By Umar Sa’ad Hassan
On every May 29th when Nigerians sit down to evaluate the performances of governments over the past year, there are usually three score sheets. One by the die-hard supporters of the leader; another by the opposition and then the one by the governed which in most cases is a mixture of both because the ordinary Nigerian has the rare privilege of being unbiased.
I am neither PDP nor APC. I am Nigerian and there is nothing else I would rather be. Unlike the many hypocrites out there who shy away from the truth to defend a non-performing government almost to a nauseating extent, I understand we as Nigerians have no reason to hate or antagonise a leader for any other reason than his performances for the simple fact that if he succeeds, we gain and if he doesn’t, we lose. Its really that simple.
As we celebrate May 29th this year, it is with a heavy heart that I say the ‘Peoples Scorecard’ of President Buhari’s performance over the past year is full of red ink. He has failed in numerous subjects. Admittedly he got off to a flying start by effectively rallying up our neighbours to wage a successful war against Boko Haram and also overseeing a record high in electricity supply. He ensured probes of corrupt individuals ended up in prosecution in our courts but that is as far as it goes. It turned out a mere flash in the pan as even these accomplishments falter in the midst of certain valid posers.
He has made a few good moves but on a just scale, his failure outweighs the good by miles. Buhari has done creditably well in quelling the insurgency that has plagued us for quite some time now but then the sad part is there is no Boko Haram column on the score sheet. It has to form a part of his assessment under security. It is ironic how a man can practically rid us of our number one security threat yet fail in the security aspect. The activities of the Fulani herdsmen was allowed to get out of hand. A lot of souls were lost in Agatu, Enugu, Ondo and other places to the herdsmen. After the Enugu massacre, where many lives were reportedly lost, it sickened not a few Nigerians that we weren’t actually telling PMB we were tired of his messages of condolence and sympathy, we were actually wondering if he had even as much as issued a statement in that regard.
And still on the handling of the herdsmen crisis, the President’s townsman whom he ‘deretired’ to run the DSS made a very bad call when he disclosed that five bodies reportedly found killed and buried in the bushes by the IPOB were Fulanis. A veteran manning such office is expected to fully understand the consequences of doing such. Asides having to face embarrassing questions on how he was sure they were Fulanis and that they were killed by the Biafrans, it had the potential to escalate a security situation on two ends – that of the Biafrans and then that of the Fulanis
The Biafrans could make it look like the government was conveniently hasty in reaching a conclusion and the Fulanis could deem it a declaration of war. There was just no upside to that statement except of course, if the DSS chief wanted to instigate a crisis.
And that story being bandied round about warring communities in Enugu has had little or no effect on the scheme of things, to many it is just the Fulanis exacting revenge on innocent souls.
The Buhari government has failed to secure our vital oil and power installations. There is definitely no change in that regard. With threats from Asari Dokubo and the sorts to make the country ungovernable for any President other than Goodluck Jonathan, Buhari was reasonably expected to move fast in securing them as they were very likely targets. There is no sign the government has learnt its lesson yet as the Niger Delta Avengers seem to be wreaking more havoc with no signs of slowing down.
Add this all up to the increased spate of kidnappings across the country and you will understand why the President has failed in security.
The deplorable state of our finances made it imperative for Nigerians to be patient with the President at the outset but he seems to have crossed the line as the bulk of our predicament is attributable to his incompetence. Nigerians were made to suffer for too long before the government struck its purported winning formula to the fuel problem. If government knew marketers hadn’t being importing fuel since October last year why did it keep attributing the scarcity to vandalism and misleading Nigerians as to the true position of things? We have heard countless stories from Ibe Kachikwu, the President’s junior petroleum minister that all amount to utter rubbish with the benefit of hindsight.
Buhari removed, reinstated and removed subsidy with a N58 increase in fuel price in just four months.The handling has being most pathetic.
The government may have generated a 4,810MW record peak in electricity but it has also set the unenviable record of crashing us down to 0MW and nowadays, 3000MW seems a long way as we have power generation at 2000MW at best. The President and his team claim vandalised power installations are the reason for the sorry state of power supply and what annoys most is the tinge of ‘legitimacy’ they attach to that excuse. His SSA on media went as far as telling those complaining over poor power supply to go and “fight the vandals”.
Admittedly, vandalism has been a recurring problem but Buhari and his crew fail to realise we voted them in to change things. The patience card won’t quite avail them here when we have an almost dormant civil defence corps which seems at best a second police force. Vandals operated during the previous administrations but we never had to suffer this much.
Poor power supply translates to poor water supply as well in most parts of the country and with the fuel issue in mind as well, it is safe to say we have not been adequately provided the most essential amenities. As a matter of fact, we fared better under the previous government.
The Buhari administration can wriggle round questions about foreign policy by citing his numerous trips abroad as creating a formidable presence for us in world affairs but the truth is there is no story we haven’t heard as far as foreign trips are concerned. The President has spent a lot of time in the air with no visible results. Nigerians are now wiser as they no longer fall for the sweet tales our leaders return home to tell, they will only be moved by action. Relative peace has returned to the troubled north eastern states and we have not heard anything from any of the countries that promised to help us rebuild them. Apart from the trips aimed at securing the commitment of nations to help repatriate stolen funds, quite a number of those trips are ones he could gladly sit out in line with his promise to cut the cost of governance.
I found it particularly intriguing that the President himself could actually attend a global warming summit while still preaching the ‘cost’ sermon.The China trip which was initially reported to be worth a $2 billion loan turned out a ruse as he returned to tell us that all too familiar story of investments and the sorts. All one needs do is to dig into the archives to unearth such multi-billion naira stories and just how much Nigeria has actually benefited from them.
I am glad the President himself has acknowledged the importance of a few conditions precedent to a healthy economic transformation, conditions like adequate power supply for instance. With the current state of the nation, it is suicidal for any foreign investor to delve into our waters when a thorough feasibility study would reveal just how many companies have left as a result of the high dollar exchange rate and how the ones presently doing business here are coping with the high cost of running such businesses.
Our economy is in shambles and diversification won’t yield instant results as time is needed to ensure the viability of alternate avenues. The lack of basic amenities chiefly due to the President’s ineptitude has contributed in no small measure to the pathetic state of our economy. Oil prices have played their part but then we must also judge the efforts of the President with the hand he was dealt and truth be told, he seems overwhelmed by the onerous task before him.
Due to falling oil prices at the time Buhari came into office, it became imperative that we reduced costs. He himself sang that song to high pitch. But then no matter what he and his cronies choose to make us believe, he hasn’t made any meaningful impact in that regard. The National Assembly cut down its budget and formed a committee to look into the possibility of further cutting down their remuneration when the President was singing at his loudest but when his unenthusiastic approach to costs became quite obvious, they put an end to that plan and started talking about a multi-billion naira supply of vehicles.
Buhari may have merged some ministries but we have a lot we can do without. The Niger Delta ministry is one he should not have maintained and Budget and National Planning could be a department in the finance ministry. The Women Affairs ministry is one which makes me want to support the gender equality activists as much as I can. Having it only amplifies the fact that we deem them second class citizens in need of ‘special’ help. Times have changed and I think it has outlived its usefulness.
Its a pity the President failed to see through all these and more saddening is the fact that he chose to go with 36 ministers instead of the much touted 19. We still have nine planes in the presidential air fleet and if you add that to the fact that governors are still paid security votes amounting to several billions monthly, quite contrary to what he advised the Jonathan administration to do in 2011, I’m sure you will agree we could have saved a lot more.
I must commend the fight against corruption as the Buhari administration is one where indictment in a probe translates to automatic prosecution. Like I tell people, every Nigerian politician is guilty until proven innocent and if they choose our anti-graft bodies to wage war against one another then we are the better for it. The only sad thing about Buhari’s war is that he has exploited the fact that virtually everyone is dirty ‘unjustly’.
Olisa Metuh and Fani Kayode, the most vocal members of the opposition asides Ayo Fayose, the Ekiti State governor (who currently enjoys immunity) have been targeted while concrete allegations against Babatunde Fashola and Rotimi Amaechi in the build-up to the ministerial appointments weren’t paid any serious attention. The EFCC failed to diligently prosecute Timipre Sylva and the only APC fish in its net is the Senate President, who quite incidentally happened to have disobeyed the President and the ruling party. While I agree that the PDP did a lot of damage, we must also not forget that there are former APC governors who aren’t particularly clean.
While saluting the President’s handling of armsgate where Dasuki allegedly misappropriated $2.1 billion for himself and his friends, the petroleum ministry remains without a doubt, the corruption hub of the previous government with several billions of dollars unaccounted for. At the risk of sounding immodest, we really need to move fast on Deziani Allison Madueke, the former minister of petroleum resources.
The $115m bribery scandal is a mere drop in the ocean compared to what really went down there. Jide Omokoro, a close ally of Madueke owns one of the most luxurious yatchts in the world with music superstar couple, Jay Z and Beyoncé paying almost a million dollars to spend just a week on it. We must get down to some serious business as far as that ministry is concerned. High level probes must end in prosecution of the people who have looted us dry.
There is certainly room for improvement in the anti-corruption war which along with the crippling of Boko Haram remain the only positives of PMB’s 365 days in office. The Buhari administration has largely under-performed so far and for our own good, we hope the President starts getting key decisions right.
The story of his first year in office in a nutshell is simply – We voted change and change we got as things have certainly changed for the worst.
*Hassan is a lawyer based in Kano.