Nigeria has ousted a longtime incumbent over Boko Harem's infamous kidnapping
Last week, on March 25, 2015, Nigeria held a democratic election between President Goodluck Jonathan and Muhamadu Buhari. It was the first election since Nigeria’s independence from the British Empire wherein an opposition leader beat an incumbent by over two million votes according to Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission. President-elect Buhari will be sworn in May 29, 2015.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and, as they’re rich in oil, the continent’s largest economy, although plagued with economic woes. Nigerians were tired of Jonathan’s lackadaisical attitude and actions towards Boko Harem, the murder of 16,000 citizens and the kidnapping of 276 girls sparking the #bringbackourgirls Twitter campaign as well as many other issues.
Nigeria has several millionaire retired military generals who pull the strings behind the scenes. Jonathan alienated one of the godfathers, General Olusegun Obasanjo, who has governed Nigeria twice (between 1976-1979 and 1999-2007).
Another mistake Jonathan made leading to his demise was gerrymandering and rigging elections, bad management, cronyism and corruption. But it was Boko Harem and their kidnapping and sex trafficking of those girls, combined with Jonathan’s lack of concern, that pushed the Electorate over the edge. And those generals who were really in charge chose not to help him.
Buhari ran on a promise for change campaign and said that he would rapidly address the corruption problems that have plagued the country for years. The issue for the voters was stopping corruption, Boko Harem (now allied with the Islamic State) and Muslim extremism in the northeast. With the help of neighboring countries, Chad, Niger and Cameroon, Buhari is confident he can achieve control over the terrorist group. All voters from both sides wanted better security, electricity, running water and better infrastructure. Buhari has made strides in these areas without being President.
The two candidates could not have been further apart. Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the wealthier south, was educated in Nigeria. He has degrees in Zoology, Hydrobiology and started, but did not finish, a doctorate in Zoology. Before entering politics in 1999, he worked as an education inspector, lecturer, and environmental-protection officer.
Jonathan became President after the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua’s in 2010. He was re-elected that same year. He has no military experience, is worth $10 million, and has turned his back on human rights victims. He is known for his corrupt way of getting things done and accomplished little, if not made things worse.
Muhamadu Buhari has a history in Nigeria that few candidates do. Born in 1945, he was part of the military soon after Nigeria’s freedom from Britain. He moved up the ranks through several civil wars. Since 1960 there has been several coup d’etats, including one by President-elect Buhari in 1983, and multiple failed attempts at democracy due to corruption.
Buhari is a Muslim from the north. He joined the Nigerian military in 1961, undergoing officer cadets training at Mons Officer Cadet School in Aldershot in England. After gaining the rank of colonel, Buhari attended the US Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, gaining a Master’s Degree in Strategic Studies. He returned to Nigeria as a General Commanding Officer.
Besides already being President once from 1983-1985, (he denies having anything to do with the 1983 coup) Buhari remained in politics in Nigeria, including three prior unsuccessful bids for the Presidency. In 2014 he once again announced his candidacy for the March 2015 election. Buhari admits himself that he wasn’t the best he could be from 1983-1985 but has grown with time and wants to make Nigeria a strong capitalist democracy.
Of concern, there are many human rights abuses in Buhari’s past, but he wants to move forward with his agenda. He has promised not to invoke Sharia law, although in the past he has been an advocate for it. The Nigerian Electorate is taking him at his word for now.
Buhari has said that he would not look to the past, meaning he will not seek prosecution of any prior leaders, including Goodluck Jonathan. Both have made a pact to not challenge the election or o incite civil war as a power struggle. As of this publication, Nigeria has been calm on both sides. Hopefully, things will stay that way.
In the meantime, bring back our girls.