Thursday, 24 September 2015

Is a Buhari doctrine emerging?

Despite the lengthy delays in forming a cabinet, President Muhammadu Buhari has been much quicker to appoint his top military and security officers and to push ahead with a series of bilateral and multilateral summits. Not only did he chair the regional leaders' meeting to tackle the Burkina Faso coup, having unequivocally condemned it five days earlier, he has agreed on the agenda for a new regional security conference with French President François Hollande. The plan for this meeting, aimed at strengthening military coordination and sharing intelligence about Boko Haram's operations in Nigeria and its Francophone neighbours, was discussed during Buhari's trip to Paris on 14-16 September.

Flanked by his National Security Advisor, General Babagana Monguno, Buhari told French officials that Nigeria would be taking a far greater role in regional security. Buhari talks about the 'concentric circles' of Nigeria's foreign policy, which puts peace and security on its borders as the top priority.

France, traditionally wary of a militarily assertive Nigeria, now finds its forces overstretched in Africa as problems multiply in its operations in Mali and Central African Republic, so it wants to encourage Buhari. Several other governments, such as Kenya, South Africa, Britain and the United States, are also keen to discuss security matters with Buhari when he arrives in New York this week for the United Nations General Assembly meetings.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Opposition lines

On his coming travels to France and New York for the United Nations General Assembly this month, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari and his delegation will be sought out by the posse of lobbying companies advising Africa’s ever hopeful opposition parties.

Building the national opposition alliance in Nigeria was much easier once six of the most powerful state governors had defected from the PDP. They brought with them resources, political networks and insider knowledge of how the governing party works and fights its elections. But that pattern is unlikely to be repeated in next month’s elections. Certainly in Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea, incumbent presidents Alassane Ouattara and Alpha Condé look set to see off their opponents. It’s more exciting in Burkina Faso, where Blaise Compaoré was chased from power a year ago and his camp followers are being kept away from the elections.

Only in Tanzania is the opposition, Chadema, copying part of the Buhari model before elections on 25 October. It has succeeded in wooing a former Prime Minister, Edward Lowassa, with in-depth knowledge of the governing Chama cha Mapinduzi. Sadly for Chadema, he doesn’t bring a Buhari-style reputation for honesty. After Chadema’s adoption of Lowassa as its presidential candidate, Wilbrod Slaa, one of the opposition party’s founders, resigned in protest. Previously Chadema had included Lowassa on a list of politicians who merited investigation.