News / Africa

Former Nigeria Military Leader Hints at Presidential Run

Former Nigerian military ruler Muhammadu Buhari speaks during an interview with Reuters at a private residence in Lagos, Nigeria, February 19, 2011.Former Nigerian military ruler Muhammadu Buhari speaks during an interview with Reuters at a private residence in Lagos, Nigeria, February 19, 2011.
x
Former Nigerian military ruler Muhammadu Buhari speaks during an interview with Reuters at a private residence in Lagos, Nigeria, February 19, 2011.
Former Nigerian military ruler Muhammadu Buhari speaks during an interview with Reuters at a private residence in Lagos, Nigeria, February 19, 2011.
Heather Murdock
ABUJA - Three years before Nigeria’s next presidential election, retired General Muhammadu Buhari has rescinded his pledge not to run again, hinting he make take a fourth try at the office. 

Buhari, a former military head of state, has an unusual reputation for a leader in Nigeria.  Supporters say he is not corrupt. In fact, they say he is incorruptible.
 
They also say he is strict. 

As the military head of state between 1983 and 1985 he prosecuted hundreds of officials and business people for corruption and waged what he called, the “War on Indiscipline.”  Civil servants were publicly humiliated if they were late to work.  Guards carried whips as they organized queues at bus stops.
 
Nigerian political analyst Aderemi Oyewumi says Buhari’s reputation as a disciplinarian is just what Nigeria needs to overcome security and economic crises.  Nigeria needs leadership akin to Margaret Thatcher’s famed “smack of firm government," Oyewumi said.
 
“What we need in this country is the ‘smack of firm government.’ Government that is hands on, dealing with people who break the law.  You know we have had this culture of impunity for too long,” he said. 

Critics accuse Buhari of trying to impose an Islamist agenda on the country, which is roughly half Christian and half Muslim.  In 1985, after nearly two years as military head of state, Buhari was deposed, being accused of not working to transition back to civilian rule.
 
Buhari is a divisive figure in a country where political differences overlap with religion and ethnicity. Buhari's reputation sometimes works against him, said Oyewumi.

“Anyone who wants things to be done properly in Nigeria is often accused, they say, ‘Oh, he’s too strict.’”  
 
Buhari is a vocal critic of President Goodluck Jonathan's administration, and the ruling party.  He blames a large portion of Nigeria’s woes on corruption in the federal government.      
 
In 2011, Buhari lost the presidential race with 32 percent of the vote and declared the election fraudulent.  International observers called the contest “among the most credible the country has ever held.”

That does not mean the elections were fair, says University of Abuja senior lecturer Abubakar Kari.
 
"Even where international observers and domestic observers come to hold [an] election as being okay, if you really critically examine that election you will find that it is not substantially different from the rest in terms of acceptance, in terms of transparency," Kari said.
 
After the elections Buhari said he would not run again. 

More recently, he said “hell was let loose” in the past year and he has changed his mind. But he stopped short of announcing a campaign.

Kari says a 2015 run would be a mistake for Buhari because he would be fighting the same flawed electoral system, and this time at more than 70 years old.  Kari adds another run could also damage his reputation.

"Buhari has always been known as a man of his word," he said. "He made it categorical in 2011 that he would not run again so to go back on his word is inappropriate."   

Buhari should be grooming a successor to lead the opposition, not running for office, Kari says.  But, he adds, Buhari’s former runs have deepened the democratic political culture in Nigeria by providing a viable opposition leadership.
 
Ruling party officials have accused Buhari of calling for renewed violence in 2015 and of sanctioning election violence last year that Human Rights Watch says killed 800 people. Buhari has condemned the 2011 violence and said his statements on the 2015 elections were misinterpreted.

You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid