Former strongman declares bid for Nigeria presidency

Fri Dec 10, 2010 6:50am GMT
 

By Camillus Eboh

ABUJA (Reuters) - Former Nigerian military ruler Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday declared his candidacy for presidential elections in April, pledging to clamp down on corruption and review the country's privatisation plans.

Buhari's reputation as a disciplinarian and a popular perception that he is cleaner than many in the political elite could make him the main opposition candidate to run against the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) nominee.

President Goodluck Jonathan is broadly considered the front runner in the ruling party primaries, due by mid-January, but faces a tough battle against former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.

Buhari, the military ruler of Africa's most populous nation for 20 months between 1983-85, lamented what he described as "pervasive corruption" in the years since the end of military rule just over a decade ago.

The PDP candidate has won every election since then.

"Alas, after almost 12 years of our democratic experience, the administration's record is a catalogue of betrayal and thoroughly squandered opportunities," Buhari said in a speech announcing his candidacy on the platform of the opposition Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) party.

He said Nigeria should be a democratic example in the West African region, leading its economic progress.

Buhari came to power in 1983 in an almost bloodless New Year's eve coup that ended Nigeria's second attempt at democracy. His iron-fisted administration is best remembered for its austerity measures, the jailing of politicians on corruption charges and the execution of drug traffickers.   Continued...

<p>Former Nigerian military ruler Muhammadu Buhari speaks as he declares his bid for presidency in the capital Abuja December 9, 2010. Buhari on Thursday declared his candidacy for presidential elections in April, pledging to clamp down on corruption and review the country's privatisation plans. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde</p>
 
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