Nigeria’s Leader Has Exacerbated the Country’s Problems (Pittsburgh Post Gazette – July 26)

I was pleased to see the issue of Nigeria’s worsening national crisis addressed in the June 21 editorial “Nigeria’s Fault Lines: The Major African Nation Is at Risk of Collapse.” While the editorial lists a handful of difficulties faced by Africa’s most influential democracy, it excludes any reference to President Muhammadu Buhari himself, namely his role in creating the precarious environment that prevails in the country.

In office since May 2015, Mr. Buhari has compounded many of the concerns that are contributing to Nigeria’s duress. His bewildering monetary policy, for instance, has crippled a marketplace already hamstrung by key external factors, including a significant dip in oil prices.

As for the security situation, Mr. Buhari has exacerbated entrenched ethnic, social and religious fissures, leading to escalated violence across the country. He has turned his military against peaceful protesters in the volatile Biafra region, leaving more than a confirmed 40 dead to date. Similarly, 350 people are believed to have been unlawfully killed by the Nigerian military in Zaria — located in the north of the country — following a confrontation between members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria and a convoy led by Mr. Buhari’s military chief. To the south, in the troublesome Niger Delta, many argue that Mr. Buhari has caused undue chaos by canceling promised amnesty payments to former combatants and by diverting necessary resources away from the fight against Boko Haram.

While Nigeria is making a turn for the worse, Mr. Buhari seems more interested in the arrest, prosecution and imprisonment of his political foes, albeit under the guise of an official anti-corruption campaign. To be sure, deep-rooted problems in Nigeria — including governmental corruption and graft — are hard to eradicate overnight. Missteps and mistakes are, of course, bound to happen. And we should certainly encourage efforts at eradicating the root causes of democratic backsliding and stalled human development.

At the same time, however, we should also hold Mr. Buhari accountable for his role thus far in sowing undue and additional stress on the country, while also encouraging him and his government to take the necessary steps that will set Nigeria on a successful path.

Executive Director
Vanguard Africa Movement
Washington, D.C.