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Published 3rd May 2002

Vol 43 No 9


Nigeria

The Generals' election

The military has helped tear the country apart but civilians still defer to the soldiers and politicians

It is a measure of Nigeria's political class that in next year's presidential election, the two most likely candidates - Olusegun Obasanjo and Muhammadu Buhari - are retired generals and former military leaders. And Nigeria's wealthiest and most influential kingmaker, another retired general and military leader, Ibrahim Babangida, may well offer money to both sides. On 25 April, General Obasanjo, 'persuaded' by his supporters, declared he would seek a second term; on the same day, Gen. Buhari joined the biggest opposition group, the All People's Party, on whose ticket he may stand for President. Buhari and Obasanjo hold strong and contrary religious convictions: Obasanjo is a 'born again' Christian who has preached at the fundamentalist Winners' Chapel; Buhari exudes asceticism, publicly supporting the extension of the Sharia criminal code (AC Vol 42 No 17). Obasanjo is Yoruba from Ogun State in the south-west; Buhari is Fulani from Katsina in the far north. Over this looming battle lurks the ghost of a late military leader, Gen. Sani Abacha. Last week, it emerged that the Obasanjo government's National Security Advisor, another retired general, Aliyu Mohammed Gusau, had reached agreement with the Abacha family and the banking authorities in Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein and Britain's Channel Islands for the return of some US$1 billion of state funds stolen by Abacha. Under the deal, the Abacha family may keep some $100 million which they claim that Abacha earned before he became head of state. Nigerians are outraged but government lawyers hail it as a victory which avoids years of litigation of the sort that delayed the Philippines' government in retrieving funds stolen by the late President Ferdinand Marcos.


Khaki blues, business suits

Civilian rule, even by a retired general, does not suit the army

The army is back at the centre of politics, three years after it handed over to an elected government whose head, President Olusegun Obasanjo, is himself a recycled military leader...


Rebels without a plan

Guinean-backed rebels threaten Taylor and the UN is set to renew sanctions against him

A queue of enemies is closing in on President Charles Taylor, who is trying to see them off with fire-power and politics. As the veteran opposition leader Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, th...


UN gumshoes in Taylorland

President Charles Taylor, expecting United Nations sanctions against Liberia to be extended, despatched his skillful Foreign Minister, Monie Captan, to New York in late April to lo...


Wade's wide world

Strong at international conferences, the President faces criticism at home

High on the world stage, President Abdoulaye Wade hosted on 14-15 April an ambitious investors' conference for the New Partnership for African Development (NePAD), while trying to ...


Who's got the money?

It still isn't clear just who won the election and who stole the cash

President Levy Mwanawasa has bounced back from his stolen election in December and is surprising his many detractors by fending off both the opposition (which holds 81 of parliamen...



Pointers

The Carlos card

The odd agreement between Khartoum and Kampala allowing Ugandan troops into Sudan to attack the Lord's Resistance Army was renewed last week till mid-May. For both sides this has m...


Recycled general

Former military leader Amadou Toumani Touré (ATT) was running narrowly ahead on 1 May with some 27 per cent of the vote in Mali's 28 April presidential elections. Counting w...


Cobalt cash

An audit report will soon be released on how Zambia's state mining company lost as much as US$60 million exporting cobalt to the Bahamas-based Metal Resources Group. That was in Pr...