Migrant crisis: Tripoli demands help
Thirty years ago, Mr Buhari’s 15-month military regime was characterised by a hard-line crackdown against so-called “indiscipline” and corrupt practices, which sometimes crossed the line into abuse of power.
But he has said things will be different this time round, with decades of military rule abandoned since 1999 in favour of multi-party democracy, parliament and the constitution.
In February, the 72-year-old cautioned however that there was a need to “temper high expectations on the part of those who are expecting miracles to happen”.
But across the country many hope he can follow through on his election pledge of sweeping change to stop the rot in Africa’s most populous nation.
On a bus from Oshodi to Agbado in the Lagos suburbs, unemployed 27-year-old university accountancy graduate Solomon Abegunde said he expects the new administration to create jobs.
In Kano, northern Nigeria’s biggest city, private security guard Awwalu Maidawa, 41, wants an end to the Boko Haram insurgency which has claimed at least 15 000 lives since 2009. TRIPOLI — Europe cannot halt the deadly traffic of African migrants across the Mediterranean unless it ends a boycott of forces that have seized power in the Libyan capital and helps authorities there cope, the de facto government in Tripoli said.
Chaos and civil war since NATO warplanes helped topple dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 have turned the North African country into the launching point for human traffickers smuggling tens of thousands of people across the Mediterranean.
Libya’s rulers have rounded up thousands of Europe-bound African migrants in makeshift detention centers.
But officials say they have no room to hold the migrants, no way of fighting smugglers and no hope of guarding vast desert frontiers to prevent thousands more people trying to reach the sea.
“We tell you: come and talk and cooperate with us, the national salvation government,” Mohamed al-ghirani, foreign minister in the government based in the capital Tripoli, told Reuters in his office overlooking the Mediterranean.
“If Europe doesn’t cooperate, then after (some) years Europe will be completely black. Europe will change from a white Europe to an African Europe,” he said.
The lack of any unified authority in Libya has prevented virtually all international cooperation to respond to the migration crisis. An EU team helping to train and advise Libyan border guards evacuated the country.
Nearly all European countries have withdrawn their embassies from Tripoli and refuse to recognize Ghirani’s government, which took control of the capital in heavy fighting last year. Instead, they recognize a rump government now based in the east.
After 800 migrants drowned in the shipwreck of a fishing boat last month, European leaders agreed at an emergency summit to strengthen naval patrols off the Libyan coast to fight the smugglers.
But Ghirani said such efforts were pointless unless Europe began cooperating with his government’s forces on the ground.
“Now we cannot do anything. The state is weak,” he said. “We need logistics, intelli-
Housewife Hajara Sani hopes for investment in education, with 10.5 million children out of school — the most in the world — and literacy levels low, particularly in the Muslim north.
Musa Mohammed, a 33-year-old auto mechanic, wants improved power supply, now at an all-time low of just 1,327 megawatts -- below levels during Mr Buhari’s last time in office.
Lagos beer distributor Abolaji Odumesi hopes to see Mr Buhari
UNFIT FOR HUMAN BEINGS Ghirani said Libya had detained more than 16,000 mostly African migrants in overcrowded detention centers. Some were being housed in abandoned schools and other public buildings.
At a detention centre in Gharboulli east of Tripoli, almost 100 people shared one cell with a single toilet. Men were segregated from women, some of whom were pregnant, lying on mattresses next to each other on the floor.
Detainees are allowed to leave the crowded cell only briefly to meet visitors.
“This place is not fit for human beings. We don’t get fresh air in the cell and many are sick,” said 24-year old Eritrean Mussie Tolde who has been held for two months since the Libyan navy stopped the crowded boat on which he tried to reach Italy.
Authorities struggle to provide medical care for detained migrants, many of whom arrive exhausted or undernourished from weeks in overloaded trucks driving across the Sahara, said the center’s deputy director,
Faraj Abdullah. tackle corruption in the oil sector, which accounts for 90 percent of foreign earnings but is dwindling due to falling global crude prices.
Elsewhere there are calls to diversify the economy, increase taxation to boost government coffers and tackle poverty that the APC says blights the lives of some 110 million of Nigeria’s more than 170 million people.
Almost everyone talks of corruption, which the austere Mr Buhari believes has made the country a
High hopes “One of the first things he (Mr Buhari) has to do is assemble a competent strategic communications team to manage expectations,” said political commentator Chris Ngwodo.
“He has to be able to temper the level of expectation but without being a damp squib. It has to be skilfully managed.”
To be sure, Nigeria’s military has the upper hand against Boko Haram but there is still work to do to maintain the peace.
On most other fronts, however, the incoming government has an uphill task.
To tackle the fuel crisis, Mr Buhari, who once headed a government oil agency, has to convince fuel importers holding out for claimed government subsidy arrears by shutting depots, that they will be paid, said Ngwodo.
In the longer term, he needs to tackle “the absurdity of an oil-producing nation that imports fuel”, build domestic refineries and eliminate fuel subsidies that are open to corruption, he added.
“It’s a pity that Buhari has come at the wrong time,” said Debo Adeniran, of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders lobby group.
“The Jonathan government has mismanaged the economy with a lot of baggage too heavy for Buhari to carry. I still cannot fathom how the incoming administration is going to get the funds to implement its programmes.”
On the bus to Agbado, Abegunde is still confident. “To whom much is given, much is expected,” he said.
“Buhari has no excuse to fail because we gave him our votes with the hope that he would turn things around... We cannot continue like this. Things have to change.”
Supporters of Muhammadu Buhari celebrate his election victory in Lagos last month.
Libyan Navy boat carries illegal migrants who attempted to flee the coast to Europe back to Tripoli on 5 May.