By James Ogunjimi
If this was an election year, we’ll most likely be celebrating the swearing-in of new persons into Nigeria’s political positions – exactly what we were doing two years ago when thousands filled up Eagle Square in Abuja to witness President Muhammadu Buhari sworn in as the country’s President.
His was a success story. Some had even dubbed him Nigeria’s Abraham Lincoln for the many times he had gunned for Nigeria’s Presidency and missed.
The last time he contested, he had promised to neither seek a redress in court if he lost nor seek a reelection. He would go on to break both promises but that would be just the tip of the iceberg in the number of promises he would come to break and agreements he would renege upon.
But I digress…
His swearing-in was a relief of sorts. Even the most hardened anti-Buhari person knew that Goodluck Jonathan needed to go. The country was going through a lot. Boko haram had captured local governments in Nigeria’s North, had erected their flags in towns and were now ruling. Fuel scarcity had hit hard and fast. Schools were letting their students in hostels leave. Businesses and banks were closing down because they could no longer power their generating plants.
With the swearing in of President Buhari, there was an assurance of sorts that at least things would look up, even if it’s for a short time and there would be a new direction, even if it’s short lived.
But the Buhari administration foot-dragged for too long and took a lot of wrong turns. There was the issue with the length of time it took to appoint ministers, the budget padding in the national assembly, the back-room recruitments into CBN – where the President’s relative was a beneficiary – that were left unrevised, there was the insistence on appointing former Rivers Governor, Rotimi Amaechi who was wanted by a probe panel in his state and former Lagos state Governor, Babatunde Fashola who sunk two boreholes for 300 million and designed a website for 79 million naira. All these went against the President’s promise not to appoint people of questionable characters into his cabinet. And what about the disregard for the rule of law where court injunctions were flung aside as in the cases of former NSA, Sambo Dasuki and IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu? And the economic recession?
But it’s not all been negative. While it cannot be said that the administration’s anti-corruption war has not been one-sided, the side that was faced ran helter-skelter. For the first time in a very long time, powerful men quaked before the law.
A critical look at individual sectors comparing them with promises made before election should give us genuine insights into whether or not President Buhari’s term in office has been a success story.
During campaigns, President Buhari promised to create 3 million jobs in a year, 500, 000 in the first quarter alone. But right now, the number of people that had jobs on May 29, 2015 and those who have jobs now have reduced. In fact, the firing of staff by companies became so much that the Federal Government had to threaten company executives to stop them from firing. But it didn’t work. Even the richest black man, Aliko Dangote had to fire people in his companies too across the country. Instead of job creation, the Buhari administration provided Nigerians with job losses.
On job creation: I score him F9
The area of security was one of the fighting points in the election. President Goodluck Jonathan had failed to curb activities of the boko haram sect, allowing them to establish their government in Nigeria’s northern towns and kidnap children at will, most notably the Chibok girls.
While President Buhari has succeeded in shutting the sect up and limiting their activities, the activities of herdsmen and the response of the government to them will not win him any blue-ribbon points.
On security, I score him: C3
One Meal A Day
Denying promises made should naturally be a thing of the past considering the fact that we are in an era where your voice can be recorded and you can be recorded making those promises. But that didn’t stop the President from denying he made such promise.
Eventually, he agreed and said plans would be made as soon as possible to feed school children daily. But the last time we checked, state governments were being asked to foot the bill for that.
On this, I give him F9.
One Dollar to One Naira
This promise was fulfilled in reverse. During President Buhari’s two years in office, Nigeria’s economy that was once Africa’s biggest has crumbled. The naira has been knocked down every time it tried to stand up to the dollar, falling the lowest since Nigeria and the naira came into existence. Things are looking up now but it’s difficult to credit the President for that seeing it happened in his absence.
Still, it’s the Buhari administration, so, for the dollar to naira equality promise, he gets an E8 at least for trying.
Recovering the Chibok girls from boko haram was one of the President’s campaign promises. And while he has not recovered them with the use of soldiers and all-out war, negotiated agreements and prisoner swap for the girls have resulted in the recovery of over 100 girls.
For this, he gets a B2
This is tricky. The President has fought corruption but he has been selective about that. Corrupt people within his own party and caucus have been treated with kid gloves while those he does not know or like are slapped around and dragged around in handcuffs.
His defense of his Chief of Staff, Babachir Lawal in a letter to the Senate even after Lawal obviously awarded a grass-cutting contract to his own company while in government, didn’t speak well of him.
His insistence on appointing former River state Governor, Rotimi Amaechi as Minister in spite of his spending 500 million on a dinner for Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka did not speak well of him either. What about still appointing Former Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola who spent 300 million on sinking two boreholes and N79 thousand on building a website? All these things placed huge question marks on his anti-corruption stance and painted him as just another politician instead of the different person people thought him to be.
Rule of Law
The President was not one to follow rules. Former NSA, Sambo Dasuki and leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu are evidence of this in the way they were detained well after the court had ruled in their favor. That Sambo Dasuki even got a court injunction from ECOWAS asking him to be released on bail did not change the President’s mind.
While it is understandable that certain elements in this country commit crimes and surround themselves with legal jargons to get away with their crimes, still, the hallmark of a great leader is his ability to lead and navigate those waters and still ensure that those who commit crimes and loot the nation blind get what’s coming to them.
On the Rule of Law, the President gets an F9
The President has not really performed up to expectations. It’s easy to blame his health challenges but it’s his choice not to resign. But for someone who had chased the Presidency three times before he won, it was expected that he should at least have a blueprint on what he wanted to achieve, not take almost a year to form a cabinet and still run the nation aground.
There’s still about two years to the next election. The President still has an opportunity to firm up on the places where he failed.
Judging by the first two years though, the President has failed himself, failed those who look up to him, failed even the family (his wife spoke up and threatened not to campaign for him in 2019 if things don’t change, remember?), and failed the many Nigerians who looked up to him to change the country for good. For the first two years he’s spent as President, he gets a 13%.