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Nigeria's New President: Three Things to Know

Speaker: John Campbell, Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
May 31, 2015

For the first time, a Nigerian president has assumed office after winning as an opposition candidate in credible elections. Muhammadu Buhari, a former military commander and devout Muslim, promised voters he would bolster the government's fight against Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group, and tackle corruption. CFR's John Campbell, U.S. ambassador to Nigeria from 2004 to 2007, offers three things to know about President Buhari.

Buhari's Personal Integrity: Buhari, a former army general, led a coup against a corrupt civilian government in 1984, but he was ousted just twenty months later, says Campbell. He now says he's committed to democracy, having run unsuccessfully for president in 2003, 2007, and 2011. In his 2015 campaign, he vowed to fight corruption throughout Nigeria and reinvigorate the struggle against Boko Haram.

Historic Transition: "May 29 is the first time in Nigeria's history that an opposition candidate will be inaugurated president following credible elections," explains Campbell. The successful transition in Nigeria, Africa's most populous state, will advance democracy throughout the continent, he says.

Boost for Nigerian Pride: President Buhari is a "strong Nigerian nationalist in a country where national identity has been declining," says Campbell. If he is successful in rooting out corruption in the military and national oil company, he could reinvigorate Nigerian pride, says Campbell.


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