by Jewel Stephen
The so-far relatively peaceful election of erstwhile strongman Muhammadu Buhari as Nigerian president has prompted a positive reaction from experts on the future of democracy in the country and Africa as a whole.
1. A Salute to Nigeria
“A victory for Buhari in a way is a salute to Nigeria. It’s a statement that Nigeria’s democracy has matured to the point where it now has two viable and competitive parties.” Dr. J. Peter Pham, director of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council, a Washington D.C.-based think tank.
2. A Positive Signal for Africa
“If the continent’s largest democracy can get through an election with a relatively clean bill of health, that’s a positive signal for electoral management across Africa.” Edward Paice, director of the Africa Research Institute, a London think tank.
3. We Can’t Go to Sleep
“For us the important lesson I think we can learn is we can’t go to sleep. The price of our legacy and democracy will be eternal vigilance.” Ayo Obe, a Nigerian human rights advocate and vice-chair of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.
4. A Watershed Election
“At the end of the day, Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and what happens there matters to investor outcomes. And what you just had is a watershed election, one that signals a new day in Nigeria.” Philippe de Pontet, the Washington-based Africa head for Eurasia Group, a research and risk-consulting firm.
5. Reformist Policies in Store?
“We think a Buhari win implies reformist policies, including austere fiscal policy and a clampdown on graft. However, leading a coalition may undermine his ability to make difficult decisions.” Yvonne Mhango, sub-Saharan Africa economist at Renaissance Capital.