The annual risk report by United States political risk consultancy corporation, Eurasia Group, has said Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is too sick and lacks the energy and creativity to solve Nigeria’s problems.
Eurasia Group’s Top 10 risks report which put Nigeria as the 10th risk came with a focus on Nigeria’s February 2019 elections.
The report described the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari as “an elderly, infirm leader who lacks the energy, creativity, or political savvy to move the needle on Nigeria’s most intractable problems.”
Eurasia believes that if Buhari’s health problems continue, it could impact the economic outlook of the nation with investors unsure of “who is calling the shots and whether they’re qualified for the job.”
“A politically weak president, for health or other reasons, would open the floodgates for political infighting, increasing the chances that his ruling All Progressives Congress implodes.
“That would turn a policy slowdown into paralysis. The risk of attacks on oil infrastructure would also rise because the absence of strong leadership in Abuja would make it harder to negotiate with the Niger Delta’s various militant groups,” the report said.
Buhari spent over 170 days on medical vacation in London since his inauguration in 2015, with the longest stretch in May 2017 where he was away for 104 days.
On one of his returns from London, where his doctors are, he tacitly acknowledged that he was very ill, telling his cabinet members that “I couldn’t recall being so sick since I was a young man.” He also said he had “blood transfusions, going to the laboratories and so on and so forth.”
There were talks about his death which distilled into more rumours that circulated about Buhari’s being a clone after he died on one of his medical vacations. He debunked the far-reaching body-double rumour.
With Buhari keen on a return to the Aso Rock as Nigeria heads to polls next month, Nigeria is plagued with economic, security and corruption problems.
Eurasia group predicts that the “election will be close, and a challenged or inconclusive result is possible.”
Buhari heavily campaigned on the same points in 2015 when he contested against Goodluck Jonathan.
During his tenure, he announced that the Boko Haram insurgents have been technically defeated but the terrorist groups have been resurgent launching attacks on military posts, carting away ammunition in recent months.
Nigeria was also named the World’s Poverty capital by the Brookings Institution with 86.9 people living in extreme poverty according to the World Poverty Clock.
Though Buhari’s major challenger Atiku Abubakar aggressively pushed his political mantra “Get Nigeria Working Again”, however, the report was also scathing in the assessment of the former Nigeria vice president.
The report predicted that Atiku “would focus on enriching himself and his cronies, avoiding the difficult and politically unpopular tasks necessary for reform” if he emerges winner of the election.
Nigeria’s “most fiercely contested election since the transition to democracy in 1999” will be contested by candidates from 91 parties, with former minister for education and Bring Back Our Girls activist, Oby Ezekwesili, former Central Bank Deputy Governor, Kingsley Moghalu and Sahara Reporters Publisher, Omoyele Sowore, part of the contestants aiming to end Buhari’s reign.
While Buhari remains the frontrunner, Eurasia’s prediction on Nigeria’s future in the successful eventuality of Buhari’s reelection sounded ominous.
“A second term for him would mean the country at best muddles through the next four years, with little progress on critical policy priorities like tax reform or a restructuring of the energy sector.”
This prediction comes despite Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) raking in of N5.320 trillion, the highest tax revenue in the country’s history in 2018.
The Political risk consultancy firm noted that in the case of a runoff, “the complexity of organizing national elections in the country” could be a “recipe for severe uncertainty in Africa’s most important market.”