By Omoniyi Salaudeen
How time flies! The Mid-term Ministerial Performance Review Retreat organised by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Monday marked the beginning of countdown to the end of the second tenure of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
With barely 14 months to the next presidential election, one cannot but expect a total flight of governance in line with traditional power politics and the associated distractions. And it is for no other reason that the president tasked members of his cabinet and permanent secretaries to “step-up and double” their efforts towards the total delivery of his regime’s targets. To underscore the seriousness of his directive, he also instructed the SGF to convene quarterly coordination meetings on nine priority areas.’
All this is to ensure the administration’s commitment to the realization of his agenda namely security, economy and anti-corruption. And time is of essence.
For most Nigerians, the mid-term assessment has been a mixed bag of blessings, disappointments and unfulfilled expectations. While the administration has given itself a pat on the back for infrastructural development projects, resilience of the economy and successful exit out of two successive recessions amidst COVID-19 pandemic, some eminent leaders of thought dismissed its performance so far as an abysmal failure.
Senator Rufai Hanga put his assessment thus: “I will not want to score them (the administration) zero. One will be unfair to say that they have done nothing on infrastructure. So, I wouldn’t say they haven’t done anything because I can see what they are doing on the Second Niger Bridge. I have seen Lagos- Ibadan road being constructed. I have seen 25 per cent performance on the railway project former President Goodluck Jonathan left behind. They have done the remaining five per cent on Kaduna-Abuja rail project Jonathan left and Lagos-Ibadan rail. The only thing they have done is infrastructure.
“But on the overall, the performance is abysmal. Their performance on security is zero; their performance on the economy is terrible. It is nothing to write home about. As far as security is concerned, the performance of the administration is zero. In fact, they have taken us more than 100 years backward. They have taken us back to primitive ages because it is only in the primitive ages that you can find some of the things happening now in Nigeria.
“On the economy, they are running a solo economy because they don’t listen to experts’ advice. And that is why we are suffering. Our naira has been terribly devalued. We are the least in the whole of West Africa in terms of the value of our currency. This is my own assessment.”
He argued that some of the ministers who had performed below expectation needed to be shown the way out to underscore the seriousness of the administration. “Some of the ministers have not really done well. If nobody goes after their mid-term retreat, then insincerity of this government is exposed. If the retreat they held was to show some none performing ministers out, then we will see some sincerity in them; otherwise, it is a sham,” he added.
General Ishola Williams (rtd), in his own submission, singled out the recent policy announcement on government incentives to teachers as well as students of education in the universities and colleges of education as a right step in the right direction.
His words: “Based on what we as citizens consider as the standard criteria for measuring the performance of the government, one hasn’t seen much of what this government is doing. Most of the newspapers have been awash with conflicts and violence contrary to what the government is claiming to be doing. They have been talking about building roads, railway, and so many other infrastructural projects. But funny enough, the NUPENG nearly went on strike the other day due to the bad state of the road networks in the country. So, how come they are praising themselves that they are doing well?
“I believe that what should be of greater concern to all of us is health and education. To some extent, this year, they have put some money in the education sector with a plan to give some stipends as bursary allowance to students studying education in the universities and colleges of education. If they can continue to do that it will be great. That will mean that we are now taking education as a matter of priority.
“Secondly, they should find a way of stopping doctors from going on strike. With right investment in education and health sectors, other things will fall in place. But it appears to me that those who are doing the planning are not even sure of where their priorities lie. Apart from teachers, learning infrastructure in secondary and primary schools need to be improved to be able to produce good students for university education. Teachers are now in a very good position to deliver. So, they have no excuse not to do well.”
Assessment tone of a former aide to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, Dr Gbenga Osinowo, was much more damning, dismissing the administration as a colossal failure.
He said: “The performance of this administration is abysmally poor. This government has taken Nigerians to the bottom of the ladder. Nigeria is now the poverty capital of the world, graduates are unemployed, the universities are closed down for a long time, the National Association of Resident Doctors have just called off their strike after many months at home, inflation is rampant, the prices of food stuff have gone up, the prices of petroleum products have gone beyond the reach of the ordinary people, security is a big problem in every part of the country, separatist movements are all over the place. So, how can they tell us that they have done well? They have not done well at all. The ordinary Nigerians know where the shoe pinches and they are cursing the advent of this government as the worst government we have ever had.
“If you go on our road, you will know that the infrastructure they are talking about is nothing to write home about. All the roads are death traps. The most important infrastructure is power. But the power situation in the country is still very bad, which is a disincentive to investment in industries. There is no part of the country where we have uninterrupted power supply. They are just incurring debt for our children and unfortunately, there is nothing much to show for it.”
Alhaji Shuaib Oyedokun didn’t mince words either in decrying the failure of the administration to meet the expectations of ordinary Nigerians, adding that “its best is not good enough for the people.
“It will not be all encompassing if we limit the performance of the Buhari administration to the executive alone. One would be inclined to extent it to the legislative, judiciary as well as the platform that brought that government into being. And the simple assessment factor will be the general opinion of the public about the situation in the country, particularly as it affects their welfare. Based on these parametres, I will say that people are complaining about this administration. If people are complaining of insecurity, inflation, lack of enough food on their table, the dwindling value of the naira, and somebody scores the administration 90 per cent performance that will be a subjective assessment. I believe you cannot perform more than your elastic limit.
“Every administration in this country had come to do one thing or the other and left a legacy. Some left a legacy of good roads, some left a legacy of qualitative education and so on. I will not say that this government has not tried its best. But the question is whether its best is good enough for the people. For whatever they have been able to do, I congratulate them. But this country expected more from them than what we have now.”
Naira devaluation, rising debt profile, food scarcity, separatist agitations and general insecurity are some of the issues giving most Nigerians a serious concern.
This is particularly more so with debt serving gulping a large chunk of the national budget. In one of his recent public statements, President Buhari had told the Security Chiefs that he would not want to leave office as a failure.
But as Boko Haram insurgents and bandits continue to have a field day; many people are now beginning to wonder what miracle is left for the administration to perform at this injury time, having fought the insurgents for six years without much success.