‘Corruption in Nigeria will not be tolerated’, says president-elect Buhari

Out-Law News | 02 Apr 2015 | 3:24 pm | 2 min. read

Nigeria’s president-elect Muhammadu Buhari has pledged to work for an “efficient” transfer of power from outgoing president Goodluck Jonathan following the general election held on 28 March.

Jonathan conceded defeat after Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission declared Buhari’s All Progressives Congress party the election winner.

Buhari said in an acceptance speech posted on his Facebook page on 1 April: “I look forward to meeting with President Jonathan in the days to come to discuss how our teams can make the transition of administrations as efficient as possible.”

Buhari said his administration intended to move quickly to tackle the threat posed to Nigeria by the militant group Boko Haram and to combat corruption, which he said is “a threat to our economic development and democratic survival”.

“Boko Haram will soon know the strength of our collective will and commitment to rid this nation of terror, and bring back peace and normalcy to all the affected areas,” Buhari said. “Furthermore, we shall strongly battle another form of evil that is even worse than terrorism... Corruption will not be tolerated by this administration; and it shall no longer be allowed to stand as if it is a respected monument in this nation.”

Akshai Fofaria, an energy expert at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said: “This was an important election for Nigeria. Though it has a troubled past and is not without challenges today – a tumbling oil price, corruption and internal security issues – it also has significant natural and human resources, a remarkable entrepreneurial spirit, and is on the cusp of moving into a new age of consumerism. The market could once again become an attractive one for international investors, particularly those in the energy and infrastructure sectors.”

Fofaria said that a number of decisions around mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and large-scale projects “critical to the future of both the country and the African continent, have been effectively put on ice pending the election’s outcome”. “The hope will be that what follows is the first peaceful, democratic transition of power since the end of dictatorship in 1999, notwithstanding concerns which have already been expressed by observers around vote-rigging,” Fofaria said. “This will no doubt encourage good behaviour elsewhere on the continent, where transition is overdue.”

Buhari, a former military ruler of Nigeria, “is known to be a proponent of the completion of stalled infrastructure development and in particular the completion of several critical road projects”, Fofaria said. “He is also known to have a keen interest in exploiting alternatives to oil and addressing corruption in the energy sector, preferring a market-based approach. Observers will watch with interest to see how he engages with the international investment community to address these challenges against the backdrop of an economic crisis, the recent devaluation of the naira, and the threat of Boko Haram.”

Several rail, power and telecoms projects, all unveiled in recent months by the Jonathan administration, will be among those whose ongoing management now falls to Buhari’s government.

Last November, China and Nigeria formally signed a construction contract to build a 1,402 kilometre railway along Nigeria’s coast. The railway will link Nigeria's most populated city Lagos in the west with Calabar in the east.

In December, Nigeria’s power ministry said a memorandum of understanding signed with Turkish-based Koztek Electric and Energy Technologies would see the construction of new power plants and transmission facilities in Nigeria that would be “wholly financed by Turkish business interests”

Earlier this year, the National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan, approved by Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council, said an estimated $325 billion was needed to expand information and communications technology infrastructure. The amount represents around 11% of the target for total infrastructure investment over the next 30 years.