By Tony Eluemunor
With the 2019 presidential election days away, we should review the past four years, check what Gen. Mohammadu Buhari promised Nigerians when he was campaigning and determine the promises kept. Then we would decide whether he DESERVES our votes. Or we could also couch the question differently: judging by Buhari’s acts and omissions in the past four years, are we as Nigerians so satisfied with his leadership style that we want to conscientiously (i.e. motivated by our moral sense of right and wrong) place Nigeria under his care for the next four years?
Buhari’s promises: “I, Muhammadu Buhari, believe that our politics is broken. Our nation urgently needs fundamental political reform and improvement…. If you nominate me in December, 2014 and elect me in February 2015, my administration will:
1. Initiate action to amend the Nigerian Constitution with a view to devolving powers, duties, and responsibilities to states in order to entrench true Federalism and the Federal spirit;
2. Strengthen INEC to reduce, if possible, eliminate electoral malpractices….”
Did Nigeria appear broken to Buhari in 2014 or 2015? Only a few Nigerians would doubt that Buhari’s four years in power has pushed Nigeria from the frying pan into the fire proper. Now our common Nigerianness is being mocked as the ties that bind us have been frayed badly like never before. The Boko Haram Islamic insurgency is not only rife in the Bornu, Yobe and Adamawa states, but it attacked the Bornu state Governor’s convoy on Tuesday. No wonder the man shed real tears like a child a few weeks ago. Yet, the Buhari administration has been celebrating Boko Haram’s wishful-thinking defeat daily and excoriates other Nigerians for not joining in the self-delusion even as the Boko Haram insurgency may have morphed into or produced the killer-herdsmen, who strike at will everywhere.
So, what has been Buhari’s response to all the mayhem? When not praising himself for having “degraded” Boko Haram, he would be blaming (rightly I say) his predecessor for acting below expectation. Recently, he has included Libya’s Muamar Gaddafi in his blame list. He told Arise TV in January: “The Nigerian cattle herder used to carry nothing more than a stick, but these are people with AK-47 and people refuse to reflect on the demise of Gaddafi. Gaddafi (recruited) people from Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, from Central African Republic and these young chaps are not taught to be bricklayers, electricians, plumbers or any trade but to shoot and kill”.
The important question he has failed to ask and answer is how the bandits keep resupplying their armoury. Or has Ghadaffi been funding them even from his grave? And why does Nigeria play host to the most heartless of insurgents? And why did Buhari himself describe the killings in the Middle-belt as “communal clashes” between farmers and cattle-herdsmen if real herdsmen were never involved?
Were other options open to Buhari? Instead or restructuring Nigeria as promised he is planning for Cattle-colony, Cattle routes or Cattle ranches in a manner that mocks Nigeria’s Federalism. Would the state Police help to protect villages from killer cattle-herdsmen? Even Buhari may have forgotten that even City Police was among the things he had promised Nigerians.
On Saturday, Nigerians will go to the polls to elect the next President. For it to be free and fair, Buhari had promised solemnly to “Strengthen INEC to reduce, if possible, eliminate electoral malpractices”.
Ironically, Nigeria’s greatest fear now is electoral malpractices and the antidote to such is the card-reader and electronic transmission of results. The National Assembly passed the bill but Buhari refused to sign it into law – first week of December. Reason? “Any real or apparent change to the rules this close to the election may provide an opportunity for disruption and confusion in respect of which law governs the electoral process,” he said.
Yet, in the Vanguard newspaper of Wednesday, 12/12/2018, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said: “the smart card reader has become an integral part of the electoral process and will be deployed for the conduct of the 2019 general elections. The commission has taken on board the challenges and glitches faced in the use and deployment of smart card readers in 2015, and has made significant improvements and upgrade to the said smart card readers. “The upgraded smart card reader is faster, more robust and has new features that enable it to store additional data and transmit results.” Question: So, on what was the President’s fear based? Answer: Your guess is as good as mine!
On Buhari’s respect for the Constitution, well his suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, is before the courts, so, the least said the better.
Buhari promised to “Establish a well-trained, adequately equipped and goals driven Serious Crime Squad to combat insurgencies, kidnapping, armed robbery, ethno-religious and communal clashes, nationwide; Consult and amend the Constitution to enable States and Local Governments to create city, Local government and State Policing systems, based on the resources available at each levels, to address the peculiar needs of each community”. Is this laughable or tragic? Make your choice please!
I must admit there is another side to look at this issue; is the administration likely to change its attitude of defiant arrogance and insolence? Let’s interrogate the available evidence: Despite Buhari’s administration’s promise: “Generation, transmission and distribution of at least 20,000 MW of electricity within four years and increasing to 50,000 MW with a view to achieving 24/7 uninterrupted power supply within 10 years, THISDAY newspaper of 5th February 2019 reported that Power supply averaged 3,952MW, less than two weeks to the election. Babatunde Fashola, the Energy Minister has washed his hands off the matter saying that the electricity sector has been privatised. So, Buhari will do nothing!!!
Wednesday, February 6, 2019, the Leadership newspaper reported that, the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele, cautioned that the nation’s debt profile was near the pre-2005 Paris Club levels. The Debt Management Office (DMO) put the profile at N22.43 trillion as at September 2018, an increase of 85.06 per cent compared to June 2015. That’s scandalous!!!
More promises: “Ban on all government officials from seeking medical care abroad” – and the leader was the first to break the ban, “Empowerment scheme to employ 740,000 graduates”, “Establishment of a free-tuition and scholarship scheme for pupils who have shown exceptional aptitude in science subjects at O/Levels to study ICT-related courses,” “Three million Jobs per year”, “Provision of allowances to the discharged but unemployed Youth Corps members for Twelve (12) months while in the skills and entrepreneurial development programme”, Making our economy one of the fastest-growing emerging economies in the world with a real GDP growth averaging 10 per cent annually. Latest growth rate: 1.8%. “Eradication of state of origin, replacing that with state of residence to ensure Nigerians are Nigerians first, before anything else.”
Buhari further promised: “Reviving and reactivating our minimally performing Refineries to optimum capacity” (Since Dr. Ibe Kachikwu ceased being NNPC Group DG, the refineries are not talked about again). “Construction of 3,000km of Super highway including service trunks,” “Building of up to 4,800km of modern railway lines – one third to be completed by 2019”, “At least one functioning airport in each state. Speedily passing the much-delayed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and ensuring that local content issues are fully addressed. Establishing at least six new universities of science and technology with satellite campuses in various states. “Free Education at primary, secondary and tertiary institutions for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and Education”.
At the APC South-East rally at Dan Anyiam Stadium in Owerri, March 2015, Buhari declared that he would make the naira equal to the dollar as the value of the naira did “not speak well of the nation’s economy”. Now, the exchange rate is about N361.50 to a dollar. But it was N199.177 to a dollar in March 2015.
Now, if Buhari has failed so woefully, why is the election projected to be a close race between him and PDP’s Atiku Abubakar? On what is the support for Buhari based? Five months into the 2018/2019 academic session and FOUR months left, Nigerian universities are yet to open. Buhari once said in an interview that focus would be on “Security and power. This country has to be secured and managed. People in Nigeria must not go about fearing that they would be abducted.
You must not be afraid to the point that you can’t drive from Kaduna to Kano any time of the day. If you are in Lagos, you should have jobs to the point that you can afford to have three shifts in a day.
That is eight hours each. But people are now very scared wherever they are. People have built houses worth over a billion naira, but they are afraid to live in them. What is the use? So, security is number one. Number two is infrastructure. We have to revive the electricity sector so that people will have access to power to carry out their businesses”.
Judged on just security and power, Buhario has not only failed woefully, he does not even appreciate the fact that the situations have worsened under him.
Now, I beg to repeat my question: if Buhari has failed so woefully, why is the election projected to be a close race between him and Atiku? On what is the support for Buhari based? The minimum wage can hardly buy a bag of rice. The concept of Federalism and the independence of the three arms of government, have been weakened. Insurgency is rife and Buhari’s own wife said openly her husband had lost control of the nation to a cabal. It is only in Nigeria that such would be said of a President and the man would attempt to contest an election; for himself or the cabal’s second term?
This is pertinent because the First Lady had hit at the very concept of democracy when she, at a leadership summit in Abuja, challenged Nigerians to fight the cabal; two or three people who have dominated this government”, after all 15.4 million voted for Buhari in the last election; that democracy is supposed to be government of the people…!
For four years, Buhari has treated Nigeria like a feudal entity instead of a federal democracy. He has remained obdurate and inflexible. He still insists on Federal spending on Cattle Ranches. Also, despite the condemnation that he peopled his security services from a few sections of the country, he said at Obi of Onitsha’s Palace in January, that he appointed heads of security agencies purely on competence and merit. Did he mean that the complainants lacked competence and merit?
September 2015, Buhari had put the same answer differently on a BBC Hausa Service programme: that the Constitution allowed him full control over the choice of his closest officials, and made it clear the appointments also served as reward for those who remained loyal to him. So which answer is correct?
He sure looks down on others. Here, he has shown his lack of fellow-feeling for others or a great non-appreciation of the very nature of Nigeria: a multiplicity of nations that he should help build into a united country. That is Buhari’s greatest fault.
• Tony Eluemunor, an Abuja-based journalist, is a leading authority on the Presidency.
By Tony Eluemunor