Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is healthy and his policies will “easily” win him re-election in the vote planned for February, Information Minister Lai Mohammed said.
“He is very strong and well,” Mohammed said in an interview on Sunday. “I have never lost sleep over the re-election. Buhari will easily win.”
Buhari, 75, announced this month that he’s seeking re-election, putting an end to speculation on his plans after he spent a total of five months in the U.K last year for treatment of an undisclosed ailment.
That, as well as continuing attacks by Islamist militant group Boko Haram, herdsmen-farmer clashes, the economic slump in 2016, and an anti-corruption crusade critics have called partisan prompted some politicians such as former President Olusegun Obasanjo to urge him not to run again.
Buhari must also rebuild the coalition of the ruling All Progressives Congress that brought him to power in 2015, after some defections to a similarly fractured opposition People’s Democratic Party. He defeated the PDP by tapping into public anger over its record for corruption and mismanagement while governing Nigeria since the end of military rule in 1999.
While the PDP hasn’t announced its candidate for the elections, a likely contender is Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president who defected from Buhari’s party last year. The 71-year-old lost to Buhari in the APC primaries but supported him as the candidate in 2015.
Buhari’s government points to some progress against Boko Haram militants, such as breaking their grip on territory. Still, attacks continue almost daily.
The government is using diplomatic means to convince Boko Haram to cease hostilities that may involve an amnesty for fighters of the group whose nine-year-old insurgency has claimed the lives of millions of people and threatened the northeast with famine.
“We are using third parties, including foreign parties, through back channels,” Mohammed said. “But the challenge is that there are many factions.”
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