When Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim and a former Nigerian Army general, took office as president of Nigeria on 31 May 2015, he inherited challenges on all fronts. Nevertheless, his arrival was met by optimism, high expectations and a strong desire for wholesale change on the part of Nigerians and international partners alike. His efforts to strengthen cooperation with neighbouring countries, particularly on the security front, and with allies and partners farther afield were encouraging. In the first year alone, President Buhari visited over 20 countries, produced a multibillion-dollar trade deal with China and gained an invitation to attend the G7 summit in June 2015. Buhari's proactive performance reflected both his determination and the international community's readiness to approach Nigeria afresh after frustration with the lethargic previous administration of Goodluck Jonathan.
The new president has vowed to crush the brutal jihadist insurgency Boko Haram, which has probably been responsible for 15,000 to 20,000 deaths since it began its campaign in 2009, in the northeastern part of the country. A year into Buhari's presidency, Boko Haram, though far from being eliminated, is arguably in retreat. After seven years of the group's expansion, that is a significant achievement. Yet other destabilising forces have arisen from north to south. The oil-rich Niger Delta region has witnessed a resurgence of violence targeting the state's oil-producing infrastructure. Fulani herdsmen have been involved in deadly skirmishes in villages across several states. Biafran separatists have fought with security forces. And well over 300 people have been killed in clashes between the Islamic Movement of Nigeria and the authorities. These factors may imperil Nigeria's stability and security as much Boko Haram had done.