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Former Dictator Represents New Hope For Democracy In Nigeria

Muhammad Buhari speaks at the international think tank Chatham House on February 26, 2015.
Wikimedia Commons

In the mid-1980s, Muhammadu Buhari ruled Nigeria as an iron-fisted military dictator. But today, Buhari represents a transition toward democracy for the country as the first Nigerian to come to power through a democratic process.

Thirty years after being ousted by a coup d’état, Mr. Buhari defeated sitting president Goodluck Jonathan to become the leader of Africa’s largest economy and top oil producer.

“This is a pretty significant transfer of power … [and] we can take this as a positive indication that, perhaps, democracy is becoming the norm in Nigeria,” said World Views contributor Rebecca Cruise.

But Buhari has inherited a country in crisis. The ongoing conflict with the militant group Boko Haram and fuel shortages mean Buhari will face serious challenges in terms of Nigeria’s political and economic stability. Even so, the peaceful transfer of power is a sign that Nigeria may be heading towards a more peaceful, democratic political regime.

“There are some serious questions about how [Buhari] is going to lead … [but] we can take some solace in the fact that democracy seems to be heading in the right direction [in Nigeria],” Cruise said.

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