Truth has fallen in the street of this misguided Buhari government; so much so that abject failure has been camouflaged as its triumph.
It is amusing, if not very disturbing, to see the number of people the Buhari administration has brought out of the woodwork to sing its praises on this its one-year anniversary. Having arrested key spokespersons of the opposition, intimidated the press into silence, threatened the judiciary, and even arrested its non-politician critics, such as Olu Adegboruwa, on trumped up charges, the Buhari government has become confident that it has a free pass to feed Nigerians with lies about its woeful performance in office.
Having won a “famous” election by telling Nigerians a tissue of lies which it then repudiated on assuming office, the Buhari government continues to believe it can also govern just by continuing to tell lies. Thus, assessing his performance in office over the past one year, the president even went as far as to boast that it has been “a year of triumph.” This shows conclusively that truth has fallen in the street of this misguided Buhari administration; so much so that abject failure has been camouflaged as its triumph.
Deceitful election campaign
In all my years of living in Nigeria, I can say along with the overwhelming majority of Nigerians that we have never had it so bad. Only one thing explains the extremities of Nigeria’s miserable predicament today: we have in office a government so singularly inept and incompetent, it has triumphed in making a bad situation so much worse.
In an article last year entitled: “Why Nigerians Must Reject the Second-Coming of Buhari,” I made this observation after listening to Buhari’s vapid campaign speeches:
“It is amazing that, for a man who is running for election as president for a marathon fourth time, Buhari is so bereft of ideas as to how he would do anything if he were to become president. No man becomes president of Nigeria on the basis of vain platitudes. No man becomes president as a result of social media blogs and sound-bites. No man becomes president by giving two-minute speeches in craftily-packaged rallies, one minute of which is spent introducing his entourage.”
However, many Nigerians refused to heed our warning. Now the chickens have come to roost.
After listening to President Buhari’s inaugural speech in May 2015, I also had this to say in an article entitled: “Is President Buhari Born Again?”
“Buhari has been running for president for the last 14 years. Nevertheless, listening to his inaugural speech, it is clear he does not have a clue what exactly to do when in office. Either the APC never really believed it would win the election, or it was too preoccupied with winning to pay sufficient attention to what it would do in the unlikely event that it won.”
Of course, Buhari apologists promptly came to his defense. They claimed it was too early to make such assessment. Let the man settle down.
The first 100 days of a new administration provides the best opportunity to proclaim giant strides and pass difficult legislation because it is still the honeymoon period. But our man Buhari squandered this opportunity by doing absolutely nothing. At his 100 days inaugural, I had this assessment:
“After 100 days, it should now be abundantly clear that Buhari is not qualified to be president of 21stcentury Nigeria. The president has neither agenda nor direction. His cardinal objective is apparently the prosecution of Northern hegemony. The APC desperately needs to organise an intervention, before Buhari drives the country into the ditch. It is time to admit it. Electing Buhari as president was a big national blunder.”
Again, the paid chorus-singers jumped to the president’s defense. They insisted again that 100 days is not enough to make an adequate assessment of a president’s agenda or direction. Buhari still needed to be given more time.
Buhari wasted seven months to choose the members of his cabinet, receiving in the process the ignominy of being nicknamed “Baba Go-Slow.” He promised Nigerians his ministers would be unimpeachable saints and angels. But when the time finally came, they turned out to be the same old and tired politicians, some with serious allegations of corruption hanging over their heads. In an uncharacteristic moment of clarity, Buhari himself castigated them as “noise-makers.” In office, they have been singularly unimpressive without exception.
Abubakar Malami, the minister of justice, dropped a fictitious bombshell by declaring that the EFCC has recovered 2 trillion dollars of stolen loot. The minister of science and technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, dazzled our credibility by saying his ministry has the capacity to generate about 3.4 million jobs in 2016 alone through pencil production. Lai Mohammed, another of the government’s bamboozlers, said the government would use the N1.4 trillion in the TSA as Father Christmas handouts for Nigeria’s poorest 20 million. This kind of blatantly false hot air has become the stock-in-trade of this APC government.
All Promises Cancelled
Now it is not just 100 wasted days, it is 365. It is one full year and there is no difference, except that things have gone terribly wrong. I repeat: Nigerians have never had it so bad. No light, no petrol, no economic policy, no government. Just vain platitudes.
When a political party wins an election by deceiving the electorate, filling the people with false promises; it is easy to conclude it can also rule by deceit, feeding the populace with false hope. However, sooner than later, lies will be exposed to be lies. Judging by the president’s failure to fulfil any of his vaunted campaign promises, his government is not only a failure but a fraud.
At the APC South-East rally in Owerri in 2015, Buhari declared he would make the naira equal to the dollar if voted into office. He continued: “It is sad that the value of the naira has dropped to more than 230 to one dollar. This does not speak well for the nation.” If N230 to one dollar is sad, what shall we say today of the exchange-rate of N350 to one dollar under his administration? How does that speak for the nation, Mr. President?
Just take a look at the following anomalies. Buhari promised to create 740,000 jobs within a year in the 36 states of the federation, as well as one million jobs for Igbo youths by revamping the huge coal deposits in Enugu State for electricity generation. However, in one year in office, his administration has created no new jobs. Instead, it has lost jobs by the lorry-load by its go-slow and do-nothing stance.
The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in the first quarter of 2016 alone, another 1.5 million Nigerians became unemployed; increasing the country’s unemployment rate from 10.4 percent in the last quarter in 2015 to 12.1 percent.
Buhari promised to generate, transmit and distribute electricity on a 24/7 basis. At the beginning of his administration, APC propagandists went to town boasting that there was already regular power supply as a result of the alchemy of the president’s “body language.” But, in no time at all, the only language the president’s body has been speaking is power blackouts.
In 365 days of Buhari’s tragic presidency, Nigeria has suffered more blackouts than at any time in its history. In April this year, the entire country was thrown into darkness as a result of system collapse. The minister of power has become a minister of darkness. To date, there is no reprieve in sight.
From bad to worse
Before Buhari, our primary security concern was the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-east. But thanks to Buhari, insecurity has become nationwide. Now the threat is not only Boko Haram in the North-east. It is also the Shi’ites in the North-west. It is the Biafrans in the South-east. It is the Niger Delta Avengers in the South-South. But for the incompetence of the government, these new fissures would not have gained new prominence.
At his inaugural, the president claimed grandiloquently: “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody.” But after 365 days in office, we now know that he belongs to Fulani herdsmen, after all, he called them “my people” to Lam Adesina of Oyo State. These herdsmen have been allowed to go from state to state on repeated murderous rampages, with nary a word of reproach until recently from the president who, with his 270 declared cows, is apparently their patron.
Lai Mohammed, the minister of information, said in December 2015: “We can confidently announce here today that the (fuel) scarcity will end in a few days. We can assure you that we won’t be caught in this kind of situation again.” However, the kind of scarcity we have experienced since the making of this vain promise has been unprecedented in Nigeria’s history. On some occasions, the fuel queues at petrol-stations everywhere have been as long as half a mile.
When Jonathan reduced the petrol pump price from N97 to N87 per litre in January 2015, former Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola said the N10 reduction was too low and that Nigerians would get a better deal under Buhari. Later, in April 2015, one of Buhari’s arch-propagandists, former minister of petroleum and energy, Professor Tam David-West, told Nigerians that, since a drastic decrease in the international price of oil had taken place, Buhari would reduce the fuel pump price from N87 to N40 per litre.
But all this turned out to be just another tissue of lies. Rather than decrease the price, Buhari has now increased it by a massive N56.50 to N145. This has fed into already high price increases and has led to further devaluation of the naira on the parallel market. The result has been even more hardship in Nigeria, especially among the poor.
At the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomosho, Tinubu declared that the APC would eradicate poverty in Nigeria. He said: “A progressive government must turn its face from the austerity policies of the outgoing administration that tried to manage poverty, but not end it. Such policies serve only to deepen and prolong the hardship of the average person.”
But it is now abundantly clear that no government has impoverished Nigerians as much as this APC government. The rate of inflation in the country has grown astronomically. If the members of the lying brigade the government has trotted out in this one-year anniversary to deceive Nigerians are so sure of Buhari’s triumphant success, let them go to any market in the country today, North or South, and shout “Sai Buhari.” They should not be surprised if they are mugged or even lynched.
After just 365 days, Nigerians are completely fed up with Buhari and the APC. At the moment, the country is a powder-keg waiting to be ignited. This is the assessment of Balarabe Musa, former governor of Kaduna State: “It is quite obvious that this administration is a complete failure and does not have the capacity to solve any problems. The unfortunate thing is that the situation in Nigeria is so bad that the electorate is now cursing their luck for electing it.”
To be continued.
Femi Aribisala is a scholar and international affairs expert. He is currently an iconoclastic church pastor in Lagos. He is also a syndicated essayist for a handful publications in Nigeria. Connect with him on Twitter at @FemiAribisala and at his website, www.femiaribisala.com.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.