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The Economist endorses GMB ‘with heavy heart’

The Economist endorses GMB ‘with heavy heart’
February 05
20:09 2015
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The Economist, the influential British weekly newspaper, has endorsed Muhammadu Buhari, retired major general and presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), for the February 14 election.

Although the newspaper does not have much influence on the majority of Nigerians, its views are highly respected among Western leaders.

The newspaper said it was endorsing Buhari because a “former dictator is a better choice than a failed president”.

The Economist has been very critical of the President Goodluck Jonathan administration, particularly on the issues of insecurity and corruption — which are the major talking points in Nigeria’s 5th presidential election of the fourth republic.

While admitting that sometimes “there are no good options”, the newspaper said Buhari was the “least awful”.

It said Jonathan could preside over Nigeria’s fragmentation and that it had to endorse Buhari “with a heavy heart” because of his past.

Below is the editorial in full.

SOMETIMES there are no good options. Nigeria goes to the polls on February 14th to elect the next president, who will face problems so large—from rampant corruption to a jihadist insurgency—that they could break the country apart, with dire consequences for Nigerians and the world.

And yet, as Africa’s biggest economy stages its most important election since the restoration of civilian rule in 1999, and perhaps since the civil war four decades ago, Nigerians must pick between the incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan, who has proved an utter failure, and the opposition leader, Muhammadu Buhari, a former military dictator with blood on his hands (see article). The candidates stand as symbols of a broken political system that makes all Nigeria’s problems even more intractable.

Start with Mr Jonathan, whose People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has run the country since 1999 and who stumbled into the presidency on the death of his predecessor in 2010. The PDP’s reign has been a sorry one. Mr Jonathan has shown little willingness to tackle endemic corruption. When the governor of the central bank reported that $20 billion had been stolen, his reward was to be sacked.

Worse, on Mr Jonathan’s watch much of the north of the country has been in flames. About 18,000 people have died in political violence in recent years, thousands of them in January in several brutal attacks by Boko Haram, a jihadist group that claims to have established its “caliphate” in territory as large as Belgium. Another 1.5m people have fled their homes. The insurgency is far from Mr Jonathan’s southern political heartland and afflicts people more likely to vote for the opposition. He has shown little enthusiasm for tackling it, and even less competence. Quick to offer condolences to France after the attack on Charlie Hedbo, Mr Jonathan waited almost two weeks before speaking up about a Boko Haram attack that killed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of his compatriots.

The single bright spot of his rule has been Nigeria’s economy, one of the world’s fastest-growing. Yet that is largely despite the government rather than because of it, and falling oil prices will temper the boom. The prosperity has not been broadly shared: under Mr Jonathan poverty has increased. Nigerians typically die eight years younger than their poorer neighbours in nearby Ghana.

Goodbye Jonathan

Voters have ample cause to send Mr Jonathan packing. In a country where power has often changed through the barrel of a gun, the opposition All Progressives Congress has a real chance of winning through the ballot box. Yet its candidate, Mr Buhari, is an ex-general who, three decades ago, came to power in a coup. His rule was nasty, brutish and mercifully short. Declaring a “war against indiscipline”, he ordered whip-wielding soldiers to ensure that Nigerians formed orderly queues. His economics, known as Buharism, was destructive. Instead of letting the currency depreciate in the face of a trade deficit, he tried to fix prices and ban “unnecessary” imports. He expelled 700,000 migrants in the delusion that this would create jobs for Nigerians. He banned political meetings and free speech. He detained thousands, used secret tribunals and executed people for crimes that were not capital offences.

Should a former dictator with such a record be offered another chance? Surprisingly, many Nigerians think he should. One reason is that, in a country where ministers routinely wear wristwatches worth many times their annual salary, Mr Buhari is a sandal-wearing ascetic with a record of fighting corruption. Few nowadays question his commitment to democracy or expect him to turn autocratic: he has repeatedly stood for election and accepted the outcome when he lost. He would probably do a better job of running the country, and in particular of tackling Boko Haram. As a northerner and Muslim, he will have greater legitimacy among villagers whose help he will need to isolate the insurgents. As a military man, he is more likely to win the respect of a demoralised army.

We are relieved not to have a vote in this election. But were we offered one we would—with a heavy heart—choose Mr Buhari. Mr Jonathan risks presiding over Nigeria’s bloody fragmentation. If Mr Buhari can save Nigeria, history might even be kind to him.

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12 Comments

  1. Anita Tolu
    Anita Tolu February 05, 20:28

    Hallelujah!Up GMB! May God spare our lives to see your swearing in! You have my vote and that of my husband!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Stagger911
    Stagger911 February 05, 21:22

    I wish this article has a like button. Jonathan has failed Nigeria. Corruption is at it’s peak, the North East is not safe, our economy is messed up…Nigeria needs General Buhari. God bless Nigeria

    Reply to this comment
  3. bankky
    bankky February 05, 21:54

    Buhari!B

    Reply to this comment
  4. dippo
    dippo February 05, 22:00

    nonsenseeeeeeeeeeee!!!!! Goodluck Jonathern is the man.This conspiratory publication is peversely biased and un factual

    Reply to this comment
  5. Tahir
    Tahir February 05, 22:10

    Buhari, never expelled migrants from Nigeria. The expulsion was done two yrs b4 he came to power. However ur endorsement is welcome.

    Reply to this comment
  6. atemoney
    atemoney February 05, 22:16

    The analysis is fair enough for d wise,to vote wisely. However,if Mr Buhari win d election,i dont see him to govern d nation as a Dictatorship but rather with rule of law. I believe is d man dat can tackle curruption,which is d fundamental issue affecting every sectors of our economy.May God bless Nigeria!

    Reply to this comment
  7. Goddy
    Goddy February 06, 00:55

    This is his moment! GMB all the way

    Reply to this comment
  8. segebe
    segebe February 06, 07:25

    may God put to shame enemies of NIGERIA who insist NIGERIA must break up…SAI BUHARI, BUHARI OYOYO, SAI BABA.long live NIGERIA long live BUHARI

    Reply to this comment
  9. U U Kasim
    U U Kasim February 06, 10:05

    Indeed Buhari is our next. President GOD’S Willing, and I believe any well meaning Nigerian will have the same opinion giving the rapacious and excruciating economic policies that is a factor of corruption laden nation has we experiencing now. Just mention anything negative it is noticeable under this dispensation. God blessed our country.

    Reply to this comment
  10. BASH
    BASH February 06, 10:40

    And all the credit goes to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for making the alliance between the N/E N/W S/W and some sections of the S/S and S/S possible. For the first time in my life am beginning to believe in the oneness of Nigeria. GMB shall lead us to achieving that dream. I long for Febuhari 14th.

    Reply to this comment
  11. idris
    idris February 06, 20:58

    Thankfully The Economist has no vote in this election. We Nigerians who know what the issues are, are eager to have Jonathan reelected. Reading the Economist blame Jonathan for Boko Haram is like having someone blame Bush for 9/11. The Nigerian Army under Ihijirika almost succeeded in routing the vermin but this same Economist magazine, their western neocolonial allies Amnesty International and some northern Nigerian hegemonists like a certain Buhari cried blue murder alleging human rights abuse. These same entities conveniently forgot the American run Abu guraid prison in Baghdad and Guantanamo which proved decisive in the war on terror. As for the famed missing $20 billion, is the Economist accepting the allegation as the evidence? An audit report by PWC has fully debunked that yet the Economist continues to indulge in colonial masturbation. Forward Nigeria!

    Reply to this comment
  12. The Dude
    The Dude February 08, 16:16

    I am Glad the Economist Magazine does not have powers to determine who rules Nigeria therefore their reluctant choice of GMB becomes part of the general amnesia will all collectively suffer from.
    I would rather they concentrate on the ISIS Crisis in the Middle East, the Rise of Islamic Fundamentalism as a consequence of the Twin failure of the Policy of Assimilation and Corruption. The Crisi in the Ukraine, Venezuela et al.
    Remove the Specks in your Eyes first before trying to help others. Adios.

    Reply to this comment

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