Why is it so hard for the president to admit that maybe he hasn’t measured up to the demands of his job?
When President Muhammadu Buhari finally cowed to public pressure, or made the decision, to visit troubled states in the country, Taraba was his first port of call.
While addressing representatives of ethnic groups and the Taraba State government at the Government House in Jalingo on March 3, 2018, the president didn’t fail to mention that his administration has delivered on the electoral promises he made before his victory in 2015.
He said, “When I was campaigning, I came here and promised to provide security, boost the economy and fight corruption.
“Today, even our worst enemy can attest to the fact that the APC-led Federal Government has done well in the area of security. We have decimated Boko Haram, while the fight against corruption is going on well.”
It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad and misguided, especially since the president was making this bold claim in one of the states across the country where at least a hundred people have been killed in several clashes and attacks in recent weeks.
Or especially since he made the remark only days after Boko Haram, which he keeps claiming is defeated, in shifting degrees, recently just kidnapped 110 schoolgirls from Dapchi, Yobe State.
President Buhari’s scorecard
According to the president’s own admittance, he promised the Nigerian people that in four short years, his administration would mostly focus on fixing security, the economy, and rid the nation of corruption.
Three years later and it’s important to assess if the president has measured up to his own words.
If only there was a way to measure it. Hmm.
In a report by Transparency International (TI) released on February 21, 2018, Nigeria still ranks as one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
This is not a surprise as major officials in the president’s administration have been dogged by corruption allegations that have smeared his reputation.
On top of that, significant convictions have been tough to come by as high profile suspects keep slipping through the net for a myriad of reasons.
According to the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), which is Transparency International’s national contact, the new index is worrying as it reflects the inability of President Buhari’s administration to combat corruption like he promised.
Its assessment read, “This fresh setback in the fight against corruption confirms that grand corruption, political corruption, nepotism, favoritism and bribery persist in Nigeria at all levels.
“It is CISLAC’s view that the negative perception is mainly a consequence of the inability to combat grand corruption and astronomical plundering of public coffers costing the Nigerian taxpayers around 25% of annual GDP.
“Since the current administration has come to power on the anti-corruption ticket, no significant politically exposed person has been duly sentenced on anti-corruption charges.”
While the country is jointly ranked 148/180 alongside Guinea and Comoros, African countries ranked higher than Nigeria include: Botswana (34th), Rwanda (48th), Namibia (53rd), and Kenya (143rd).
Fellow African leaders in the African Union (AU) may have named President Buhari as the continent’s undisputed “Anti-Corruption Champion”, but the stats tell a different story.
According to a recent report released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on February 28, Nigerians are getting poorer despite the country’s slow recovery from a devastating recession.
While the report expressed the need for urgent economic reforms expected to help the government “muddle through” in the medium term, the IMF was also wary of the fact that next year’s election could consume the gains.
The report read, “Comprehensive and coherent economic policies remain urgent and must not be delayed by approaching elections and recovering oil prices.
“Higher oil prices would support a recovery in 2018 but a ‘muddle-through’ outlook is projected for the medium term under current policies, with fiscal dominance and structural constraints leading to continuing falls in real GDP per capita.”
While the Federal Government keeps patting itself on the back for Nigeria’s emergence out of recession, the average Nigerian is yet to completely enjoy the gains of the numbers displayed on paper as rising food costs are not so eager to drop back down and the price of fuel keeps shuffling out of hand.
The average Nigerian does not need any expert opinion to realise that the situation of Nigeria’s security is an opposite of what the president and his cronies have relentlessly painted.
Despite the president’s insistence on his administration’s defeat of Boko Haram for the past three years, terrorist attacks continue to sting.
The militants just recently abducted 110 schoolgirls and then proceeded to kill three aid workers, six soldiers and five policemen in an attack in Rann, Borno State days later.
Recent violent killings that have taken place in several states across the country, especially in Benue and Taraba, have intensified the conflicts between farmers and cattle herders.
The only security victory the president’s administration can claim is the ceasefire it reached with Niger Delta militants which has made the spate of pipeline bombings almost non-existent, but that truce keeps coming under threat it could end any day.
While some of the blame of all these cannot be laid at the president’s feet, he’s refused to acknowledge that they are still problems that need to be promptly solved.
Instead, he only acknowledges that he has fulfilled his campaign promises, or the remnant problems are caused by previous governments. Nothing is his fault.
Just what makes the president believe that he has been a monumental success as the leader of Nigeria in a sea of contradictory evidence?
A Villa of praise singers
While speaking during a meeting with members of the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative (PFI) at the Presidential Villa on March 2, President Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, told the president that the only people who keep saying his administration has not achieved anything are those who can no longer plunder government resources at the expense of Nigerians. According to him, the president has brought millions of Nigerians out of poverty.
“Mr President, they say your government has not achieved anything. Yes, they say Nigerians are poorer; it is true Nigerians are poorer because there are less billionaires and less private jets,” he said.
Like Kyari, the president’s administration is filled with officials who keep singing his praises to the high heavens no matter what evidence of underperformance is in the news cycle.
From the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, to the president’s fleet of media drones, it’s always sunshine and rainbows in the Republic.
Whatever smear that exists is the fault of the opposition, liars and/or troublemakers who should feel ashamed and crawl under a rock for not appreciating the president.
It’s unsurprising to discover that the president is surrounded by hordes of loyalists who feel compelled to paint him a more pretty picture than is true.
However, if he takes a careful look, without bias, at what he promised and what he has delivered after three years, there’s a great gulf.
A gulf so wide that the president doesn’t just fall a little below the very bar he set for his own self, but is not within touching distance of it with only a year left on his first term.
If the president set the bar himself, why is it so hard for him to admit that maybe he hasn’t measured up and the job is not as easy as he painted?
Buhari needs to look in the mirror
A lot of us have probably been caught in that hard place where we believe that we’re more than what we are and that our intentions matter more than the results in front of our eyes; and while that is terribly human, it’s a pitfall that you hope the president of a nation of over 100 million people avoids like a plague.
However, here we are.
The only voice the president can afford to listen to is that of self-serving praise singers and sycophants.
Not the voice of Transparency International; or the International Monetary Fund; or the cries, blood and tears of poor victims of terrible acts of violence strewn across the country; or the loud chattering of teeth of former leaders who have once occupied his enviable position; or the voice of ‘wailers’ who demand better governance.
The president is set in his own ways, and is unwittingly hurting the country’s general well-being.
Whether he accepts the failure of his administration or not, he set the bar as low as possible, and has fallen miserably low under it.