The Next Dispensation

President Goodluck Jonathan, Muhammadu Buhari

Nigeria’s former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari will run against President Goodluck Jonathan in the forthcoming February 2015 polls after a landslide win in the primaries. The elections are likely to be the most closely fought and tense since a return to democracy in 1999. Buhari, 72, is campaigning on an anti-corruption platform and has vowed to tackle growing insecurity in Africa’s most populous country. He earned a reputation for stamping out graft during his 20-month rule that began in 1983, but has since failed to win the top job in three attempts at the ballot box.

The elections are a critical test of Nigeria’s democracy: an Islamist insurgency has claimed more than 10,000 lives in the past year alone and plummeting oil prices have battered the economy. Buhari told crowds during his acceptance speech in Lagos: “The lives of the poor are bled dry while those of the wealthy soak in abundance. It’s time to end this demeaning chapter in our nation’s history.”

If he loses, it is likely to exacerbate the perception in the north that power has become concentrated power in the oil-rich south of Africa’s top petroleum exporter. An attempt to juggle more than 250 ethnic groups has led to an unwritten agreement to rotate power between the Muslim-majority north and predominantly Christian south every two terms. Buhari is a northern Muslim while Jonathan is a Christian from the oil-producing south, who took office after his predecessor died midterm in 2010.

Jonathan’s win the following year triggered three days of riots in the north that left 800 people dead and 65,000 displaced. Some saw the peaceful and well-organised convention – never guaranteed in Nigeria – as a first step in the right direction.

Source: the guardian

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