When President Muhammadu Buhari won on his fourth try in the 2015 presidential elections, it was a historic victory because he did the impossible and defeated Goodluck Jonathan, an incumbent president who belongs to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), touted to be the largest political party in sub-Saharan Africa. His first term ends on May 29, 2019 and it will come as no surprise if hostile historians regard his first term as an aggregation of the lesser traits of his three predecessors in the Fourth Republic.
The anti-corruption crusade of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo through the establishment of Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Offences Commission (ICPC), and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the accusations that he only attacked opposition politicians.
The three months spent in London by President Buhari brought to mind the many months spent in Saudi Arabia by late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua before his demise. The accusations that Nigeria was being run by cabals was also rife during both administrations.
Insecurity was one of the two major drawbacks of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. The other being corruption. While President Buhari may have curbed the latter to some extent, the former is still very much in existence.
The victory of Buhari at the 2015 polls was greeted with a lot of hopeful expectation by Nigerians. Even cynics hoped the ‘change’ administration will be the messiah which rescues the country from many years of reckless corruption, insecurity and economic disempowerment. But over the course of the four years in power, these hopes have taken flight like the aparo bird.
Of the three, insecurity was supposed to be the easiest because of his experience as a former military general and to be honest, he did make significant gains initially. Four years down the line, not only do herdsmen kill farmers with impunity, bandits frequently attack Northern states. The promise to decimate the the Boko Haram terrorist group in three months has also remained unfulfilled either technically or otherwise.
Unemployment and poverty have remained firmly in place. Nigeria’s unemployment rate rose from 10.4% in January 2016 to 23.1% in July 2018. Also, a CNN report published in June 2018 showed that Nigeria had overtaken India as the country with the largest number of people living in extreme poverty. The report stated that about 87 million Nigerians, which make about 50% of the country’s population, live on less than $1.90 (less than 700 Naira) daily.
Even though many corrupt politicians and government officials, including the Chief Justice of the country’s Supreme Court Walter Onnoghen, are currently undergoing trials for various forms of financial impropriety, many are of the opinion that like the candle, he is not shining the spotlight on those close to him. Scandals like the Mainagate, Babachirgate, the petroleum subsidy, foreign exchange rackets, means that the current regime can not with a straight face claim the high moral ground on anti-corruption fight. The marginal success in his anti-corruption war is also marred by his failure to prosecute a state Governor, who is a close ally to him, even after videos surfaced of him stuffing what appears to be several thousand dollars in bribes in his babariga.
Even though he won the 2019 Presidential elections amid the below-par all-round performance, this was not due to his strengths but in fact had everything to do with the weakness of the other candidates – the strongest being Atiku Abubukar, a former Vice President of the country whose business credentials and the source of his wealth are controversial.
When it comes to achievements, Obasanjo can say he kickstarted the GSM wave in the country; Jonathan can point at the Benin-Ore road and claim he revamped it; what exactly will we remember the ‘change’ administration for? He promised to prevent the abuse and misuse of Executive, Legislative and Public offices, through greater accountability, transparency, strict, and implementable anti-corruption laws, through strengthening and sanitising the EFCC and ICPC as independent entities. Has he fulfilled this? He also promised to amend the constitution to remove immunity from prosecution for elected officers in criminal cases. That also has not happened.
The primary responsibility of any government is the protection of lives and property of the people. Just recently Obasanjo said that the violent activities of the Boko Haram and herdsmen were a systematic act to islamize the country and West Africa in general.
If a historian were to pen down President Buhari’s sojourns today, it will be in less than glowing terms but luckily for the President, he has another four years to show competence, fulfilled ‘Next Level’ campaign promises, integrity and even-handedness.
How would you rate President Buhari’s first term? Let us know in the comments.
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