Buhari’s Speech and Reality Checks


Many Nigerians are wondering whether the glowing achievements reeled out by President Muhammadu Buhari took place in Nigeria or somewhere else, reports Tobi Soniyi

The democratic train which took off 19 years ago‎ remains on track despite many challenges. For this alone, Nigerians deserve to celebrate.

On the other hand, it is also a time for sober ‎reflection. This is because nineteen years ago, it is indisputable that life was better. In the South-west, there is a prayer that our tomorrow should be better than yesterday. In the case of Nigeria, yesterday sadly remains better than today. Those in government today would want to dispute this claim but as the legal maxim goes, res ipsa loquitur (the fact speaks for itself).

Listening to President Muhammadu Buhari churning out what his government has achieved in three years, many wonder whether those achievements actually took place in Nigeria or somewhere else.
To be fair, both the president who claimed his government has done so much and the people who said they did not see those achievements are right.

As equivocal as this sounds, when considered against the three cardinal points of the Buhari’s administration‎ namely; security, corruption and the economy, it is easier to appreciate why people are not feeling the impact of the numerous achievements.

Take security first. The president carefully chose his words when he said: ‎”Today, the capacity of the insurgents has been degraded leading to the re-establishment of authority of government and the release of captives including, happily, 106 Chibok and 104 Dapchi girls, and over 16,000 other persons held by the Boko Haram.‎” That is a tactical admission that Boko Haram has not been defeated.

But beyond Boko Haram‎, the Buhari government turned out to be incompetent in stopping herdsmen from killing farmers. Militias and bandits have been killing people at will but the government has been unable to rise to the occasion. It is also unwilling to build ranches for the rampaging herdsmen.

Rather than address the root cause of the deadly clashes, the government was merely prevaricating. It is disappointing that ‎president failed in his Democracy Day broadcast to convince Nigerians that these killings will stop.

‎Even his assurance that “we will not rest until all criminal elements and their sponsors are brought to justice,” sounds hollow because‎ there are no concrete steps taken or being taken to punish the killers.

In Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Kaduna and Zamfara states, which have been worst hit by these killings, people remain apprehensive. They are simply not convinced that this government can protect them.

It is therefore, not difficulty to see that the picture painted by the president in his broadcast does not depict the reality on ground.

On the economy, it is difficult to fault the claim made by the president in his broadcast. The only point of disagreement, however, will be on the impact those economic policies had on the people.

Take for instance what government claims to achieved in its social investment programmes. The president said:‎ “Home Grown School Feeding Programme – About 8.2 million pupils are currently being fed from 24 States of the Federation with over 75,000 catering staff engaged under the programme.

b. The Conditional Cash Transfer has so far recorded over 297,000 caregivers and being trained by 2,495 Community Facilitators in 21 states. Less privileged Nigerians are now being paid N5,000 monthly stipend in 9 pilot States of Bauchi, Borno, Cross River, Ekiti, Kwara, Kogi, Niger, Osun and Oyo. Eventually the scheme will cover all the 36 states of the federation including the FCT.

“‎Under the Government Enterprise Empowerment Programme – About 264,269 loans had been disbursed to 4,822 societies in the 36 States and FCT, while another 370,635 are awaiting release of funds.

“N-Power Job creation Scheme – is targeted at providing jobs for unemployed young graduates and has so far recruited 200,000 youths while the next batch of 300,000 have been selected, verified and would soon be deployed across the 36 States and the FCT. Furthermore, 20,000 non-graduate volunteers have also been selected to kick off the N-Build programme in collaboration with the National Automotive Design and Development Council and the Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria.‎”

The problem with these figures is that they did not tell the whole story.
As an illustration if N-Power Job creation Scheme, which is targeted at providing jobs for unemployed young graduates and has recruited 200,000 youths‎, the government failed to tell Nigerians the number of youths eligible for the scheme. It is like a father who has five children and is able to provide for only of the five children. Can he claim to have taken care of his children? The level of joblessness is so high and renders the government’s intervention too infinitesimal to make any meaningful impact.

That is why it is difficult to find beneficiaries of these programmes in various states. It does not mean that they do not exist. Each state has not less than 200,000 eligible youths‎. How many of these beneficiaries come from each state? Breaking it down on states by states will convince the government that it has not yet done enough.

On corruption, the president’s speech is remarkable for what it did not say. Buhari said: “The second primary object of this Administration is to fight corruption headlong. Like I have always said, if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will destroy the country. Three years into this Administration, Nigerians and the international community have begun to applaud our policies and determination to fight corruption. We are more than ever before determined to win this war, however hard the road is. I therefore appeal to all well-meaning Nigerians to continue to support us in this fight.”

The president did not talk about how he swept under the carpet the scandals over MTN fine, Abdulrasheed Maina ‘s reinstatement and the grass cutting fraud involving the former Secretary to the Federal Government, Babachir Lawal just to mention a few. While the president is quick to arrest members of the opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party, he is quick to look the other side when his friends are involved in corruption. This explains why Nigerians have refused to embrace the president’s war against corruption.

Another statement from the president’s broadcast which deserves mention is where he said: “My dear country men and women, as we all celebrate our democratic experience, let us resolve to avoid hatred and intolerance; we can only achieve our objectives in an atmosphere of harmony and peaceful co-existence.” The president has allowed those who make peaceful co-existence difficult to walk free without holding them accountable. His inability to bring justice for victims and relatives of people killed by herdsmen and bandits means that peaceful co-existence will remain elusive. It also means that those doing the killings remained emboldened. They are more likely to continue.

In conclusion, the president will have to do more to develop the country. If a government claims to have done certain kilometres of roads, those who drive on that roads will testify to that fact. By then, the president’s achievements will speak for themselves. He will not need to labour so much to convince Nigerians.

To be fair, both the president who claimed his government has done so much and the people who said they did not see those achievements are right

On corruption, the president’s speech is remarkable for what it did not say