By Yemi Adebowale; firstname.lastname@example.org
In this part of the world, our leaders are persistently economical with the truth. They do this with so much impunity. Being economical with the truth has also become a way of life for majority of the people. This is why we have remained a struggling third world country. This country will probably never get out of this mess if things continue this way. To get out of this untidiness, we must strive to get leadership and followership right. One of such debilitating mess rolled out this week by the leadership of this country was the effrontery of the Buhari government to celebrate its third year amid so much pain in mother Nigeria. It was deeply painful. The three years of the Buhari administration has brought untold hardship on Nigerians, whether the masses or middle class. This is the truth that must be told. We have had enough of propaganda. Can our President honestly say that he has delivered on his promises to Nigerians, with just 12 months left of his tenure? Can he honestly say that Nigerians are better under his government than that of his predecessor? Can our President say that he has positively impacted on the lives of the masses of this country in the last 36 months? The frank answers would be on the negative.
I heard the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, saying that the federal government had spent N2.7 trillion on infrastructural projects across the country in just two years “to improve the socio-economic wellbeing of the citizenry.” Which infrastructure? This country witnessed unprecedented infrastructure decay in the last three years. Just check out decaying federal health institutions, roads and schools across the country. Those who use roads like the Lagos-Ibadan, Enugu-Port Harcourt, Aba-Ikot Ekpene, Enugu-Onitsha, Kaduna-Birnin Gwari, Kaduna-Kano, Manchok-Vom, Ilorin-Jebba, understand what I mean. As for health, even the President and his family members are regularly flown abroad to enjoy foreign medicals. The last 36 months have indeed been horrendous for most Nigerians with unprecedented economic hardship, unemployment, inflation and mass killings.
Let’s move to specifics. The Buhari administration assumed office with an avowal to stamp out corruption, improve the economy and end insecurity. Unfortunately, this government hardly engages the statistics that are constantly rolled out about its failure. It is unfeeling about the tales of woes in this country. This was why it rolled out the drums to celebrate its dubious three-year success. Let’s take the issue of security. Under Buhari’s watch, killer herders have slaughtered thousands of Nigerians, unhindered. Our President simply unleashed his kinsmen on the rest of the country. From Kaduna, to Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba, Kogi, Zamfara and Enugu, it has been tales of massacre by killer herdsmen. Nigerians won’t forget the massacre in Ukpor-Mbalom, Gwaska, Ankar and many others. In fact, in Benue State, the killer herdsmen control some local governments like Gwer West, Gwer East, Logo and Guma. Guerrillas protecting herdsmen roam freely unhindered by security agents. The militias regard these parts of Benue State as conquered territories. As at press time, over 200,000 displaced Benue State indigenes wallow in eight IDP camps. Buhari and his security chiefs obstinately fail these people.
Under Buhari’s watch, Boko Haram became the deadliest terror group in the world, with thousands of Nigerians killed in the last 36 months. Even in IDP camps, displaced people are persistently attacked and killed by Boko Haram, as seen in Rann, Muna Garage, Dalore and a number of others. Many won’t forget how the terrorists invaded the camp in Rann, killing four international aid workers and an undisclosed number of IDPs. The quotes of the UN Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Yassine Gaba resounds: “Innocent civilians continue to suffer daily from direct and indiscriminate attacks in the North-east of Nigeria. Endless numbers of explosions, brutal killings, abductions and lootings continue to uproot the lives of women, children and men daily. Women, children and men face daily grave human rights violations and sexual and gender-based violence.”
In Borno State, the terrorists still control territories. This is why over two million IDPs can’t return home. I recently published a comprehensive document detailing the number of IDPs in formal camps in Borno State, the trauma in the camps and other documented terrifying statistics (see RingTrue May 5). There are almost 600,000 Nigerians living in squalid conditions in these camps, while struggling for a meal a day. Daily, they dream of going home, but they can’t because their towns and villages are still dominated by Boko Haram. The few that returned home had to scamper back. These facts and figures punch holes in the lies that the Buhari administration is making progress in the war against Boko Haram. It is depressing for a government to persistently make claims of degrading Boko Haram, yet, IDPs can’t return to their homes. The big question is: Why would a man, his wives and children remain in a squalid IDP camp if his village has been recovered from Boko Haram?
There is also the unprecedented killing of our officers and men by Boko Haram in the last three years. Many will not forget in a hurry the massacre of soldiers in places like Sasawa, Magumeri, Malam Fatori, Gashigha, Rann, Kanama, Gamboru-Ngala, Mafa, Kunduga and the rest. Just on Thursday, five soldiers lost their lives in an ambush by Boko Haram at Pridang– Bitta in Gwoza Local Government Area of Borno State. What about the unprecedented killing of officers by the terrorists under Buhari? How can we forget the butchery of Lt. Colonel O. Umusu, Lt. Colonel K Yusuf, Lt. Colonel Abu Ali, Lt. Colonel B. U. Umar, Captain Victor Ulasi and Group Lt. Col. A E Mamudu? So, what are we talking about? Buhari’s success story on Boko Haram is a sham.
The effective management of the economy is key to the success of any country. Unfortunately, this country’s economy has suffered greatly in the last 36 months. Thousands of businesses are gasping for breath. Many have closed shop, while millions of Nigerians have lost jobs. At a point, inflation was almost at an unparalleled 18.72%. Prior to the new government, the rate was between 7.7 per cent and 8.7 per cent. The truth be told without sentiment; the economy handed over to the Buhari administration was a fairly good one with consistent growth in GDP and industrial capacity utilisation. Under Obasanjo, late Yar’Adua and Jonathan, industrialists and SMEs were running their businesses with little encumbrances. The Naira was stable. The forex policy was also friendly to industrialists. That was why industrial capacity went up then. The Naira, our symbol of nationhood is now in shreds. At a point, it was trading for a record N520/$. This is the same Naira Buhari inherited at about N220/$.
The employment rate is a vital measurement of any economy’s health. Nigeria’s unemployment rate of 14.2 per cent in Q4 of 2016 jumped to 16.2 per cent in Q2 of 2017 and 18.8 per cent in Q3 of 2017. A good government will engage this negative statistics because no country can make progress with these negative figures. Contrariwise, the unemployment rate in Germany is currently 3.6 per cent while United Kingdom is 4.2 per cent. Unemployment and underemployment (combined) under Buhari rose to 40 per cent from 37.2 per cent in Q2 of 2017. These are vital official statistics. The NBS states: “Those in full-time employment (at least 40 hours a week) declined from 52.7 million in Q2 2017 to 51.1 million in Q3.” These statistics, heightened by five successive quarters of depression, is ugly. We all now have an army of unemployed youths in our homes. Regrettably, this government lacks job creation strategy. Our dear President is still jumbling in his management of the economy.
Buhari’s much talked about war against corruption remains a mirage. This government has been regaling us with stories of corruption under Jonathan, while the country wallows in darkness, poverty, disease, hunger, unemployment and malnutrition. What has been happening in the last three years is a war against opposition figures. Because of this skewed war, rent seekers in the oil industry are still collecting the proceeds of crude oil sales under Buhari’s watch. This is why the NNPC spent a monstrous $5.8 billion on the importation of 9.8 million metric tons of petrol in four months – October 2017 to January 2018. This is why refineries are still not working; yet, this administration has spent billions of Naira on turnaround maintenance.
Billions of Naira is still going down the drains in the name of payment of dubious subsidies on imported petrol. Last year, over N1.7 trillion went to the payment of petrol subsidy because daily consumption suspiciously jumped from about 35 million litres to almost 60 million litres. Which corruption is bigger than this? Which corruption is bigger than buying petrol at N145 per litre? Nigerians outside Lagos and Abuja pay more. Which corruption is bigger than plunging Nigeria into unprecedented foreign debt within 34 months? According to the latest data from the Debt Management Office, Nigeria’s external debt rose to $18.91 billion (N5.787 trillion) as at the end of December 2017, while domestic debt rose to N15.937 trillion, bringing the total debt stock of the country to N21.725 trillion ($70.92 billion). The federal government is responsible for the bulk of the debt. What do we have to show for all these borrowings in the last 36 months?
I was not surprised when the 2017 Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International revealed that sleaze in Nigeria was more severe under the Buhari administration. Nigeria was also downgraded by TI from 136 to 148 in the CPI. I have a long list of corruption reminders for Buhari. The memo written by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu on sleaze in the NNPC remains fresh in our memory. Contracts running into billions of USD were allegedly awarded exclusively by Maikanti Baru without due process. Kachikwu further alleged that during the first one year of Baru’s tenure, no contract was cleared by the NNPC board, despite legal and procedural requirements that all contracts above $20 million would need to be reviewed and approved by the board. The cabal in charge of this administration had to tighten the noose on Kachikwu, forcing him to recant. Even Osinbajo made conflicting statements about Barugate.
But for persistent protest by Nigerians, Babachir Lawal, the legendary grass cutter, would have remained as the SGF after mismanaging about N2.5 billion in the account of the Presidential Initiative on the North East, PINE. The transgression of Babachir and the soft landing he got is a confirmation of Buhari’s skewed war against corruption.
What about the sleaze allegations against the reinstated Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Prof. Usman Yusuf? A public servant under investigation by anti-graft agencies is reinstated with fiat. The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, had earlier set up a panel to probe Yusuf’s transgressions and the panel found him culpable. What about the Director-General of the National Emergency Management Agency, Mustapha Maihaja, who is struggling to explain how he spent billions of Naira allocated to his agency? What about the pension thief, Abdulrasheed Maina, who was effectively protected by this government? Babachirgate, Yusufgate, Barugate, Maihajagate, Mainagate and the rest. What a country! What a war against corruption!
Aside from its three years of ineptitude, for me, the biggest sin the Buhari administration has committed against this beautiful country is its blossoming seed of division. This country has never been this divided, with brothers killing brothers. Our President’s clannishness is frightening. Buhari has spent three years stoking our fault lines with no regard for Federal Character in his appointments.
The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties was appropriate when it said: “Mr. President has performed so woefully in security, nation building, provision of infrastructure, employment generation, name it, to seek re-election. His government has failed all-round. Nigerians have experimented enough in the last three years. The hungry and jobless citizens can no longer endure, and cannot afford to see another four years of this failed administration after 2019.”