By Babatunde Ayedoju
In less than a week, President Muhammadu Buhari, the Daura-born Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian armed forces would be saying farewell to the presidency along with the members of his cabinet. Obviously, it has been eight eventful years for the former military head of state who later came back as civilian president.
It would be recalled that Buhari contested the presidency but lost it three times (2003, 2007, 2011). At a point, he was even reported to have given up on his ambition, only for him to come back in the twilight of the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration when Nigerians were clamouring for change. This time, he secured victory at the poll, becoming the fourth president since Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999.
As Buhari winds up his second and final tenure in office, from a democratic point of view, one may look back at his administration to see how he has fared in the two terms.
In February this year, while speaking at the seventh convocation of the Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, Buhari declared that his administration has delivered on its campaign promises made to Nigerians in 2015, adding that he had delivered in the areas of economy, insecurity and also fought against corruption.
He said: “Let me remind us all that my campaign to become the president in 2015 was built on the promise to improve the security, strengthen economy and combat corruption. It is with immense gratitude to Almighty Allah that I make bold to say that we have delivered on the three promises.
“At my inauguration, the country was practically under the siege of terrorism and other forms of insecurity. With every sense of responsibility, I state boldly that the war against terrorism has been fought and won, as all the territories lost to the these groups have been reclaimed. And
He added that his administration has revamped the education sector through increased funding for human capital and infrastructural development, saying, “While it is an impossibility to channel all the available funds in the country to the education sector, it is a matter of public knowledge that my administration has been incrementally increasing funding to the sector in its yearly budgets.”
It would also be recalled that during his reelection campaign in Imo and Abia States, 2019, Buhari acclaimed that he had fulfilled all the campaign promises he made in 2015, boasting that his government had performed well in office, despite limited oil revenue.
Back then, he had promised that if reelected, his administration would continue to tackle infrastructural problems in Nigeria and ensure that Nigerians transacted their businesses without stress.
He said, “We are committing available resources to make sure we get the infrastructure right and we are doing as much as possible to secure the country, so that we can properly manage it. I thank you for your commitment and I expect you this time around, vote APC.”
To do a proper assessment of the Buhari administration, it is needful to first understand the promises that the seasoned administrator made both when he was coming for the first tenure in 2015 and when he sought reelection in 2019.
Prior to the 2015 election, President Buhari who was known then as Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retired) made about 81 promises which covered public declaration of assets; ban on government officials seeking medical treatment abroad; revival of industries; job creation and entrepreneurship; one meal per day for public primary schools; permanent peace in the Niger Delta and some other conflict prone areas in Nigeria; preserving the independence of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN); reviving and reactivating our minimally performing refineries to optimum capacity; ECOWAS currency; stabilising the naira; and establishing at least six years universities of science and technology with satellite campuses in various states, just to mention a few.
Similarly, as he sought reelection in 2019, Buhari made about 30 promises that covered pledges on road/rail infrastructure; education; agriculture; poverty eradication and inclusion of youth/women in government, as well as the fight against corruption and insecurity.
Dr Bayo Fasunwon from the Department of Political Science, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, gave the Buhari administration a thumbs-up over the construction of Second Niger Bridge, granting of the licence for Ondo sea port, and the 2023 election that was conducted under his watch without interference. He also commended the outgoing administration for being able to keep Nigeria together as one.
However, he rated the government low on the fight against corruption, saying, “I have not seen him fight corruption, instead corruption has metamorphosed into worse challenges. For instance, the school feeding programme and the Tradermonie, I have not really seen the government doing justice to these programmes. During his administration, there have been more official means of embezzling money than in previous administrations.”
Concerning security, Fasunwon said that the President was able to put up a good performance at the beginning but later the matter of insecurity took a negative dimension which was made worse by ethnic colouration that attached most of the violent attacks to Fulani herdsmen. He also said that the administration was not able to successfully address insecurity, despite the purchase of tucano jets.
In the opinion of the seasoned political economist, under the Buhari administration, police brutality got to its climax, leading to the ENDSARS protest of 2020, noting that the various ENDSARS panel reports were not fully implemented.
“Whatever could have made us happy under him has been overshadowed by many things that made us unhappy. One of them was the cash crunch that happened as a result of the CBN’s cashless policy,” he added.
Fasunwon, however, advised the incoming government to be firm and, beyond making promises, spell out how those promises will be fulfilled.
Dr Harrison Idowu also rated Buhari high on infrastructural development, citing the construction of rail, roads, and the Second Niger Bridge, saying, “Infrastructural development is one of the key indices when a country is laying foundation for economic growth and development.”
As for security, Idowu noted that though the Buhari administration was able to tackle Boko Haram effectively, as it promised, more groups sprang up with various nomenclature such as bandits, kidnappers and many others.
On the economy, Idowu said that though a large chunk of Nigeria’s debt was written off by the Paris Club some years ago, under Buhari’s watch, the country has sunk into debt again. While admitting that COVID 19 affected Nigeria’s economy badly, the university don stated that even before the pandemic occured, the one-time fastest growing economy in Africa was already nosediving.
In the area of education, Idowu noted that though strikes are not peculiar to the Buhari administration, at this point, government should have found a lasting solution to problems that lead to incessant strikes.
Dr Chris Ofonyelu from the Department of Economics, Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba-Akoko, scored President Muhammadu Buhari low concerning the management of Nigeria’s economy. While lamenting that the outgoing government was not able to implement good economic policies, Ofonyelu lamented that it also left the educational sector in a bad shape.
His words: “ASUU became divided and the outgoing government approved more private universities than all the private universities he met.”
He added that the health sector is in shambles, after also experiencing frequent strikes by medical personnel, with food insecurity becoming worse as a result of the failure of government to manage insecurity of lives and property.
While stating that it may take a long period for Nigeria to recover from the impact of this outgoing administration, Ofonyelu submitted that the incoming government has a lot to do to regain the trust of the people, “considering the fact that both governments belong to the same political party.”
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