On the 29th May, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in to office as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and recently marked his 3rd year as the democratically elected president. Using the “Change” mantra, President Buhari won the hearts of Nigerians with many campaign promises ranging from crushing Boko-Haram, fighting corruption in public offices, massive job creation and general economic improvement. As being said in Nigerian parlance, many waters have passed under the bridge in these last three years.
As usual, analysts and political watchers are bound to do critical examination of his policies with a view to evaluating their successes and foibles; achievements and let-downs using the parameters set by the President himself three years ago while receiving the baton of power. It is customary for teachers to set examinations for their students after which they mark same based on a set marking scheme which form the basis for the grading or assessment of their wards.
In this case, the President set three tasks before himself; revamping the nation’s economy, addressing the challenge of insecurity in the land and fighting corruption which had become a culture in the land. It is from these perspectives that the Buhari’s administration would be examined and evaluated. Evidently a lot has been done in the onerous task of repositioning the nation’s economy especially considering the manner in which it exited recession. Progress is being made in diversification of the economy. Agricultural and solid minerals sectors, hitherto been neglected, have been rejuvenated.
The bug of grow-what-you-eat campaign championed by the President has caught up with discerning populace and today, the country is self-sustaining in the production of some staple food items, especially rice. Several billions of dollars annually used in the importation of rice is being conserved and used for the benefit of the country.
With over N300 billion investment in the Rice Value Chain through the Anchor Borrowers Program of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), rice production in the has increased from 2.5 metric tonnes to about 4 metric tonnes making Thailand lose billions of dollars as revenues from Nigeria which used to her mega importer of rice.
The gloom, which followed the economic recess occasioned by the sharp drop in earnings from sale of crude at the international market, caused some heartache in the country. With frugal management of resources, the government was able to reflate the economy by increasing government spending on infrastructure. The sum of N1.219 trillion was released for capital expenditures in 2016. In 2017, the capital budget release was N1.476 trillion.
However, the Buhari administration must take more than a passing look at the rate at which inflation has made nonsense of the income of an average Nigerian and consider the proposal for increment in workers’ salaries as a palliative.
About the security of lives and properties, it is important to highlight that although the Buhari administration has recorded a significant landmark in the fight against the dreadful Boko Haram insurgency that terrorized the north-eastern part of Nigeria, the general state of security in the country has not changed considerably in average terms. Nigerian citizens across the country are not safer today than they were during the Jonathan administration. Both the land and coastal borders are still poorly guarded, allowing high influx of arms. Armed robberies, killings and kidnappings still happen in broad day light with the Abuja-Kaduna axis being notoriously known for these. The Shiite crisis in Nigeria is still a fresh wound that has not healed since the aftermath of the Zaria massacre carried out by the Nigerian Army. The herdsmen-farmers clashes over land has intensified especially in Benue, Taraba and Kaduna states leaving hundreds of persons dead. With all these happenings, there is yet to be a thorough analysis of the issues to minimize the security challenges facing the nation. Nevertheless, the Buhari’s administration has listed security as part of its achievements the return of more than a million displaced persons to their homes in the north east since 2015.
Buhari administration has the reputation of being the first with the political will to confront the menace of corruption in the country. Though other administration preceding him fought the menace haphazardly, Buhari left nobody in doubt of his determination to extirpate corruption in the country. While some of those suspected to have soiled their hands in the last administration under the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are being hunted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), critics have continued to point out that major players in the regime of the locusts are being exempted because they found wisdom to join the ruling party. Looters have been made to return stolen loots with some having their properties confiscated.
In fact, a new evidentiary proof of Buhari’s insouciance and patronage for corruption is perceptible in the way corrupt government officials in his administration enjoy matchless impunity. The former secretary to the government of the federation, Babachir David Lawal, is a case in point. Lawal was so corrupt that he was said to have made 270 million naira from a “grass-cutting” contract for internally displaced Boko Haram victims. Lawal has not yet been prosecuted or jailed; he was simply allowed to go and sin no more. In spite of claims by the Nigerian minister of labor and productivity, Chris Ngige that the Buhari administration has created up to seven million jobs as at November 2017 the soaring unemployment figures were contrary to that claim. In line with data from Trading Economics, the unemployment figures in Nigeria have increased continuously from January 2015 to the present; and they are projected to go up even higher in 2018.
In the wake of a piercing insecurity and an unrestrained corruption in Nigeria under the Buhari administration, it is hardly possible for any of the job creating sectors such as agriculture, mining, manufacturing, education, health, defense, utilities, etc., to flourish. Nigeria will progress when true democracy exists!