LAWRENCE OLAOYE writes on the five years of the Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) administration
President Muhammadu Buhari has successfully completed five of eight years of his leadership mandate accorded him by the Nigerian people.
The President, after defeating his predecessor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, said his administration would be addressing issues of pervading insecurity, dwindling economy and untamed corruption in the country. Buhari equally maintained that his government would consolidate on the gains recorded in his same first term in these particular areas.
A dispassionate assessment of President Buhari’s efforts at curtailing pervading insecurity across the country would suggest that there are still lots to be done while not discountenancing the fact that we are currently where we used to be.
With regards to insecurity, President Buhari inherited menacing Boko Haram detonating bombs like children would crackers at Christmas with disheartening consequences on human lives. By 2015, the insurgents had carved a territory for themselves as they control 17 local governments in the North-East with potent threats to percolate to other parts of the country. Life was short, worthless and brutish in that area.
Five years on, the Nigerian Army has been waging a relentless war on the dregs alongside the Multinational Joint Task Force and there are no reports of the derelicts controlling any part of the beleaguered region.
In order to address the devastation of the infrastructure in the North-East region, the President inaugurated the North East Development Commission (NEDC) charged with the responsibility of assessing damages done to infrastructure with a view to rehabilitating them. But it’s not yet eureka as the asymmetric was has assumed a frightening dimension because the insurgents now attack soft targets.
While one may concede that the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration may have recorded some measures of success in curtailing the activities of the Boko Haram elements, same cannot be said of the marauding bandits, kidnappers and armed robbers making life uncomfortable for the people across the country.
In the North-West and North-Central region, people can no longer sleep with both eyes closed without habouring the fears of possible attack from bandits and kidnappers.
A journey from Abuja to Kaduna before the advent of coronavirus was tantamount a suicide mission. Anyone who travel that route and return without falling victim of kidnappers thanks his star. Yet, this is one route unavoidable for people travelling up north.
Bandits have become so brazen and inviolable that governors grovel before them even as they continue their unrestrained attacks on the people leaving in their trails blood and sorrows.
The lords of the forests and ungoverned spaces have exposed the underbellies of the nation’s security apparatchik making it inevitable for Buhari’s government to begin to reconsider its position on regional/state policing.
Buhari’s determination to address the nation’s comatose economy, which to some extent is responsible for the myriads of challenges facing the people, should also be subjected to meticulous scrutiny.
The fact that Buhari inherited an economy at the precipice must however be acknowledged due to the fact that the price of crude oil, the mainstay of the nation’s earnings, nosedived by 2015. The President resolved to chart a new course by putting measures in place for diversification with a view to ensuring self-sufficiency in food production and prioritising local contents.
Buhari’s mandate of ‘grow what you eat and eat what you eat’ and other groundbreaking agricultural policies were incontrovertibly successful. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s Anchor Borrowers Programme which made over N200billion facilities available to about 1.5 million farmers increased local production of such consumables like rice, wheat, maize, cassava, soya beans and others moving the nation food sustenance.
This has been further complimented by the local production of fertilizer sold at affordable rates. This has resulted into a saving of $150 million annually by the substitution of imported components with locally manufactured ones with savings of N59 billion yearly.
Government’s resolve to complete inherited projects was a clear departure from the status quo. Infrastructural projects initiated by Buhari’s predecessors in rail, roads and water resources are unarguably being vigorously pursued. Most are completed while others like the second Niger Bridge, Lagos-Ibadan railway and others in the power sector are nearing completion.
The government also introduced Social Investment Program where the vulnerable and underprivileged, including school children, were being considered. According to the Fact Sheet containing the achievement of Buhari’s administration in the last five years, about 12 million persons have benefitted from this program with 500,000 on the N-Power scheme.
But critics have maintained that majority of Nigerians are not feeling the impacts of these ambitious claims by the government. Power supply still remains abysmally low. Even when there is an increase in agricultural activities and increased production of food items, especially rice, prices keep soaring in the market.
The nation still faces the challenge of unemployment. Only recently the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, raised an alarm that about 39.4 million Nigerians may be jobless by the end of 2020 owing to the devastating effects of the rampaging Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).
Buhari’s decision to borrow funds to finance projects has also attracted virulent criticisms from the people who are afraid of possible devastating consequences in the nearest future.
In the fight against corruption, the government has said that it has been able to recover over N800 billion stolen funds from past corrupt leaders while about 1,400 of them have been convicted already.
Government anti-corruption measures including the Whistle-blower, Bank Verification Number (BVN), Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and Assets Tracking and Management Project are yielding the desired results. But more still needed to be done.
However, critics of Buhari’s administration have consistently alleged that his fight against corruption was targeted at the opposition elements. They allege that some of his officials who have committed glaring financial malfeasances are being spared the rod.
There have been divergent opinions on the assessment of Buhari’s administration five years on. While some believe that the nation has made significant progress, others believed that his handling of the nation’s security has blighted whatever gains his government has made.
They hold that his seeming failure to curtail the activities of the insurgents, bandits, herdsmen who kill, maim and kidnap with impunity across the country has watered down his achievements in other areas.
Critics also counsel that the knotty challenge of unemployment facing the nation requires pragmatic approach beyond the surface scratching measures currently undertaken by the government.