The Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is known for buck passing over its inability to deliver on promises. In fact, it has turned the blame game into an art form.
Recall that the administration was ushered into power in 2015 by long-suffering Nigerians secured in the belief that the incoming All Progressives Party (APC) would make a difference in their lives and wipe out the perceived misdeeds of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
PDP, described as the largest party in Africa, had been in power for 16 years and had failed abysmally to deliver the dividends of democracy for Nigerians. Puffed up with pride and hubris, the party boasted that it would rule for more than 60 years. But the APC, a special purpose political vehicle turned out to be its nemesis; but today, things have turned full circle with Nigerians clamouring for a return to the PDP years since things have further worsened instead of improving under APC. In the present circumstances, an estimated 95 million Nigerians are projected to fall into poverty at the end of 2022, according to the World Bank reports.
Indeed, many Nigerians expected the APC administration to hit the ground running; instead, President Buhari on assumption of power acted with the speed of a tortoise, as if he had the whole time to revamp the economy. It was as though Buhari came to power with no blueprint to fix the nation. At every turn, he repeatedly heaped blames on his predecessor for mismanagement and running the economy aground. For a man who had run for presidency four times, it was unsettling that he would spend almost six months before picking his cabinet.
Taking the blame to another level
Now, the blame game has been taken to a new level. Last Tuesday during a working visit to Imo state he said, “I don’t know why people are not commending my government. In terms of time and resources, this administration has done extremely well. I have to say it because those who are supposed to say it are not saying it. I don’t know why.”
The president’s question is loaded in so many respects because it connotes the impression that his performance has been superlative and as a consequence, has delivered on the dividends of democracy to an ungrateful and unfeeling people who lack the empathy to show gratitude.
As far as the president is concerned, he has delivered on infrastructure development, especially his legacy project, which is the Second Niger Bridge at Onitsha as well as the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge railways, ongoing Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Kano-Jibia-Maradi (Niger Republic) railways among other projects. The president also lamented that the achievements of his administration are not being trumpeted enough by those who are supposed to do so.
At the same time, the president accused Nigeria’s elite of not showing enough patriotism. In his estimation, he has done so much with so little in order to provide basic infrastructure, arguing that as of now, oil production output has halved by almost 50% compared to the 16 years of PDP era when production output was about 2.3 million barrels per day.
Buhari who spoke during the commissioning of some projects undertaken by the administration of Governor Hope Uzodinma stated that when he became president in 2015, many local government areas in Borno and Adamawa states were controlled by Boko Haram. Touting his score card, he said that is no longer the case.
He also described the terrorists as fraudulent people, adding that his government has overwhelmed them.
Outlining his achievements for the past seven years, he said, “Between 1999 and 2015 when we came in, I would like people to check the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), the average production was 2.1 million barrels per day. Nigeria was earning at this time 2.1 million times but look at the state of infrastructure, look at the roads, look at the railway.
Media handlers to be blamed
But who should take the blame for failing to blow the president’s trumpet. Wittingly or unwittingly, the president seems to be heaping blame on his communication team as well as the minister of information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed. However, many would disagree because his communication team have not only overreached themselves in a bid to trumpet the president’s achievements, especially when their claims and defence of the administration flies in the face of current reality. They have given a good account of themselves, even though many Nigerians may disagree with them.
The point however is that Nigerians did not vote Buhari to give excuses; rather, they believed he had the character, capacity and competence to get the job done. His penchant for excuses and buck passing gives the impression of a lazy workman who is always complaining about his tools. Though the economy was not his strongest suit, but many expected him to make a difference in the area of security.
While appreciable progress has been made in the North-east, the North-west and parts of the North-central have become hotbeds of terrorism, banditry and kidnapping.
Even so the president’s lamentations about the fall in oil production grates on the ear because he has the whole machinery of government and the security forces at his disposal to put an end to oil thefts in the Niger Delta which has almost crippled the economy and consigned the nation to the third position as an oil producing country in Africa. Basically, government’s failure to protect its strategic assets underscores the fact that it has failed signally in its responsibility. That’s why the administration should not shift its lapses on hapless citizens.
Still, the buck stops at the president’s table for the massive loss recorded in the oil sector, which is estimated at about $1billion between the first and second quarter of 2022.
Giant strides go into oblivion
In fairness to the Buhari administration, it has made some strides in infrastructure development but all this pales into insignificance in light of worsening security challenge, a comatose economy, widespread unemployment, burgeoning debt profile that has asphyxiated the economy, runaway inflation and attendant high cost of living.
Due to excessive borrowing, the administration has reduced future generations to a life of penury and peonage.
Obviously, it’s easy to divine why Nigerians have not been shouting the Hallelujah chorus for the president. This cannot be farfetched. First, the administration conveys the impression that it does not care enough about education, giving the fact that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has been on strike for more than six months, leaving millions of students in the lurch in ongoing spat between ASUU and the government. Government’s failure to find a lasting solution to the intractable problem of sustainable funding for higher education has not endeared it to students and parents. On the other hand, Nigerians are rubbed the wrong way as they watch with disbelief as politicians and high-ranking government officials regularly parade the pictures of their children in social media during graduation from universities abroad, without sparing a thought for millions of students marooned at home as a result of the decaying and deteriorating education system. Of course, this further rankles many Nigerians who have no other choice than the existing public universities that have become a shadow of their former selves.
In the same vein, the health sector is virtually on its knees as more than 13,000 health workers including doctors have left for greener pastures in the past two years. Most of the public hospitals have been reduced to mere consulting clinics, as the quality of healthcare has deteriorated considerably.
On the other hand, insecurity has worsened resulting in about two million people taking refuge in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps. Besides the deteriorating security situation has driven many farmers away from their farmlands, which portends a clear case of looming food insecurity. As a result of all these existential crises, it would take the height of extreme forbearance for people to continually hail the president, despite their own fears and challenges as well as the general insecurity that has made life nasty, brutish and short.
Most disconcerting of all is that the cardinal promise to fight corruption has taken the back burner and it has been sacrificed on the altar of expediency. Now corruption is more pronounced, with some mind-boggling cases that have shaken the nation to its foundation. Today corruption walks on all fours, and it has seemingly doubled or even quadrupled on Buhari’s watch.
So, on what basis should the people applaud the president since universities have been under lock and key for more than six months, cost of living has hit the roof, corruption has grown wings, insecurity has worsened, the four refineries are not working seven years down the line and after millions of dollars have gone towards their rehabilitation, just to mention a few challenges starring Nigerians in the face.
In the past seven years, Nigerians have shown unparalleled forbearance and long suffering despite the rising frustration and poverty that have made life unbearable for millions of compatriots. As things stand, all the ingredients that gave vent to the Arab Spring are present in Nigeria today and that is why the president should be grateful that things have not taken a turn for the worse.