good place to start would be an investigation into the country’s petroleum ministry, where an estimated $20 billion in oil revenue is thought to have gone missing, according to a 2014 report by Nigeria’s Central Bank.
2) Taming the Boko Haram
The editorial said that over 13,000 Nigerian have been killed by the terrorist group and with the military alliance with Chad and other neighboring countries, they have been pushed out of three districts where they have gained foothold. However the real challenge is within the military that is severely in need of restructuring due to years of neglect and corruption. Buhari also needs to strengthen relationships with neighboring countries in order to stage a concerted effort to fight Boko Haram.
3) Healing the economy
The editorial acknowledged that Nigeria is now the largest economy in the continent but the economy is not in a robust shape. Citing the International Monetary Fund (IMF) data, the growth has slowed down to 4.8% this year compared to 6.1% in 2014. The Naira went down by 17% against the US Dollars and inflation is at all time high with foreign reserves at historic low. The oil and gas sector makes up 70% of the government’s income but the sector only accounts for 16% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The editorial advised that Buhari needs to diversify the Nigerian economy, instead of putting all revenue from this sector where it is subjected to commodity price fluctation and its eventual volatility to the Naira and the general state of economic well-being. It further pointed out the challenge that Buhari has little grasp of the modern economic management and cited Nobel Prize Laureate Wole Soyinka saying during an interview with Bloomberg News “I think, like me, he’s an economic illiterate.”
4) Keeping the oil rich delta area onside
The editorial quoted an example in 2009 when President Jonathan formulated a working formula with the delta militants that reduced their attacks on the oil pipeline and kidnapping of foreign oil workers. Buhari was advised to work on a similar framework with the militants in a profit sharing formula that would spell prosperity sharing and also ensure the oil keeps flowing without disruption to the economy. A failure to come out with a win-win formula will lead to eruption of violence again and will portend badly on the state of the national economy.