Two Years of Buhari Ad­min­is­tra­tion

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To­mor­row, May 29, 2017 will be marked as the 18th an­niver­sary of the ad­vent of Nige­ria’s Fourth Re­pub­lic. It also marks two years of the ad­vent of the Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari Ad­min­is­tra­tion at the fed­eral level, as well as the mid-term an­niver­sary for the ma­jor­ity of state ad­min­is­tra­tions in the coun­try. We con­grat­u­late all our coun­try­men and women on this land­mark an­niver­sary. Eigh­teen years of un­bro­ken demo­cratic rule is the long­est such stretch in our na­tion’s his­tory, only slightly marred in the last fort­night by ru­mours that some mis­guided el­e­ments could be plot­ting a mil­i­tary coup. We are happy that De­fence Head­quar­ters has de­nied that any such plot was dis­cov­ered. We join all Nige­ri­ans in af­firm­ing that de­spite chal­lenges, noth­ing should be done to trun­cate this coun­try’s demo­cratic or­der.

This an­niver­sary is also an op­por­tu­nity to take stock of the coun­try’s lot in the past two years. The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment has al­ready de­clared to­mor­row a pub­lic hol­i­day to cel­e­brate Democ­racy Day. Min­is­ter of In­te­rior, re­tired Lt.-Gen. Ab­dul­rah­man Dam­bazau who made the an­nounce­ment, also wished Nige­ri­ans a happy cel­e­bra­tion. State House has also lined up some pro­grams to be held on Mon­day and Tues­day to mark the oc­ca­sion.

Given that no ad­min­is­tra­tion in re­cent Nige­rian his­tory came to power with so many ex­pec­ta­tions from the cit­i­zenry, the half way mark of the Buhari regime is a mixed­bag of suc­cess and dif­fi­cul­ties. The two big­gest suc­cesses of Pres­i­dent Buhari have been the war against Boko Haram and his ag­gres­sive fight against cor­rup­tion. As a com­bined re­sult of bet­ter equip­ping of the mil­i­tary, ap­point­ing re­sult ori­ented ser­vice chiefs and other com­man­ders and per­son­ally driv­ing and mo­ti­vat­ing the mil­i­tary to greater per­for­mance, as well as se­cur­ing the co­op­er­a­tion of our neigh­bours, Boko Haram is now a shadow of its for­mer self. It still sneaks sui­cide bombers into Maiduguri and spo­rad­i­cally ex­plodes IEDs; it still has rov­ing bands that ter­rorise the coun­try­side in parts of Borno State and it has pre­vented mil­lions of IDPs from re­turn­ing to their homes. Still, that is a far cry from the days when it con­trolled thirty lo­cal gov­ern­ments in three states; kid­napped thou­sands of peo­ple and kept them in nu­mer­ous slave camps; and was ex­plod­ing bombs as far afield as Kano, Gombe, Zaria, Jos, Yola, Kaduna and Abuja.

Cou­pled with the mil­i­tary suc­cess against Boko Haram was the Buhari regime’s abil­ity to se­cure the re­lease of dozens of ab­ducted Chi­bok school­girls. Three of them man­aged to es­cape on their own; 21 were re­leased last year and an­other 82 were re­cently re­leased due to ne­go­ti­a­tions with the ter­ror­ists. The Chi­bok girls’ re­lease enor­mously lifted the spir­its of Nige­ri­ans and re­duced one of the most en­dur­ing pains in our na­tional life since 2014.

The Buhari regime’s anti-cor­rup­tion cam­paign has also made a huge im­pact in Nige­ria. Probes have un­cov­ered how tril­lions of naira was lost in the oil in­dus­try and also in the name of weapons pur­chases. In ad­di­tion, EFCC made huge dis­cov­er­ies of hid­den monies; has re­trieved as­sets worth bil­lions from for­mer of­fi­cials and has ini­ti­ated the pros­e­cu­tion of many high pro­file ex-of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing top mil­i­tary brass. All th­ese ef­forts have con­vinced Nige­ri­ans for the first time in a long time that the can­cer of cor­rup­tion is be­ing fought ag­gres­sively in this coun­try.

How­ever, the past two years also wit­nessed much pain across the coun­try due to other forms of in­se­cu­rity. The worst of th­ese was the stepped up clashes be­tween pas­toral­ists and farm­ers in many states, lead­ing to high losses of lives, de­struc­tion of whole vil­lages and dis­place­ment of tens of thou­sands of peo­ple. The Buhari regime is yet to come up with an en­dur­ing so­lu­tion to th­ese clashes. The coun­try was also gripped by higher in­ci­dents of kid­nap for ran­som. Trav­el­ling on many na­tional high­ways and ru­ral roads be­came a night­mare due to the ac­tiv­i­ties of kid­nap­pers. While Nige­ria Po­lice de­vel­oped a very ca­pa­ble anti-kid­nap team called IG’s Spe­cial Re­sponse Squad, it could only tackle the most high pro­file cases, though it did so very suc­cess­fully.

The Buhari regime’s an­ticor­rup­tion cam­paign has been crit­i­cised for plac­ing too much em­pha­sis on spec­tac­u­lar raids and high pro­file ar­rests rather than in­sti­tu­tional and sys­tem re­forms that could curb cor­rup­tion in the first place. The big­gest mi­nus of the last two years has been eco­nomic re­ces­sion. With the steep fall in gov­ern­ment rev­enues due to a fall in in­ter­na­tional oil prices, the crim­i­nal sab­o­tage of oil fa­cil­i­ties by Niger Delta and the squan­der ma­nia of the Jonathan years, the na­tional econ­omy has ex­pe­ri­enced sev­eral straight quar­ters of GDP de­cline, high in­fla­tion rate and steep de­cline in the naira’s value against for­eign cur­ren­cies. Many states and lo­cal gov­ern­ments also piled up ar­rears of work­ers’ salaries while in many states and at the fed­eral level, tens of thou­sands of pen­sion­ers went un­paid for months on end.

It is un­for­tu­nate that in the midst of the ma­jor chal­lenges that still face this coun­try, Pres­i­dent Buhari suf­fered bouts of ill health that ren­dered him mostly un­able to ex­er­cise his pres­i­den­tial man­date since Jan­uary this year. He was away from the coun­try for 49 days in Jan­uary to early March, did pre­ciously lit­tle when he came back, and has been away from the coun­try for nearly a month now. In Buhari’s ab­sence the lot fell on Act­ing Pres­i­dent Yemi Os­in­bajo, who is do­ing his best but the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s co­he­sion, long term plan­ning and firm­ness of pur­pose are all af­fected by the un­cer­tain­ties of this sit­u­a­tion. We join Nige­ri­ans in pray­ing for the pres­i­dent’s safe re­turn in good health so as to face the mighty chal­lenges of his re­main­ing two years in of­fice.

Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari

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