Antithesis Of Buhari’s Performance – Facts And Illusions: Security, Anti-corruption, Economy
Etete Enideneze, a media professional and public affairs analysts writes on this article titled Antithesis Of Buhari’s Performance – Facts And Illusions: Security, Anti-corruption, Economy.
Nigeria’s outgone President, General Muhammadu Buhari rated his performance high, for the eight years, he reigned. In the twilight of the second tenure, the immediate past president said, he knew that he did not do enough, and mildly apologized to Nigerians, adding that he would take refuge in Niger Republic in order to avoid harassment. On leaving office in May 29, he however, said that his administration performed well.
The All Progressives Congress (APC), Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, others who served in the Buhari’s administration, fans and some non-partisan Nigerians also scored the outgone president high. On the contrary, the opposing parties, notably, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and some Nigerians percieved the positive assessment as illusory. The opponents felt that the positive rating is akin to the proverbial Agama Lizard that nods its head in self-appreciation on falling from a tall tree.
As usual with the comical nature of Nigerians who turn everything to comic relief, some Netizens issued meme Certificate of Survival to themselves. They celebrated being alive at the end ot the austere and insecure eight-year reign of the now erstwhile president earlier branded as Mr. Integrity, anti-corruption Czar and Change agent.
The meme certificate circulated on social media, speaks volumes about the performance of the just-ended regime of the military junta who ruled in civilian toga. Citizens miffed by the good self-acclaimsd good perfoy of General Buhari, felt that the reign was a period of black propaganda, cabalism, nepotism, disunity, economic downturn, insecurity, and disregard for rule of law, poverty, hunger, pains and anger, thus a woeful era in the annals of the country.
The antecedents of Buhari’s leadership have caused apprehension of whether the country would change for better, even under Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu who has taken over the baton of president, after a controversial election.
However, no president or an administration, not even Buhari’s, could have left office after eight years, and be assessed as having not achieved anything. The usual intervening factors of partisanship, ethnicity, religion, zonal divides, ineffective information and communication management, as well as personal sentiments may have influenced the negative assessment of the administration, by some citizens.
Indeed, the performance of the Buhari and Osinbajo eight-year tenure is an antithesis, given citizens’ divided stances over positive and negative rating, vis-à-vis the ambivalent rating of his achievements by himself. Thus, it is necessary to make an objective analysis of the administration’s policy thrusts of security, economy and anti-corruption, based on official records published by the Presidency, under the outgone President.
On its policy of securing lives and property, the Buhari-led administration asserted many achievements.
They include equipping of the armed forces and allied security formations; funding them, and taking care of welfare of personnel; reforming the Police Force; recruiting about 30,000 citizens into the Police Force; setting up special security task forces for different zones, mostly in the North; establishment of new military bases, among others.
The administration said it effectively tackled the problems of terrorism, banditry, robbery, kidnapping; released hostages; reduced killings, herders/farmers clashes; sexual crimes, illegal migration/emigration, drug and human trafficking; cybercrimes, and militancy in the Niger Delta. It also arrested and prosecuted IPOB’s Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, agitator for Oduduwa Republic, Mr. Sunday Igboho and other militant agitators; Killed Boko Haram’s Shekau and other commanders of the dreaded sect.
Terrorism, banditry and kidnapping for ransom, reduced a bit in the last quarter of 2022. But that was mostly due to the new Naira policy. Yet, the North and nearly all zones of the country are still facing insecurity.
Nigeria also moved two steps downward in global ranking of insecurity, from 8th position to 6th in 2022 and 2023, respectively, but this little reduction too, was due to cashless policy, Covid – 19 and flood disaster.
Former President Buhari’s score sheet listed his decorations by the African Union (AU) and ECOWAS Heads of States, as Champion of anti-terrorism. The title is a ruse. Insecurity thrived so much in Nigeria until he left office. Many captives were still in the den of Boko Haram, ISWAP and bandits, especially in the North.
Not less than 54,000 persons were reported to have been killed in the last seven years, from May 2015 to May 2022, with Boko Haram alone killing 90% of the persons.
Herders’ onslaught against farmers did not cease, for instance in Benue State, Plateau, Kaduna and other places, herders, Boko Haram and Bandits are still unleashing terror on law-abiding citizens. Terrorists and bandits were still collecting levies from community dwellers in some parts of the north.
Nigeria, according Jihad Analytics, ranked second as one of the most terrorized countries in the World, from January to June 2022, close to Iraq which ranked first, and higher than Syria. In the ranking. Nigeria recorded 305 deadly attacks within the period.
Sexual crimes, human trafficking, illegal migration, drug trafficking and abuse, cybercrime (Yahoo Yahoo), money-ritual killings, selling of human parts went on unabated in the eight years of the administration, despite arrests, prosecution and convictions of few offenders.
Bandits and terrorists, especially in the East, severally attacked government establishments such as electoral commission buildings, police and military formations. Even presidential convoys were not spared from attack in Buhari’s era.
The attack on Owo church in Ondo State, Kuje jailbreak and Kaduna-Abuja train kidnap were among some of the worst signals of insecurity in the country.
Victims of kidnap and families, including government have allegedly paid whopping sums of monies to kidnapers in the last eight years. For instance, from June 2023 to July 2022 alone, about N13.6billion excluding ransom for Abuja-Kaduna train hostages which was reported as over N6billion was allegedly paid as ransom to kidnappers. However, Federal Government spiritedly refuted the report,
Yet, from 2015 to 2022 which the administration was on board, N11.18 trillion was budgeted for security in Nigeria.
The arrest and prosecution of Nnamdi and Igboho, among others, violated local and international laws and procedures. Worst of all, the government refused to grant bail or release Nnamdi, despite court rulings. Buhari also disobeyed court orders to release Sambo Dasuku on bail in the case of arms and ammunition funds allegedly shared like bazar. The Buhari’s administration also rebuffed court rulings in favour of El Ibrahim Zakzaky and wife, Ibraheemat Zeenah and their followers, Shia ISMN; Charly Boy, Omoyele Sowori, Deji Adejanwu, ENDSARS/Lekki protesters and IPOB protesters. The ENDSARS protest in Lagos was resisted with brute and heinous force at Lekki Tollgate in Lagos. The report of panel of inquiry into the action against the rioters was not to result to significant remedies.
Threats of closure of private media outfits and de-licensing of private broadcast stations, and actual slamming of fines over what the government called violation of broadcasting codes, attempts to gag new media; intimidation, maltreatment, arrest and prosecution of journalists, example, Mr. Jones Abiri, and Sunday Ogundipe of Premium Times, by the Federal Government, were undemocratic and posed threat to human rights.
Persons displayed by terrorists acts were allegedly not well taken care of, suffered sexual abusses and collateral damage-deaths in IDPs Camps in the North. The collateral deaths allegedly took place during military to release hostages, often as erroneous bombardments, and often refuted by the military. A recent case is the alleged collateral death of about 30 civilians during official operatives airstrike action in Nassarawa State. These were vehemently denied by the security and government, and when midly admitted, nothing paned out. The government resorted to use of civilian vigilantes to fight terrorists and bandits ( www.globalr2p.org; UN, CHCHR https://www.chchr.org-HCR; https://dergipark.org./r; US Department of State, ( https://www.state; https://thecable.ng )
While perpetrators of murderous and economic crimes in the core North were treated with kid’s gloves, those in the East of Igbo, West and South-South, especially the core Niger Delta, were dealt with decisively. Culpable persons, suspects and innocent persons were (allegedly) extra-judicially killed, arrested and tried for crimes, including oil theft. Looted crude oil were seized and burnt, just as task force in operation allegedly take part of the loot as operation booty.
Communities accused the military task forces for attacking them, in retaliation of actions of youths who allegedly confronted their security personnel.
Indigenes and aliens illegally mined the solid minerals in the North freely, and the government introduced artisanal mining policy. However, the skillful and venturesome artesans in the oil areas, were not considered for inclusion and development as refiners of crude oil and gas. The promised modular refineries did not really materialize in the region during the eight-year tenure.
Herders were treated as demigods in their heinous and destructive acts of grazing on other peoples’ lands and farms, released and not many prosecuted even when reported and arrested. Instead, government introduced special grazing programmes for herders.
On anti-corruption crusade, one of the Buhari administration‘s cardinal policies, the story is ambivalent. Positively, the regime instituted mechanisms to reduce corruption, and claimed to have achieved its goal.
The measures include implementation of Treasury Single Account (TSA) initiated by past administrations; Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPS); Biometric Verification Number (BVN); National Identity Management (NIM) system; tax recovery from revenue agencies; debt recovery mechanism through Project Lighthouse and Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMACON). Others are fiscal responsibility in award of contracts and procurements; Open Government Programme (OGP); ICTs-fraud trackers; payroll fraud in the public service, etcetera.
The government intended to use the aforementioned mechanisms to tackle fraud perpetuated by private persons and public officials in and through commercial and government institutions and money laundering, to sanitize financial transactions, boost revenues and the economy as a whole. Nevertheless, the programmes, for example, TSA, BVN and NIN had immediate harsh effects on citizens, aliens in the country, public and private organisations. These three programmes also had negative impact on the running of public institutions, investments and the economy as a whole in the short-run.
Interestingly, the Independent and Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) recovered looted funds and fixed assets, for which assets recovered in 2022 alone, amounted to N91billion. The administration also recovered Abacha-loots starched in foreign banks in the sum of $622 million in first phase and a second tranche of $311 million, besides securing return of millions of British Pounds of Late Chief D. S. P. Alamieyeseigha’s loot, funds stolen from Bayelsa State coffers when he was governor.
The ICPC arrested and prosecuted some offenders, and secured conviction of 19 culprits. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Code of Conduct Bureau Tribunal also recovered huge funds and assets from political officials, civil servants and individuals as well as private organisations.
Anti-corruption officials also caught a former Head of Service of the Federal Civil Service in fraud running into billions of Naira, and she was relieved of her appointment and prosecution commenced against her. In the terminal part of the Buhari’s regime, huge sums of stolen funds were discovered in the Account General of the Federation’s Office, for which the immediate past Account General was arrested and legal proceedings commenced to prosecute him. Anti-corruption agencies also arrested, prosecuted and convicted some or a few other suspected looters, and online fraudsters, money doubling schemers and ponzi firms.
Irrespective of the above and other feats in anti-corruption crusade, corruption was still pervasive in the regime. Corruption still stinks in the country, among some citizens, private and public organisations and officials. It is still the major bane of the country’s development.
The Buhari’s anticorruption war tilted against political opponents and selected zones of the country, especially the West, East, South and the Middle Belt. Suspected public fund looters who crossed to the ruling party escaped investigation, or arrest and prosecutions were delayed or plea-bargains were struck, and loots returned, to give suspects soft-landing. A few high profile persons initially convicted and jailed for fraud and money laundering, miraculously won at appellant courts and regained freedom, and returned to active politics in the 2019 elections.
The anti-corruption war turned to mockery of the system when two topnotch politically exposed politicians jailed of fraud and money laundering, offences committed while they served as governors, were granted Presidential Pardon by the anti-corruption Czar, former President Buhari, and they played key political roles for the ruling party in the 2019 elections. The ‘gesture’ was not extended to another former governor and his son convicted of similar offences, perhaps, because the former governor was in a major opposition party.
Initially, anti-corruption agencies played games over alleged fraud matters that were public knowledge, such as Maina-gate, Ganju-Dollar-gate, Magu-gate and Babachir-grass-cutting-gate. Although the grass cutting contract saga was recently quashed by court on ground of no guilt, while the Miana-gate saga was completely prosecuted, the last were not to be heard of the others, and until recently that a group is calling for investigation of the Ganju-Dollar saga. The Ikoyi, Lagos Bullion Van millions of Dollar-saga, remained unprosecuted in court. Anti-corruption formations did not arrest and prosecute anybody until the Buhari-led government left office.
A cabal in the regime was allegedly said to have made so much money through conduit pipes, insider trading of contracts and other means, yet are off the hook. Monumental sleaze was suspected in the then NNPC and its revenue returns, but no action was heard.
Recovered loots amounting to trillions of Naira in monies and fixed assets were reportedly re-looted, not properly accounted for nor well-channeled to development purposes. Anti-corruption hunters, for instance, Ibrahim Magu of the EFCC, Code of Conduct Bureau Chairman, Danladi Umar and the present chair of the EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa had issues of suspected fraud in line of their duty, yet, the matters were not speedily tackled. Long after, Danladi was suspended from office by Buhari’s successor, President Ahmed Bola Tinibu, soon after assuming office as president in May.
Security and corruption-free or a less-corrupt society, enhances development in all ramifications.
However, the reverse of these indices, bedeviled the Buhari administration, and would hinder any other administration in the country. Yet, Buhari made some remarkable achievements in the economy, despite recessions, floods, Covid-19, insecurity and large scale corruption.
Thus, on economy, the outgone government was able to get the country out of recession, twice, even though the feat hardly reflected in improved volume of production, employment, per capita income, market price of goods and standard of living. These are contrary to the immediate past administration’s claim of leaving the economy stable and better than 2015 when it assumed power.
The administration was able to boost non-oil sector revenues, especially from the service sector: entertainment ICTs, telecommunications, banking and finance; construction industry, real estate; solid minerals and to an extent agricultural produces, tobacco etc. These were mostly in the last quarter of 2022, according to the NBS.
Yet, industry sector, oil and agricultural sectors fell in their contribution to GDP in the same period, due to flood, insecurity, herders’-farmers’ clash, oil theft and Covid – 19. Quarterly and annual GDP rose and fell with manageable or marginal differences in percentages during the two-term tenure, up to last quarter of 2022, NBS reported.
Official factsheet of the Presidency under Buhari states that inflow of $2 billion was achieved in the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Fund (NSIF).
The factsheet also listed achievements in economy to include investment promotion, tax holidays in e-Commerce, ICTs/Software, animation, music and film industries, visa reforms, ease of doing business, revenue and debt recovery, bailouts to states to ease salary and pension payments, disbursement of Paris Club-refund monies to states, infrastructures and loans refunds to states. Others are N30,000.00 New Minimum Wage, arrears of allowances to Federal Civil Servants, disbursement of first tranche of Abacha-recovered loot to the poor, social investment, entrepreneurship, palliative and poverty alleviation programmes, improvement of digital economy, 5G Network, NIN, BVN, Unbundling of NNPC, rehabilitation of refineries, building of six ongoing modular refineries in the Niger Delta, artisanal mining initiative, etc.
Nevertheless, the economy for the eight years did not witness improvement in production of goods and services. Inflation rates were at biting levels of two-digits hovering back and forth and up to 22.2% in May 2023, higher than those of 1999 to 2007, which had single digits. Unemployment rose to 33.3%, as reported by NBS The NBS, 2021 reports a 33.3% unemployment rate in the country ( http://www.thenigerianvoice.com article on: a broken humanity) ( https://reflectortv24.com/a-broken-humanity ). Of that percentage, youths are the worst hit, making 42.5% of the ratio. Experts project that the unemployment rate would increase to about 37% and more, this year and 2024.
Market prices skyrocketed in the eight years tenure to harrowing extents even as wages remained constant, businesses were multiply taxed, electricity is not stable for businesses, just as 63% of the country’s population were classified in multidimensional poverty bracket in terms of poor income, health, hunger and poor standard of living.
Irrespective of the Buhari’s outgone government’s ascertain of leaving a better economy, Nigeria ha rather placed tops among poorest countries’ rankings in the World. In 2022, World Poverty Clock ranked Nigeria second with 70 million poor citizens, put at 33% of the total population, and next to India which had 83 million poor persons. In 2018, Nigeria ranked first position and was regarded as the world’s poverty capital with 87 million poor citizens, next to India which recorded 87 million persons. World Bank predicts that poor persons would reach 90 million soon The NBS, 2021 reports a 33.3% unemployment rate in the country ( https://reflectortv24.com/a-broken-humanity ). (http://www.thenigerianvoice.com article on: a broken humanity)
Nigeria’s currency dwindled in value at both local and international markets, and worsened the economy, market price and standard of living. Till Buhari and his managers left office, the Naira moved back and forth between Four Hundred plus, to a Dollar at the formal exchange rate, and hovered over Seven Hundred Naira plus, to the Dollar at Black Market.
The administration’s debt liability, handed over to the Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s government is a sorry tale and one of the worst debt profiles in the country. Despite claims of having revamped and improved the sickly economy, boosting revenues, and recovering staggering sums of looted funds within and abroad, especially the Abacha loots, the Buhari government rather embarked on foreign loan spree until twilight of leaving office, to the tune of N77 trillion. The government said, the loans were applied to infrastructural projects, but recurrent expenditures also took good chunks, and N16.2 trillion projects are still uncompleted, according to Nigeria’s House of Representatives.
The appraisal of the achievements of the out gone Buhari-led administration, based on his three-point agenda and the critical observations so far, put pays to an antithetical discourse, and the proverbial Agama Lizard’s excessive self-praise, even though it made some marks. Experts, and ordinary Nigerians who have given themselves Certificate of Survival might not be totally off-point for holding counter views. Yet former President Muhammadu Buhari has done his part, and his music has ended, but history shall judge him, good or bad.
Etete Enideneze is a Media Professional/Public Affairs Analyst
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