For six years, and certainly for the remainder of the presidency of Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, we will continue to bear the brunt of our collective idiocy. Buhari had 30 odd years between 1985, when he was ousted as military head of state, and 2015, when he was declared the winner of the presidential election, to prepare himself for governance. Let’s assume that he failed or neglected to do so because he never thought he would seek the office of the President of Nigeria in a civilian dispensation. But the same man had 12 long years between 2003 when he first ran for the presidency under a democratic dispensation and 2015 when he finally was declared the winner to design his blueprint for the governance of a country many regard as complex. He did not. The sad and shocking summary of the situation is that Buhari had no plan of how he intended to govern Nigeria when he contested for the presidency in 2003. He had neither a plan nor a blueprint nor vision when he ran for the same office in 2007. He also had no idea that could be beneficial to Nigerians when he again threw his hat into the ring in 2011. In other words, Major-General Buhari sought the office of the President of Nigeria for the sake of it.
No wonder that when, in 2015, Buhari eventually attained his lifelong ambition, he did not know what to do. Even when the now late cerebral super-permanent secretary, Ahmed Joda, and his transition team cobbled together a road map for the emergent regime, Buhari did not know how to interpret the document, what to do with it and how to turn the words therein into actions. For six months, Nigeria stood still while Buhari stumbled from one irrelevant meeting to another unproductive consultation. Nigerians were bewildered and the international community aghast. Some Buharideens, diehard supporters of the then new President, choked while holding their breath. Frustrated, and with virtually nobody to engage with given Buhari’s failure to appoint ministers and to fill key positions in the new administration, international agencies and trading partners started downgrading Nigeria’s ratings. Reality set in. Nigerians began to feel that we had ‘entered one-chance bus’, to use local lingo. Notorious in Lagos, one-chance bus is a trap used by criminal commercial bus operators who lure unwary passengers by claiming that there was only one passenger needed to fill their buses and for them to speed off to their destinations. A typical Lagos commuter who is always in a hurry would hop into the bus only to realize too late that all other ‘passengers’ are members of the criminal gang. They would strip you of all valuables and push you down from the moving bus. In like manner, this regime has stripped Nigerians of their dignity. And thrown us under the bus.
After six months and sustained criticisms, Buhari finally appointed ministers. It turned out that the wait was worthless. The President had only recycled old faces, old names and old characters. Nigerians wondered why it took all of six months to recycle names. Angry, frustrated and disappointed, many Nigerians branded Buhari as Baba Go Slow. But that was a compliment because Nigeria was not in a go-slow mode, it was on a standstill. Intuitively, many discerning Nigerians knew that we are in for a very difficult and pain-filled season. The expectation was that a man who had been a military governor, a minister, chairman of Petroleum Trust Fund and a military head of state, and who had contested for the presidency and failed in three previous election cycles would hit the ground running. No. He hit the ground and appeared crippled. And we are reaping the consequences almost seven years after.
The only person who has benefitted from Buhari becoming President of Nigeria is Buhari. You can argue that his presidency has afforded a few people access to privilege, power and wealth. But I still insist that Buhari remains the prime beneficiary of his presidency. His nepotism and ‘ungovernance’ have done his Fulani kinsmen no good. And this is for those who are minded to count the Fulani as beneficiaries of the extant regime. If you think so, then you have not been paying attention or listening to the critical segments of the minority Fulani population in Nigeria.
While stomping for office in 2014 and 2015, Buhari made three key promises to Nigerians. They were that he would fight insurgency, especially the menace of the Islamist Boko Haram; tackle corruption head-on; and, grow the national economy to expand employment opportunities. On each score Buhari failed. And his failure is spectacular. I will try to minimize my personal opinion and bias in expounding on why I award Buhari a fail mark on his own promises. His failure would have been worse than spectacular if we were to include the promises the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) made in its manifesto in the marking scheme. The fact that Buhari dishonorably repudiated the APC manifesto, which was the party’s platform going into the elections, soon after he became President was shameful. Do not mind that the ignoble scheme continued ahead of the 2019 election when the APC, at the prompting of the Presidency, resurrected the issue of restructuring and set up a panel to study it and make recommendations. After the election was won, the panel and its recommendations were dumped. And we say that Buhari is a man of integrity.
SECURITY: Recently the governor of Katsina State, Hon. Aminu Bello Masari, said his government would encourage citizens to acquire lethal weapons to defend themselves against bandits and terrorists. Kidnapping for ransom and bloodletting are daily fares in the state. And the government is at its wits end. Katsina is the home state of President Buhari. What is happening in Katsina is common in the other states in the North West region of Nigeria. In Niger and Sokoto states in the North Central and North West regions, bandits and terrorists are imposing and collecting levies and taxes at will. Emmanuel Umar is Niger State commissioner for chieftaincy affairs, local government and internal security. In December, he said “Bandits are collecting taxes from farmers to allow them access to harvest their crops.”
Earlier, the governor of the state had said jihadist terrorists had occupied some communities and hoisted their Islamist flags. This is Buhari’s scorecard on security. Reports have it that about 3,000 kidnappings were recorded in Nigeria in 2020.
ANTI-CORRUPTION: In 2020, Nigeria was ranked 149th of the 183 countries that were surveyed by Transparency International. Under Buhari and his war on corruption, Nigeria has consistently been on the downward slide. In the same report, Nigeria was said to be the second most corrupt country in West Africa, conceding the dubious first position to Equatorial Guinea. This summarizes Buhari’s war on corruption.
ECONOMY: In its Global Economic Prospect for 2022, the World Bank projected that Nigeria’s economy would be in a worse place than it was 10 years ago in spite of it growing by 2.5 per cent. And in August last year, former governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank said the gains made in the past 35 years were wiped out between 2014 and 2019, years that were essentially under Buhari’s charge. Sanusi projected that, by the end of that year, Nigeria’s gross domestic product would be worse than it was in 1980. Recessions, contracting economy and job losses bear Buhari’s signature on economic management.