Two Years of Buhari Administration
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