Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, November 02, 2015

Buhari's to-do list

Matthew Page, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, offered this to-do list for Nigeria's President Buhari in the "Monkey Cage" newsletter in the Washington Post.

5 things that the president of Nigeria can do to get his country back on track
President Muhammadu Buhari, who was inaugurated May 29, is the antithesis of the stereotypical Nigerian politician: incorruptible, soft-spoken, self-effacing and deliberate…

[T]he challenges facing Africa’s most populous nation and largest economy continue to grow… Nigerians nevertheless expect their new president’s reform agenda to show tangible results, and soon. Given these imperatives, here are five things Buhari can do to get the ball rolling:

  1. Carefully clean house. Buhari’s reform agenda probably faces its greatest threat from corrupt, old-school politicians within his own All Progressives Congress (APC) party...
  2. Pare down the parastatals. Buhari has an opportunity to realize immediate savings by eliminating or merging some of Nigeria’s more than 500 federal parastatals and boards… These institutions, which range from the lucrative to the modest to the moribund, have long been a cornerstone of corruption in Nigeria... 
  3. Tame the white elephants. Buhari’s apparent determination to revive two “white elephant” economic sectors — domestic oil refineries and steel mills — worry industry experts. Nigeria is replete with these kinds of investment projects where state-owned enterprises are funded for long periods even if they incur huge losses…
  4. Rein in subnational debt. As Buhari tries to put Nigeria’s public finances back in order, the balance sheets of the country’s 36 states are sinking deeper into the red…
  5. Legislate for the long run. Nigeria will need to feel the “Buhari Effect” (the sense, evident in a recent New York Times article, that there is a new sheriff in town) long after the president’s tenure is over. The best way for him to protect his legacy is to partner with the National Assembly to enact legislation enshrining key reforms. With few other politicians like him on the horizon, Buhari should put his legacy in writing…

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