Breeze Reporters

2019 Elections: US Group Drops Bombshell On Buhari, Atiku Candidacy

Eurasia Group has ranked Nigeria as one of the top 10 risks for the year 2019, passing scathing verdict on President Muhammadu Buhari and his main challenger Atiku Abubarka ahead of the 2019 general elections.

The group, reputed as the world’s largest political-risk consultancy, in its annual risk report for 2019, listed the “Bad Seeds, and US-China tension” as the top geopolitical risk for the year, while Nigeria was listed at number 10 — ahead of Brexit.

Eurasia Group is also said to be “the first firm devoted exclusively to helping investors and business decision-makers understand the impact of politics on risks and opportunities in foreign markets”.

The group stated that the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will be a lame duck from day one — if re-elected while Atiku Abubakar will enrich himself and his cronies, if voted into office in February.

“The country faces its most fiercely contested election since the transition to democracy in 1999. One candidate is the incumbent, Muhammadu Buhari. He is an elderly, infirm leader who lacks the energy, creativity, or political savvy to move the needle on Nigeria’s most intractable problems,” the group said.

“His opponent is Atiku Abubakar, another gerontocrat who would focus on enriching himself and his cronies, avoiding the difficult and politically unpopular tasks necessary for reform.”

Saying the election is too close to call, Eurasia Group added that an inconclusive result is possible — predicting a political crisis in “Africa’s most important market”.

It said, “Buhari is the frontrunner. A second term for him would mean the country at best muddles through the next four years, with little progress on critical policy priorities like tax reform or a restructuring of the energy sector.

“Buhari would be a lame duck from day one, with powerbrokers in his own party quickly shipping their focus to the next electoral cycle in 2023.

“And if Buhari’s health problems continue or worsen, the situation will get worse. The president’s continual medical leaves abroad impaired governance his first term. A repetition would again remove him from decision-making and the public eye for months at a time, leaving investors to wonder who is calling the shots and whether they’re qualified for the job.

“A Buhari reelection also carries tail risks. A politically weak president, for health or other reasons, would open the floodgates for political infighting, increasing the chances that his ruling All Progressives Congress implodes. That would turn a policy slowdown into paralysis.”

On Atiku, the group, said “A win for the challenger, Atiku, would create a brief, superficial boost to the country’s image—largely because of his better health and keener intellect.

“But it would also pose the risk of a return to an even more rent-seeking governing style. Atiku’s policy priorities are unclear and untested: He had previously promised to deregulate the oil and gas sector but recently pledged to reduce gasoline prices by 50% from already below-market levels.

“That would swell subsidy costs and endanger long-term debt sustainability. He’s also unlikely to champion a tax reform that’s critical to Nigeria’s fiscal sustainability.

“Atiku would face significant infighting within his People’s Democratic Party as well, as leaders try to hold him to his promise to serve only one term (a pledge he’s likely to retract).”

Adeyemi Olalemi

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