On assumption of office as President on May 29, 2015, Muhammadu Buhari had three cardinal focuses as far as his government was concerned: to curb insecurity, improve the economy, and fight corruption to a standstill.
Buhari’s emergence as Head of State and Commander of the Armed Forces of the country was thus viewed as a referendum of sort on the blight of institutionalised corruption, and the state of the country’s security.
In simpler terms, going by the highly proclaimed integrity of the President, many Nigerians were optimistic that he would stem the tide of unemployment, effectively deal with corruption, and crush Boko Haram and the like, to make Nigeria one of the safest place in the world.
With thirty-one days to the expiration of his first four years term in office, and commencement of another four year term, opinions are highly divergent in the extent to which the President, and the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), have fared in these key areas.
Although politicians expectedly support the stand of their party, even in sometimes ridiculously questionable circumstances, last Monday’s declaration by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, that the government has a clean bill of health in all three spheres of focus, with particular emphasis on the fight against corruption, has brought the government’s performance in the period under review to more scrutiny.
The Minister, who spoke in a live TVC News Programme, stated that it will be unfair for Nigerians to measure the government’s achievements in the fight against corruption by the number of convictions it has secured.
According to him, the government has succeeded in laying enduring foundation for the fight against corruption through sustainable policies including institution of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), which ensures that all government money is paid into one account, and the Whistle Blower Policy.
“For us, success of the fight against corruption is the fact that we have driven corruption under the table and made it unattractive as it was before. Those who are corrupt are doing so with the fear of the law. It will progressively become more and more difficult in Nigeria for corruption to be attractive,” he said.
Analysts are of the belief that as much as the APC could be given some credit in its fight against corruption, the manner in which the fight is carried out has exposed all efforts put in it to question as to its real intention.
One of the earliest criticisms came in October 2015; just months after the government came into power. In a report by Sahara Reporters titled “Heavy Knocks for Buhari’s Anti-Corruption”, the Executive Chairman of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, Debo Adeniran, claimed that he had severally petitioned the President and the anti-graft agencies, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ‘(EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission(ICPC) over corruption and misappropriation of fund against Babatunde Fashola, a former Governor of Lagos State and the incumbent Minister for Power, Works and Housing in the Cabinet of President Buhari.
He also stated that several allegations of corruption and misappropriation of fund were slammed on Kayode Fayemi, the former Governor of Ekiti State; Kemi Adeosun, the estranged Minister of Finance, who was given the leeway out of retiring honourably after being found to be involved in National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) certificate forgery; and Rotimi Amaechi, a former Governor of Rivers State and current Minister of Transport.
Expressing concern over why these people were not invited by the anti-graft agencies for questioning, Adeniran said, “We are dissatisfied with the way the anti-corruption war is being fought and we are afraid that we may not achieve anything better than what we had before Buhari assumed office.
Mudiaga Affe summarised this in the Punch of April 22, 2019 when he said: “While the fight against corruption may have made some level of progress, the ruling party might have got itself involved in the whole twist by allegedly shielding some of its members fingered as suspects by the anti-graft agencies and welcomed other suspects to its fold”.
The government’s scorecard in security is also not encouraging. Stopping Boko Haram in three months, which was the promise of the Buhari-led government when it campaigned ahead of the 2015 election, has turned out to be a bed of explanations for failures, promises and assurances to do better, and more failures and promises.
The poor security situation cuts across the country: kidnappings, robberies, and killings associated to rituals are all on the high in all parts of the country. Rather than tackle the spate of insecurity in the land, like every other sensitive issue, it is politicised.
As the Nigerian government continues to search for a lasting solution to the Boko Haram insurgency, and other related security issues in the country, perhaps it is time to take the warning of retired Brigadier General Saleh Bala serious.
Bala once warned that playing politics with the Boko Haram insurgency would create a festering wound that could consume all facets of Nigeria’s resources.
“This is what is happening now. I strongly believe that we should have a national counter-insurgency strategy hinged on economic development, and the military strategy can pick up from there”’, he said.
Buhari and the APC did not fare any better in revamping the economy in their first tenure. An expert, and Chair of the Economics Department, Allegheny Collage, Professor Stephen Onyeiwu described Buhari’s economic scorecard thus:
“When he came to power in 2015, Buhari promised to tackle three interrelated problems: corruption, insecurity and the economy. Of the three, Nigerians regarded economic problems as paramount. But the administration appears to have focused on corruption and security issues and paid less attention to the economy.
“For example, Buhari failed to prevent an impending recession that followed the collapse of oil prices in 2015. This was because he didn’t prioritize the economy and took too long to articulate an economic transformation strategy.
“Another example of lack of focus on the economy was his meeting with US President Donald Trump in April 2018. Buhari asked for fighter jets, not economic support.
“Critics also point to the fact that Buhari ceded the management of the economy to his Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo. Though a brilliant lawyer, Osinbajo had no background or experience in economics. To make matters worse, Osinbajo surrounded himself with incompetent and inexperienced advisers.
“Buhari claimed he was unable to jump-start the economy because of falling oil prices and dwindling government revenue. Before he came to power the oil price was as high as $108 per barrel. It plummeted precipitously to $63 the month he was sworn in as president. The oil price continued to slide during the early stages of his administration, reaching an all-time low of $35 per barrel in February 2016.
“The collapse affected Buhari’s ability to put together a coherent budget. For instance, his 2016 budget had a deficit of over 2.2 trillion Naira. His attempt to borrow $30 billion to finance the deficit was vehemently opposed by the country’s lawmakers. Nor was public opinion favourable about an external loan. This forced the administration to pare down the number of projects it intended to undertake.
“Because of the administration’s inability to implement an expansionary fiscal policy, the economy has been grappling with anaemic growth since Buhari’s election. The country went into recession in 2016 followed by a rebound to about 2% in 2018. But the IMF projects that growth will remain weak at an annual average of about 1.9% from 2019 to 2023”.
What this means to the common man in the simplest of terms is that he found it more difficult to take care of his survival needs in the last four years than it had ever been in Nigeria.
But, like Professor Oyeiwu said, there is still room for improvement, if the “Next Level”” will address key economic issues. These, according to Oyeiwu, would require the President to evolve what he called a massive economic stimulus programme.
“If he can summon the energy, Buhari should significantly increase spending in sectors, projects and programmes that boost the economy generate employment and promote inclusive growth. He should prioritise infrastructure, labour-intensive manufacturing such as textiles and footwear, agro-processing, youth entrepreneurship projects, health and education.
“Nigeria has a very large stock of human and natural resources that are not being used optimally. Meanwhile, there is a huge infrastructural deficit. These range from dilapidated roads, epileptic electricity supply, acute water shortages, crumbling public buildings, grossly underfunded public tertiary institutions and so on. The gap can be closed through public works projects executed with direct labour”, Oyeiwu concluded.
Igbo Youths Task PDP, APC On Presidency
The umbrella group of youth leaders in the South East geopolitical zone, under the umbrella of the Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL) has said that it is either the presidency for the Zone in 2023 or nothing.
The group emphatically demanded that the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, should cede the presidency to the South East zone in 2023 at the expiration of the tenure of the incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari.
The youth coalition warned that refusal of any big political party to zone the presidency to the South East in 2023 simply means swimming against the tide of the curriculum of democracy in Nigeria.
This was contained in a statement issued by the President-General of the group, Chief Goodluck Ibem, and made available to newsmen in Umuahia on Saturday.
The Coalition warned that those clamouring for the North to take the presidency after eight years of Buhari’s presidency, are not patriotic, but place their personal gain and aggrandisement above the survival, progress and success of the country.
The youth leaders maintained that the zoning arrangement was borne out of doctrine of necessity designed as democracy bond with the sole objective of creating a sense of belonging, harmony, happiness, peace and unity for our dear country Nigeria.
The statement added, “Zoning of the presidency has its moral weight. Zoning of the office of the president to the South East in 2023 is very important to preserve the corporate entity of Nigeria and also calm down political tension.
Police Have Abandoned Duty For Political Thuggery – PDP
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Kogi State has warned against looming anarchy in the state, saying police authority has left its duty post for political thuggery, intimidation of electorate by the State government and APC.
Deputy Director of Public Communications of the PDP in Kogi State Campaign Council, Austin Usman Okai in a press statement on Sunday said the state Commissioner of Police has refused to stop the rising political thuggery and intimidation of electorate by APC thugs in the state.
Okai alleged that the State Commissioner of Police was giving technical support to the All Progressives Congress, APC, political thugs in the state, which has made them untouchable for security agencies despite glaring evidences of violence against them.
The council called on Police authority, Departments of State Security to call the outgoing governor of Kogi State to order, stating that, “nobody has monopoly of violence but in PDP we believe in peace.”
“No amount of gun importation into Kogi State will make Bello popular, we warned that we will not continue running for help, and we must not be pushed into self defense as that will amount to anarchy, if police failed, we will protect ourselves, the IGP must guarantee our safety as we will not fold our hands and watch some APC government officials intimidate us using police and SARS.
“In Dekina local government, the government officials have contracted some boys whose responsibility is to go after our candidate posters and billboards, the boys are armed in Sienna buses and guns, the police are aware of their activities but decided to look the other sides, while the thugs are boasting they have police and nothing will happen.
Okai also expressed worries over the level of sporadic gunshots across Abejukolo the headquarters of Omala local government area of the state, stressing that activities of the local government administrator, Hon. Aboh in sponsoring thuggery activities against the main opposition party, PDP, under the guise of electioneering campaigns needs to be checked.
He noted that the LG administrator has contracted miscreants fully armed who move in Siena and Sharon buses across the entire local government to create panic, among members of opposition political parties in the area.
“Honourable Aboh is known to be harbouring hoodlums under the cover of vigilante group, but their main mission is to attack the PDP members and their families in the local government.”
He said the decision to start now is to create uneasy calm, instill fears into the electorate and supporters of PDP from the local government under the supervision of the state government.
“This ugly trend has also spread to Olamaboro Local Government where the coordinator of PDP in the local government, Enefola Charles Agada and his family have been harrassed severally, his properties destroyed and other members of the party chased out of the area”.
“This developement is expected to go round the local government as the election draws nearer,not for anything, but to ensure PDP members are chased out of their homes on the instructions of APC leaders who are viewing the election as a war.
He called on security agencies in Kogi to without further delay address the issue of thuggery from the ruling APC government in the state, noting that the APC’s only strategy in winning the election is to instill fear in the minds of the people not to come and vote in next month’s election.
“The APC have devised several means to spread to other local government areas of Kogi East to ensure voters particularly PDP supporters and sympathizers are not allowed to come out to vote.”
Ekiti PDP Disowns Members Urging Boycott Of LG Poll
Ekiti State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), on Sunday, declared its readiness to participate in the forthcoming local government elections scheduled for December 7.
In a statement by the State Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr Jackson Adebayo in Ado Ekiti, PDP maintained that there was no amount of shenanigan that would stop the party from its resolve to participate in the election.
This position has also been corroborated by all the 16 Local Government Chairmen of the party in the state as the party threatens to brand members working secretly against its interest as rebels, with appropriate sanctions awaiting them.
The party described its members calling for boycott as fifth columnists working for the ruling APC.
“We are aware of some fifth columnists among us who, perhaps, are working in collaboration with APC to stop PDP from participation in the election due to public opinions that favours us.
“It is not unusual for some members to want to play fifth columnist in any political party, but whenever such action is established, it would be naturally treated as an anti-party activity
“We therefore call on all our members to ignore the ranting of some individuals against our participation in the council election.
“Rather, we should concentrate our energy on strategies that can win the election for us instead of allowing some black agents to plant distractions in the party,’’ he said.
Adebayo, who said that apart from the decision of the State Executive Committee of the Party to participate in the election, the State Working Committee (SWC) had also been up and doing in preparation for the election.
According to him, all necessary forms had been obtained by candidates while the party has concluded all documentation at the State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) and only waiting for substitution if any need arises.
The PDP spokesman also explained that the party had put some mechanisms in place to ensure unity in the party which informed why imposition of any form was not allowed in the primaries of the candidates of the party.
The PDP state Chairman, Chief Gboyega Oguntuwase, in an interview confirmed the stand of the party.
“The position of the extended EXCO and the SWC, with all party chairmen of all the local governments remains same.
“We met and we discussed extensively on what the PDP should do concerning the local government election.
“We all resolved that, in the overriding interest of the party, so that there will be activity in the party, so that Ekiti people will have option, so that the fundamental provision of the constitution that we all have right to vote and be voted for would not be blotted out by unnecessary emotions and sabotage, we should participate in the elections.
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