By Discussing Africa
Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and some governors of the party have endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari for second term. Leaders of the APC say they will offer him the right of first refusal to contest the 2019 election. They say Buhari has ‘fulfilled’ his campaign promises, and that his administration needs another 4 years to concretize its achievements.
But, among the voters, the verdict is that Buhari has performed poorly. This was corroborated by those who should know better (policy makers and experts) when they met at this year’s ‘Buharimeter’ and rated the president low on three priority areas that include corruption, economy and security, and on other emerging issues such as restructuring, human right abuses, and unemployment.
Organized by the Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD, the event had a former governor of Kaduna State, Balarabe Musa; General-Secretary of Nigeria Labour Congress, Peter Ozo-Esan; and economic analyst, Tope Fasua, amongst invited panelists. A former vice-chancellor of the University of Abuja, Nuhu Yaqub, was the chairman and keynote speaker.
The CDD launched ‘Buharimeter’ shortly after President Buhari was sworn in to track his campaign promises to Nigerians. Unlike the past edition which held in June 2016 where five ministers who participated took turns to praise Buhari, the format of this years’ ‘Buharimeter’ had the experts speak and engage the audience after their initial takes on allotted subject and time.
The moderator, Imoni Amarere, captured the mood of the organizers and audience correctly when he said this year’s event was not like the previous one, “when it was we against them. This time we asked Nigerians to come and access governance in the nation. This time, it’s our show, we Nigerians.”
Idayat Hassan, director of the CDD, in her welcome address, x-rayed Buhari’s fight against corruption. According to her, “This administration prided its self with fighting corruption but it still lacks viable instrument in the fight. Importantly in the last two weeks, the NNPC scandal and issue revolving around Maina’s secret reinstatement is another blow to the anti-graft war.”
On the issue of insecurity, Ms. Hassan said the Buhari administration had failed badly in securing the nation. “Benue state is the most affected with challenges of security with the herdsmen and cattle rustling issue.” She further cited challenges in the North-east, the murder of the Shites and the clashes between members of the Indigenous People of Biafra and security agencies.
An economist, Tope Fasua, said despite coming out of recession, Nigeria’s interest rate remained high, noting that the 2018 proposed budget was not enough for the country’s over 180 million people, when compared to other African countries like Angola, Egypt and South Africa. He summarized his damning verdict thus: “The truth is that the government has no plan for the people.”
Mr. Fasua is right, the government is without plan. An incompetent Buhari kick-started his administration by denouncing his party manifesto. Also, since inception, the Buhari government rather than accept the fact that it has no plans on how to solve the myriad of challenges facing Nigerians, has taken to blaming the Peoples Democratic Party for everything and anything.
One of the panelists, Ishaq Akintola, who attempted to commend the Buhari administration’s fight against corruption when he said, “There is no more impunity in this administration”, was booed by participants. Buhari has been accused of shielding alleged corrupt officials in his administration.
Here is an incomplete list of persons under Buhari, who have been accused and involved in corruption: there’s Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, accused of allegedly collecting N500 million bribe money from the management of telecoms giant, MTN, to mitigate its legal punishment for defrauding Nigerians. Zakari Biu, the sacked police commissioner who facilitated the escape of Boko Haram member, Kabiru Sokoto, was recalled and re-instated. The discredited Ibrahim Lamorde is currently serving as a senior police officer.
What about the Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Tukur Buratai and Abdulrahman Dambazau, Buhari’s interior minister, alleged players in the arms scandal that has former NSA to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Sambo Dasuki, illegally detained since 2015. Both men have taken cover under Buhari.
Dambazau, Kyari and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, were alleged to have masterminded the reinstatement and double promotion of wanted criminal and fugitive, Abdulrasheed Maina, who remains wanted by the EFCC in a N2bn pension scandal.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, stole millions from IDPs and was first defended by Buhari before he was suspended, along with the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ayo Oke. The report of the Vice-president Yemi Osinbajo-led panel that investigated them has long been submitted to a disinterested Buhari and continues to gather dust.
The APC won the 2015 presidential election on the back of Buhari’s touted but now questionable integrity. His involvement in acts of nepotism and support and defense of corrupt officials in his government has eroded the expectations and excitement that met his election and giving way to anger and despair. Two years and counting, the verdict is that Buhari has performed poorly.