By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
President Muhammadu Buhari on May 29, 2015 mounted the saddle after many years of failed attempts to preside over the affairs of the country under civilian authority.
His coming on board came with expectations and high hopes especially as the country was faced with security challenges that nearly touched its foundation. Seven years after, the question on the mouths of many has been, how far has he utilized the good will of the people in terms of his performance, what is the impact of his administration on the people and what has been his achievements and failures as he has just one year to conclude his eight years tenure of two terms.
The Buhari’s seven years in office has been greeted with mixed feelings. While his All Progressives Congress, APC family members have patted him on the back, the opposition elements in the country believe that his electioneering promises have not been fulfilled.
Recall that the President before his election victory 2015 had identified three cardinal areas as his main areas of focus, fighting corruption; address the challenges of insecurity and the diversification of the economy. It is on this premise that Nigerians especially the critics are making their assessments of his administration.
Despite criticisms and lamentations in some quarters, the presidency has said that judging from the myriad of problems the administration met on ground when it came into power, a lot have been achieved by the Buhari’s administration.
Loyalists of the President have contended that as at 2015, the country under former President Goodluck Jonathan was drifting and heading toward the precipice with Nigerians, especially those in the North-east, groaning under the siege of Boko Haram terrorists. The dreaded terrorists, Buhari supporters argue, had begun to expand their operations southward with bomb attacks in Abuja, the seat of power. Buhari’s eventual emergence as President gave the hope that the country may after all be safe again.
However, the relative success recorded against the terrorists in the North-east has, however, been blighted by the banditry and kidnapping making waves in some other parts of the country, particularly in the North-west and North-Central region.
The critics also say that in the North-West and North-Central, school children can no longer go to school for fear of being kidnapped for ransom, while the South-east, hitherto known for peace and industry, is gradually becoming an ungoverned space with ‘unknown gunmen’ terrorizing the region without restraint. The South-west is equally not spared from the scourge of ritual killers and other criminal activities. Terrorists, bandits, kidnappers and ritual killers have become brazen with reports of killing of innocent citizens on daily basis. Non state actors have become emboldened and are daring to confront security agencies in broad daylight.
But giving a general overview of the seven year old administration under Buhari, the Special Adviser to the President on Media Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, in what he termed ‘one-stop shop’ of the achievements of the Muhammadu Buhari administration at seven, said: “Revisionists would want to look at security challenges, which are being robustly tackled, alone. But we look at the entire gamut, and honest and fair Nigerians will admit that a lot has been done, and a lot more will still be done in the 12 months ahead.”
Adesina highlighted the strides in infrastructural development; roads, bridges, rail, air and seaports, housing; oil and gas reforms, digital economy, mines and steel development, agriculture, education, health, creative industry, and sports, among others and came up with the conclusion that the Buhari administration represents service to the people, and nothing else.
The presidential spokesman said, under President Buhari, Nigeria has seen the most ambitious legislative programme in its history as several landmark bills have been passed or amended in the last seven years in order to have positive impacts on the fight against corruption, insecurity, economy, and electoral process.
These include Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Bill, 2022, which repeals the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended, and provides a comprehensive legal and Institutional Framework for the prevention and prohibition of money laundering in Nigeria, while also conferring on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the legal status of the Special Control Unit Against Money Laundering.
Others are Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Bill, 2022, which makes comprehensive provisions for the seizure, confiscation, forfeiture, and management of properties derived from unlawful activity as well as Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill, an Executive Bill, signed into law in 2019. The Bill facilitates the identification, tracing, freezing, restraining, recovery, forfeiture and confiscation of proceeds, property, and other instrumentalities of crime, as well as the prosecution of offenders in criminal cases regardless of where in the world they might be.
Legislations specifically enacted to address the challenges of insecurity include Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Bill, 2022, which repeals the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 as amended in 2013, and provides for the effective implementation of international instruments on the prevention and combating of terrorism and suppression of the financing of terrorism as well as Act establishing the Police Trust Fund, which will improve funding for the Nigeria Police Force (2019) in addition to Nigeria Police Act, 2020 – the first comprehensive reform of Police legislation since the Police Act of 1943.
On February 25, President Buhari signed the long-awaited Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2022 into law, saying the new law contains salient and praiseworthy provisions that could positively revolutionize elections in Nigeria through the introduction of new technological innovations that would guarantee the constitutional rights of citizens to vote and to do so effectively. He said the law would not only improve and engender clarity, effectiveness and transparency of the election process but also reduce to the barest minimum incidences of acrimony arising from dissatisfied candidates and political parties.
“These commendable efforts are in line with our policy to bequeath posterity and landmark legal framework that paves the way for credible and sound electoral process that we would all be proud of,” he said.
Aside initiating and implementing National Social Investment programs (NSIP) with the focus on poverty reduction, the government also started the N2.3trillion National Economic Sustainability Program (NSIP) to address the disequilibrium caused by the reverberating negative consequences of COVID.
The NSIP, under the supervision of the Vice President, was to address ten core issues including extensive agricultural program, mass housing, installation of solar home systems, strengthening if social safety nets, survival funds and promotion of domestic gas utilization amongst others.
On the fight against corruption, the President has taken some steps by collaborating with the National Assembly to strengthen anti-corruption laws aimed at curbing the menace. For instance, Buhari signed the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Bill as well as the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Bill into law to deter prospective looters from tampering with the nation’s commonwealth.