May 29, 2015
J. Peter Pham on new Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari taking office amid domestic and international hopes that he can stabilize Africa's wealthiest and most populous nation:
Pham on the Nigerian Elections
One of Buhari's biggest challenges will be tempering expectations from his constituency, a people tired of terrorist violence and a corrupt government. Nigerians are ready for change, and they're ready now, says J. Peter Pham, a director at the Atlantic Council.
"It's not unlike the situation President [Barack] Obama walked into when he was elected. There were extraordinary expectations, almost unreal expectations from a lot of people," Pham says. "Buhari faces the same challenges. … Certainly he's got to try and deliver on them – as many as possible – but he's only human."
But the economy will also pose a major challenge for Buhari, who previously served as the nation's oil minister. A recent gasoline strike that caused widespread power and cellphone-network outages and massive lines for fuel underscored what Pham calls Nigeria's "economic crisis of the first order." Africa's wealthiest and most populous nation, mismanagement and a lack of infrastructure have prevented the benefits of the country's resources from reaching its people.