This is an excerpt from from an article in our weekly Nigeria Politics & Security publication.
After spending 103 days in the UK receiving medical treatment for an undisclosed ailment, President Muhammadu Buhari returns to the country on the afternoon of 19 August. His return sparked spontaneous celebrations in Abuja, and most of the North West and North East geopolitical zones where he remains very popular.
Although Buhari’s recovery has taken many by surprise, there has still been no confirmation on what he is suffering from. The Presidency has still not confirmed or denied the rumours that he is suffering from prostate cancer. In the next few weeks, Nigerians will be watching him closely to ascertain his level of involvement in running government affairs to determine the extent of his recovery. Observers remember that, before he left the country on 7 May, Buhari was barely participating in the running of the country.
Speaking with presidential sources, however, as Buhari returns to office he is still not expected to play an active role in governance. Acting President Yemi Osinbajo will still be saddled with the job of being the public face of the Presidency while Buhari largely remains at the Presidential Villa and only attends to the most important matters that require his attention.
Instead of hastening the processes at the Presidency, it is expected that governance will slow down as Buhari returns to office. This is because of both his torpor in taking decisions and because — as happened before he left for the UK — he is not expected to work full time.
As Buhari returns, the economic reforms are likely to significantly decelerate. Unlike Osinbajo, Buhari and his kitchen cabinet do not support pro-market policies and will therefore seek to stall any policy that they do not understand, or worse, feel will have a negative impact on the welfare of the ordinary people on the streets. Attempts to float the exchange rate, for example, will now be unlikely to happen. Plans to privatise some government assets … [article continues] …
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