With doubts growing that Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will seek a second term because of lingering health issues, cracks are emerging in the ruling All Progressives Congress as key politicians jostle to succeed him.
Women Affairs Minister Aisha Alhassan appeared in an online video last week declaring support for former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to become leader in 2019, when Buhari’s term ends. Alhassan confirmed the recording to the British Broadcasting Corp., saying she would quit the government if Buhari, 74, decided to seek re-election and back Abubakar, whom she referred to as her “godfather.”
“It’s an open rebellion; it’s an indication that many do not believe he will run in 2019,” said Cheta Nwanze, an analyst at Lagos-based advisory company SBM Intelligence. “It’s also an indication that even if he does run they don’t think he has the political machinery to pull off a return.”
Buhari won the presidency of Africa’s biggest oil producer two years ago by building a coalition that included disaffected members of the former ruling People’s Democratic Party and three other opposition groups. A plunge in revenue caused by lower output and prices for oil, the country’s main export, saw the economy suffer its worst slump in 25 years and undermined Buhari’s ability to meet his campaign promises, such as rebuilding infrastructure and revitalizing the power industry and strengthening the naira.
Nigeria began to tighten currency controls soon after prices crashed in 2014. Analysts blamed the move, which Buhari backed when he came to power, for creating a severe shortage of foreign exchange that hammered importers and deterred investors. The central bank has eased some restrictions this year, but still maintains a tight grip on the naira’s value.
Buhari made two visits to London this year to receive treatment for
an undisclosed ailment, spending 103 days during the last trip, raising questions about his ability to complete his four-year tenure.