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The real scorecard of Buhari

By Editorial Board
07 November 2022   |   5:26 am
The recent claim by President Muhammadu Buhari that his “high-impact” projects meet the yearnings and expectations of Nigerians is disturbing and subject to serious interrogation.

Buhari

The recent claim by President Muhammadu Buhari that his “high-impact” projects meet the yearnings and expectations of Nigerians is disturbing and subject to serious interrogation.

The claims by Mr. President, which were made at the opening of the Ministerial Performance Review Retreat of this administration in Abuja, indicated that the implementation of his nine-priority agenda had remarkably impacted sectors like power, communications, digital economy, oil and gas, national security, anti-graft war, social investment, health, and agriculture. To many Nigerians, this assertion appears laughable while to some others, it is not appropriate for the President to score himself highly.

It is the opinion of the generality of Nigerians that matters in determining the appropriate scorecard of the Buhari administration. It is not in the position of the student to give himself a passing mark or high score. It is the examiner who is adequately qualified to determine the scores whether high or low.

As the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. It is even ironic that Aisha Buhari, the President’s wife in a recent interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), acknowledged that President Buhari performed poorly in the past seven years when she apologised to Nigerians for the dismal performance of her husband’s administration.

A proper assessment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s claim would be necessary, for the sake of posterity, in order to put the issues in proper perspective and to guide the present generation of Nigerians on what good governance is and what it is not.

It is quite understandable that the Buhari administration in the twilight of its days in office would resort to some form of image laundering but that would amount to nothing as the views of the average Nigerian is already obvious in this regard. The assessment of the performance of the Buhari administration can be situated from two different perspectives.

First, to what extent did the administration fulfil its numerous promises to the Nigerian people? Second, what was the situation of Nigerian society in 2015 and what is the situation today? Are Nigerians better off after over seven years of the Buhari administration?

On the promises made by the administration in the 2014/2015 election campaign season, candidate Muhammadu Buhari, under the auspices of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), made numerous mouth-watering promises to the Nigerian people. These are clearly indicated in the Party’s Manifesto for the 2015 Presidential election.

The then President Goodluck Jonathan was tagged “clueless” by Buhari and his crowd. The promises made in the APC Manifesto were numerous cutting across a review of the constitution, restructuring, national security, conflict resolution, national unity and social harmony, job creation and the economy, agriculture and food security, industrialisation, infrastructure, oil and gas industry, education, healthcare, senior citizens, youth, sports and culture, women empowerment, environment and foreign policy. The administration performed woefully in all of them.

Some cursory look at the promises across the sectors includes the promise to “generate, transmit and distribute from current 5,000 – 6,000 MW to at least 20,000 MW of electricity within four years and increasing to 50,000 MW…” was not achieved.

Currently, power generation is still in the region of 5,000 MW or even lower and the collapse of the National Grid has become commonplace under the Buhari administration, after over seven years in office. The promise to “maintain sound macro-economic policy environment, run an efficient government and preserve the independence of the Central Bank was not achieved.

Under the Buhari administration, the fiscal authorities have resorted to unbridled borrowing from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in breach of the CBN Act (2007) through the Ways and Means advances above the 5% limit of the previous year’s revenue. These advances have skyrocketed to about N20 trillion as of mid-2022, which is an addition to the public debt. Currently, the administration is trying to securitise these outrageous borrowings from the CBN on long-dated instruments. The CBN has more or less become an appendage of the Presidency, to the detriment of the country’s economy.

Another promise to “make our economy one of the fastest growing emerging economies in the world with a real GDP growth averaging 10% annually” was a total failure. Under the watch of the Buhari administration, the Nigerian economy entered into two recessions.

The first recession of 2016, which is the second in the country’s history, took place over two decades after the first one of 1984, which incidentally took place under the watch of Major General Muhammadu Buhari. In 2016, the economy contracted by 1.6 % due to negative oil prices and oil production shocks, which spilt over to the non-oil sectors.

The recovery from the recession was not due to any brilliance by the administration but due to positive developments in the oil sector with some relief from increasing global oil prices. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the 2016 economic recession was a full-year recession and the worst in the country’s history since 1987.

The second recession under President Buhari took place in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic effects but the management of the economy displayed so much fiscal indiscipline with poorly managed social inclusion programmes that recovery from the recession took longer than expected.

The NBS data for the second quarter of 2022 GDP growth was a mere 3.54% and this was celebrated, a far cry from the average of 10% promised by the ruling party. Over the period, job losses have cut across every sector of the economy even in the agricultural sector where the invasion of farmlands by fearful and armed itinerant cattle herders has drastically impacted negatively crop production nationwide. And President Buhari has largely chosen to look the other way probably because these herdsmen are majorly his kinsmen.

The promise to create “6 new Regional Economic Development Agencies (REDAs) to act as champions of sub-regional competitiveness and put in place an N300 billion regional growth fund (average of N50 billion in each geo-political region) to be managed by the REDAs, encourage private sector enterprise and support to help places currently reliant on the public sector” have not been realised.

On education, the plan to attain up to 15% of the annual budget for this critical sector as well as make substantial investments in training quality teachers at all levels of the educational system was not realised. The proportion of the budget that went to education under the Buhari administration hovered between 5% and 7%. This is the same Muhammadu Buhari that criticised the Goodluck Jonathan administration in the handling of the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

Since 2015, Buhari has failed to make any difference in the matter in which he had positioned himself as someone who had a magic wand to address the issue. For much of 2020 and 2022, the public universities were shut and hapless students from poor homes were left to their fate while officials of the administration sent their children and wards abroad.

The story goes on and on, in the health sector where young doctors, under the watch of the Buhari administration, are daily leaving the shores of Nigeria for greener pastures.

The President himself, contrary to his commitment in 2015 to receive medical care in Nigeria has made it a pastime to regularly fly off to London to attend to his health, at great public expense. He is presently in the UK for medical attention.

• To be continued tomorrow.