Second chance for Buhari to shine.

Author:Akinloye, Lagun
Position:Around Africa: Nigeria

The drama of the Nigerian Presidential elections have come to an end, yet the myriad of issues that have bedevilled Africa's largest economy and most populous nation still remain. Can Buhari do better the second time around? Analysis by Lagun Akinloye.

The resounding victory of incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) over his closest challenger Atiku Abubakar of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), means that Buhari has been given a second chance at turning around the fortunes of the country after a lacklustre and relatively forgettable first term.

The elections were marred by a one-week postponement, hours before the polls were set to open, a lower than expected voter turn-out at 36%, allegations of voter suppression by state security agencies in regions not favourable to the President and constituent inflation in his strongholds.

Pockets of violence were also recorded which led to the death of 67 people on the day of voting. Yet the margin of Buhari's victory was conclusive, with the President polling 15.2m votes against Atiku's respectable 11.3m.

Atiku and the PDP rejected the election results outright, describing their conduct as a "sham election" and a "throwback to the jackboot era of military dictatorship" whilst vowing to seek recourse in the courts.

Election challenges that have followed Africa's largest democratic exercise are common, but have never succeeded in getting the results overturned. The onus is now on Buhari to hit the ground running and repay the faith that has led to his re-election.

"President Buhari needs to reenergise his sclerotic governing style," says Matthew Page, former US State Department expert on Nigeria and currently a Fellow at the Centre for Democracy and Development. "Whilst pushing through meaningful institutional reforms that will remake Nigeria's bloated, inefficient and corruption-prone government structures."

Free and fair?

The highly anticipated Presidential elections got off to a turbulent start with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the country's electoral authority, delaying the Presidential and National Assembly elections by one week, five hours before the polls were set to open.

They cited their inability to get ballots and results sheets to all parts of the country as the reason, despite the prompt release of INEC's election budget by the National Assembly of N189bn ($520m) and previous assurances of the Commission's preparedness.


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