By Frank Ijege,
Since the return to democracy in 1999, no election has been celebrated like the one that brought General Muhammadu Buhari to power in 2015. His victory saw a lot of Nigerians throng to the streets in jubilation for the victory of a man they feel would wipe away their tears and bring an end to the pain and suffering they went through under the regime of the PDP.
We had witnessed sixteen years of monumental corruption; clueless leadership and an unwillingness to try, under the PDP. Our collective patrimony was shared by a few; for those in government and for those who had friends or links with government
It was therefore, not surprising that, the people had great hopes and expectations in the administration of General Muhammadu Buhari. But after one year, has President Buhari discharged the burden placed on his shoulders? Has he succeeded in wiping away the tears from the eyes of the people? Are we now better off than we were under the last administration of President Jonathan?
The truth here is that after one year with president Muhammadu Buahri at the saddle of leadership, not much has changed. His performance in following sector to underscores this point.
Power: during the last administration, power generation was low. This was not surprising as corruption was the order of the day. However, as at May 29th, 2015, we were producing well over 2,000 megawatts of electricity. It is not out of place to expect the APC administration to build on that and increase power generation to around 5,000 megawatts. Unfortunately, little or nothing has been done within the last one year. On the 29th of March, 2016, power generation dropped to its lowest. We generated zero megawatts. This, to my knowledge, is the first time we are generating zero megawatts. That should go into the history books. As at May 26th, 2016, we are generating 1, 580 megawatts of electricity. This is very poor and shows lack of progress in that sector. Despite the fact that electricity tariff was increased by the government to ensure steady supply, all consumers get in return for paying high is darkness. So, as far as the power sector is concerned, nothing has changed; except of course, we now pay more for darkness.
The next sector that readily comes to mind is security. One of the greatest challenges that threatened the last administration was insecurity; especially boko haram. The Goodluck Jonathan’s administration was overtly clueless in tackling the menace, or it was simply not interested in tackling it. This is because after postponing the election from February to March last year, we saw a massive onslaught on the dreaded sect. Nigerians began to see a new attitude of government against insurgency.
However, while the PDP administration remained clueless, the APC as a political party was dangerously mouthed. It was castigating the government and priding itself that it would end the insurgency within six months of attaining power. Twelve months after, it has not ended boko haram. In fairness to President Buhari, one must commend him for the successes recorded so far. The attacks have drastically reduced, but they have not been completely phased out. Boko haram is thus, down but not out. The recent attacks by the sect confirm this.
If one is to look at insecurity as a whole, President Buhari has not really done much in terms of securing the lives of the people. The rising spate of kidnapping and the recent onslaught by the Fulani herdsmen where hundreds of people have lost their lives in avoidable circumstances are there for all to see. For a government that promised change, one expects it to do better.
In terms of employment, government has no achieved much within the past twelve months. According to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, unemployment grew from 10.4% in the last quarter of 2015; to 12.1 % in the first quarter of 2016 (when compared with the corresponding quarter of 2015, it is 3.96%). Working class employment grew by one million, five hundred people. The total number of full time employed, decreased by 528, 148 persons or 0.97%. Youth unemployment rose by 42.24%. Although the Minister of Labour and Productivity tried to peg unemployment rate at eighteen million people, there are indication that it is higher than that. Every serious government should be bothered by these statistics. More bothering is the fact that people are losing their jobs on a daily basis. According to president of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry, fifty thousand people have lost their jobs in Abuja alone
In terms of the economy, President Buhari has not fared better. Under his watch, the naira has crashed to the dollar. The economy shrank to 0.36% in the first quarter of 2016, while it was 3.96% in the corresponding first quarter of 2015. The Gross Domestic Product dropped to a new low in the first quarter of 2016; it was 0.36%! The economy has continued to nose-dive under his watch of. For instance, Nigeria used to be the third fastest growing economy in the world. Today, thanks to Buhari, we are not even among the top fifteen!
This collapse of the economy has translated into great hardship for the people. Prices of commodities have gone up; the quality of life of the people is on the decline. When one compares the situation with the enthusiasm of the people on the day the election results were announced, it is nothing but disappointing. A lot of Nigerians had high hopes that this government would assuage their pain and suffering; but what they have gotten within the past twelve months is a meteoric rise in their pains. During the election period, I heard someone say Buhari will bring down the price of a bag of rice to N 5,000. Please, how much is a bag of rice today? The enthusiasm and hopes the people had in this government has since evaporated. The general feeling of the people now is one of frustration. They are just praying for the years to roll by as fast as it can. Every reasonable government should be bothered about its evaporating goodwill. I frankly can’t tell if this government bothered. Chief Olusegun Obasnjo had rightly said that President Buhari is not an economist; but the president should have constituted an economic team or expand the one he currently has.
One of the greatest selling points of General Muhammadu Buhari during the election was his integrity and his anti corruption posture. However, one year on, we are yet to see a serious fight against corruption. Apart from one or two cases that have been instituted, nobody has been tried for corruption. What we have had is the trial of people in the media and not in the courts. There are also people with questions bothering on corruption hanging on their neck, but the president seems not to have any problem associating with them. That is unlike Buahri!
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources announced the removal of fuel subsidy. Since the announcement, people groaning and lamenting the hardship it would cause and was already causing. The Nigeria Labour Congress declared a national strike but was blackmailed into calling it off. In the midst of all these, the president has not deemed it fit to address the nation.
That announcement was not without confusion. The Minister of State for Petroleum said it was a removal of subsidy; while the vice president said it was price increase. The people remain in the dark while our president is reticent.
Considering the fact that the APC had viciously condemned the removal of fuel subsidy by the last administration, one is perplexed that it is doing the same thing and sees nothing wrong. The president had said he doesn’t believe in fuel subsidy. Now that he is there, is there really anything like fuel subsidy? If according to wide spread belief, people get paid to the tune of billions of dollars for not importing a single litre of fuel, why not clean up the system and ensure every dime collected is accounted for? Should we even be importing fuel in the first place?
A common feature that is prominent in all the sectors considered above is disappointment. Unfortunately, there is nothing tangible on ground to show that within the next fear years, things would pick up. When a foundation is faulty, the whole building becomes faulty. The APC rode to power through propaganda and rhetoric. Unfortunately, twelve months after being on the saddle, it is still believes it will survive through propaganda and rhetoric. The earlier it realizes that this will not stand the test of time, the better for it.
The president must redeem himself. The first step towards doing this is to do something about the disconnect that exists between him and the people. Only the people can honestly give him a fair assessment of his administration. Those around him may just be painting the wrong picture to him.
Let me end by saying may Buhari succeed.