President Muhammadu Buhari
Buhari

By AYOOLA OLAOLUWA

Despite scoring himself high on his achievements in the past six and half years, Nigerians have rated President Muhammadu Buhari’s performance as poor and below average.

The president had on Friday during his Independence Day broadcast to the nation to mark Nigeria’s 61st independence from the British colonialists, boasted that no government since the nation’s return to democracy in 1999 could beat the achievements of his administration.

While maintaining that a lot had been achieved by his administration, he lamented that critics have unfortunately voted his administration’s progress as stagnation.

“A lot has been achieved in the last six years on many fronts: in infrastructure, social care, governance, Nigeria’s image and influence in Africa and the international community.

“But critics misdiagnose incremental progress as stagnation. Since coming to power, this administration has tackled our problems head-on in spite of the meagre resources. No government since 1999 has done what we have done in six years to put Nigeria back on track.

“We shall continue to serve the country: listen to all and protect our democracy and country,” Buhari had assured the nation.

However, the majority of Nigerians, who participated in an assessment poll on the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration conducted by Business Hallmark, scored the president low on security, diversity, economy, infrastructure, investment in people, among others.

According to 232 out of the 250 Nigerians from the six geo-political zones of the country, who participated in the poll, the president had disappointed them as his administration has failed Nigerians in his three cardinal campaign promises: Corruption, Security and Economy.

However, 18 of the respondents believed the president had done well, particularly in the areas of food production (agriculture) and infrastructural development.

A federal civil servant in Lagos who wants to be identified simply as Adedotun, said he joined millions of Nigerians back in 2015 to vote in Buhari after 16 years of misrule by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). According to him, the nation was tired of the massive corruption, impunity and open display of obscene wealth displayed by some top government officials in the PDP.

The PDP administration, he also said, lost his vote for failing to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency. “The APC offered us a change which people like us, tired of the rot in the system, quickly embraced. However, the administration (Buhari’s) that we put all our hopes in has not lived up to its promises.

“We thought we had seen enough misdeeds perpetrated by the erstwhile PDP administrations owing to the ‘Mr. Integrity’ posture of President Buhari sold to us by his publicity machine.

“However, the reverse is the case. As promised, the president has actually delivered the change he promised Nigerians.

“Today, a naira is exchanged for almost N500 against the dollar. Life in difficult for most Nigerians as inflation has wiped out their wages.

“Since Buhari came to power, it is one national crisis to another. Nigerians are being kidnapped and killed daily by Fulani herdsmen.

“This administration is a clear case of presidential ineptitude never seen before or experienced in the nation’s history”, Adedotun lamented.

Another respondent, Bunmi Ajisafe, a trader in Ado-Ekiti in Ekiti State, expressed worry over the continuous increase in the prices of commodities, noting that the hikes had worsened the economy of her family.

“I am surprised at the astronomical increase in the price of commodities these days. Look at the price of gas which we bought for N3,000 in February. We now by the same measurement (12.5kg) for N7,000.

“It is so frustrating that you are not sure of the next price you would meet when you go to the market.

“I am really worried and surprised. I thought Nigeria was a country with abundance of gas,” Ajisafe said.

A Facebook respondent, Gabriel Daniel, described the president’s address to the nation as a fallacy and an insult to the sensibilities of Nigerians.

“The President should stop insulting our collective sensibilities. Some of us don’t want to be vulgar in our addressing leaderships at all levels, but nobody should insult us. Even a blind man knows when it is raining”, Daniel said.

In his own comment, Israel James Ojonemile, slammed the president for claiming no government since 1999 has surpassed his achievements.

“He (Buhari) is absolutely right. If any government did what you have done in six years, there would be no Nigeria for you to come and rule,” he replied the president.

A public commentator, Ozodinukwe Okenwa, said the nation is faced with the crisis of Buharism!

“The depth of rut of the Nigerian presidency is really staggering. President Buhari has lowered the bar of governance to the level that anyone could claim anything at his expense.

“If the likes of Femi Fani-Kayode could be welcomed back into the APC fold then something is wrong with leadership Nigeriana”, he said.

Okenwa also faulted the Fulanisation and Islamization of the country by the country.

“The greatest threat to our collective existence as one people happens to be the alleged Fulanisation and Islamization agenda of the Buhari regime.

“The president sees everything wrong with other regions, religions and tribes; so he could be said to be only trustful of the people of the same faith or region like himself.

“The president claims to be a patriot and often talked about a much-vaunted ‘integrity’ of his persona. Yet we see and hear about presidential actions and/or inactions that portray him as an executive hypocrite with a lying lips. Pray, how can you be a patriot yet do things that tend to endanger national unity and cohesion?

“How can you lay claim to patriotism when you openly favour your ethnic stock and religion to the detriment of others in the discharge of your presidential duties?

“Where is the integrity when you have around you glorified crooks, such as Ministers Akpabio, Sylva, Amaechi and Pantamiand company working and undermining the national quest for developmental greatness?

“Where lies the integrity you pin to yourself when you cannot name and shame (and prosecute) the known Boko Haram or terrorist sponsors? Where is the integrity when fiscal scandals abound around your challenged administration?

“For the past six giddy years President Buhari has changed Nigeria for the worst in a rare demonstration of presidential ineptitude never experienced before.

“Nigerians have become orphans abandoned to their fate. Many have died for doing nothing criminal! Many had been kidnapped and wasted even when ransoms demanded were paid!

“Many had lost their digital jobs since Buhari banned Twitter for no just cause. Many have lost their ancestral farmlands and sources of livelihood owing to the Fulani herdsmen invasions.

“Many are languishing in prisons across the federation for voicing out their desire for self-determination, something that is not a crime.

“The national economy is doing acrobatic dance, drifting from recessions and bouncing back from same. The Naira is in free fall against world major currencies. Security is at its lowest dangerous level with practically everyone exposed to terror, banditry or abduction.

“We are borrowing recklessly as if tomorrow would not come. External debts had since hit trillions of Naira yet we have not been told what the Abacha loot, the Ibori loot and other famous loots by politicians and technocrats had been used for after repatriation of the stolen funds.

‘Buhari has amassed so much external debt to the extent that his gerontocratic generation has mortgaged the future of our generation and the next.

“We have another great opportunity, however, to change our national ‘story’ for better come 2023 presidential poll post-Buharism. This time, we must get it right”, Okenwa said.

However, a respondent from the North West geopolitical zone, Umar Sarki Ahmed, said Buhari has done well in office.

“I agree with him. He has performed well in terms of infrastructural development and employment. He only needs to concentrate on security because that’s the major problem we’re facing”, Ahmed stated.

Meanwhile, many Nigerians and groups have faulted the claims made by President Buhari in his independence speech.

The pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, said the president should rather blame Fulani herdsmen and , who have driven farmers away from their farms on the food shortage and consequent rise in price the nation is witnessing.

The group’s National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi, in a statement made available to BH, said, “The Independence broadcast by President Muhammadu Buhari further showcases the dishonesty on the part of those governing the country and the disconnection between them and the people they govern.

“The picture painted by President Buhari of the Nigeria situation is at variance with what is on ground.

“On the economic front, Nigerians have never had to pay through their noses for services and commodities as they are now forced to do.

“As at the time President Buhari assumed office in 2015, a bag of rice was about N7,000, while a US dollar exchanged for about N180 even in the black market.

“Today, a bag of rice is almost N30,000, while a dollar exchanges for nearly N500. The situation is so bad that Nigeria has been declared as the world capital of poverty.

“What is the justification therefore for the president’s claim that the lot of the poor in the country is better under his administration than it was under the previous administrations”, the Afenifere spokesman demanded.

Also speaking, the Middle Belt Forum (MBF) said rather than blaming others for the current woes of the country, the president’s bad policies are contributory factors.

The National President of the forum, Dr. Bitrus Pogu, said the president should stop blaming middlemen and accept responsibility for his misdeeds..

“On the issue that middle men are hoarding food which is spiking food inflation, the president should know that our naira has been so devalued and to use others as excuse is an irony.

“Whoever wrote that speech for him has not done him good because Nigerians have been laughing at the speech. So the inflation in the area of food, goods and services is because our currency has lost its value.

“If the food stuff is not available out there, his argument may hold sway, but go out there the food stuff is all over the place but the problem is the price.

“Naira is devalued, price of fuel is higher than when he came in, price of vehicles and their parts as well as transportation fares are on the increase and the prices of food are now beyond the reach of the ordinary man because of these factors.

“The president has refused to talk about the activities of herdsmen chasing farmers away from their farms because we have always said this government is complicit in some of these things.

“You can see that nepotism is being displayed clearly in the handling of herdsmen and bandits who are clearly and predominantly Fulani from the north. He did not mention them but he is willing to pick on Igbo and Yoruba nationalists. That is unfortunate.

“He even refused to call them terrorists but prefer to call them bandits. So the issue is, he is still practicing nepotism even on the issue of insecurity. He is ready to talk about insecurity caused by others which for me is not insecurity”, MBF chieftain said.

The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide, in its response, also faulted the president’s statement on the cause of food inflation.

According to the immediate president of the congress, Eric Omare, the speech by President Buhari disappointed on all fronts.

“Only recently, there was a revelation on the identity of those sponsoring terrorism in Nigeria. Therefore, one would have expected that considering the enormity of problem, he would have used this opportunity to reveal their identities. But obviously, he is more interested in identifying the sponsors of Kanu and Igboho”, he said.

The PDP also described the six years of President Buhari’s administration as the worst in Nigeria’s history as an independent, sovereign state.

The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the push by the Buhari-led administration “to sink our nation to the precipices is evident in our daily lives; the lies, injustices, violations, state-backed violence, impunity, nepotism, treasury looting, harsh economic policies and accommodation of terrorism, but our nation has continued to survive by the resilient spirit of Nigerians.”

Accusing the APC-led government of making life difficult for Nigerians, the party expressed hope in the ability of the country to bounce back stronger.

“The Buhari Presidency and the APC have on all fronts taken our nation back to the pre-independence days with associated bondage mentality and frustration resulting in many losing faith in the system and leaving our country in droves within the last six years.

“It is painful that all the gains made by our nation since independence in 1960 and especially during the 16 years of the PDP in office, including the entrenchment of national unity and cohesiveness, freedom and personal liberty of citizens, rule of law, credible elections, justice, equity, fairness and economic progress; the very elements of an independent state, have all been reversed by the APC and the Buhari Presidency.

“How can we celebrate when the APC government has no answers to the murdering of our youths by security operatives as witnessed in the EndSARS protest killings of 2020 and, where those who demand for accountability in governance are being hounded, harassed and framed?”, the PDP lamented.