By Douglas Anele
In addition, some local rice farmers are getting loans at lower interest rates than what the banks are offering to boost productivity. The United States department of agriculture reports that Nigeria produced 3.4 metric tonnes of rice in 2017, an increase of 4% over the previous year. Still, the country remains a net importer of rice: the demand and supply gap is filled illegally by smugglers; it would take some years of consistent increase in production before local demand can be met after which rice exportation can become a real possibility.
Unfortunately, local production of rice and other food crops generally is in danger as a result of incessant attacks by so-called herdsmen on farmers in Benue, Nasarawa and other food producing states in the middle-belt. Accordingly, Buhari’s optimism on increasing food production might not be sustainable.
Now, consider the President’s remark that Nigeria has “achieved 5222.3 megawatts, representing the highest peak of power generated into the national grid and delivered to customers in December 2017.” This claim, strictly speaking, is inaccurate. To begin with, it is not based on information from a reliable independent source outside officialdom with demonstrated competence and professionalism in energy related matters. Instead, it relies on data provided from a daily briefing portal run by the Vice President’s office. Again, Kingsley Onuoha, general manager of the control centre at the National Transmission Company, reports that the quantity of electricity actually delivered to customers was considerably lower than the amount stated by the President due to inevitable losses in transmission.
Equally misleading is Buhari’s silence on the fact that his administration has not built any power generating plant: the increase in electricity supply he spoke about was generated from power plants some of which were built by previous governments under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) he has been excoriating from 2003 till date. Meanwhile, his assertion that power is improving nationwide and that there are reports of decreasing usage of generators is a textbook example of cherry-picking and presumptious selectivity. Whereas some people I have spoken to confirm that power supply has improved where they live, majority insist that there is no improvement in their areas – some even claim that the electricity situation has worsened since May 29, 2015.
The President’s statement that “for the first time, 30% of the budget was earmarked for capital expenditure” is false. According to available information, in 2008, 2010, and 2013, the budget for infrastructure was not below 30%, the highest being 37% in 2008. If one puts into consideration the current steep depreciation in the value of the naira in relation to dominant foreign currencies such as the dollar, pound sterling and euro, the inevitable conclusion would be that no meaningful progress has been made by this government with respect to funding of capital projects needed for enhanced economic growth and wealth creation.
Furthermore, there is no credible evidence for the President’s claim that the federal government “has ensured proper funding at the basic education level with the disbursement of N42.2 billion UBE matching grant to 26 states and the FCT.” Here, as with other claims by government officials, due diligence is lacking. The President did not ascertain first how many of the states he was referring to had actually accessed the N732 million allocated to each before praising his government for funding basic education. If he did, he would have known that as at August last year none of the states had met the criteria stipulated by law before they could get the money, namely, provision of counterpart funding and detailed account of how the money would be spent.
Of course, the federal government should not be blamed for this, but there is no reason to believe that the situation had changed by the time the President made his broadcast last week, a clear indication of sloppy fact-checking by the President and his speech writers. Oriyomi Ogunwale of Eduplana Nigeria, a non-governmental organisation that focuses on education, affirms that there is no solid verifiable evidence to back Buhari’s remark concerining proper funding of basic education in the beneficiary states and Abuja: indeed, the number of states where the standard of basic education has improved as a result of the UBEC funding arrangement remains critically low.
It is disconcerting, though not surprising, that President Muhammadu Buhari has been consistent in downplaying the murderous activities of killer herdsmen by his pronouncements and “body language.” The most recent example is his democracy day speech last month, when he stated what his government is doing to contain the “herdsmen and farmers clashes in several communities,” thereby re-echoing the obnoxious trivialisation of the issue by his Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris. Perhaps Buhari is unaware that his claim of “belonging to everybody and belonging to nobody” no longer carries much weight, that for most people in the south the statement is a despicable form of political gerrymandering intended to deceive them that he will treat all Nigerians and every part of Nigeria equitably.
After all, he proclaimed a grotesque nepotic doctrine of justice represented matehmatically as 97% equals 5% shortly after the presidential inauguration which has been guiding his decisions and actions ever since. Besides, with the increasing incidence of insecurity in different parts of the country, the flaw in the President’s northernisation of virtually all the security services has come to light, and makes one feel that he is the President of the Fulani Republic of Nigeria. Similarly, his tepid response to the killings and destruction by expendable foot soldiers of Fulani caliphate colonialists many of whom masquerade as cattle rearers, the provocative statements on the issue by defence minister, Dan Ali Mansur, and the swift violent suppression of Nnamdi Kanu and his group by the army and police.
In otherwords, the extreme reluctance of relevant security and law enforcement agencies all headed by northerners to deal decisively with murderous so-called Fulani herdsmen tends to corroborate the belief which might be true that, unknown to the Vice President and other naïve southerners in the current APC government, there is a covert plan by certain elements of the northern establishment to use Buhari to test-run the internal colonisation agenda set forth decades ago by Sir Ahmadu Bello and Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. This issue should not be swept under the rug or dismissed off-handedly as the lamentations of wailing wailers and haters, as President Buhari’s media aides are wont to do, especially given that some prominent northerners have claimed publicly that the north has a divine mandate to rule Nigeria.
It is really astonishing, in a multiply plural country like Nigeria, that President Buhari would so brazenly, in utter disregard of equity, fairness and justice, appoint about 99% of security chiefs from his own section of the country while outspoken harsh critics of previous administrations such as Prof. Wole Soyinka, Prof. Pat Utomi, Femi Falana and others who advertised a possible Buhari presidency as the next best thing after the invention of water closet toilet system seem unperturbed about it.
In my opinion, the President’s claim in his address about “degrading” Boko Haram is inconsistent with his support for full iumplementation of sharia throughout the country and for the terrorist group in 2014 when he criticised former President Goodluck Jonathan’s government for scaling up military attacks on the islamic terrorists. Let us be forthright about this matter: It is unrealistic to expect that President Buhari and his closest lieutenants who believe that Nigeria is an internal colonial project of Fulani Islamic domination will sanction total destruction of Boko Haram since the sect is too useful for actualising the primitive vision of caliphate colonialists or at least serves as a preliminary test of what the actual implementation of late Sadauna’s vision would entail.
The fact that Buhari mentioned the number of captives set free by Boko Haram, including the Chibok and Dapchi girls, without disclosing the number of its hardened fighters released from detention and the huge ransoms paid by government to the insurgents for the girls’ freedom is telling: if he discloses that, the political mileage he expects from his tirumphalist claims about the Islamic sect would go down considerably. And why was he silent on the contimued detention of Leah Sharibu?