In the next few days, President Muhammadu Buhari will be handing over the baton of power to his successor, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, after having successfully completed an eight-year two-term tenure as the Commander in Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces. In a twinkle of an eye, Buhari will shed the toga of the all-powerful number one citizen and join the pantheons of the former Presidents to watch business of statecraft from the side. The President has undoubtedly im- printed his footprints in the sand of time in the last eight years.
He has made some undeniable achievements in his avowal to move the country for- ward during his campaigns in 2015. While public opinions are divergent on whether he has actually made the country a better place than he met it or not, there seems to be a semblance of multi sectoral consensus that the President made some indelible marks in the three thematic areas of his focus viz: Security, Economy and Fight against Corruption. Buhari’s eight-year stewardship may not be well appreciated without recalling the socio-economic realities he inherited from his predecessor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
The President took over an economy that was recession bound and a country already tension-soaked with blood splashing all over the place, especially in the North-East. It was on records that the President took over a country with threatened sovereignty where a large swathe of territory, as large as Belgium, had been carved out and was under the control of the dreaded insurgents, Boko Haram. The insurgents governed this territory with alien laws and were collecting taxes from the citizens. Eight years after, the Islamic hegemony established by the insurgents has been collapsed and reverted by the armed Forces with residents going about their normal businesses.
The terrorists no longer control any inch of Nigerian territory. Boko Haram is no longer a sustainable threat and their occasional strikes are being crushed by the military. In 2015, life was short and brutish particularly in the North-East where bombs were blasting at unimaginable frequencies, Towns and villages were being sacked by the terrorists and human endeavours became imperiled with millions confined into government internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps scattered over the place. Eight years after government ‘s main preoccupation now is resettlement of the displaced persons on their ancestral lands and homesteads. On the overall government is engaged in reconstruction of damaged infrastructure.
To this end, the government established the North-East Development Commission (NEDC) and there is also a Presidential Commission chaired by the Vice President on resettlement if IDPs. The President will be handing over a military that has been relatively equipped to defend the sovereignty of the country against external aggression with conscious investments in acquisition of hardwares. The Nigeria Air Force, which was ill-equipped in 2015, now has about fifty (50) or more drones, other equipment and Hi-Tech systems of warfare being acquired and deployed. Budgetary allocations for the nation’s armed forces have been considerably increased for the army to procure equipment to further boost security of lives and properties in the country.
Following the disruptive EndSARS protests, the President has begun to improve the conditions of service of the officers of the Nigeria Police by looking into their welfare and increasing their manpower by authorizing the employment of 10,000 officers annually. Apart from returning peace to the hitherto troubled North- East, the President has also done well by stemming the restiveness in the Niger-Delta region. Apart from sustaining a relative peace in the region in the last eight years, Buhari has succeeded in challenging the hegemonies of the oil thieves in the region thereby increasing national incomes.
Security in the nation’s territorial waters has been improved with the deployment of a maverick measure of collaboration with Nigeria’s neighbours and international agencies. Not much is being heard about piracy as it used to be in the past. But as much as the President has made resounding success in returning peace to the troubled North-East, there is still much to be done in check- mating the incessant farmers-herders clashes prevalent in the North Central. The incoming administration has its job cut out in calming the constant restiveness and killings with impunity in Benue, Kaduna, Plateau and other states; fees for the unrelenting kidnap for ransom across the country.
Buhari’s inability to successfully resolve these challenges in eight years would count as blight to the successes recorded in tackling insecurity. The President inherited an economy heading south with its slip into recession seeming inevitable under ex-President Jonathan. With Buhari’s hesitant commencement of governance due to late composition of the cabinet and the fall of the price of crude to as low as $28 per barrel, its fall into the precipice could not be arrested. But with deft managements, investments in agriculture and policies, the economy bounced back into life within a few months.
The price of crude expectedly rebounded and life returned. Determined to ensure that Nigerians grow what they eat and eat what they grow in order to save large quantum of foreign exchange used in importation of food and other ostentatious food item, the government invested into agriculture, particularly, rice farming with the Anchor Borrowers Program of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
This move helped in creation of jobs for teeming rice farmers particularly in the north. But the ban on rice importation has remained unpopular owing to the soar in the price of rice following the ban of the commodity’s importation to shield local farmers from competition. Even when the government is priding itself of developing the economy by banning importation of rice,the item has since been removed from the dining table of an average Nigerian because it has been increasingly unaffordable for the poor masses.
The government also invested in the production of farm inputs including the production of fertilizers. As at today, over 100 fertilizer blending plants have been established across the country producing the product for local use and exports.
The Buhari’s administration has further deepened the diversification efforts by previous administration’s with crude sales accruals contributing less to the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) unlike in the past. With the signing of the Petroleum Industry Act(PIA) into law, and its expected complete implementation by the incoming administration’, it’s expected that foreign investors who are hitherto hesitant would vest mire into the upstream and downstream sectors. However, the caveat for the full implementation of the PIA has yet to. e fulfilled.
There are indications that the new administration may start on a bumpy bite should it attempt to remove the never ending fuel subsidy gulping several trillions of the nation’s resources While people are unanimous on the need for fuel subsidy removal with the hope that savings made therefrom would be invested in the nation’s infrastructure, an important condition for the subsidy removal has yet to be satisfied.
Labour unions and other critical stakeholders hold that the masses’ sufferings would be unprecedented if fuel subsidy is removed while the nation still imports petroleum products for local consumption. Apart from Dangote Refinery that has indicated its desire to commence operations, other government owned refineries in Port-Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna have yet to begin local production of fuel.
To this end, stakeholders believe that Buhari’s lack of political will to tackle the challenge of inability to produce petroleum products for local consumption, with an avalanche of calls for subsidy removal from local and foreign investors, is already a bobby trap for the incoming administration.
Notwithstanding government plan to borrow $800 million to share for 50 million families of the poorest of the poor on the platform of the Social Investment Program (SIP) to cushion the effects of the subsidy removal, stakeholders hold that such anticipated monthly handout of N5000 cannot in any way save the people from sliding further into extreme poverty.
The entire SIP program initiated and implemented by the Buhari’s administration, in itself, has been variously criticized as being of little or no impact in bringing people out of poverty. The government Scool-Feeding-Programme claimed to have been implemented during the COVID-19 induced economic lockdown was the most pooh-poohed.
The citizens have been made to bear the burdens of some ill-thought-out policy of the government. The hardship brought never-to-be-forgotten, ill-considered Naira Redesign Policy which made cash inaccessible fir several month before, during and after the general elections.
Not a few flayed the Buhari’s administration for making a people, already emasculated by poverty, pass through such excruciating pains. Inflation and crass unemployment/underemployment are equally the hallmark of Buhari’s administration. Already, there are speculations that Nigeria has overtaken India as the capital of the world with more than 50 per cent of her population living below the poverty line.
Government officials have attempted to explain this off by maintaining that the President should not be blamed for the development because global challenges, including the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic which shut down the world economies and the Russia/Ukraine war which shut down supplies across the world were responsible.
While the government’s explanation may be understandable, the bottom line remains that the people are hungry, debased and malnourished. Critics hold that a more proactive government would have put better ameliorative measures in place to safeguard it’s citizens against sufferings associated with the global challenges as done in some other climes.
Worried by the multiplicity of abandoned projects the President inherited from successive administrations in 2015, the President vowed not to initiate new projects until on- going ones were completed. To this end, the President has walked the talk by completing many signature projects in the last eight years.
The abandoned Warri-Itakpe rail line, a abandoned by previous administration’s has since been completed; Abuja-Kaduna rail line was commissioned and has since commenced operations; Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is nearing completion after so many years of flip-flops by previous administrations; Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Expressway is seriously under construction. Also the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano(AKK) Gas Line project is currently under construction same way that the Kano-Madadi rail line initiated by the administration is seriously on course, amongst others.
Over 4000 kilometre of roads have either been renovated, revitalized and reconstructed across the country with enormous economic benefits to the citizenry In the fight against corruption, the third leg if the President’s campaign agenda in 2015, there are flashes of success. Presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, in assessing the government’s performance said “This is the first administration in the country that have probed the highest official of the Judiciary and removed him from office.
This is the administration that have probed and removed from office the third most powerful person in the executive arm of government: the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. This is the administration that have investigated and taken to court the chairman of the National Assembly, the President of the Senate.”
Responding to allegations of selectivity in the government’s fight against corruption by the opposition, he said “The thing about selectivity is not there and President Muhammadu Buhari allows the agencies to do their own work. ICPC, EFCC, the Police, the Auditor-General of the Federation, everyone is doing his work without the President saying ‘don’t go there’. It is very clear that this is what has made a lot of difference, the Whistleblowers and all that.
You find that that latitude of freedom for people to expose corruption where they see it and in some cases they are even rewarded. Therefore we have changed environment. People in government in the past don’t condemn corruption; they assumed it was a part of life and they could just live with it. The moral environment today has significantly changed. People see corruption as wrongdoing.”
He continued “There are enormous numbers of convictions. Last year, EFCC was talking about between to 3000-4000 convictions; the ICPC had nearly 2000 convictions with recoveries of billions of Naira, billions of hard currencies. This is what we use in Social Investment Fund to feed the poorest of the poor. The Second Niger Bridge, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway,Abuja-Kaduna- Kano Expressway are beneficiaries of money recovered from past leaders. Not only are we recovering monies which in the past are being put on the table and re-looted, this administration is using it for projects that people will see and touch.
The beauty about President Muhammadu Buhari is that people can say whatever they want but nobody can point a finger to him and say ‘I have done a deal with you and they’ve given him something’. He was not cut out for that and that is why foreign leaders respect him and investment is improving because he will not impose conditions on people by saying that give me a cut, a percentage of the investments.”
The implementation of the Single Treasure Account (TSA) where multiple bank accounts operated by MDAs were collapsed into one single account and the introduction of the Independent Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) amongst others have reduced, to a reasonable extent, the corruption hitherto reigning high, in the civil service.
But, not many people are convinced that the President has excellent scores in this area as his spokesman may want to assume. The opposition still raises allegations of corruption against top officials of the government operating right under the President’s nose. Buhari’s eight year administration is a mixed-bag of successes and failures that the incoming administration must dispassionately look into to consolidate on the recorded achievements and ensure that the mistakes are not repeated.
Very stupid man. Cringing attitude has always been part and parcel of an average yoruba people. Economy, Education, Security, tribalism, Religion conflicts , Naira rate to dollar, food on table of the masses etc, are now better than 2015. Almighty God will punish you for lying.