An article published on Bloomberg has described President Muhammadu Buhari as ‘Baba Go Slow’.
Read excerpts of the article, published on Wednesday, July 1, 2015, below:
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari took office a month ago on a wave of hope that he would quickly deal with a deepening economic crisis and an Islamist insurgency in the north. So far, he hasn’t met those expectations.
While Africa’s biggest oil producer has been hit by a 40 percent fall in petroleum prices in the past year that has slowed economic growth and weakened the currency, Buhari, 72, has delayed naming a cabinet until September. As the momentum of being the first opposition candidate to win power at the ballot box fades, critics are mocking him as a sluggish elderly man, or “Baba Go Slow.”
Buhari has acknowledged the crisis, saying last month that his government is facing severe financial strain, with a Treasury that’s “virtually empty,” and his party is calling for patience. Yet his lack of urgency in tackling economic woes could leave Nigeria badly adrift, said John Ashbourne, an economist at Capital Economics in London.
“Every week that Nigeria goes without a cabinet increases the chance that it will face a dangerous shock -- whether a revenue collapse or a currency crisis,” Ashbourne said by phone Tuesday. “Leaving the federation without a finance minister would be a questionable choice at the best of times; doing so during a period of economic instability is difficult to explain.”
The Nigerian Stock Exchange Index hit its 2015 peak of 35,728.12 on April 2, the day after Buhari was declared the election winner. Since then it has fallen 8 percent.
The cabinet delay won’t please investors, said Alan Cameron, an economist at Exotix Partners LLP. They’re expecting tighter fiscal policy, a currency devaluation and a greater focus on tax collection after the drop in oil prices, he said.
“There was initially some hope that Buhari would be able to tackle these changes more quickly and with more credibility, but the time line has now been pushed back,” Cameron said by phone from London. “It’s going to be a difficult pill to swallow for foreign investors.”
Buhari’s own party, the All Progressives Congress, has recognized the growing public disenchantment and pleaded for patience.
“Nigerians are right to demand even a faster pace. Nigerians are right to ask that a government be quickly put in place,” party spokesman Lai Mohammed told reporters at a June 30 press conference in Lagos, the commercial capital. “All we ask for is a little more patience, a little more understanding.”
Buhari, who previously governed Nigeria as military ruler in the 1980s, has moved more quickly in the fight against the Islamist militant group, Boko Haram, which has waged a violent six-year campaign in the north.
He ordered the army to move its headquarters from Abuja, the capital, to the northeastern city of Maiduguri, the scene of some of the worst fighting, and has traveled to neighboring countries such as Chad and Niger to discuss cross-border military cooperation.
It’s the “one area in which the Buhari administration has hit the ground running,” Mohammed said.
Where Buhari has come up short is communicating a sense of engagement to the public, said Gbadebo-Smith.
“He doesn’t say anything about anything,” he said. “The public would be satisfied with signals that say we are doing something about this, we are on top of this.”