As oil minister during military rule in the 1970s, Muhammadu Buhari oversaw the birth of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp.
Now, as democratically elected president, he intends to break up the opaque bureaucracy, which manages the oil assets of Africa’s biggest crude producer, to ensure taxpayers get their fair share. History isn’t on his side.
“No Nigerian leader, including Buhari himself from the 1980s, has managed to sanitize the oil sector,” said Philippe de Pontet, head of the Africa practice at the Eurasia Group in New York. “Buhari’s challenge is not only to depoliticize NNPC but to disentangle its vested interests and its rogue commercial operations, which won’t be easy.”
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