May 29: Buhari set to leave office after 8 years of unfulfilled promises, growing insecurity, weak economy (check full details)

Emmanuel Ogodo, EMERALD NEWS Special Reporter analyses the eight years of President Muhammadu Buhari. He examined the economy, security and his battle against corruption. President Buhari promised to handle these issues squarely when he ran for the office in 2015. But available facts reveal otherwise.

With two days in office, and as part of preparations for handover to the next administration, after 8 years in office, President Muhammadu Buhari on May 25, conferred national honours of the Grand Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (GCFR) and the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) on the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, and the Vice President-elect, Kashim Shettima, respectively.

During the occasion, the President said, “I have run a good race. I have finished my course. It is now time for another to take up the baton.” In December 2022, Buhari was also quoted as chest-thumbing himself in Washington, to have done his best for Nigeria.

Ideally, one would not have expected anything to the contrary because those were self-assessments, and no one ever examined him or herself and still failed. An objective assessment of his performance as Nigeria’s leader in the past 8 years will give us better insight, either to validate his claims or otherwise.

Now, Buhari won 2015 presidential election making three cardinal promises to Nigerians: economic emancipation, improving security and fighting corruption. These, he enscapulated into his mantra ‘change’. He also promised, among many other things, to champion restructuring and true federalism. Based on these promises, we shall examine what the situations were when Buhari took over from former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, and what they are today, according to facts.

First, in economy, Buhari inherited an inflation rate of 9.01% in 2015; today, it is 22.04%. As at the second quarter of 2015, unemployment rate at 8.19%; today, it is 40.6%. A dollar was ₦190 in 2015; today it is ₦461. A litre of fuel sold for ₦87 then; today it goes for ₦195. Cooking gas was ₦180 per kg, as against today’s ₦850. Kerosene which was ₦150 per litre in 2015 is now about ₦1143.

Again, as at May 2015, Nigeria owed $63.7 billion in debt; today, it has hit about $167.1 billion. It is also on record that Nigeria has witnessed eight economic recessions since independence, and two happened under Buhari’s watch: in 2016 and in 2020. As if those were not enough, every Nigerian witnessed the hardship and economic quagmire that the Naira redesign policy and cash crunch caused this 2023. So, economically speaking, Buhari failed Nigerians largely.

In security, Nigerians expected that Buhari, who is a retired Major-General, and having served as a Military Head of State, would deal decisively with insecurity in the country. In 2015 when Buhari took over, save for isolated cases of mild security challenges in some areas, Boko Haram insurgency was the only major security threat, which was ravaging the Northeastern part of the country. Obviously, he did fight Boko Haram as promised, taming their terrorist activities significantly. As a matter of fact, over 100 of the 276 abducted Chibok girls, abducted since 2014, were released by their Boko Haram abductors under Buhari’s watch. Kudos to the Major-General.

However, Nigeria has witnessed an exacerbation of different terrorist activities in the last eight years under General Buhari. Activities of bandits and kidnappers, separatist agitators, unknown gunmen, killer herdsmen, etc across different parts of Nigeria, have plunged the nation into a largely insecure state. As a result of the activities of these groups, many lives have been lost, many have been dehumanised and or maimed, others have been kidnapped, with government authorities allegedly paying ransom to rescue some. Succinctly put, the security situation in Nigeria did not improve, instead, it worsened under Buhari.

Buhari’s fight against corruption was somewhat a camouflage. There were a few cases of government functionaries convicted for engaging in graft (some pardoned afterwards though). However, many of such cases have been swept under the carpet. Take for instance, ministries, departments and agencies padding the 2021 budget to the tune of ₦300 billion, as reported by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), nothing serious was done about it. What about the ₦70 million that monkeys allegedly made away with somewhere in Northern Nigeria, sometime in 2018?

Many of such cases abound. Little wonder, out of 180 countries ranked by Transperancy International (TI), Nigeria was 136th in 2015, but slid to become 150th least corrupt nation in 2022. Buhari said, after taking over in 2015, that he wanted to be remembered for fighting corruption to a standstill. But he is leaving now, and facts attest to the opposite.

One other key manifesto that Buhari hinged his campaign on in 2015 was restructuring. However, after winning for a second term, in 2021, Buhari turned around to jettison the call for restructuring, saying: “…Those agitating for restructuring are ignorant of war and its consequences. Because Nigeria is a dominant force in West Africa”. What about the inclusive government and true federalism, he promised? Buhari largely neglected and excluded Southeastern Nigerians (whom he referred to as 5% voters) in his government. This was what fueled secessionist agitations in the area.

Talk about education; it was under Buhari that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) embarked on the longest strike since 1999, between March 23, 2020 and December 23, 2020 (i.e 9 solid months). It is even on record that academic activities were grounded across Nigerian public universities for 19 cumulative months (i.e 2 academic sessions), under Buhari’s administration. What can be more devastating to a nation’s critical sector such as education!

The last-minute promise that Buhari made to Nigerians was that he would ensure that free, fair and credible elections hold in 2023. Everybody thought he was going to deliver, that he was going to regain the long-lost confidence Nigerians once reposed in him. Unfortunately, again, he failed. Perhaps, that was the last straw that broke the camel’s back.

Award winning and renowned novelist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, captured the general feelings of Nigerians, when she said in an interview, after the election, “…I also think that the President, Buhari missed an opportunity for heroism, maybe his last chance at heroism, because Nigerians felt before the elections that he meant well and meant to support credible elections. I don’t think many Nigerians think that now.”

By and large, Buhari did not meet the general yearnings of Nigerians and so he failed and disappointed them largely. No matter what anybody thinks or says, facts they say are sacred; opinion is free.