Despite his decisive tone, Buhari will struggle to organize financial resources to stabilize the economy and recover political allies. Nigeria is deeply dependent on energy exports, and should oil prices remain low in 2017, revenue will continue to be constrained and economic growth muted. Even if prices rise, production will still be volatile in the energy-rich Niger Delta because of continued militancy and uncertain political relations between the region and the government in Abuja
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has a lot riding on the financial plan he is expected to present at a joint session of the National Assembly on December 14. Buhari’s claims that the 2017 budget will help Nigeria escape from its recession are not only bold, but designed to try and mollify a particularly fractious political arena. Not only is Buhari’s All Progressives Congress party losing members, a significant opposition movement is beginning to cohere — tentatively called the Action Democratic Party — potentially set on unseating him from the presidency in 2019 national elections.
Despite his decisive tone, Buhari will struggle to organize financial resources to stabilize the economy and recover political allies. Nigeria is deeply dependent on energy exports, and should oil prices remain low in 2017, revenue will continue to be constrained and economic growth muted. Even if prices rise, production will still be volatile in the energy-rich Niger Delta because of continued militancy and uncertain political relations between the region and the government in Abuja.
Buhari is not in a financial position to appease all his detractors and will inevitably stoke dissent among those already bruised by his unilateral method of governance. When he came to power in May 2015, Buhari enjoyed considerable popular support to initiate reforms, including a crackdown on the corruption that engulfed the People’s Democratic Party government led by Goodluck Jonathan. But the former military ruler has seen his popularity wane amid accusations that he is turning toward the autocratic behavior that characterized his martial reign in the mid 1980s.
Buhari’s “go it alone” approach to governance follows the classic recipe for generating political instability in Nigeria. By monopolizing state assets and concentrating power in fewer hands — to streamline decision-making and reduce corrupt practices — Buhari has provided political ammunition for his challengers. In a country of around 175 million people, subdivided into 500 different ethnic groups spread across a vast and diverse geography, no region will long tolerate a dictatorial approach. Yet the fractured human terrain makes it difficult to delegate power, and Nigeria still suffers from widespread corruption, especially at the local level. And since Nigeria’s transition to democratic rule in 1999, conditions have shifted to realign political formations toward broad-based and inclusive multi-zonal alliances.
This explains why, in the run up to presidential elections, Buhari will likely face off against a ‘mega opposition party’ that is a credible challenger to the All Progressives Congress. Though the opposition movement has yet to fully coalesce into a registered party, there is already a sizable, if nebulous, group of disaffected constituents. These include southern Nigerian dissidents from Buhari’s own party, senior political figures including former President Olusegun Obasanjo and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as well as members of the People’s Democratic Party, which governed Nigeria from 1999 to 2015. With elections due in April 2019, and an established precedent that meaningful political realignments emerge roughly two years ahead of election dates, there is every expectation that the real political formation of the so-called Action Democratic Party will take shape in early 2017.
. This article was first published by Stratfor, a leading geopolitical intelligence platform, empowering businesses, governments and individuals to more effectively control their destiny in an increasingly chaotic global environment. Globally engaged businesses, organizations and individuals join Stratfor for objective geopolitical intelligence and analysis that reveals the underlying significance and future implications of emerging world events.