Muhammadu Buhari has twice come to power in Nigeria — but the circumstances in each case could not be more different. Over 30 years ago, Buhari seized power in a military coup. Last week, voters in Africa’s most populous country and its most vibrant economy returned him to power through the ballot box, marking the first democratic transition in governments in Nigeria’s history. He must now unite a fractious country and restore the people’s faith in their political system.
Buhari was a major general in the Nigerian Army when he seized power in 1983, arguing that “a flawed democracy was worse than no democracy at all.” He served as head of state for 18 months, until he too was removed by military officers unhappy with his rule. Ostensibly, they acted because of Buhari’s failure to tackle economic problems; many observers believe, however, that the coup was triggered by fears that Buhari’s anti-corruption campaign would bring them to justice.
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