By Adebayo Obajemu
President Muhammadu Buhari is nearing the tail end of his second term, but opinions differ on his performance. To many Nigerians, the Civil Society, media and international community, the president of the most populous African country has performed below bar, while to government insiders, and the ruling All Progressives Congress members, the party of the president, Buhari has done well.
Casting aside what others are saying about his administration’s performance in office, Buhari himself on June 16 gave a patronizing glimpse of his own self-assessment, where in the final analysis he scored self high on the key pre- election promises, namely, security, economy and corruption.
Not many Nigerians believed him, with one critic saying that “Buhari embarked on a hilarious journey of hallucinating self delusion, at the expense of Nigeria and reality on ground in matter of his performance.”
The author of the preceding, Dr. Mohammed Alhassan, an historian in a chat with Business Hallmark, on assessing Buhari’s performance ; reiterated that the president was being economical with the truth when he said the country is more secure now than in 2015.
Ovie Frank Kokori, former NUPENG secretary general, and one of the leading lights of the June 12 struggle said on the three points agenda so dear to Buhari: security, corruption and the economy, the president, according to him has failed woefully,and if anything, has merely succeeded in deepening the challenges.
Kokori in his interview with another medium, said today there’s virtually no safe place, unlike 2015 the year President Goodluck Jonathan handed over to General Buhari.
Many people, who spoke to Business Hallmark on the performance of the president decried poor governance that has led to near collapse of the country. They enjoined General Buhari to use the few remaining months of what is left of the administration to assuage the pains of Nigerians on many fronts due to poor governance.
Dr. Olufemi Omoyele, director of Entrepreneurship at Redeemers University said the “President has behaved in a delinquent manner in governance. Truth must be told, his larger failing, the one that’s responsible for his poor governance is his inability to separate emotions from his presidency on a larger scale.
“This led to his nepotism on a scale hitherto unknown in Nigeria, putting his own people in power without considering competence and excluding others. His government is one of exclusion. It is this sympathy for his own people that affected the fight against banditry until everything turned into a monster.”
Largely criticised for having failed in government, Omoyele urged him to reverse “abnormal and deviant political practices,” that keep preventing the nation from progressing.
Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Musa Rafsanjani, while assessing governance under the current regime, noted that the administration had fared poorly in terms of the justice system, anti-corruption, economic regeneration and inclusiveness.
He noted that despite promises and commitments to combat corruption, graft practices remained a menace crippling socio-economic development, including poor public service delivery, fast-falling educational standard, dilapidated healthcare, bad roads, rising unemployment that precariously breeds social vices like half-baked graduates, maternal and child mortality/morbidity, vandalism, armed robbery, kidnapping and youth agitation, among other ills.
On the economy, he recalled that prior to 2015, inflation rate remained at single digit, like 7.7 per cent throughout 2014, and that in 2015 when Buhari took over power, inflation rate averaged 9 per cent. In recent years, he observed that the nation has seen persistent surge in inflation rates, reaching the highest levels in seven years.
The Southwest socio-political groups, Yoruba Ronu Leadership Forum, Afenifere and Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), urged President Buhari to have a rethink in terms of priority and use the remainder of his mandate to restructure Nigeria for the practice of true federalism.
The three Southwest sociopolitical groups scored Buhari low in governance in the past seven years, they noted that the President could still use the remaining year to save the face of his government by taking the bold step of addressing the issue of governance system in the country.
According to Afenifere, all major indices of assessment showed colossal failure, as government has not lived to the expectations of the people of Nigeria.
Jare Ajayi, spokesperson for Afenifere said : “The economy is in its worst form in the history of this country. The Naira is at its weakest point ever while the cost of living is very high, going by the prices of commodities and services.
“Corruption, which the then candidate of the ruling party, Muhammadu Buhari and his party promised to stamp out is at an unprecedented level. So high is corruption and impunity in Nigeria today that it is a miracle that the country has not gone under.”
Afenifere also scored the government low on security, which according to the group is another area the Buhari administration has recorded the opposite of what it promised Nigerians shortly before and after it came to power in 2014/2015 and in 2019.
“Nigerians were assured that the then incipient banditry and terrorism would be defeated, that they would be able to sleep with eyes shut and be able to move around freely in safety. But as is the case with the two issues mentioned above, economy and corruption, at no time in the history of this country has insecurity been this alarming.
“At home, in the workplace and on the road, the hearts of most innocent Nigerians are always in their mouths out of fear – fear of unwarranted attacks at any moment, of being robbed, being kidnapped and being harmed in various other ways.”
Even, closer home, Buhari is not spared as members of the Arewa Defense League (ADL) gave a damning verdict on his performance. President of ADL, Alhaji Murtala Abubakar stated that: “the nation has passed through difficult times under this government and is worse off in terms of insecurity, employment, corruption and the economy.”
The group stated that the only thing left for the president to redeem his battered image is to conduct free and fair election
Chekwas Okorie, the erstwhile founded of APGA, said the administration’s performance is mixed, an admixture of good and bad, however, he stated that Buhari needed to rise above ugly perceptions of ethnic bias about his leadership style.
Okorie admitted that in the key area of pointing the way in terms of leadership, which should have united this country, Buhari has not done well.
“His leadership style is such that most Nigerians believe that this country has been skewed in favour of an ethnic group. The appointments in critical sectors including security services are not giving other people a sense of safety not to talk of a sense of belonging,” he said.
Professor Obaremi Obamo said “all I can say is that Buhari has taken us back by three decades.The next president will use his entire mandate undoing Buhari’s damage.”
While Professor Adeagbo Moritiwon, a political scientist told this paper that ” President Buhari has failed woefully on his campaign promises on security, corruption and the economy. On all three his scorecard is laughable. Honestly, I find it difficult to recognize Nigeria. The Nigeria of Jonathan era is not the same under Buhari. The retrogression under this president is confounding.
For renowned sociologist, Prof. Lai Olurode of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), it may be unfair to totally label President Buhari’s administration a failure.
According to him, though, sometimes, individuals cannot be divorced from state institutions that they represent, it is important to restrain from the error of making individuals accountable for all that is wrong with the state or its structure because the state sphere has its own weak ends, which an individual, no matter how strong, cannot alter.
“The state is autonomous, to a greater extent, from the travails or weaknesses of its leader. The two aren’t to be conflated without coming to a falsified conclusion. Certainly, President Buhari cannot be completely exonerated from devastating governance architecture in Nigeria that seems to have registered its presence brazenly in Nigeria since 1999. But we cannot afford to be too judgmental.
“We must not gloss over sporadic and scattered instances of good governance under this administration. A balanced verdict on Buhari’s years in Aso Rock must concede certain achievements to its government in the past seven years or so. There was the massive investments in road construction and railway as an alternative mode of transportation.
At least, the Lagos-Ibadan railway line continue to receive impressive accolades, ditto is Lagos-Ibadan express road, which two previous administrations couldn’t achieve much with. The second Niger bridge is there, so is Abuja-Kaduna railway line. Travel time had reduced in some cases.
“Access to social services might have improved but the number of Nigerians falling into poverty is on the increase even by government own statistics. Most policies targeted at the poor and poorest segments of society are recording poor outcomes.
“Out of school children couldn’t be said to be as lucky as they were under President Jonathan. The population of internally displaced people is still robust and probably increasing,” Olurode said.
He added that what had certainly diminished Buhari’s modest achievement is his being overwhelmed by security challenges.
“Perhaps, apart from the civil war years, this regime had recorded more bloodbath and a sense of acute trepidation regarding safety of life and property. Citizens’ lives meant very little under this regime. But we must admit that political divisions and the winners-take-all approach to politics meant that politics remains a fiasco and war.
“Politicians are probably fueling insecurity crisis in Nigeria. Insecurity has become a major business. Kidnappers and bandits are having a free reign. Negotiations with bandits receive more attention than normal business and ethical transactions.”
Dr. Ayo Medubi, a political scientist shared Professor Olorode’s view when he said that “though Buhari failed in some key areas such as security, anti-corruption, he did well in infrastructure, the problem he has that dwarfed the little he achieved is his unbridled nepotism.
Tunde Owokoniran, a roadside mechanic said “there’s inflation as people have been saying, I don’t know what that means, but I can tell you that life in Nigeria is not safe. Every day bandits are killing Nigerians, yet this government has not been able to stop it. Look at the way to they went to a church in Owo and killed innocent people. There is no food, no light. This government has not done well.
Though the President has the right to rate himself, he cannot set an exam, and score himself. And, it is doubtful he would perform any miracles in the eleven months he has to vacate the presidency.