By Dr.Muiz Banire SAN
At the conception of this edition, the title I assigned to it was, ‘BUHARI: THANK GOD IT IS OVER”. In the course of writing the content, it suddenly dawned on me that I might appear judgmental at the end of the discourse, though not intended. Again, I also realized the divine admonition that, ‘judge not, for ye shall be judged’. At this point, I opted for the new title as adopted above with a view to presenting some of the facts in my possession while leaving Nigerians to pass the appropriate verdict. It will be recalled that, in one of my recent editions, I alluded to the reality of life to the effect that whatever has a beginning must have an end. Even life, which is the foundation of everything else, has a terminal date for each creature of God. In fact, the commencement of an event in life signifies the expiry of the event at a time to come. This is more apt with offices occupied by human beings. In Yoruba parlance, it is often said that ‘office lo maa r’ehin akowe, bi o fi sile, a fi e sile’ which literally means it is the office that survives the clerk: it is either he leaves or the office leaves him.
This is the truism of life. That informs the admonition that wherever a person finds himself, he must strive to put in his best in the interest of humanity, at the barest minimum. Beyond this reality, it is equally the expectation that such occupier of an office as in this conversation must bear in mind his accountability to the people who he chose to govern and his creator that has afforded him the opportunity to serve them. For every iniquity suffered by any citizen independent of his volition, the concerned leader would account to his creator. A leader who chose and promised to secure the lives and properties of his people must not allow any dereliction to pass as he would be accountable for it. For every soul lost or every starvation suffered by the subject, the leader would account to his creator. These are just the exhortations and injunctions of God. It is in this connection that I veered into a cursory presentation of the last eight years of Buhari’s administration, knowing full well that in the months to come a flurry of x-rays will still come up. This, certainly, is not my exhaustive effort in this regard, as I intend soonest to do real evaluation of the administration.
Suffice, however, to say that, as expected in any human gathering, whatever be a person’s perception might not be the same for the other person. As the Yoruba put it, ohun ti o koju si enikan, ni o ko ehin si elomiran. So, my view might not be necessarily coterminous with that of another observer or commentator; not in the least those who participated or benefited in the last administration. Of course, I have, in recent times, heard government officials assert that no other administration in the history of the country has achieved the feats of the Buhari administration. Honestly, it is good to note this. At least to a certain extent, an assessor can award pass mark in terms of road and transport infrastructure. However, the same cannot be said of the other sectors of the economy or administration except for the Federal Capital Territory that is more receptive in the life of the administration, courtesy of the minister.
Even at that, I am unable to state that this has positively affected the ‘pockets’ of most Nigerians. As such, the barometer of my measurement of the outgoing administration does not revolve mainly around those roads and transport infrastructure per se, but on the utilitarian value of such attainments, implying the impact on an average person in the society. As the politicians rightly put it, what is the essence of a road without the health or appetite to utilize same? Is it not meaningless? Can physical infrastructure be meaningful in the absence of stomach infrastructure, in the words of Ayodele Fayose?
ME THINK NOT! It is from this angle that I intend to comparatively evaluate or aptly put forth some basic facts around the ‘attainments’ of the last administration for Nigerians to reach their own conclusions. As remarked earlier, this is certainly not my autopsy or postmortem analysis of the Buhari administration but just a quick peep into the scorecards of the ‘regime’. Let me commence with the employment question, as at 2015 when the outgoing administration took over the reins of governance, unemployment rate was 8.2 per cent but as at 2022, seven years into the life of the administration, unemployment rate stood at 37.7 per cent. I am sure that explains the escalating degree of the vices/crimes that the country was/is witnessing: terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, money rituals, obtaining by false presence, popularly known as ‘Yahoo, yahoo’, or even ‘Yahoo-plus’. Etc.
Let me examine the food security issue as typified by rice. As at 2015, a 50kg bag of rice was sold for N8,500.00 but as at 2023, with all the so-called interventions like Anchor Borrowers Scheme, the same 50kg bag of rice is sold for roughly N35,000.00. Again, we are all living witnesses to how Nigerians now struggle for food across the nation, to the extent that the refuse dump is now the source of survival for some Nigerians. Affordability of a decent accommodation is now a challenge in Nigeria, the debacle of which stems from the prices of building materials, the basic one known to most Nigerians being cement.
A bag of cement in 2015 was N1,600.00 but as at 2023 a bag of cement is now sold for N4,500.00. How many Nigerians can afford this? Again, this, in my view, explains the proliferation of uncompleted/abandoned structures in the country. More homeless people now dot the territory of the country. Now coming to the country’s currency in terms of devaluation, as at November 2015, a United States dollar exchanged for N197.00 while today, as at 2023, a United States dollar exchanges for N760. This is how worthless the country’s currency has become, courtesy of Mr. Emefiele. Now for fuel, the pump price increased from N87.00 in 2015 to over N200.00 in 2023. I need not remind us how many Nigerians have trekked to death in recent times as transportation is unaffordable to them. This equally has multiplier effects on goods and services, as their prices continue to soar.
Remember how many long suicidal fuel queues we have witnessed in the life of the administration. Some Nigerians lost their lives in the process while others lost valuable properties, including motor vehicles and their associated parts. As if all those are insufficient to accelerate the sufferings and death of Nigerians, the electricity tariffs climbed from N12 per kwh in 2015 to N72.2/kwh in 2023. The interesting news about the tariff is that most Nigerians do not even know what they are paying again as most increments are shrouded in secrecy. The multiplier effect of these on goods and services is inestimable and unquantifiable. Poultry feed rose from N3,600.00 in 2019 to N10,000.00 in 2022. Do you now know the cause of the astronomical prices of eggs and chickens? This answers you. This has now placed the consumption of the items above the common man. Arising from the above, the last poverty survey from the National Bureau of Statistics revealed that more than 65 per cent of Nigerians or almost 95 million Nigerians live below the poverty line. I need not remind us that this is just a conservative figure, which does not really portray the picture in the country.
In fact, the 2022 multidimensional poverty index survey reveals that 63 per cent of Nigerians resident in the country, that is, 133 million Nigerians, are multidimensionally poor. This is further deducible from the inflation rate which moved from 9 percent in 2015 and consistently rose to 22.22 percent in April 2023. Little wonder that the Nigerian food inflation rate which was 9.2 percent in 2014, increased to 10.4 percent in 2015 and now 24.45 percent in April, 2023.
Outside the domestic purview, the debt profile of the country rose from N12.2 trillion in 2015 to 46.25 trillion in 2023. So, while the country is wobbling at home, it is fumbling internationally.
In point of the administration of justice, the Buhari administration has not positively impacted the judiciary in such a way that the administration of justice in the country becomes enviable. The welfare of judges dwindled badly under the administration and all attempts to review the deplorable and despicable situation were resisted till date. I am aware of the recommendation of stakeholders in terms of review of the renumeration of judicial officers which is still gathering dust on the table of the outgoing President.
The feeble attempt made to upgrade the infrastructure of the judiciary was totally unimpactful compared with the depreciation experienced in the judicial sector. The health situation is absolutely nothing to write home about. In fact, the pretence of the administration was unveiled during the Covid-19 crisis when even one of the top government officials, Boss Mustafa, who doubled as both the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 had to confess to the deplorable, if not comatose state of the health infrastructure in the country.
What do I say about the aviation sector? The airports, but for the initiatives of the Jonathan administration, would have remained an eyesore. Even in point of maintenance, the airports remain a disaster. At the exit of the administration, we are still looking to ‘Air Nigeria’ promised over the last eight years. What more can I say? Is it in the agricultural sector that huge sums of money by way of interventions have disappeared; or the unimpactful social intervention schemes that have consumed a staggering amount of money?
Permit me to just apply the break here until I am ready for the post-mortem. I have supplied the above data for Nigerians to appreciate where the outgoing administration has placed the country. As the gospel music says, e se ibi e ti bere, e se ibi t’e ba de. We thank God for where you started and where we have found ourselves. We than God that the administration is not taking us beyond this anti-climax. I am equally glad that the incoming administration, regardless of the political paternity between it and the outgoing, has clearly indicated its intent to distance itself from the misfortunes associated with the outgoing administration.
I certainly know that the new administration, cannot afford to ride on a rickety vehicle associated largely with cluelessness of the outgoing administration. As I said earlier, this is just a teaser of my perception of the performance of the Buhari administration. I leave Nigerians to their individual and collective judgements.