It’s half way through the Buhari Presidency and its performance can best be captured in these words of Prof. Charles Soludo: “They inherited a bad situation but they have made it several times worse”.
At the start of President Buhari’s reign in office, he made diversification of the economy a priority and agriculture seemed destined for a major boost.But the thing is,every government from 1999 had promised us that and where it was impossible to defend their failure with fictitious figures , they have resorted to taking the only out – “diversification won’t happen overnight, its a gradual process”. While other administrations may have had the luxury of not being under any pressure due to the steady influx of petro-dollars, Buhari’s was a peculiar case as he was not only coming in at a time when oil prices had taken a massive hit,he was doing so at a time majority of Nigerians felt they had voted out the PDP for a man of integrity and honour who would restore back lost glory.
So far, we have not seen a ‘911’ approach to agriculture. A lot of people expected the government to identify key produce and work assiduously towards upheaving their production. Sadly, the government seems to have identified just one and that is rice. While agreeing local rice will reduce our dependence on foreign rice and consequently boost the economy,emphasis must be placed on more exportable produce as well if indeed agriculture is to become an alternate means of income. A critical look at the international players in the rice market will reveal we aren’t going to be close any time soon even at thrice the rate we are moving and it would be better if we focus on a lot more. Even with a tiny scope of focus,it amazes at how the government has still managed to underwhelm as far as ‘rice’ is concerned.It has failed to keep its promise of making the country fully rice sufficient by 2016 and its promise of food sufficiency by 2019 appears unrealistic as well.Its decision to ban rice importation through the land borders was greeted by heavy criticisms that have proved justified. It was too early in the rice ‘project’ as was proven by the recent decision to lift the ban and it sickens to know that many suffering Nigerians didn’t have to have their problems compounded by that ban.
The transport minister, Rotimi Amaechi commended the previous administration for embarking on a number of meaningful projects and I wonder if at this rate, anyone in the next administration would do same to Buhari’s. On paper it has sang its praises for devoting record funds to capital expenditure but that is where it has stayed; On paper. Nigerians are yet to see an effective utilization of those funds as this government can hardly point to any tangible achievement befitting its allocation for capital expenditure.
A lot of people scored Buhari high on security this time last but I didn’t think he deserved it. The herdsmen killings and pipeline bombings wiped away whatever points he had accrued from seriously depleting the capabilities of Boko Haram to wreck havoc. Quite interestingly, he has truly excelled in this regard over the past year but with only a lot fewer people to sing his praises. A lot more nigerians are starting to become too frustrated by other aspects to notice the very few positives. One of the biggest accomplishments of the Buhari administration so far is being able to get the Niger-Delta militants, particularly the Niger Delta Avengers to cease attacking oil installations. The question wasn’t whether the government would win the war,it was whether we would have any installation left by the time it eventually did. Having to worry about a virtual half production level at a time when oil isn’t too lucrative is the worst problem we could possibly have.
Nonetheless it is worthy of note that Nigerians have had to hear many excuses on why power supply has not improved, chief among them, the vandalization of oil installations.Our installations have been safe for about five months now and that is ample time for any serious-minded government to fix whatever may have been affected and improve the deplorable state of power supply.Sadly,that has not been the case.
The Fulani herdsmen have been contained to a large extent by our security agencies as there have been a lesser rate of attacks compared to last year. The President’s proclamation of a Boko Haram defeat is erroneous and misleading as a lot more needs to be done in checking the insurgents.The University of Maiduguri has been attacked thrice in this year alone and it speaks ill of our security agencies. Three hits on the same location obviously means something isn’t done right.
Contrary to what many may think,the Buhari administration hasn’t waged a particularly decent war on corruption.There have been glaring loopholes.It still baffles me to no end that the EFCC would go about seizing Patience Jonathan’s properties without prosecuting her for any of the offences they feel she may have committed. She has not as much as even been invited for a chat.About 9 months ago, the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau acknowledged receipt of a list of Nigerians named in the #PanamaPapers scandal where shell companies were incorporated for the purpose of evading tax. While a number of nations have secured high profile convictions, nothing has been done here.Not a few think the probe into the Paris Club Funds will tow that path as well as our authorities seem unenthusiastic in their approach.The Senate President is reported to have been implicated alongside his deputy chief of staff in a letter the EFCC wrote the Presidency but mum has been the word.
In a very ridiculous move, the Presidency asked the Attorney-General of the Federation to probe the now suspended Secretary of the Government of the Federation, David Babachir Lawal and embattled EFCC boss,Ibrahim Magu over allegations of corruption.The AGF is a trained prosecutor and not an investigator.The evidence against both was very compelling and it appeared more a bid to sweep the cases under the carpet than anything else.Though the Presidency later did the right thing as far as the SGF was concerned by setting up a committee including the National Security Adviser, the sincerity of the anti-corruption war was compromised.
The Presidency as of today, is still insisting on having Magu as EFCC Chairman despite a damaging report by the DSS indicting him.
It must also be said that over the past year, a part of President Buhari many people never knew existed came to the fore. The man’s utter disregard for the exploits of our sportsmen has been shocking. After the embarrassment our Olympic athletes were put through by having to appear in their tracksuits at the opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympics because the sports ministry had not made their costumes available and the record breaking outing of their paralympic counterparts, President Buhari didn’t as much as host them upon return,talk more reward them.
More heart breaking was the plight of the national female football team,the Super Falcons. They had to beg and ultimately protest before they were paid their entitlements after winning the 2016 African Women Nations cup. When the Sports Minister,Solomon Dalung said no money was kept for the falcons because they weren’t expected to win,you had an idea just how lost and overwhelmed the Buhari administration was.The President didn’t attempt to mitigate the damage by having the Sports minister sacked, he just went about things like it didn’t matter.At the very least,each of these heroes deserved national merit awards and a dinner with the President for what they were able to achieve.
Two years is enough to know what course a government has charted and the Buhari administration has so far appeared to be on a journey to nowhere.
Hassan is a lawyer based in Kano.