AMID economic hardships, insecurity and mass discouragement, Nigerians have recently witnessed outpouring of self-righteousness from the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retired), cabinet members and its collaborators. Whether it’s a TV documentary, a stocktaking retreat and ministerial briefings, media interviews and infomercials, the regime is touting its “accomplishments,” recycling its promises and posing as a gatekeeper. benevolent who surpassed all his predecessors. Beyond his narrow circle of agents and supporters, however, his claims have failed to dispel widespread disaffection, reduce tensions, or inspire hope in the traumatized population.
Undoubtedly, given the overwhelming weight of adversity that afflicts most Nigerians, Buhari’s claims about exemplary service delivery seem decidedly extravagant. Opening a mid-term ministerial performance review retreat, he recounted achievements in infrastructure provision, security, economy and job creation. He has been equally optimistic in various forums at home and abroad. âNo government since 1999 has done what we have done in six years to get Nigeria back on track,â he said, citing improved railways, roads and safety. As usual, he blamed previous governments for the country’s woes, insisting he had stabilized the economy, piloted it through the recession and COVID-19 pandemic, and improved services to health.
In a documentary, “The Buhari Effect: Undeniable Achievements,” ministers and other officials listed “unprecedented” highway and railroad reconstruction projects, improving safety, governance and housing.
Undeniably, the government has a right to revive its tarnished image, but its self-assessment in several ways not only flies in the face of the lived reality for most Nigerians, but raises fears that Buhari and officials are disconnected from the objective reality. You cannot resolve issues that you do not recognize. With less than two years of his second and final term, Buhari must stop living in denial.
To be frank, Nigeria is in dire straits and as this newspaper boldly stated in a January 24, 2018 editorial titled “Buhari, your best is not good enough”, three years after the start from his first term he was also engaged in self-praise, his six years in office were disastrous. To be sure, the regime has struggled with legacy problems, has been hailed by falling oil prices and hit by the scourge of COVID-19, but its efforts have been insufficient, devoid of deep strategies and often uncoordinated.
Its failure weighs overwhelmingly on the country. Starting with the economy and infrastructure, the regime did not apply critical thinking. Inheriting a south-facing economy marked by declining incomes, it refused to seek out handy fruits such as privatization and asset sales, liberalization and the removal of binding constraints on production. and foreign direct investment. It keeps refineries, depots, steelworks, airports and ports inactive and energy consuming. Unable to plug leaks, cut spending and cut red tape, it has borrowed more in six years than any previous Nigerian government since combined independence. From the 12.11 trillion naira it raised in June 2015, the public debt rose to 35.46 trillion naira in June. Unsustainable, over 90 percent of all income is spent on debt service.
Unemployment, which was 8.2 percent in June 2015, under Buhari’s leadership, rose to 33.3 percent. The regime’s claims about millions of jobs created through its various initiatives are contradicted by data from the National Bureau of Statistics showing factory closures and millions of jobs lost. An NBS / UNDP report said 20% of workers lost their jobs due to the impact of COVID-19 in 2020. About 13 million people are at risk of starvation, according to the United Nations. food and agriculture. Nigeria has since 2018 become the world capital of poverty. Health services are in chaos and around $ 2 billion in scarce foreign exchange is incurred each year by Nigerians seeking medical treatment abroad. Industrial discord has increased with around 552 days lost due to strikes by doctors and lecturers over the past six years.
Buhari should realize that the infrastructure gap valued at $ 100 billion per year (189.77% above the 2021 budget) cannot be met by endless Chinese loans alone. This requires FDI, public-private partnerships, privatization and liberalization. Service delivery is slow, poor and expensive. While the government reportedly said it had borrowed $ 2 billion to rehabilitate the Lagos-Ibadan, Kano-Kaduna-Abuja highways and build the second bridge over the Niger, the receipt of $ 311 million in recovered loot specifically intended for the three did not has not accelerated. Buhari did not repair the access roads to Apapa’s ports or reform the port system. The electricity sector crisis remains intractable and the economy is hampered by shortages and the high cost of alternative backup energy.
In the critical areas of security and corruption, the regime must move from denial to action. Contrary to his claims, the country is more precarious than at any time in its history. Even during the 1967-70 civil war, fighting was limited to the defunct eastern region. Today every part of Nigeria is infested with crime. Terrorist insurgency, banditry, kidnapping, gratuitous violence and looting by Fulani shepherds in the North, and the agitations of insurgent terrorism in the South-East; general insecurity everywhere else. A survey found 25,794 Nigerians killed in armed attacks during Buhari’s first term; 1,525 people were shot dead in the first six weeks of 2021.
Mass kidnappings of children have become routine as bandits, borrowing from Boko Haram’s playbook, terrorize the North. Nigeria is the third country most affected by terrorism; Boko Haram / ISWAP, bandits-terrorists and Fulani herdsmen / militants are ranked among the five deadliest terrorist groups in the world.
Buhari must shake up the fight against corruption where he also fails. Ranked 149th out of 180 countries, Nigeria is the second most corrupt country in Africa. Annual estimates of illicit financial outflows range from $ 10 billion to $ 18 billion; 60% of public revenue would be lost due to corruption.
Buhari’s most serious areas of failure are his disastrous mismanagement of Nigerian diversity, the desecration of the rule of law, fundamental rights and democracy. In many parts of the country, the trust deficit has widened to the point of open separatist agitation. He is arguably the most sectional and nepotistic national leader in Nigerian history. Ethnic nationalities and faiths are divided into mutually hostile camps. As a result, the country was ranked 12th among the world’s most fragile countries in the Fragile States Index 2021. It failed to deepen democracy, instead, seeking to roll back the freedom of people. media, the rights of assembly and protest and disregarding court decisions.
Instead of celebrating mediocre gains, Buhari and his team should therefore roll up their sleeves, lead a more inclusive government, and involve economists and the private sector in policy formulation. As the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic rages on and revenues continue to decline, it should urgently seek transparent asset sales, reduce bureaucracy, reduce the cost of governance, plug leaks of revenues, support the state police to secure the country and overhaul the anti-corruption war and security services. Sectoral, religious and political considerations should no longer guide public policies.
The obstacles to poverty eradication are largely political. The Center on Democracy at Stanford University says poverty is generated and reproduced by power disparities and abuse. Sustainable poverty reduction requires a broad context of good governance, beyond the narrow arena of free and fair elections. The Buhari regime must rally and engage all sections of politics, support the restructuring movements of the country to make the units competitive and productive. The country is sinking, and all hands should be on the bridge to save it.
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