Home Point Blank Buhari’s 8 Years of endless futility and relentless upsurge in human misery

Buhari’s 8 Years of endless futility and relentless upsurge in human misery

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By Jeff Orji

It was about eight years ago, that Nigerians rallied behind the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its change mantra to elect President Muhammadu Buhari as a chastisement of the incumbent Goodluck Jonathan and his People’s Democratic Party (PDP) that Nigerians were fed up with. As a matter of fact, It was the first time a party in power and a sitting president had failed at the polls to secure his second term bid. This made the expectations very high for the incoming.

At such time Nigerians needed leadership that knows, shows, and determined to push Nigeria forward not withstanding circumstances. A leader who has an understanding of purposeful and result-oriented leadership. A Leader that understand the problems, clear-headed and resolute at solving them. But 8 years after, Buhari left Nigeria in a shadow of itself even as little children can attest that his award of the worst Nigerian president can not be revoked.
Upon assumption of duty as President in 2015, President Buhari inspired much hope with his APC Change manthra. Nigerians were at the middle of a cross road seeking for sincere direction.The exchange rate of the Naira then was average of N199 to a U.S. dollar. Debt to GDP ratio was about 13.1 per cent and the corruption–ridden fuel subsidy was N316.70 billion ($1.62 billion). Not only that, the four state-owned refineries were either producing far below installed capacity or in outright comatose state and Nigeria then ranked the 136th most corrupt country with a score of 26 on the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. Nigerians were desperately expectant and his promises calmed Nigerians. On national security, he said he was the solution probably because of his Army General background. On the non functional national refineries, he offered the badly needed hope of revitalising and putting them on the path of optimal production hence he landlorded the ministry of petroleum.

Furthermore, he promised massive job creation and social welfare schemes, including feeding Nigeria’s school children in public schools with one quality meal a day. On our devalued Naira, he promised stability saying naira will be made to be as strong as the U.S. Dollar. He promised to fight against corruption with renewed vigour and noted that public officials would be banned from state funded medical trips abroad. As a matter of urgency, he promised to make the electoral management body truly independent to ensure electoral integrity. Above all, Nigerians were told to expect an economic growth rate of between 10-12 per cent, making the country the fastest growing economy in the world.

With the end of president Buhari’s tenure, Nigerians are disappointed that by the end of 2022, Nigeria was ranked 150th of the most corrupt nations on earth, away from 136th ranking that Buhari inherited. It has been stated in many quarters that Buhari’s anti-graft crusade was a one-sided fight, targeted at his personal enemies and looters of the national treasury, who belong to the opposition party probably that was why Adams Oshiomole, openly said that corrupt politicians should join the APC so that their ‘sins can be forgiven. Little wonder why, government functionaries, who have bled the public treasury in billions, pay paltry sums as plea bargain and walk free in the land. You will hear things like 10 fire trucks being purchased at a whopping sum of N12 billion Naira, 138 billion to paint aircraft, 800 000 dollars to help the less privileged etc. Certainly, corruption could be said to be synonymous of Buhari’s administration.

We don’t need any soothsayer to conclude that Buhari’s administration was based on lies and manipulations. You could recall during the COVID-19, when he curiously announced that the school Feeding Programme would continue in spite of the lockdown. The next line of action was N2.67 billion was stolen in the name of feeding children in Federal schools at a time when there was no school in the country.

Come to think of the fuel subsidy bill, which Buhari condemned during campaign as a conduit for siphoning public money, has increased in volume. In the 2023 budget alone, a whopping sum of N3.36 trillion was allocated for fuel subsidy bills for the first six months of the year. See where his administration has kept Nigerians now; buying fuel at N600 per liter. Unbelievable! Buhari’s government being insensitive to the plight of Nigerians left the energy and solid minerals sectors as it was before he came. What can 5,000 megawatts do for a nation of over 200 million people. It is on global record that the Egyptian President Fatah el-Sisi, tripled electricity output in Egypt to 60,000MW between 2014 to 2019 transforming Egypt to a net exporter of power.

On the economic front, you could recall that he swore to stablize Naira during his campaign. we are aware that he inherited exchange rate at N199 to a Dollar from Dr Goodluck Jonathan in 2015 but under his watch naira grossly got devalued, exchanging , N460.97 to $1 by April 2020 and by 2022 and 2023 between N750 to N800 to a dollar. The inflation rate he met at a single digits of 9.01 got to 22.04 percent as he exited office two weeks ago. Nigeria as a nation has never gotten to bad shape as that. The country overtook India in 2018 as the global capital of extreme poverty with 87 million of its population said to be extremely poor. Some 91.6 million Nigerians currently live in extreme poverty, second behind India, on the World Poverty Index. To worsen our feelings, the National Bureau of Statistics in 2022 assessed 133 million citizens as living in multidimensional poverty.

With the huge national debt burden of about N77 trillion, it was underscored that at the end of 2022 President Buhari has borrowed more than any former Nigerian President, living or dead. The Debt Management Office put Nigeria’s debt at N12.12 trillion in June 2015, a debt-to-GDP ratio of 13.1 percent. It climbed to N44.7 trillion by December 2022. Painfully, the loans, taken in the name of revitalisation of critical national infrastructure, largely finances corruption, consumption, waste and just little infrastructure.

The Federal Character Principle enshrined in the Constitution to ensure that every ethnic group is given sense of belonging was thrown to the wild wind with reckless abandon since the inception of Buhari’s administration. Important positions in government were filled by his nephews, nieces, cousins and in-laws.

National security under his watch was even more miserable than he met it. Today, it is not just Borno State that is home to Boko Haram rather bandits are on rampage in many parts of the country, rendering life more precarious than ever before. Lives were wasted the way no one can keep counts as if humans are just flies. Kidnapping became a lucrative trade pinching tents in every corner of the country as Nigerians fear for their lives daily. The animal kingdom seems more organized than the state of affairs under his watch. The same insecurity truncated Agriculture below expectations. Being the largest contributor to GDP and employer, farmers were tormented by Fulani herdsmen and bandits. His administration recorded uncountable ASUI and resident Dr’s strikes.

As the head of state, he was the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, but he ended up with the highest number of Nigerians that were murdered ingloriously and displaced from their ancestral homes. As educated illiterates, we defended his protective approach to Fulani’s incursions through certain policies such as RUGA, Cattle Route Restoration, Waterways and other allied policies. And he used the law makers at the national assembly as highly educated as they are to pepertuate these laws. As a Minister of Petroleum, a whopping sum of $5.8 billion and over N11 trillion were alleged to have been spent on the moribund refineries and fuel subsidies respectively. Sadly and with all our petroleum engineers and professors, no one dares explain to Nigerians on why we are still importing petroleum products. Countries like Angola, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and other petroleum producing’ countries are enjoying the fruits of their endowed natural resources. As at today, the Angola currency, KWANZA is still maintaining a higher rate than dollar. Angola, within few years, are now investing in foreign countries, and yet Buhari could not learn anything from these species of leaders.

Nigerians will not forgive this man for the ill conceived currency redesign policy with the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele. The short-sighted naira redesign policy severely knocked the economy out. Nigerians are still living in hardship and businesses are incurring losses because of the policy, with the banks experiencing liquidity problems and the new banknotes still scarce. What was meant to be an exchange of the old notes with new ones amounted to naira ‘confiscation’ as the new notes were never available after depositing the old notes of which most were destroyed. In the circumstances, Nigerians had to buy the naira at prohibitively expensive rates. One wonders how many people may have been driven deeper into poverty for a country already rated under Buhari as the poverty capital of the world.

At a time Nigerians started hoping on his promise of credible election to change the leadership narrative. With reform of the Electoral Act and assurances by the electoral umpire Nigerians woke up for their nation as they shunned ethnicity and religion hence decided to vote who knows road. Painfully, under President Buhari’s watch, this hope, too, was betrayed and dashed, as the election was generally regarded as the worst the country has ever known.

To crown the madness, PMB’S regime made a fool of all citizens when it rented an aircraft from Ethiopian airlines that was flown from Isreal. The plane was painted in Air Nigeria colours, and while we watched as Mumurists, FGN did a sham unveiling presentation in Abuja on the 26th of May, 2023, and within 24 hours, flew the plane back to Ethiopia. The same plane was then rebranded back in Ethiopia Airlines colours and an estimated N139 billions wasted. Those who claimed to have the best qualifications in aviation and transport studies did nothing to prevent or even explain to Nigerians about the true nature of what transpired.

In all ramifications, his tenure was an economic fiasco, leaving behind higher poverty, unemployment, inflation, and business fatality rates. He had no excuse; he simply lacks the leadership, cognitive and administrative capacity to successfully pilot a modern economy. As we remember leaders like Ignacio Lula Da Silva, who in his first presidency tenure pulled 20 million Brazilians out of poverty, Festus Mogae, who managed Botswana from wretchedness to become Africa’s fastest growing economy, and Paul Kagame, who is recreating Rwanda into a modern economy, hence demonstrating what enlightened, capable leadership can accomplish. But for Nigerians, Buhari’s government was a disaster and posterity will not forgive him.