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President Buhari’s 1 year tenure: mixed bag of unrequited promises

May 28, 2016

By Bunmi Olaniyan*

 Bunmi Olaniyan

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

specializations.

 

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.

 

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (left), and APC main opposition party’s presidential candidate Mohammadu Buhari shake hands on March 26, 2015 in Abuja, ahead of the election. (Philip Ojisua/AFP/Getty Images)

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (left), and APC main opposition party’s presidential candidate Mohammadu Buhari shake hands on March 26, 2015 in Abuja, ahead of the election. (Philip Ojisua/AFP/Getty Images)

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

homes.

 

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

promises given.

 

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

correcting.

 

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

light.

 

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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