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Nigeria Geo-political Report

Date: January 2017

Despite the rumours circulating over the weekend that Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, has died, IPSA sources have confirmed otherwise. President Buhari left Nigeria on Thursday as part of a planned 10-day trip to the UK for medical leave. In the interim, reports surfaced in the Nigerian media that the President had passed away leading to confusion and uncertainty among Nigeria’s political, military and intelligence communities. Whilst the president’s aides were swift to dispel such rumours, Buhari has yet to appear in public to definitively put to bed the speculation.

Nigerian stability is foremost in many investors’ minds at the moment, and there is a level of uncertainty over how Buhari’s death would unfold in Nigeria were it to happen. An IPSA source with close connections to the Intelligence sector noted that the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua’s in May 2010 caused significant disruption among the intelligence community, massively elevated political risk, and had knock-on effects for the Nigerian economy as well.  This is the second time in his 18-month presidency that Buhari has taken medical leave, and whilst the true extent of his health problems remains unclear, it is understood to have recently impacted upon his ability to carry out his executive duties. Buhari is in the midst of on-going negotiations with Delta militants to secure uninterrupted oil and gas production, a military campaign against Boko Haram (in which he is also seeking to rescue the remaining Chibok girls still held captive), and is preparing to launch a major economic recovery plan early in February, to address Nigeria’s economic stagnation. There is concern that were Buhari to suddenly pass away, Nigeria’s ability to respond to these three key issues would be compromised.

According to sources IPSA spoke to in the President’s protocol team, confusion over his supposed death arose following a period of radio silence – approaching 48 hours – between Buhari’s team in London and State House in Nigeria. The protocol team are expected to present daily reports to Nigerian intelligence services on Buhari’s whereabouts and actions, and this did not happen. Given the nature of Buhari’s trip, this quickly led to speculation in the intelligence and political community, and this uncertainty eventually filtered into mainstream media on Saturday.

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