By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ON May 29, 2015, history was made in Nigeria when an opposition political party took over the seat of power from an incumbent president.Before the tsunami that swept away the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP under the captaincy of President Goodluck Jonathan, many political analysts had predicted a landslide victory for the PDP. The argument was that it was unthinkable that the incumbent government with the control of security apparatus and other resources could lose to the opposition. For some, even if the number of votes for the opposition was ‘miraculously’ higher than that of the incumbent, the power of brute force could be applied to upturn the situation.
However, the maxim that “God’s time is the best” came to fruition in the life of the then General Muhammadu Buhari, retd, who had earlier contested the presidential poll three times without success.
Amid tension, the then Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, declared Buhari, who ran on the plank of the newly formed All Progressives Congress, APC, the winner of the 2015 election.
There were high expectations from Nigerians that with his military background and his track record as a military head of state, reprieve had come to the country especially in the area of security, given the deadly attacks of the Boko Haram insurgents, who at a time were in control of 14 local councils in Borno State.
His emergence brought some rays of hope among the citizenry especially those who had witnessed his regime between 1983 to 1985.
To reassure Nigerians that Solomon has come to judgement, the President told Nigerians when he took the oath of office that he belongs to everybody and belongs to nobody.
How far after four years?
However, the question on the lips of everyone is, four years after President Buhari took over the mantle of leadership, how far have Nigerians fared, has there been any remarkable change both in the security situation and the economy of the country?
For some Nigerians especially those in the opposition, there is nothing tangible to celebrate but for loyalists and supporters of the government, it has been four years of joy and tremendous achievements.
For the opposition, insecurity situation has deteriorated and the economy is in comatose. This group also believes that the country is more divided now along ethnic and religious lines than the pre-2015 era.
Four years of waste, lamentations
They contend that it has been four years of waste, hopelessness and lamentations. There have been hunger, dejection and loss of jobs. This group believes that the President favours his kinsmen in terms of appointments and projects.
The President has been under heavy attacks for allegedly doing nothing when herdsmen who are mainly from his tribe maimed and attacked people especially farmers in many parts of the country especially in Benue, Plateau, Nasarawa and Taraba.
Critics also accused President Buhari of not having economic Blueprint, which they claim was responsible to the economic recession the country went into few months after the government took over. For them, there is no sector of the economy that has recorded cheering news.
Buhari’s remarkable achievements
But another school of thought believes that the country has made remarkable achievements since Buhari came into power. This group also believes that the Boko Haram insurgents that were holding some local governments before the emergence of Buhari’s government has been decimated, while corruption which had been the bane of the country is being dealt with.
My achievements, frustrations – Buhari
For the President, it has been a work in progress even though there is more work to be done.
Speaking on a television interview with the Nigeria Television Authority, President Buhari expressed frustration over bureaucratic hurdles hampering his war against corruption.
According to him, “My frustration is that we cannot move faster in prosecution. We have made some progress, we have recovered a number of fixed assets and money in banks including Europe and America but under this system, you can’t do so much in a hurry. Even if you use whistle blowers you have to report to the Police and Police will rigmarole, this is my biggest frustration really. The frustration is taking too long by my own hope.”
On the Boko Haram insurgency, he said: “They are not holding any local government, they have resorted to holding either the Lake Chad and indoctrinating young people especially girls giving them explosives and sending them to soft targets like churches, mosques, market places and motor parks. We have achieved some success in safeguarding the country.”
President Buhari scored his administration high on the economy, saying: “The economy, we are very lucky the rainy season is in place and we have made available fertilizer and some of the inputs. We have achieved food security.’’
While campaigning for the 2015 elections, President Buhari had made promises to end Boko Haram terrorism and secure the country for it to be efficiently managed; to restructure the economy, halt its downward slide, create jobs and to fight corruption because, as the president repeatedly said, “if Nigeria doesn’t kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria.”
Buhari has performed well – Garba Shehu
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu believes that his boss has lived up to expectations.
Assessing the government, Shehu said: “Nobody can question President Buhari’s achievements. They are there for all to see. The Buhari administration has established for itself an anti-corruption reputation and has been in office for four years without a major scandal. The African Union has on account of this, selected the President as the continent’s anti-corruption champion.
“The Buhari administration can pat itself on the back for this achievement when it is viewed against the established culture in which corruption is the norm. To win the war against corruption and institute transparency in the affairs of government, the Buhari administration introduced a number of fiscal reforms and plugged several leakages.
“The administration has significantly curtailed corruption to the point of abolishing what is called “grand corruption.” Given Treasury Single Account ,TSA , the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information Scheme, IPPS, the Bank Verification Number, BVN number and Whistle Blower schemes, it is no longer possible for people in authority to, for instance, request the withdrawal of millions, or sometimes billions of Naira or US Dollars to be shared among party members as was the practice under the past administrations. To boot, the Buhari administration has signed onto the global Open Government Partnership, OGP.”
He also said that reforms are being carried out in the justice sector with a number of domestic legislations and international agreements to facilitate the identification, tracing, freezing, recovery and forfeiture of ill-gotten assets.
He continued: “The administration’s primary sectors of agriculture and solid minerals have experienced growth of 180 and 565 percentage points respectively. Nigeria has today achieved near self-sufficiency in rice production.
“Government has launched a series of funding and capacity development initiatives to support Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. The work of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), inaugurated by President Buhari in August 2016 has resulted in moving Nigeria up 24 places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings, and earning a place on the list of 10 most improved economies. In this regard, the administration has issued a number of Executive Orders on improving efficiency in the business environment and promoting local content.
“The Buhari administration has also demonstrated a single-minded commitment to upgrading and developing Nigeria’s transport, power and health infrastructure.
“Road projects are ongoing across every state of the country, with many of these projects having been abandoned for many years.
“The country’s narrow-gauge rail network of 3,500 Km is currently being upgraded; Abuja’s light rail system has been completed and commissioned with a link to the Abuja-Kaduna rail line, which has equally been completed and launched. The Ibadan-Lagos standard gauge rail is being test run. Ibadan-Kano has been awarded.
“The administration has successfully reconstructed the Abuja Airport runway, completed and commissioned new terminal buildings in Port Harcourt and Abuja with Lagos, Kano, Enugu and the others soon to be inaugurated.
“Several water supply projects and dam/irrigation projects have been completed and many more on the way to being delivered. About 100 ecological projects have been awarded and completed in the six geopolitical zones.”
He further stated that the Buhari administration has more than doubled power generation capacity. “It has increased generation to 8,100 MW and expanded transmission to more than 7,000 MW capacity, and has successfully deployed thousands of solar power systems to rural and urban households,” he said.
The Presidential aide further said: “This is an administration that has been investing in people. It has introduced a social Investment Programme (SIP), which so far, has four components.
“These are the N-power employment scheme that is hitting 500,000 this year, the home grown school feeding programme that feeds more than nine million school children across the federation, the Government Enterprise and Empower Program, GEEP giving out interest-free loans to millions of market women, traders, artisans and farmers and the conditional cash transfer, CCT which pays N5,000 monthly to the poorest and most vulnerable households in the country.
“In dealing with security, one of the first major steps by the Buhari administration was the revitalisation of the Multi-national Joint Task force , MNJTF aimed at combating trans-border crime and the Boko Haram insurgency. The MNJTF has the support and participation of neighbouring countries Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin, in addition to Nigeria.”
He said that the military has since proclaimed victory over the Boko Haram terrorists, following the capture of their operational and spiritual headquarters, “Camp Zero” in Sambisa Forest.
“So far, more than one million displaced persons have returned to their homes and communities. About 20,000 hostages have been freed. One hundred and six Chibok Girls, abducted in April 2014 and 105 Dapchi Girls abducted in February 2018 have been released and reunited with their families. “
In the area of diplomacy and international relations, the Buhari administration, he claimed, has re-established Nigeria’s position and influence in regional and global arena.
“As a political leader, Muhammadu Buhari enjoys three formidable assets – his record as a disciplined former Army General, his reputation as an honest leader who has not allowed corruption to flourish under his watch when he served as a state Military Governor, Minister of Petroleum and Military Head of State and the public perception of his record as one who stands for and by the truth, Mai Gaskiya.”
Despite the litany of achievements as enumerated above, some of the elite and critics believe that the country is at the brink of collapse, if nothing urgent is done to rescue it. The President on his own has repeatedly assured Nigerians that he will not let them down.