In this essay, I will assess the President Buhari’s anti corruption war and huge infrastructural investment
When I wrote the article ‘The president we need’, some supporters of President Buhari claimed that I was being too critical of him because I don’t like him hence the need that I correct such baseless misconception.
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The truth is that I have no business liking or hating the President. President Buhari to the best of my understanding belongs to nobody in particular. He is not the Fulani president; neither is he the Islamic president nor the northern president or APC president for that matter. President Buhari is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; he belongs to everyone and therefore my President. For that I owe him my prayers and support.
I owe him my prayers so that God will give him the wisdom to lead the nation to the path of peace and prosperity. And I owe him my support, especially support for those policies that are geared towards the best interest of the nation.
However, where he runs a system or advances a policy that runs contrary to my conviction, I am duty bound to exercise my democratic rights of criticizing those policies. Other than that, I owe him and his office my utmost respect.
An election year provides the opportunity for an incumbent seeking reelection to account for his stewardship, and for such accounts to be interrogated. Enlightened voters will weigh whether the incumbent re-electable based on his performance as against any form of emotions often associated with illiterate supporters. This is why every election is that of the incumbent to win or to lose.
In this essay, I will assess the President Buhari’s anti corruption war and huge infrastructural investment. Based on the government’s own account as published by various media outlets and at different times, President Buhari has invested N15.128 trillion or thereabout on infrastructure between 2015 to 2018, the highest by any government in the nation’s history. This figure is the summation of the N12.7 trillion the government claimed it expended on infrastructure between 2015/2017 and the N2.428 trillion as appropriated for capital projects in the 2018 budget.
The government claimed its massive investment in capital projects is in recognition of our infrastructural deficit and also the need to stimulate economic growth. This is sound developmental economics for the wealth of a nation is more often than not measured by the quality and scope of her infrastructure. More so, the best way to invest in the future aside human capital is to invest in infrastructure. I agree with the president on this as there is nothing wrong in the government investing over N15 trillion on infrastructures within the past three to four years.
However, the issue of contention is whether the level of infrastructures on ground is commensurate to the amount of investment made so far and what has corruption got to do with this? When will the president conduct the self audit of his administration so as to ascertain if the level of infrastructures provided so far are commensurate with the huge spending?
I have heard some folks challenge the government to name any significant project initiated and completed by the administration in the last three years. I personally can’t think of any as looking for President Buhari’s infrastructural development is like looking for a needle in a haystack.
Given the quantum of money said to have been invested on capital projects, one would expect to see massive infrastructural works either finished or on-going on roads, power, bridges and other areas across the country, but this is not so. Physically and economically, Nigeria does not look like a place where N15.128 trillion has been invested on infrastructural development and renewal. The parlous state of our infrastructures does not justify the claims. Perhaps, someone is lying to the president. Someone is deceiving him and he believes the lies.
For starters, I will challenge the president to travel on our federal roads. If he travel today from Lokoja to Enugu and from Enugu to Port Harcourt and Enugu to Onitsha, he will never boastfully lay claim to having invested 15.128 trillion on infrastructures because there is no single one kilometer stretch of those death traps called federal roads that are motor able. Where then are the trillions said to have been invested on capital projects? Where are the Buhari capital projects if the roads and bridges are not useable?
What I want to tell the president today and I hope he is listening is that he is being deceived especially with regards to the state of our infrastructure and he can prove me wrong by making just a road trip by himself . He can choose just the Lokoja to Enugu Road. Whatever, report brought back to him will suffice. The wife already confirmed that even the Aso Rock Presidential Clinic could not boast of basic drugs despite huge budgetary provisions.
Corruption is one reason why the level of investment in infrastructure cannot be justified. This is sad because one area I expected President Buhari to excel is in the fight against corruption but unfortunately that too has failed. According to Transparency International, Nigeria is now more corrupt than she was in 2015 and made her worst ever retrogression on the CPI moving 12 steps backward from 136 to 148.
Beyond rhetoric, it appears or so it seem that President Buhari does not understand what it takes to fight corruption except the arrest of individuals who are in opposition party. Nothing has changed in the way government businesses are conducted. The same wasteful spending, influence peddling, extortion, criminal wastefulness, reckless spending, budget padding and over inflation of contract values which characterized the previous administration are still there. This government unfortunately has promoted corruption more than any other government by elevating cronyism to state crafts. Instead of surrounding himself with technocrats, the president surrounds himself with his nephews and cousins most of whom typically engage in extortion and influence peddling, an act which by itself is corruption.
To fight corruption the president should live by example and by surrounding himself with quality advisers, he should also probe our over inflated investment in infrastructure which remains a fluke. A real fight against corruption will commence when the president initiate an executive bill that will prohibit inflation of contracts as inflated contracts remain 50% of ongoing corruption in Nigeria.