7 years after: Economy, others overwhelm Buhari govt
In less than two months, President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration will come to an end after 8 years.
The government rode into power in 2015 under the change mantra, promising Nigerians a better deal than the then President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration offered.
Buhari was sworn in for his second term in office on May 29, 2019, and will vacate office by the measure of Nigeria’s constitutional democracy on May 29, 2023 when the country is expected to welcome a new administration.
President Buhari rode on the back of the All Progressives Congress in his two terms, the party that has produced his successor, president-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The Buhari administration has maintained that it has been one of the best things that have happened to the country. The government, on several occasions, claimed it has fulfilled most, if not all the promises it made to Nigerians during its campaigns.
What were some of the promises of the present administration pre-2019 presidential election?
Buhari’s promises to Nigerians include but are not limited to- engage one million N-power graduates and skill up 10 million Nigerians in partnership with the private sector; expand the school feeding programme from 9.3m to 15 million children, creating 300,000 extra jobs for food vendors and farmers; complete the Ibadan/Kano phase of the Lagos/Kano rail link; complete the Port Harcourt/Maiduguri line; complete the Itakpa/Warri link to Abuja, through Lokoja; complete the Second Niger Bridge and the East West Road connecting Warri, Delta State, to Oron, Akwa Ibom State, through Kaiama and Port Harcourt in Bayelsa and Rivers State; establish a people’s Moni bank; institutionalise the giving of soft loans of up to 1million naira to small traders, artisans and commercial drivers; increase the beneficiaries of trader Moni, market Moni and farmer Moni from 2.3 million to 10 million; create more room for inclusion in government by achieving 35% in female appointments.
He also promised to give more access to youths as aides of cabinet members and through opportunities for appointments in boards and agencies; introduce a special mentoring programme in governance with young graduates working with ministers and other appointees; reinterpret the education curriculum through coding, robotics, animations and design thinking; retraining of all teachers in public primary and secondary schools to deliver digital literacy; remodelling and equipping of 10,000 schools per year; complete the 365 road projects under construction in all parts of the federation; provision of infrastructure and rebuilding the economy; to sustain the anti-insurgency war and curb insecurity; fight corruption and revamp the economy; develop 6 industrial Parks in each of the geopolitical zones.
Other promises of the President Buhari administration prior to the 2019 presidential election are- to establish 109 Special Production and Processing Centres (SPPCs) across each senatorial district of Nigeria; develop the Special Economic zone to quickly concretize our made in Nigeria for export (MINE) plan; expand the social investment program so as to eradicate poverty; ensure completion of Mambilla Dam and Bridge; ensure the construction of the Makurdi Taraba Borno rail project; complete the bridges across the stretch of River Benue in Ibi local government area; continue to pursue agricultural policy by ensuring that fertilisers are made available at all the local government areas across the country, for easy access by farmers; resuscitate the Ajaokuta Steel Company; ensure the completion of the on-going Zungeru Hydro Power project and include persons of integrity in the cabinet.
Opinions are divided on whether this administration has kept faith with the people.
Notwithstanding, the Buhari administration has always maintained that it dwarfed the previous governments in terms of performance. For instance, the minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had on many occasions said that no administration, since the beginning of the current political dispensation in 1999, had done more than the Buhari administration in supporting states with all sorts of financial interventions.
To drive home his claims, the minister went ahead to launch what he called the PMB Administration Scorecard Series (2015-2023), in October to showcase what he described as the numerous achievements of the Buhari administration.
The Minister ensured that all the ministers and some Managing Directors and heads of agencies presented their scorecards.
President Buhari himself had also claimed that Nigeria is better off today than he met it in 2015, particularly in the areas of anti-corruption, economy, and security.
Recall on June 20, in a written response to Bloomberg, the Nigerian leader had claimed his administration is leaving the country in a “far better place than we found it”.
However, it won’t be out of place to say that a lot has happened since 2015 when the President took over from the administration of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
Some fact checks by DAILY POST will leave Nigerians to answer the questions of how true is the claim that Nigeria is better than the APC administration met it in 2015.
The Economic performance record of Buhari
By 2015, when Buhari took over power, Nigeria’s inflation rate averaged 9% but since then it has seen a surge. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, under the current administration, the country’s inflation rate hit a 16-year high amid an increase in prices and poor purchasing power.
The urban inflation rate increased to 17.35 percent (year-on-year) in April 2022 from 18.68 percent recorded in April 2021, while the rural inflation rate increased to 16.32 percent in April 2022 from 17.57 percent in April 2021.
In 2016, inflation rose to 15.68 per cent and jumped to 16.52 per cent in 2017. The numbers dropped to 12.09 per cent in 2018 and down to 11.40 per cent in 2019. By 2020, the inflation had risen to 12.2 per cent and closed in 2021 at 16.95 per cent.
In May 2021, NBS said the inflation rate climbed to 17.71 per cent.
In 2014, meanwhile, Nigeria’s food inflation was at 9.2 per cent. It rose to 10.4 per cent at the end of 2015; 17.4 per cent in 2016; 19.42 per cent in 2017; 13.56 per cent in 2018; 14.67 per cent in 2019; and 19.56 per cent in 2020.
Food inflation climbed to 20.57 per cent year-on-year in January 2021, according to data released by the NBS, making it the highest in over 11 years. It closed at 17.37 per cent in December 2021.
In May, however, the food inflation rose to 19.5 per cent amid an increase in prices of staple food across the country.
The unemployment rate rose to 9.9 per cent in the third quarter of that year from 8.2 per cent in the second quarter, according to the NBS. Nigeria has since been hit by unemployment, poverty, and economic disempowerment. Buhari is leaving behind more than 23.2 million unemployed people, being the highest in at least 13 years and the second-highest rate in the world.
Similarly, the last poverty survey from the NBS showed that more 65% per cent of the Nigerian population, or almost 95 million people, live below the poverty line.
The 2022 Multidimensional Poverty Index survey reveals that: 63% of persons living within Nigeria (133 million people) are multidimensionally poor.
In November 2015, barely six months after Mr Buhari was inaugurated as president, the naira sold against the dollar at N197. Between then and now, the currency is about N750 to one dollar.
In the same vein, Nigeria’s debt profile has risen considerably since Mr Buhari took over power, as budgetary proposals have been designed considerably around debts.
Debt Management Office, DMO, reports that Nigeria’s debt profile was N12.12 trillion as of June 2015, but now N46.25 trillion. This includes the debt of the 36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
The current administration, under the watch of President Buhari, has borrowed three times the combined amount by the governments of Olusegun Obasanjo, Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan.
With the above statistics on unemployment, inflation, exchange rate, GDP and recession, food prices, and debt level, one could without doubt conclude that things went from bad to worse under the outgoing administration.
In the area of security, there have been success stories, especially in the North East where normal life is gradually returning but other parts of the country have become hotbeds of violence. Kidnapping for ransom is also one of the major security issues the incoming administration will be looking for ways to tackle.
Also, the just concluded general elections showed how the current administration mismanaged the country’s diversity. Nigerians were divided between ethnic and religious lines to the extent that some citizens were not allowed to cast their votes in many polling units.
Apart from successes recorded in the North East, the President would be very concerned that he is leaving a country with a porous security system.
Despite his anti-corruption crusade, corruption is believed to be on the rise in the Buhari administration.
Known corrupt individuals moved from their various political parties and became saints immediately they joined the All Progressives Congress, APC, under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari and the likes of Joshua Dariye, Plateau State; and Jolly Nyame, Taraba State, all convicted and jailed for corruption, pardoned,
Fielding questions from DAILY POST on whether the outgoing President has met his promises to the people of Nigeria, Engineer Daniel Kadzai, a former National President, Youth Wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria, (YOWICAN) and Co-Chairman of Interfaith Coalition Conference, Engr. Daniel Kadzai, explained that the Buhari administration had recorded successes in the areas of infrastructure, education, and combating insurgency in the North East, but did nothing in the areas of uniting the country, job creation and reducing poverty rate.
“In the last four years, we had expected the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to curtail the issue of insecurity that has bedevilled this nation.
“When you look at the indices, the performance is below our expectations. Number two is the issue of the welfare of the citizens of our nation. I really don’t know why we had to go through the recent cash crisis.
“I know of a woman who lost her relative because she couldn’t pay N3000 since the hospital said they don’t collect money through transfers.
“Again we’re now buying fuel for N350 and this is what we were buying for N86. He is the minister of petroleum,” he said.
“To be honest, when you talk about the insecurity in the North East, the Boko Haram insurgency has minimised tremendously. I can tell you I was in a park to drop somebody travelling to Borno State through Yola. Nobody could pass that road two years ago but now people are using it to pass through to Maiduguri.
“But generally speaking, the issue of kidnapping is resuscitation again and far beyond our expectations.
“We thought Nigerians would have been more united even at the end of this tenure. We had expected the nation to be together but when you look at even the voting pattern adopted in the 2023 election, it was more like Christians vs Muslims stuff.
“The unity of this nation is paramount. Yorubas were voting in favour of their Yoruba candidate, Igbo were voting…and so on and this gives you the signal that truly something is wrong.
“I hope that in the final two months of his tenure, he is going to right these wrongs. He should hand over to someone who is going to unite this nation and somebody who was duly elected by the people of Nigeria
“Now in terms of infrastructure, I’ll say that the President has done his best. When you travel from Abuja to Benue, there’s a dual carriageway that was constructed in the last two years. It’s about 65% under completion.
“When you also drive from Lamorode to Yola, that road was very bad but now they’re almost completing it. Then between Gombe, Yola and Borno, the road is also good.
“Then you can see work is going on between Abuja and Kaduna, these are roads I have plied. Then the Lokoja and Ajaokuta road; then in Lagos when you go to places like Sele, VI there are massive road constructions going on. Then you talk about the railways [even the second Niger Bridge]. The railway stations are now in operation.
“Then in the area of health, God has helped us in this nation in respect to COVID-19; the federal government managed the pandemic very well, otherwise we would have had more casualties. They managed that very well. In the area of education, I think they have established a lot of federal government colleges, polytechnics and universities.
“But in the area of security and national unity I’ll urge that Mr. President put these things in place before he exits office so that we can celebrate him.
“I also hope that at the end of this administration, we’ll exchange dollars at N500 and not the current N750 rate. There is hunger in the land. I can tell you sincerely there’s hunger and people are suffering.
“The suffering is excessive because even some government workers can no longer feed their families. You can say it boldly without any iota of doubt that Nigerians are really really suffering,” he concluded.