16 Highs and Lows Of The Buhari’s Government So Far - 4 years ago
Here’s a balanced analysis written by The Cable’s Chinedu Asadu The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is marking its second year in power. An administration that was dubbed a “messianic” one considering that its emergence saw an end to the 16 uninterrupted years the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had governed Nigeria. While some believe that the president deserves a pat on the back for some feats his government has achieved, others believe there is still a wide gap between the current reality the country is facing and the plethora of promises the administration presented Nigerians at its inception. In the build-up to the 2015 presidential election, the promises of Buhari – and the APC’s by extension – were sewn around one word – change. He had even reaffirmed the promise of change when, in his acceptance speech, he declared: “Change has come and a new day and a new Nigeria is upon us”. This notwithstanding, a report by SBM Intelligence, an organisation devoted to the collection and analysis of information, shows that the president has been able to fulfill only four percent of the 171 promises he made to Nigerians during his presidential campaign. We look at some of the strengths and weaknesses of the current administration. WAITED FOR SIX MONTHS BEFORE APPOINTING HIS MINISTERS On November 11 – exactly twenty-three weeks and five days after being sworn in as president, Buhari unveiled the list of the ministers he will be working with. All 36, he had said, are “round pegs in round holes.” Prior to their appointment, the president had replied his critics who were questioning the delay, insisting that “impatience is not a virtue”. FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM Although there are still cases of bomb blasts recorded from time to time, the Buhari administration has been able to address the problem of insurgency to a manageable extent. Quite unlike what was obtainable before he came to power when the Boko Haram insurgents held captive some communities in the north-east, the army claims the sect is no longer occupying any Nigerian territory. POOR ECONOMIC DIVERSIFICATION MEASURES Although the government has put in a few measures towards diverting the nation’s economy to other more productive areas especially agriculture, there is still a great need for more sustainable measures aside mere policies. According to the report by SBM Intelligence, “the Buhari administration needs to understand that its biggest challenge is not diversifying an already diversified economy, but diversifying government revenues”. THE WAR AGAINST CORRUPTION The federal government’s war against corruption was just recently, described as a “five minute sensationalism” by Senate President Bukola Saraki, lending credence to the view in since quarters that the government isn’t getting the fight right. Some critics see the anti-graft as largely unproductive considering that quite a few convictions have been made as against the litany of corruption related cases pending in court. RAIL SECTOR REVIVAL Buhari’s administration has been able to build on the progress of the previous government in the rail way sector considering the pragmatic efforts it has put in place to make it a suitable alternative for the congested roads in the country. Just recently, the federal government okayed General Electric as the concessionaire for two rail lines in the country that would gulp a whooping sum of $2.2 billion. NIGERIA’S PROBLEM OF EPILEPTIC POWER SUPPLY CONTINUES It would be harsh to solely lay the blame of the epileptic power supply in the country at Buhari’s footstep but his party had during the build-up of the 2015 presidential elections promised to “vigorously pursue the expansion of electricity generation and distribution of up to 40,000 megawatts in four to eight years.” Unfortunately, after two years, the administration is still battling to sustain 5,000MW of electricity with the current average generation at 3,400MW. AGRICULTURAL TRANSFORMATION Buhari has been able to achieve quite some commendable feats towards reviving the nation’s agricultural sector. A good instance is the introduction of the Anchor Borrower’s Scheme which was launched in November 2016. The programme was designed to assist small-scale farmers in increasing the production and supply of feedstock to agro-processors. There is also another agricultural roadmap – the Green Alternative – an agricultural promotion policy (2016-2020) aimed at reviving the sector to boost food production in the country. NIGERIA’S WORST ECONOMIC RECESSION IN DECADES The APC-led administration has consistently come under severe knocks in the area of managing the nation’s fragile economy. Amid the current economic recession biting hard at the nation’s economy – and by extension on the standard of living of Nigerians –, many believe that Buhari’s economic team do not have the wherewithal to liberate the nation’s economy and take it to its desired heights. LITTLE PRIORITY GIVEN TO THE EDUCATION SECTOR Even though the APC had promised to target “up to 10 percent of the country’s annual budget” for the education sector annually, this administration managed to allocate a paltry sum of N403.2bn to the sector in the 2016 budget of N6.07 trillion. This becomes even more worrisome when you look at the N398.01bn allocated to the sector in the 2017 budget of N7.298 trillion. The party had also promised to “offer free and qualitative primary and secondary education to all but to tertiary level for women” – a promise that is yet to see the light of the day. MENDING NIGERIA’S FRACTURED RELATIONSHIP WITH DEVELOPED COUNTRIES Another key area Buhari’s administration has recorded a commendable fest is the way it has been able to restore Nigeria’s image in the global scene. Although, the country doesn’t enjoy the best image it could still get among the comity of nations, the country has enjoyed an improved level of goodwill from the international scene. HANDLING THE NIGER DELTA CRISIS Buhari had, on assumption of office, expressed his government’s intention “to invest heavily in the projects and programmes currently in place” for the Niger Delta amnesty programme. Development s have shown that the president has been able to calm the tension in the region especially by sustaining the amnesty programme. The presidency just recently approval additional N35bn for the programme to complement the N20bn initially approved for it in the 2017 budget. LOPSIDED APPOINTMENTS The third schedule of the constitution which reflects the federal character principle clearly proffers “the principles of proportional sharing of all bureaucratic, economic, media and political posts at all levels of government.” This notwithstanding, key government appointments made by president Buhari paints his administration as being one-sided although he had said during his inauguration that he “belongs to everyone and to nobody.” RESCUE OF CHIBOK SCHOOLGIRLS When in 2016 the Boko Haram insurgent group kidnapped 276 girls from their school in Chibok, not many believed the incident actually happened, including ex-President Goodluck Jonathan. But coming to power, Buhari had promised to ensure the return of every of the girl. Two years down the line, it has been able to secure the release of 103 of the girls. Hopes of the returning of the remaining girls have also remained high following his comments that the war against insurgency can’t be said to have been won without the return of all of the kidnapped schoolgirls. DISTURBING RATE OF YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT With the recent introduction of the N-Power programme in which the federal government claims it pays 149,669 graduates – out of the targeted 200,000 – an amount of N30,000, the government has been able to send some Nigerian youths off the unemployment scene. But how significant is such development when Nigeria’s unemployment rate pegged at 13.9 percent as at the last quarter of 2016? CUTTING COST OF GOVERNANCE One of the many miseries that has faced the country over the years has been the issue of spending much in governance with little or no results to account for such expenses. Bearing this in mind, the current administration had promised to work together with the national assembly to cut cost of governance so as to make judicious use of limited resources. In the last one year, figures show that the federal government has been able to save N19bn from “unnecessary allowances” even as it recently claimed it is putting strategies in place that will enable it to achieve a reduction in recurrent expenditure by N300bn annually. POOR HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD Human rights record under the current administration has been nothing to write home about especially in the face of unlawful detention following the brazen disobedience of court orders. A good number of Nigerians are in custody today even after various courts of competent jurisdiction has ordered for their release or bail as the case may be. Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN); Sambo Dasuki, former National Security Adviser (NSA), and until recently bailed, Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) are among the many victims of this anomaly. With two years left for President Buhari to wrap up his tenure, the question remains: will he and his party be able to change the rhythm of events to stand better chances come 2019?