Buhari lacks energy to change Nigeria, Atiku will enrich his cronies – Eurasia Group

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Eurasia Group, reputed as the world’s largest political-risk consultancy, has ranked Nigeria as one of the top 10 risks for the year 2019.

The group, in its annual risk report for 2019, listed the “Bad Seeds, and US-China tension” as the top geopolitical risk for the year, while Nigeria was listed at number 10 — ahead of Brexit.

Eurasia Group is also said to be “the first firm devoted exclusively to helping investors and business decision-makers understand the impact of politics on risks and opportunities in foreign markets”.

Speaking to the 2019 elections, the group gave an unflowery report on the two top candidates for the election, going as far as saying the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will be a lame duck from day one — if re-elected.

The group, which was founded in 1998 by American political scientist Ian Bremmer, said Atiku Abubakar will enrich himself and his cronies, if voted into office in February.

“The country faces its most fiercely contested election since the transition to democracy in 1999. One candidate is the incumbent, Muhammadu Buhari. He is an elderly, infirm leader who lacks the energy, creativity, or political savvy to move the needle on Nigeria’s most intractable problems,” the group said.

“His opponent is Atiku Abubakar, another gerontocrat who would focus on enriching himself and his cronies, avoiding the difficult and politically unpopular tasks necessary for reform.”

Saying the election is too close to call, Eurasia Group added that an inconclusive result is possible — predicting a political crisis in “Africa’s most important market”.

Buhari – ‘A politically weak’ president
“Buhari is the frontrunner. A second term for him would mean the country at best muddles through the next four years, with little progress on critical policy priorities like tax reform or a restructuring of the energy sector.

“Buhari would be a lame duck from day one, with powerbrokers in his own party quickly shipping their focus to the next electoral cycle in 2023.

“And if Buhari’s health problems continue or worsen, the situation will get worse. The president’s continual medical leaves abroad impaired governance his first term. A repetition would again remove him from decision-making and the public eye for months at a time, leaving investors to wonder who is calling the shots and whether they’re qualified for the job.

“A Buhari reelection also carries tail risks. A politically weak president, for health or other reasons, would open the floodgates for political infighting, increasing the chances that his ruling All Progressives Congress implodes. That would turn a policy slowdown into paralysis.”

Atiku – ‘Likely to retract’ his pledge
“A win for the challenger, Atiku, would create a brief, superficial boost to the country’s image—largely because of his better health and keener intellect.

“But it would also pose the risk of a return to an even more rent-seeking governing style. Atiku’s policy priorities are unclear and untested: He had previously promised to deregulate the oil and gas sector but recently pledged to reduce gasoline prices by 50% from already below-market levels.

“That would swell subsidy costs and endanger long-term debt sustainability. He’s also unlikely to champion a tax reform that’s critical to Nigeria’s fiscal sustainability.

“Atiku would face significant infighting within his People’s Democratic Party as well, as leaders try to hold him to his promise to serve only one term (a pledge he’s likely to retract).”

The top 10 risks for 2019, according to Eurasia Group, are: “Bad Seeds, US-China Tension, Cyber Gloves off, European Populism, The US at Home, Innovation Winter, Coalition of the Unwilling, Mexico, Ukraine, and Nigeria”.

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