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Next Africa: Nigeria Roiled by Succession Politics - BLOOMBERG

NOVEMBER 08, 2019

Less than nine months after President Muhammadu Buhari won re-election in Africa's most populous nation, the question of succession is front and center in Nigerian politics.

Buhari, 76, has sidelined his business-friendly vice president, Yemi Osinbajo. Breaking with practice, the president for a second time failed to hand over authority to Osinbajo, 62, when he traveled this month on a private trip. Instead, Buhari had his chief of staff fly to London so he could sign a long-awaited bill regulating the oil industry.

Buhari has also appointed a new economic advisory council reporting directly to himself, replacing a group headed by the vice president. 

A motorcyclist rides past a campaign poster for Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo ahead of Nigeria's general elections in February. Photographer: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images

A former law lecturer from the southwest, Osinbajo has won praise for decisiveness on economic matters, especially during Buhari’s long periods of health-related absence in his first term. Whether or not he has the clout to navigate Nigeria’s complex politics, he is certainly popular with investors.

“It’s clear that in the period when the president was unwell, he was seen as a better person to engage with,” said Nic Cheeseman, a professor of democracy at the University of Birmingham in the U.K. “There is a danger being a shining light. Is this part of the beginning of a succession battle?”

So who is waiting in the wings? Bola Tinubu, a veteran politician and leader of Buhari’s party, was quick to congratulate both the president and chief of staff Abba Kyari for succeeding on the oil bill. Tinubu, the most powerful politician in the southwest, was key to Buhari’s election first time round.

-- Antony Sguazzin and William Clowes

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