Tag Archives: niger delta

Buhari takes Trump call from London as Nigerians ponder president’s health

Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari, who spoke with Donald Trump on Monday, has been in London indefinitely for nearly a month. (Facebook)

It was something of a surprise to Nigerians to learn that their president was well enough to discuss global matters with US president Donald Trump on Monday, as much of the country has wondered for weeks if Nigeria’s leader is on his deathbed. 

Muhammadu Buhari, a longtime opposition figure who defeated sitting president Goodluck Jonathan in March 2015, on a promise to curtail widespread corruption, left Nigeria for a holiday in London on January 19. But he has not yet returned, pending the results of medical tests. His administration is incredibly opaque about the nature of Buhari’s illness and his medical tests, and in the absence of any real information about the president’s health, Nigerians are increasingly speculating that Buhari is being treated for grave illness or possibly already dead, at a time when Buhari’s administration is struggling to cope with economic and security challenges.

Buhari, in a cryptic letter on February 5, said that he would stay in London indefinitely ‘until the doctors are satisfied that certain factors are ruled out.’

No one knows whether Buhari scheduled the original London holiday in January for medical reasons, but it’s noteworthy that the 74-year-old Nigerian president skipped trips to neighboring African countries last summer while he made time for a 10-day trip last June to see his London-based doctors about an alleged ear infection.

Nevertheless, Buhari is apparently healthy enough to take a call from Trump, and a Buhari aide said that the new US president had kind words for Buhari’s work in tackling Boko Haram and other radical terrorist groups in Nigeria. Insofar as the presidential call provided Nigerians with some secondhand news as to the health of their president, the news is perhaps one of the nascent Trump administration’s top foreign policy accomplishments. Continue reading Buhari takes Trump call from London as Nigerians ponder president’s health

Nigeria election results: What Buhari’s win means


It’s now official — Muhammadu Buhari, the former military head of state from 1983 to 1985, has won the Nigerian presidency in the closest election since the return of civilian rule in 1999. Buhari will be the first northerner to hold the office since the 2010 death of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.nigeria_flag_icon

It’s impossible to overstate just how important today’s election results are for Nigeria, for sub-Saharan Africa and for developing democracies. As an important partner for regional stability, Nigeria is one of the most vital allies of the United States in Africa today, even as it faces a handful of incredibly delicate security, economic and sociocultural challenges.

* * * * *

RELATED: Six weeks and Chadian intervention didn’t stop Boko Haram in Nigeria

* * * * *

With only the troubled northeastern state of Borno left to report results (a state that Buhari is expected to win easily), Buhari had 53.24% of the vote to just 45.67% for Jonathan, and he won not only the northern pro-Buhari states, but much of southwestern Nigeria as well (Buhari won the states marked in green below, Jonathan the states in red). Though the opposition, now merged as the All Progressives Congress (APC) already controlled Lagos, the governing People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of incumbent Goodluck Jonathan traditionally wins greater support in the southwest.


So what does this mean for Nigeria and for Africa? Continue reading Nigeria election results: What Buhari’s win means

Six weeks and Chadian intervention didn’t stop Boko Haram in Nigeria

damaskPhoto credit to Emmanuel Braun / Reuters.

Nigeria, after a six-week delay, will elect its president today in its fifth regular set of elections since the return of quasi-civilian rule in 1999.chad flag iconnigeria_flag_icon

The reason that Nigerians are voting on March 28 and not on February 14 was to give the Nigerian army the time to subdue Boko Haram, a northern Islamist insurgent group. Facing a tough fight for reelection and skepticism that he can prevent Africa’s most populous country from fragmenting, what does Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan have to show for his six-week campaign extension?

Not so much.

* * * * *

RELATED: Six weeks can’t defeat Boko Haram —
or fix Nigerian democracy

RELATED: Nigeria emerges as Africa’s largest economy

* * * * *

Despite exhortions by the Nigerian government that Boko Haram is on the run, there’s evidence that even as military forces take back ground previously lost to insurgents, Boko Haram is changing its tactics — for instance, by increasing the frequency of suicide bombings:

NBC News analyzed JTIC data from the six weeks before and after the day Nigeria postponed the elections. Boko Haram carried out 10 suicide operations between Dec. 28 and Feb. 8, according to the data — which is drawn from a wide spectrum of open-source media reporting. The number of suicide bombings rose to 12 in the six weeks from Feb. 9 to March 23.


What’s more, hours before Nigerians cast their ballots for president, Idriss Déby, the president of neighboring Chad and one of sub-Saharan Africa’s more effective authoritarians, was giving rare interviews to the international media slamming Jonathan’s government. He claimed that the Chadian military was responsible for recent territorial gains, alleging that the Nigerian military is nowhere to be found, leaving Déby (pictured above) and Chadian forces suspended in a quasi-occupation of parts of northern Nigeria:

Mr. Déby’s anger at the Nigerians was barely restrained in the interview. “All we’re doing is standing in place,” Mr. Déby said. “And it is to the advantage of Boko Haram.”

“We’ve been on the terrain for two months, and we haven’t seen a single Nigerian soldier,” he added. “There is a definite deficit of coordination, and a lack of common action.” He said that time was running out for a larger victory against Boko Haram. “Soon it will be rainy season,” he said, explaining that it will be more difficult for troops to maneuver. “This will give Boko Haram a three-month bonus.”

Déby’s actions cut both ways. In one sense, it’s obviously emasculating to the Jonathan government, in particular, that it cannot control security through the entire territory of what is Africa’s largest economy. Like it or not, Déby’s success makes him an increasingly influential stakeholder in Nigerian government. On the other hand, the Chadian soldiers (along with the alleged use of South African and other mercenaries by Jonathan’s government to combat Boko Haram) have made just enough progress to give Jonathan a real shot at holding off his challenger, Muhammadu Buhari, a former military head of state between 1983 and 1985 and a four-time contender for the Nigerian presidency. Continue reading Six weeks and Chadian intervention didn’t stop Boko Haram in Nigeria