December 18

Nigerian Presidential Candidate Muhammadu Buhari Appears Positioned to Win February Election

It was recently announced that Muhammadu Buhari will be running as the main opposition candidate against Goodluck Jonathan in Nigeria’s presidential election, which will take place in February 2015.

Buhari has a reputation for ruling with an iron fist. However, he is respected as being one of the few Nigerian presidents who did not use his time in office for personal enrichment.

Buhari took power through a military coup in 1983. He remained in office until 1985 when his government was overthrown in a subsequent coup.

Buhari, who is a Muslim, enjoys widespread popularity in the northern states.

While Buhari previously ran for president in 2003, 2007, and 2011, and was defeated, many Nigerians have started to view Nigeria’s deteriorating security situation and worsening economy as being linked to the failures of the Jonathan administration. This may lead many Nigerian’s to take to the polls in hope that a new administration will prove more capable in improving the country’s worsening economic and security situation. While Buhari’s time in office was marred by a poor economy and widespread corruption on the regional level, this took place before many voting age Nigerians were born and many potential voters either weren’t alive during Buhari’s reign, or were too young to remember it.

During Buhari’s presidency, Nigeria did not generate as much oil revenue as it does today. Should Buhari become president again, he may be able to utilize the country’s oil revenues to his advantage. If he invests this revenue wisely (utilizing the expertise of the country’s finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala), Buhari may be able to improve Nigeria as a whole. Currently, the northern states receive very little investment, with the lion’s share of oil revenues being invested in the country’s two biggest cities. Abuja and Lagos; both in the south. Nigeria is currently Africa’s richest country and the continents biggest oil producer. However, the country’s economy and its deteriorating security situation, does not reflect this fact.

Should Buhari become president, Nigeria’s overall condition may improve for three primary reasons. First, having a Muslim president may help ease the feeling of disenfranchisement felt by many Nigerian Muslims. Being a Muslim himself, Buhari may begin to invest more oil revenue in Nigeria’s (predominately Muslim) northern states; which still have relatively primitive infrastructures in comparison to the southern states. Second, many Nigerian Muslims have claimed that the Jonathan administration wishes to prevent a Muslim candidate from taking office. If Buhari were to be elected, it would render this argument invalid, and may reduce support for Boko Haram. Finally, Buhari was formerly a general in the Nigerian military. He is well aquainted with military operations and may be in a better position to address the Boko Haram threat with Nigeria’s military.

While Nigeria’s electoral process has been criticized for lacking transparency and being rife with voter fraud, the upcoming elections are likely to face a large amount of scrutiny from the international community for just that reason. In addition, with the frustration being felt by many Nigeria’s citizens over the country’s worsening situation, Nigerians themselves will most likely demand a high level of transparency in the February election. Should fraud occur, the country could potentially plunge into complete chaos if the people believe that the Jonathan administration rigged the vote in order to maintain power. The Jonathan administration most likely realizes this fact and may take steps to crack down on voter fraud. All these facts lead to the conclusion that Nigeria’s next election will likely be an accurate reflection of the will of the Nigerian people. With this being said, Buhari appears to be in a good position to become Nigeria’s next president; something which may end up benefiting Nigeria as a whole and helping it live up to its full potential.