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Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, right, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, left, and Babagana Monguno, center, attend Friday prayers, Abuja, Nigeria, Nov. 6, 2015 (SIPA photo via AP Images).

He Fell Short on His Promises, but Nigeria’s Buhari Can Still Expect a Second Term

Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019

He is often tagged as an aloof, slow-moving executive with a narrow and insular coterie of advisers, and he has fallen short of the promises that won him the presidency four years ago. Yet Muhammadu Buhari remains the front-runner in Nigeria’s presidential elections scheduled for Feb. 16, which will pit the incumbent against several challengers—the most prominent, by far, being former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who served in office from 1999 to 2007 and placed third in the 2007 election. Buhari is still the favorite because of his party’s continued strength in its strongholds in northern and southwestern Nigeria, along with the considerable advantages of incumbency and some specific liabilities of Abubakar.

Buhari, who was the runner-up in three successive Nigerian elections before his upset victory over Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, has not transformed the country as he pledged. He inherited a struggling economy that fell into recession for over a year in 2016 and 2017. Although the economy is now growing again, extreme poverty affects at least half of Nigerians, and unemployment has, according to government statistics, doubled. ...

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