President Muhammadu Buhari recently reviewed his achievements while declaring open the last Ministerial Performance Review Retreat of his administration in Abuja. He scored himself high, saying he had met the yearnings and expectations of Nigerians with high impact projects. According to him, the projects include construction of over 3,800 kilometers of roads across the country, rail lines, such as the 326km Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri and 156.5km Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge railway modernisation project and others.
Buhari added: “Key among these projects are the construction of 1.9km 2nd Niger Bridge linking Anambra and Delta states with 10.30km approach road; rehabilitation, construction and expansion of Lagos-Shagamu-Ibadan dual carriageway; the ongoing rehabilitation of Abuja-Kaduna – Zaria –Kano Road, among others.” Apart from infrastructure, the President also listed his achievements in other sectors such as agriculture, aviation, health, oil and gas, power, security and anti-corruption. On health, he said 38.7 million Nigerians had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, which amounted to 34.7 per cent of the eligible population. He also noted that 988,652 poor and indigent Nigerians had been enrolled in the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) and that a total of 7,373 primary health facilities had been accredited under the National Health Insurance Scheme pathway.
On security, the President said the Nigerian Air Force had acquired 38 brand new aircraft and was expecting another batch of 36 new ones. The Nigerian Navy, he added, had been equipped with new platforms, sophisticated riverine, Rigid-Hull Inflatable, Seaward Defence, Whaler and Fast Attack Boats as well as Helicopters and Capital Ships. His administration, he said, also recruited 20,000 policemen who were trained, fully integrated and deployed in 2020 and 2021.
Inasmuch as what President Buhari listed may be true, the fact remains that it has not translated into a better Nigeria. Today in Nigeria, kidnapping has become a lucrative business. No one and nowhere are safe. Not even schoolchildren are spared as thousands of them have been abducted in the recent past. When this administration took over power in 2015, the nation recorded about 111 kidnap incidents. Nigeria Security Tracker estimates that this figure increased to about 590 in 2021. In the first nine months of this year, over 400 cases were said to have been recorded. Over 57,000 Nigerians also died due to insecurity between 2015 and 2022.
In health sector, it is not uhuru. If the facilities Buhari listed were working, many Nigerians will not be leaving the country for medical tourism, and thousands of medical doctors will not be leaving the country in search of greener pastures abroad. Education sector is also not doing well. Under Buhari, public universities were closed for eight months this year as a result of the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). In 2020, it was closed for nine months. There were other interruptions which helped to lower the standards of education in Nigeria. The President and his administration did not do well in the area of the economy. To him, ironically, “many sectors of the economy recorded positive growth which reflects the effective implementation of the economic sustainability measures introduced by this administration.” But this goes against the grain of the economic reality in Nigeria today. For instance, the country experienced two economic recessions in 2016 and 2020. It belongs to the leading hunger hot spots in the world. And it is the poverty capital of the world as well. The country’s debt burden climbed from N21.725 trillion in 2017 to N42.85 trillion as of September 2022. It has been projected to rise further by 2023. The rate of unemployment is over 33 per cent.
However, the current administration has recorded some achievements in the area of agriculture. Sufficiency in rice production is a typical example. But, as the President observed, the rising cost of food which is related to inflation has almost made a mess of this achievement. Although he said his administration was exerting a lot of effort to solve the problem, inflation has continued to worsen. When Buhari assumed office in 2015, the rate of inflation was about 9.01 per cent. Today, it is over 20 per cent, the highest in 17 years.
On the anti-corruption war, he did his best as well. But his best is not good enough. The war is yet to be won. This is why for many years, Nigeria has progressively scored low marks on corruption perception index by Transparency International. President Buhari may have done his best for Nigeria. But his chest thumbing shouldn’t have come at this time when many Nigerians are undergoing excruciating pains and deprivations arising from the poor policies of his administration.
In his remaining days in office, he should try as much as possible to bequeath a secure and peaceful Nigeria before he leaves office in 2023. He should also ensure that university education is not disrupted again. While we agree that he is at liberty to give his administration high marks, we also feel he should have allowed ordinary Nigerians to provide a better assessment of his administration.