President Buhari’s 1 year tenure: mixed bag of unrequited promises
May 28, 2016
By Bunmi Olaniyan*
President Buhari’s emergence as winner of the March 2015 elections was unexpected to say
the least, nevertheless , it came with its own set of inherent surprises, considering he had
contested the same elections 3 different times and lost before a turn in his fortunes this time. Besides, it was quite unheard of (at least in Nigeria anyway) for an incumbent President
to be so defeated and then more surprisingly to freely concede without any form of state
sanctioned machinations or subsequent fireworks and violence.
The areas of socio political unrest bedeviling the country were quite obvious, hence his
priorities were clearly defined, right from the campaign period. Amongst several issues which bedeviled Nigerians, there were a few which stood out and called for his urgent Intervention.
The Economy was a major priority for the New President to deal with. The global
collapse in the price of crude oil, coupled with a glut in production which brought about an
over supply from OPEC and non OPEC members ,the excess oil from countries like the United
States all conspired to set off a convoluted but interconnected ripple effect which adversely
affected every oil producing country, but especially telling on Nigeria. This is hardly surprising considering a reported 70% of its total revenue is directly sourced from Crude oil sales.
The amount of foreign exchange coming into the country suffered a marked decline, which in
turn severely impacted the domestic economy.
A palpable cloud of uncertainty floated above crucial sectors of the economy, the Capital
market lost hundreds of billions of Naira in a matter of weeks, while multinationals and indigenous businesses took a serious hit culminating in the mass retrenchment of staffs due to an inability to sustain their overheads.
The second on his list of priorities was the vexatious issue of Insecurity. Even though the
deadly terrorist group Boko Haram had been pushed to the sidelines,they were still a potent
threat that needed to be decisively dealt with.
Along with this, came the conundrum posed by internally displaced Nigerians, no accurate
statistics of their numbers exist as yet but According to the Internal Displaced Monitoring
Centre(IDMC) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) Nigeria IDPs is the largest in Africa
with figures exceeding Approx 1.9 million even as far back as 2015,it is considerably higher presently.
The Government, ill prepared to adequately take care of these IDPs, has left them largely to
their own devices, hence large swathes of the internal refugees live from hand to mouth in makeshift camps anywhere they find succour in truly appalling circumstances.
The persistent issue of inadequate electricity generation has held Nigeria back over the
years from truly launching into a developmental phase of self reliance,in the South East area
of Nigeria where several cottage factories had existed lack of power had forced many to
close up their factories with it an attendant loss of jobs including key skills in a number of
Corruption which had wreaked the most Socio Economic devastation on the country had
succeeded in morphing into a Social Phenomenon in the last 50 years plus.It was also a
major factor the new President campaigned on, and he made a fervent promise not only to
seal all the avenues of corrupt practices, but to legally indict an overwhelming number of the
corrupt Political establishment who had been largely responsible. Nigerians were hopeful
even if a certain level of trepidation was displayed.
It will be a year Into the President’s 4 yr tenure in May and thus far, even his
most ardent admirers have looked on in dismay at his Government’s lack of commitment
and drive in robustly engaging the core issues which he had promised Nigerians he was
going to solve during his campaigns and subsequent inaugural speech continue to plague all
aspects of Socio Economic life.
The Small and Medium Enterprise serving an overwhelming majority of average Nigerians
constitute the backbone of the country’s economic survival.
They are key to any revival due to the value chain locked in this sector of the Nigerian
economy, never mind potentials to absorb an overwhelming number of the unemployed
presently standing at tens of millions, many would declare that SMEs hold the key to
stimulating the dormant economy. However failure of Government to introduce clear and
proactive policies, an enabling environment for entrepreneurs to thrive coupled with the
lack of capital for them to run their businesses has rendered many comatose. Logistics
nightmares like the lack of fuel which has persisted for over 3 months now, increase in tax
and electricity tariffs and a budget which is yet to be passed 4 months into the economic
year has not helped them in any way either.
The big multinationals operating in Nigeria who also require forex to procure essential
materials which are not produced in Nigeria are also affected as their operational capacity
to produce at the optimum level has been impeded forcing them to source forex in the
black market, this is in addition to generating their own electricity at huge cost which should
be the preserve of Government
A number of the SMEs who are unable to run at huge costs presently demanded have
ceased operations, while the big indigenous companies and multinationals including the
corporate sector have induced downsizing measures which include mass sacks and
redundancy, with predictable higher costs of production.
The Lack of forex which seems to be the main catalyst has also affected external trade
balance, which in itself has cast an ominous cloud on the economic sphere generally.
In response to this economic challenges the Government has failed to demonstrate robust
and responsive measures to stem the tide. Many economist claim the refusal of the
President to devalue the currency citing a high risk of economic collapse due to Nigeria’s
overwhelming reliance on Oil revenue,has ramped up additional pressure as foreign
investors have expressed reluctance to invest in the country until the currency is allowed a
free flow to find its level in the market.
An obscure and amorphous fiscal and monetary policy direction, coupled with the
contradictory messages being given by different Government sources has added another
layer of complexity to an already bad situation.
A few weeks ago on the return of the President from China where he had a lot of mutually
beneficial bilateral agreement with the Chinese Government,a raft of rumours ensued that
the Official Chinese Currency the Remimbi has been adopted in a bid to release pressure on
the U.S. dollar especially as a substantial volume of Nigeria’s trade is done with
China,however the Presidency has come out to deny these insinuations, reiterating that no
such agreements have been signed with China. Rather than give clarity to extant
situation, this has further raised a cloud of confusion and uncertainty amongst practitioners
in the business sector leaving them in limbo.
The Government has demonstrated an understanding and proactive response towards the
issue of Boko Haram in the North which has devastated the region and reduced life
expectancy,amongst other debilitating effects.
The newly appointed service chiefs breathing new life into the campaign have co ordinated
a more determined and daring offensive against Boko Haram insurgents which has been
yielding fruits. Large swathes of villages and towns have been liberated while a number of
the terrorists have been arrested.
In response the insurgents have begun a deadly campaign of Guerrilla warfare, suicide
bombing incidents have been on the increase especial in the last couple of months. Many
pre teenage girls have been used as unwilling accomplice to detonate bombs ,prompting
many to suggest a number of the missing Chibok girls might have been amongst the suicide
bombers,although there has been no definite evidence to back these assertions.
The Nigerian Armed forces have however failed to be proactively engaged in intelligence
gathering with the same enthusiasm they have shown for Ground warfare.
The insurgents still routinely double back across neighbouring country’s borders to
perpetuate mayhem,they still manage to sustain a free flow of crucial supply and logistics
which the armed forces have not been able to block, this is quite worrying considering
unsubstantiated rumours of ISIS supplying sophisticated weapons and explosives which has
the potentials to strengthen their capabilities.
The appalling treatment in terms of logistics and essentials of the various IDP camps have
been a constant source of concerns for NGOs,charity initiatives who have decried
Governmental non responsiveness. The President in response has recently ordered a
comprehensive statistics of exact numbers of the IDP population,so many are optimistic that
some succour will come their way in form of logistics and a more permanent resettlement.In
addition to restate their commitment and support the United Kingdom and United States
Government have also pledged a substantial amount of grants which is being released in
instalment to rebuild liberated towns and villages for the IDPs to return back to their
The unprovoked attacks and pillaging by suspected Fulani cattle herders on unarmed
farmers from the middle belt all the way down to the South Western region of the country
has also been a sore point for Nigerians.In spite of the telling casualties which has run into
thousands and still growing,including destruction of properties and livelihood Nigerians are
yet to see a robust response from the Government in tackling this issue in spite of the
The abuse of Human Rights is also an emerging worry with a number of people who have
been denied their rights,a throwback to the military era Nigeria had left behind.
Notable instances are the Massacre of Shia sectional Islamic adherents which has caused a
tense diplomatic face off between Iran and Nigeria.To highlight how worrying this issue is
the leader of the Shia religious sect ,who has been in detention for some months now has
reportedly been denied access to his medical and legal team according to some of his
representatives who complained to the local press.
The killing of unarmed protesters for actualisation of a Biafra Republic is also another
worrying development which the Government is yet to address properly.
The issue of Electricity in Nigeria is almost as old as the Country’s Post Independence
history.Many have adduced several conspiracy theories to illustrate the inability of
successive Government to comprehensively tackle this conundrum once and for all.The lack
of consistent power which came to a head few weeks ago with the embarrassment of
Government failing to generate a single Mega Watt of power in the whole country has
defied all conventional solutions thrown at it including a ton of money,good portion of
which had been appropriated into private hands in every single Government since 1999.
The President reiterating his resolve to deal with this issue last year,promised to achieve
10,000 Mega Watts within his first 1yr in Government,this is clearly unachievable.
Although he still has 3yrs more to redeem this pledge,the sorely inadequate level of power
generation presently standing at a reported 1,500 MegaWatts for a country of over 180m
negates the trust many Nigerians had reposed in the President’s capacity to change things.
Businesses and society as a whole already floundering in the throes of economic
maelstroms,have almost ground to a halt due to the lack of power,if the situation was bad
during the previous Government then it has grown increasingly worse in the last one year.A
number of abstract promises and pledges have been made by the President but so far
nothing definite has been done or achieved towards this end.
Corruption had been the main ledge and appeal on which President Buhari had been sold to
voters.Nigerians having lived with the debilitating impact of corrupt practices by successive
leaders and Government officials were desirous of a morally upright and Spartan President
that would enact laws to totally reform and strengthen institutional frameworks of anti
corruption agencies and the Judiciary,which has been a willing accomplice,with Pliant judges
granting dodgy injunctions to continue shielding perpetrators unfortunately the lacklustre
response to the issue of corruption as a biased prosecution of opponents has served to
dampen the average Nigerian’s initial enthusiasm.
While politicians who have been morally and even legally indicted shouldering weighty
allegations have nevertheless been tolerated in the Government,with a number of them
occupying sensitive cabinet positions of enacting Govt Policy,the Anti Corruption agencies
have only concentrated on Politicians and Public figures who belong to Opposition Political
Parties prompting a number of Journalists in the United Kingdom to write a scathing article
highlighting this implied moral duplicity.The President has however expressed a desire to deal with the issue of corruption and especially the judiciary hence the jury is still out if he will make good on his promises in this regard.
On the positive side the President has demonstrated his overriding priority to position the
country into an enviable diplomatic niche amongst the comity of Nation by travelling
extensively and engaging with world leaders,seeking ways and opportunities for symbiotic
relationship between several countries in the last one year.
The drive and determination of anti corruption agencies to prosecute a number of politically
exposed individuals,albeit replete with weighty accusations of being biased and partisan will
seem to suggest the President is desirous of delivering on his promise to rid Nigeria of the
debilitating virus of corruption.He has demonstrated a willingness to tackle
corruption,however within his actions are several worrying inconsistencies which bear
On the whole, 1 year is quite limited period for a President to adequately deal with the
complexities and challenges of the socio economic factors which have been accumulated
over decades of successive Governments especially in the last 16 yearrs.
The incidents of wholesale profligacy and deliberate corruption in virtually all facets of
Government have been illustrated by the mind boggling incidents some of which have come to
However the President no matter his altruistic motives is only one individual amongst many
associates and appointees.Even with the enormous powers vested in his office as a President and C in C,pitted against an entrenched and Machiavellian political establishment he will have a very challenging task in his quest to dislodge the amoral architecture they have erected and sustained for several decades in which to aide their actions.
This is where Nigerians who overwhelmingly voted for him expect his Spartan and
uncompromising moral uprightness to come to bear by uprooting any entrenched vestiges
of Corruption and crony practices in government. The President is expected to match on
powerful toes in his quest to rid the country of corrupt practices while he initiates
programmes and reforms to reposition institutional frameworks.
There is also an urgent need for the President to reorder his priorities and focus more on
domestic issues which has not gotten enough attention from him thus far.
In the last 1 year his performance has been less than average,hence served to dampen
collective enthusiasm which was at an all time high at this point last year.
There is an urgent need for a resurgence in citizens engagement regarding permanent and
obvious solutions to the issues illustrated above,when their overriding priority and
importance to the average Nigerians are considered
*Bunmi Olaniyan is a Nigerian Socio Political analyst who works and lives in Leicester in the UK and works in the IT Software sector.He is also a columnist for few other publications which include Ynaija,Hibe-Online,TheScoop while working on his debut fiction Novel coming out soon.He tends to espouse his views on current affairs and topical issues via his Facebook account on same name and Twitter account @Bunmola2010
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