Tess Torelli April 10, 2018

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is to contest his party’s nomination for next February’s presidential election, leading to a rather downbeat reaction on the Nigerian stock exchange.

Stocks in Lagos dropped over 1 percent after his announcement Monday, Reuters reported, hitting a three-month low. Sentiment remained subdued Tuesday as stocks hovered around the flatline.

In fact, Nigeria’s stocks have been on a downwards trajectory for over a month.

Buhari’s leadership of late has been subject to speculation over his health, for which he sought treatment in London for several months last year. The president, 75, has not disclosed the reason for the treatment.

He is currently in the U.K. for talks with Prime Minister Theresa May ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference in London next week.

In 2015, Buhari was the first Nigerian opposition leader to win an election. Representing the center-left All Progressives Congress (APC), he beat then-incumbent Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari previously ruled Nigeria in the 1980s as head of a military regime.

But, Nigeria has struggled on both its economic and security fronts since Buhari’s landmark election victory.

In late March, it emerged that Nigeria’s national budget announcement, initially planned for January, had been pushed back to the end of May.

The country experienced its first full-year recession in 25 years in 2016, with its economy hit by low oil prices. Economic growth remains sluggish, expected by the International Monetary Fund to be 1.9 percent for 2018, well below the emerging market average of 4.9 percent.

But, there has been some economic positive news. Nigeria’s state revenue for February edged up by 19 billion naira ($53 million), thanks to higher crude oil exports and prices.

Nigeria is one of the largest economies in Africa, and with over 180 million inhabitants is the continent’s largest population. In its manifesto, the APC pledged to create 1 million new jobs per year.

Islamist militant group Boko Haram continues to threaten the security of civilians in the northeast of the country. Meanwhile, militant attacks also continue in the Niger delta region, the country’s oil production hub.

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