Buhari can ′seriously engage′ in anti-corruption struggle | Africa | DW | 02.04.2015
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Buhari can 'seriously engage' in anti-corruption struggle

President-elect Buhari has pledged to defeat Boko Haram and the 'evil' of corruption. But where does Nigeria stand as 16 years of unbroken PDP rule come to an end? DW spoke to political analyst Jibo Ibrahim in Abuja.

DW: The elections were praised for being largely free and fair. People in Nigeria were happy that they were quite peaceful by Nigerian standards. Do you feel everything went well during these elections?

Jibo Ibrahim: It would be an exaggeration to say everything went well, but people are happy with the elections because the outcome is good. The good outcome is that the person that the majority of Nigerians elected as president should become president. So what's really interesting is that having a correct outcome is pleasing because we have had a history when electoral outcomes have not always reflected the reality of the vote. But I think the first issue people are happy about is that the turnout was significant. Secondly, although the voting started late in many places it was smooth. Thirdly, the counting was done correctly. And finally, the level of collation, while there were difficulties in some states where electoral fraud occurred, on the whole the outcome reflected the choice made by Nigerians.

At the last election almost 1000 people died. Why do you think there has been no post-election violence so far this time?

Well, because in 2011 there was first and foremost a major sectional crisis in Kaduna State. Over 800 of the people who were killed came from Kaduna State and there is a sharp divide there between the northern part of the state and the southern part, which was an ethnic as well as a religious divide. It was a context of Kaduna politics that produced a very high level of casualty.

Jibo Ibrahim pictured against a bookcase

Jibo Ibrahim: intensifying the anti-corruption struggle 'will do Nigeria a lot of good'

The second issue in 2011 was that some people felt – wrongly, I believe – that Muhammadu Buhari won the elections and the outcome was changed. I believe from the studies that we have done that he did not win the elections, although there was a high level of electoral fraud, the fraud was not sufficient to have overturned his victory if he had won. The point, however, is that many people did believe that he had won and that's what precipitated the political crisis after the elections.

Shortly after the announcement of the results President Goodluck Jonathan called Buhari to congratulate him on his victory. How important was this step for peace in the country?

I think the fact that President Jonathan called Buhari and congratulated him even before the final votes were collated was an extremely positive move. It created a new what hope will be a tendency in Nigeria in which people who are defeated in elections will immediately accept their defeat and congratulate their opponent. Given the fact that there was a very high level of tension, it was also politically useful that he made that move which immediately calmed down the political atmosphere in the country. I think it is a strategic move because and people will remember him for that gesture.

There are a lot of challenges ahead for Muhammadu Buhari. One of them is Boko Haram. He has already said that he only needs six month to deal with the insurgency. How realistic is that?

I think it's realistic to bring down the strength and to degrade the strength of Boko Haram over a six month period. Eliminating Boko Haram completely will take a much longer period because as we have seen just one suicide bomber could kill 50, 100 people. And you do have a number of people who have been radicalized and who are ready to give up their life in this battle. So there is still likely to be is a continuation of some form of guerilla warfare, but in six months all their bases could be destroyed and they could be sent packing from the cities and villages that they have occupied so far.

Do you think it is likely that Buhari will invest more effort in fighting Boko Haram than Jonathan?

He definitely will because the problem with Goodluck Jonathan is that he never put any effort in the war against Boko Haram. He was not ready to fight it and in fact allowed it to fester and to grow. It was only over the last six weeks when it became clear to him that he will lose the elections that he started fighting Boko Haram to try to gain back some popularity. It didn't do him any good because by that time I think people had come to the conclusion that his commitment to fighting Boko Haram was dubious.

Now Goodluck Jonathan's government received a lot of negative publicity over corruption. There are a lot of reports indicating that corruption became worse under Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari is well known for fighting corruption. Do you think he can really change things?

Definitely we know for a fact that the Jonathan administration is the most corrupt in the history of Nigeria. I believe Buhari can seriously engage in this struggle against corruption. Corruption is too deep in the country today for General Buhari to resolve the issue immediately. But the terrible thing that has happened since Jonathan came to power is that nobody is ever punished for corruption. We are sure that under Buhari people found to be corrupt people will be dealt with. And this will turn the tide because completely eliminating corruption will take a very long time and even in countries like Germany they haven't succeeded completely yet. I believe, however, that we have laws that can be used effectively to fight corruption. Now those laws have not been used. There is no willpower on the highest level to fight corruption. That is what is going to change. Buhari is determined to intensify the struggle against corruption and that will do Nigeria a lot of good.

Dr Jibo Ibrahim is a Nigerian political analyst and Senior Fellow at the Center for Democracy and Development in Abuja.

Interview: Adrian Kriesch

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