Opinion

Buhari’s Plea for a Chance to Rebuild Nigeria in 2015 vs the Existential Realities

By Steven Kefas

Politicians make ridiculous promises to the masses during electioneering period. These promises are usually very enticing and oftentimes influence the decisions of voters but are killed and buried by the politicians at the conclusions of elections.

The 2015 general elections in Nigeria was not any different from every other poll the country has had since it gained independence in 1960. The election was adjudged ‘free and fair’ by many including the international community.

Muhammadu Buhari, the then Presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) campaigned vigorously across the length and breadth of Nigeria, making promises that sounded very convincing to the electorates, chief among which is to improve security if elected.

As far back as 2013, Buhari begun telling Nigerians what he would do if given the chance to lead the country again. One of such occasions was in April 2013 during a meeting with stakeholders of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), a political party he formed in 2009 in preparation for the 2011 general elections.

“If you, the people decide to give us another opportunity, we will BE JUST to you.” Buhari said

Buhari went further to call on the stakeholders present to ensure that they enlighten the people on who to vote in the coming elections.

“In the year 2015, what I will like to see happened is for people at ward, local and state levels to be enlightened on the need for them to insist that only the people they vote for will be allowed to represent and lead them. He said.

Juxtaposing Buhari’s promise to be ‘just to Nigerians’ and the current realities facing the country, one would be forced to agree that Buhari has not kept to his promise as justness has lost it’s place in our national discuss in the last six years and still counting.

Since coming to office in May 2015, President Buhari has indeed been ‘fair’ but only to his Fulani tribe. Apart from ensuring that key government positions are exclusively reserved for the Fulanis, he has also watched and did nothing as the Fulanis take up arms against indigenous tribes across the country with the Middle Belt Region being the worsts hit.

Security generally has only worsened since Buhari took over power in 2015. Attacks on indigenous communities across the country have become a regular occurrences with thousands killed by Fulani militias. Several communities have also been displaced and sometimes occupied in what seems to be a continuation of the Uthman Danfodio Jihad.

In all of these, not even a single herdsman militia has been prosecuted for these obvious crimes against humanity. None has even be arrested instead all the Buhari led Federal government does it so make excuses for the herdsmen and their atrocities.

For instance, we’ve had instances where the presidency via its Spokesman Femi Adesina said that the indigenous people should give up their land in order not to be killed by the herdsmen. Such utterances only show the government’s position on the atrocious activities of the Fulani militias.

Moving away from security, the economy has been in a state of collapse since Buhari came to power. Apart from nosediving into recessions, the country’s unemployment figures and debt profile have also surged astronomically. According to data from the Debt Management Office (DMO), as of March 2021, Nigeria’s total public debt has hit N33.1 trillion. According to the same DMO, Nigeria’s total debt as of June 30, 2015 when Buhari took over the mantle of leadership stood at N12.12 trillion.

The disturbing fact is that most of Nigeria’s debts were incurred by the Buhari led government within the last six years (2015-2021). Ironically, one cannot categorically point out to what the massive debts were spent on. This is not disputing the fact that the Buhari government has invested on infrastructures such as roads and rail lines constructions. The amount invested in such projects most times are overinflated thereby forcing the country to spend more on projects compare to what is obtainable elsewhere around the world.

According to a March 2021 publication on Bloomberg, Nigeria’s unemployment rate is put at 33% making her the second highest on global list. This invariably means that more people have lost their jobs within the last six years. This is not in anyway ignoring the covid-19 factor. Even before covid-19, the country’s unemployment rate was already growing at the speed of light.

The fight against corruption was another key campaign item Buhari and his party the APC used in 2015. They accused the then PDP led government of corruption and promised to do things differently if given the opportunity to serve. Data available on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2020 published by the Transparency International shows that Nigeria currently ranked 149th out of 180 countries surveyed in the world, making her the second most corrupt country in West Africa. Nigeria was ranked 136th in 2015.

While the government continues to claim to be fighting corruption on the pages of newspapers, the reality is that Nigeria is perceived to be more corrupt today than it was in 2015, another convincing indication that the promise to fight corruption has not been kept.

The educational sector has also not witnessed any improvement since Buhari took over in 2015. Tertiary education in the country has suffered setbacks due to incessant strike actions by various academic and nonacademic staff unions. In 2020, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) were on strike for over nine months due to government’s failure to meet certain financial demands made by the union to increase funding for government universities. The strike action forced students of government owned universities across the country to be at home. A situation that further led to increase in crime rates during the period. Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics also had their fair share of the strike actions.

In conclusion, President Muhammad Buhari has only contributed to the destruction of the unity of Nigeria, at least going by his scorecard within the last six years. Ethnic and religious tension are in an all time high causing panic and fears that the country may be plunged into another civil war.

 


Steven Kefas is a Human Rights Defender, a Journalist and a public affairs commentator. He writes from Kaduna, Nigeria


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