2019 Elections: It looks as if Buhari won’t run again

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Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is facing increasing calls not to seek re-election next year, but he will probably decide to run and will be the favorite, according to New York-based risk consultancy Eurasia Group.

The 75-year-old has been urged over the past month by former president Olusegun Obasanjo not to stand for a second term, while ex-army ruler Ibrahim Babangida has publicly said Nigeria needs a new generation of leaders. His wife Aisha re-tweeted messages suggesting he wasn’t fully in control of the government.

Muhammadu Buhari

Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

“There is a 35 percent chance that Buhari decides not to contest the 2019 election,” Amaka Anku, head of Eurasia’s Africa practice, said in a note to clients. “Nonetheless, walking away from the presidency would be a very difficult move for Buhari. He will face significant pressure from his closest advisers to seek a second term, even if he personally prefers to step aside.”

Buhari’s critics have said his economic policies exacerbated a slump triggered by the 2014 crash in oil prices and that he hasn’t done enough to quell violent clashes between farmers and herdsmen. They’ve also questioned whether he’s fit enough for the job after he spent more than five months in London last year being treated for an undisclosed illness.

“He will therefore decline another attempt at the presidency only if medical issues prohibit a tough campaign schedule,” Anku said.

If Buhari, who came to power in 2015, decides not to run, two potential candidates to replace him are state governors Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto and Kashim Shettima of Borno, Anku said. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, a southerner who’s respected among much of the business community, would only be a candidate next year “in the unlikely event” that Buhari, a northerner, publicly backed him, she said.

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