Growing up, there was this expression we took both as a joke and a rebuke for one exaggerating: no one who examines him or herself has ever failed. This maxim filled the mind while hearing or reading President Muhammadu Buhari score himself as excellent. Mr. President came away with the ‘A’ for his scorecard, unabashedly claiming: “I have not failed Nigerians “. Haba Mr. Presido!
The President did not however state the aspects of governance where his promises to Nigerians scaled so excellently for him to thump his chest so loudly and come away with such an amazing grade. One has seen Mr. President’s verdict over his performance rarely in history. In the Bible St. Paul had to say, “I have fought the good and worthy and noble fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”. Buhari’s verdict of himself is invocative of such epochal testimonies.
But unless the President was being sarcastic, he is living in denial and in another world, not in Nigeria. Or, he meant the opposite of what Nigerians have all known.
Buhari came to power for the second time as a civilian president on the mantra of change. At least that was what Nigerians thought they heard him say during electioneering campaigns for the 2015 presidential election. But most Nigerians have found themselves in chains instead. If indeed that was what Buhari promised but Nigerians mistook the same for change, then the President is right. He has not disappointed.
The president is certainly looking at different development indexes not accessible to Nigerians. Many informed and opinion leaders in Nigerians have often said that our leaders do not live in Nigeria. Yes, it is so possible to live a different reality in such a segregated society as Nigeria. The dividers are well separated by a gulf and none on either side can access the other. Buhari certainly has lost touch with reality.
One recalls that Mr. President complained of being tucked away in the villa in his first term. Apart from his poor health then, which the cabal, to which he outsourced his presidency, took maximum advantage of, they fed the president all manner of crap. Otherwise, how can Buhari look Nigerians in the eyes and say, I have not disappointed anybody?
Let’s try to break it down for Mr. President and help him regain perspective. What Nigerians mean by his success or failure is an objective assessment of the reasons that justified his taking over from Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in 2015 as President of Nigeria. The APC came up with a whopping 222 campaign promises, which included restructuring, state police, and even fiscal federalism. But let us leave the APC party out of this for a moment.
President Muhammadu Buhari as the presidential candidate of the APC in 2015 was particular about dealing decisively with insecurity, corruption, economy, and unemployment. So, if anyone has to objectively and fairly assess Buhari’s tenure, let the person focus on what he said he would do. What is more, Nigerians were also involved in setting the agenda for President Muhammadu Buhari and were particular about the named critical four.
Many Nigerians high and low believed a no-nonsense Buhari should be able to deal with corruption and insecurity. As of 2015, Nigeria was confronted only by the Boko Haram insurgency, which was confined mostly to the Sambisa forest in Borno state, save for some incursions of insurgency in some isolated parts of the country. Farmers-herdsmen debacle was sporadic and also isolated.
The nation was not treated to banditry to the point of it being permitted to grow into a full-blown terrorist group. Biafra agitation in the South-East championed by IPOB was still very peaceful. The South-East was till the last two Mays the safest zone in Nigeria. But Federal Government’s neglect and exclusion (aka 5% voters) has created the lacuna that has bred the Eastern Security Network, ESN and the Unknown Gunmen, UGM phenomenon which has rendered the same peaceful South-East a bedlam and a killing field that is fairly comparable to the Boko Haram ravages in the North-East.
The South-East zone is now waxing desolate and its economy dying with the Monday sit-at-home, which costs the zone billions in naira and drives its entrepreneurs away. Many have been killed and are being killed. If Buhari is really in touch with reality, he would not score himself so high with this level of insecurity, escalating fault lines, and ungoverned spaces that are created and grown under his watch.
Corruption is yet another area where the nation has grown worse in all its ramifications. Impunity and corruption have both grown as correlates and Siamese twins. Much more spectacular cases of corruption have been recorded in the Buhari years with little or no consequence if at all. There are dozens of examples.
On the economy, the President proved he has no idea how the modern economy is now run. The misery index has worsened on all counts. Yes, let’s look at the economy from the prism of the misery index under Buhari. The misery index is meant to measure the degree of economic distress felt by everyday people, due to the risk of (or actual) joblessness combined with an increasing cost of living. The misery index is calculated by adding the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate to the inflation rate.
Can somebody tell Mr. President that Nigeria’s misery index is the worst on all counts since Nigeria gained independence under his watch? Maybe during the civil war things spiral out of control but why is it so today in relative peacetime? Inflation is now over 20% and unemployment is now 33.3% and this is from official sources in 2022.
To further break it down for Mr. President, here are incontrovertible comparisons between Nigeria he inherited and Nigeria he has transformed. Dollar N190 in 2015, but now N740; Fuel went for N87 in 2015, now it’s N300; Kerosene sold for N150 in 2015, and now N1,000; Diesel went for N155, now selling for N900; Cooking gas sold in 2015 for N180, but now N850; Rice was N8,000 in 2015, now N45,000; Bread was N300 in 2015, now N1,000; Chicken went for N2,500, now N10,000; flight was N13,000 in 2015, now N80,000; Insecurity was in North East zone, now all over the country; Debt profile was $9.7bn, $98.6b… N77trn. Let’s ask our mothers how much was a mudu of garri then and what it goes for now. Should we go on?
So, what the hell is Mr. President talking about? Which area of our national life is the President referring to while measuring his so-called success?
Even the APC presidential candidate and his running mate complain about President Buhari and his policies. The three last blunders are driving the nail into the coffin of their presidential aspiration. Under Buhari, ASUU has gone on the longest strikes twice. The first was just before COVID-19 and was for 9 months, and the second that just ended was for 8 years. 15 months in all – approximately 2 years wiped off the life of Nigerian university students and irrecoverably so.
As if that was not enough, the fuel crisis has now returned with vengeance after spending trillions of naira in subsidies. Meanwhile, the President, the petroleum minister, days ago, said he wants to chair a committee on fuel scarcity caused by the office he seized and could not administer.
Then, the ultimate; CBN governor Godwin Emefiele is now tightening the noose on ‘bullion van’ politicians with his naira redesign policy to deal a blow on vote trade. The old notes are expiring in a matter of days as legal tenders and Tinubu says the policy is targeted at stopping him from winning the 2023 presidential election.
If truth be told, Mr. President, yours has been more of toxic leadership, which is leaving a place worse than the leader met it. Yes, if things were truly bad when you took over the reins of governance in 2015, you have certainly made them worse. That is why the majority of Nigerians say you have failed on all fronts. If anything improved under Buhari, it is your health for which they thank God. Facts, they say, speak for themselves.
The only chance left to redeem the President’s suffering credibility is holding a free, fair, credible, and acceptable 2023 General Election, and signing the new 33 constitutional amendments/alterations into law. Lest he goes down in history as the Nigerian president who came and saw and failed, a general conquered by terrorists, bandits, and insurgents.
· Dr Law Mefor, a forensic/social psychologist, is a fellow of The Abuja School of Social and Political Thought and can be reached via 09130335723 or email@example.com. He tweets @DrLawMefor.