President Buhari – the hopes of a nation and the challenges that lie in wait
On the 31
March history was made in Nigeri...
be in truly combatting it. At the time of going to press, Buhari’s 19 person Transition Committee had
just been announced....
of 2

President Buhari - the hopes of a nation and the challenges that lie in wait

Published on: Mar 4, 2016

Transcripts - President Buhari - the hopes of a nation and the challenges that lie in wait

  • 1. President Buhari – the hopes of a nation and the challenges that lie in wait On the 31 st March history was made in Nigeria, as Muhammadu Buhari became the first democratically elected opposition leader to assume the country’s Presidency. But while on the streets there have been celebrations and jubilation, in boardrooms both in and out of the country, businesses and investors have sought to assess what the ascension of Buhari to the Presidency means for the country, and those looking to do business in it. Challenges When Buhari assumes power at the end of May, he is going to have a thick in-tray. The country he takes control of is deeply divided, and while its GDP places it as Africa’s richest economy, it is a country full of very poor people. Of further economic concern, oil, long the mainstay of the Nigerian economy, has lost half its value over the last year. The impact of this has been felt across the country – from rising prices due to the Naira falling 20%, to local governments struggling to pay their civil servants and state workers. Away from the economy, security is a constant problem, most notably in the north. Boko Haram continues to be a plague that threatens to further undermine confidence and security in the country, and the recent passing of the 1 year anniversary of the Chibok school girls kidnapping, with the associated limited progress made to locate them, is a depressing landmark. The country’s chronic infrastructure deficit poses a further challenge to its future prosperity. Power, or a lack of it, is a constant issue, and while the sector has seen substantial privatisation reforms in recent years, output is still woefully low, with current levels at under 3000MW, compared with a total national demand estimated at 10,000MW. Underlying much of these challenges is the pervasive influence of corruption in Nigeria. From looted oil revenues and a compromised power privatisation process, to questions of integrity over the military’s handling of Boko Haram, and challenges western investors face in identifying suitable local partners, corruption in Nigeria is insidious. Addressing this must be the single greatest priority, but also the single greatest challenge, for the new leader. Buhari – looking ahead Now the hangovers from the victory celebration have passed, questions must be answered of Buhari’s intentions, as while near infinite hope is held by the electorate, little insight has been given of his policy ambitions. His economic priorities, his views on privatisation, and who he will have feature in his cabinet, all remain substantial unknowns. Notably his last spell in power was characterised by authoritarian leadership, wage freezing, large scale redundancies, currency controls and price freezes. The result was a damaged economy, a reduced standard of living, and his forceful removal from power after only 20 months of government. This time around, hopes are high that Buhari can offer an antidote to corruption, poverty and unemployment, and provide a comprehensive solution to the Islamic terror threat in the north. Many feel that given Buhari’s power base is drawn in large part from the Muslim north, he will have far greater success dealing with Boko Haram. However, while news in recent days of moderate successes against the Group may be seen as a positive early sign, Boko Haram has been allowed to grow so powerful that dismantling it will likely prove incredibly difficult. Buhari has also spoken out very strongly on the issue of corruption in Nigeria, and appears keen to follow a trend of his first term in government in pursuing corruption aggressively. However, he joins a long line of leaders who have voiced similar ambitions, and it remains to be seen how effective he can
  • 2. be in truly combatting it. At the time of going to press, Buhari’s 19 person Transition Committee had just been announced. Early observations of the committee are that it appears to have integrity and might offer insight into the new government’s future approach to battling corruption. On the economy more broadly, the markets responded positively to the news of Buhari as President. The Nigerian Stock Exchange, one of the worst performers globally, rose over 20% on the news of his victory, and has stayed relatively stable since. However, precisely how his new government might reshape the wider economy, with oil prices and government revenues still low, and inflation still high, remains a mystery. Conclusion Nigeria has a rapidly growing middle class, a vibrant entrepreneurial culture, and some of the best minds on the continent. With the right leadership, the country has the potential to become not just a shining light in Africa, but a major global player, with included admission to the G20. Buhari carries the hope of not just a nation, but of an international business community as well, and all eyes will be on Aso Villa come May 29 th to see if he truly is the man they all want him to be. Article by Hugo Williamson of IPSA International, a root9B Technologies company About IPSA: IPSA International, a root9B Technologies, Inc. company, is a regulatory risk mitigation firm delivering advisory and investigative services globally in the areas of Anti-Money Laundering, Investigative Due Diligence, Enterprise Risk Management and Litigation Support. Our clients include public and private middle market businesses, multi-national corporations, financial institutions and governments. IPSA International has offices in the US, UK, Canada, UAE and Hong Kong, resources in over 75 countries and research capabilities in 20 languages. For more information, please visit us at

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