RingTrue By Yemi Adebowale
Dead bodies are still being picked in the bushes. Yes, traumatised residents of 22 villages in Mangu and Riyom local governments of Plateau State are still burying their loved ones 12 days after the attack by Fulani militias. Children have been turned to orphans and women turned to widows. Some children and women were not spared. As at the last count, 130 innocent indigenes had been killed and over 1000 buildings burnt in the villages by the terrorists who came with sophisticated weapons. Like previous killings in Plateau State, the attackers won’t be apprehended and punished by security agents. For those that have lost loved ones, their tears may never dry.
This is the extent Nigeria degenerated under the eight years of outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari who spent most of this week celebrating fantasy achievements. Under this man, killings and abductions by terrorists became a daily occurrence with no part of Nigeria spared. Boko Haram, ISWAP, Fulani militias, kidnappers, IPOB/ESN and all sorts of terror groups ravaging our land with thousands of Nigerians sent to early graves. Daily, terrorists kill innocent people in Kaduna, Niger, Sokoto, Nasarawa, Imo, Katsina and Zamfara states. The response of our outgoing Commander-in-Chief is always feeble.
Guerrillas protecting herdsmen roam freely unchecked by security agents in Kaduna, Benue, Plateau, Taraba, Kogi, Zamfara, Enugu and several other states. It has been tales of massacre by Fulani militias in the Buhari years. In Benue State, Fulani militias control some local government areas like Gwer West, Gwer East, Logo and Guma.
It is depressing for Buhari to persistently make claims of degrading Boko Haram, yet, IDPs can’t return to their homes. Under Buhari’s watch, Boko Haram became the deadliest terror group in the world, with thousands of Nigerians killed in eight years. Even in IDP camps, people are persistently attacked and killed by Boko Haram.
The peak of Buhari’s reckless falsehood that he degraded Boko Haram was the wild celebration of a fantasy victory over the terrorists in December 2016. I shed tears on that day that Buhari, a retired general, accepted a flag and Quaran purportedly captured from late Shekau, as a symbol of victory over the terrorists from his then Army Chief, Tukur Buratai. Under Buhari, our gallant soldiers now struggle for allowances and equipment on the war front. Many of them have overstayed on the war front, contrary to the rules of engagement.
In all, no fewer than 53,418 Nigerians lost their lives to non-state actors between May 29, 2015 and October 15, 2022. I am quoting from the Nigerian Security Tracker, a project of the Council on Foreign Relations of the United States of America. Calamity Buhari suddenly forgot that he came to power in 2015 with an avowal to tame insecurity. The inability to tackle terrorism is one of the biggest failings of Buhari in eight years. The other day, I heard Buhari saying he is leaving a well-secured Nigeria. Celebrating eight years of success in security is simply heartless and coldblooded.
Buhari’s other avowals were to stamp out corruption and improve the economy. Unfortunately, this man hardly engages the statistics that are constantly rolled out about his failures. Nigeria’s economy suffered greatly under his eight years. Thousands of businesses are gasping for breath due to infrastructural challenges and inclement operating environment. Manufacturers are panting for survival, while providing their own electricity, water, road, security, in addition to stifling multiple taxation by all levels of governments.
Inflation has crossed to an unparalleled 22%. When he assumed office in 2015, inflation was fluctuating between 7.7 per cent and 8.7 per cent. The truth be told without sentiment; the economy handed over to the Buhari administration was a fairly good one with consistent growth in GDP and industrial capacity utilisation. Nigerians ran their businesses with little encumbrances. The forex policy was also friendly to industrialists. The reverse is the case after eight years of Buhari. This man left Nigeria’s economy in tatters.
The Naira, our symbol of nationhood, is now in shreds. As at yesterday, it was trading at N753/$ in the real market. This is the same Naira Buhari inherited at about N220/$.
Power supply is still one big mess. Buhari promised to increase daily generation to 10,000MW within his first term. After eight years, this is still a mirage. Nigeria is still struggling to sustain 5,000MW daily generation.
Millions of Nigerians lost jobs under Buhari. The employment rate is a vital measurement of any economy’s health. Nigeria’s unemployment rate of 14.2 per cent in Q4 of 2016 jumped to 16.2 per cent in Q2 of 2017 and 18.8 per cent in Q3 of 2017. The joblessness rate worsened in the third quarter of 2018, rising to 23.1 per cent. The number of unemployed Nigerians rose from 17.6 million in Q4 2017 to 20.9 million in Q3 2018. Now, the bureau of statistics has refused to release unemployment statistics for three years running because the figures are very bad. We all now have an army of unemployed youths in our homes. Regrettably, Buhari’s government lacked a pragmatic job creation strategy. Under Buhari, Nigeria surpassed India as the country with the largest number of people living in life-threatening poverty in the world. Buhari should bury his head in shame for this.
For eight years, Buhari’s much talked about war against corruption remained a fantasy. Because of this skewed war, under Buhari’s watch, rent seekers in the oil industry are still collecting the proceeds of Nigeria’s crude oil sales. Refineries are still not working, yet, his administration spent billions of Naira on turnaround maintenance. In eight years, Buhari could not revive just one of government-owned refineries while trillions of Naira went down the drain in the name of paying subsidies on imported petrol.
Which corruption is bigger than plunging this country into an unprecedented debt? Nigeria’s total public debt stock was N46.25 trillion as at the fourth quarter of 2022, with the larger part taken by the Buhari government. According to data from the external debt stock reports of the Debt Management Office, Nigeria’s indebtedness to the World Bank alone rose from $6.29 billion in December 2015 to $13.93 billion by December 2022, with a substantial part by the FG. This country has very little to show for these loans by Buhari.
The 2017 Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International revealed that sleaze in Nigeria was more severe under the Buhari administration. In that year, Nigeria was downgraded by TI from 136 to 148 in the CPI. Nigeria was ranked 146 out of the 180 countries considered in 2019. This pattern continued till the end of Buhari’s tenure. The memo written by the former Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu on sleaze in the NNPC is a good example of corruption under Buhari. The cabal in charge of this administration tightened the noose on Kachikwu, forcing him to recant.
What about the sleaze allegations against the then Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Prof. Usman Yusuf? This public servant, under investigation by anti-graft agencies, was reinstated with fiat by Buhari. What about the then Director-General of the National Emergency Management Agency, Mustapha Maihaja, struggling to explain how he spent billions of Naira allocated to his agency? What about the pension thief, Abdulrasheed Maina, who was effectively protected by agents of this government for years? What a war against corruption!
Aside from his eight years of ineptitude, for me, the biggest sin Buhari committed against this country is the division created with his clannishness. Our President’s clannishness is frightening. Buhari spent eight years stoking our fault lines with no respect for Federal Character in his appointments. The military, para-military and key departments/agencies are largely headed by people from a section of this country. Hatred across ethnic and religious divides assumed an unprecedented dimension under Buhari, with our fault lines persistently stoked. This is certainly not the Nigeria of our dream.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s remark about Buhari’s clannishness in August 2016 is instructive. He said: “At no time in our history, except probably during the civil war, has Nigeria been so fractured in the feeling of oneness by the citizenry.” The ex-Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, concurred in September 2016, saying “Nigeria has never been as divided as it is presently, since its amalgamation over 100 years ago.”
Bishop Matthew Kukah, hit the nail on the head during his sermon at the burial of Michael Nnadi, a seminarian killed by kidnappers. The cleric remarked that Buhari was running the “most nepotistic and narcissistic government in known history,” and concluded that the President had not only relegated the national interest to the background, but had also introduced nepotism into the military.
Can Buhari honestly say that he has delivered on his promises of building a new and united Nigeria in his eight years? Can he honestly say that Nigerians are better under him than they were under his predecessor? Can he say that he positively impacted the lives of the masses of this country in his eight years? The frank answers would be negative. The economy is in tatters. Terrorists are rampaging. Poverty and unemployment pervade our country.
My dear Buhari, your eight years is a massive failure that brought untold hardship on Nigerians. Notwithstanding, you have been going about celebrating this failure and even inaugurating uncompleted projects. It can only happen in Nigeria! Your effrontery to celebrate eight years “success” amid so much pain in mother Nigeria is a debilitating mess. You are simply mocking distressed Nigerians. You will be remembered as the President that turned Nigerians against each other; brothers became enemies, no thanks to your extreme clannishness. Under your inept leadership, Nigeria became a barren land, poverty capital of the world, and dangerously corrupt country and a debtor nation. History will be very cruel on you.
Matawalle’s Pointless War against Bawa
The allegation is weighty. I’m talking about Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State granting an interview on May 19 and accusing the Chairman of the EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa, of demanding a $2 million bribe from him.
Matawalle declared: “He (Bawa) requested a bribe of $2 million from me and I have evidence of this. He knows the house we met, he invited me and told me the conditions. He told me governors were going to his office but I did not. If I don’t have evidence, I won’t say this.”
I thought the governor would follow up with the release of his so-called evidence as demanded by Bawa. This has not happened eight days after the bomb blast.
It’s so difficult to comprehend that Bawa, a trained anti-corruption officer, will visit Matawalle for bribe. The EFCC boss can’t be that stupid.
Honestly, I see Matawalle’s claim as corruption fighting back and contrived to impugn the integrity of Bawa. This is the same Zamfara governor that is being investigated for diversion of over N70 billion. The money, which was sourced as loan purportedly for the execution of projects across the local government areas of the state, was allegedly diverted by the governor through proxies and contractors who received payment for contracts that were not executed. Matawalle should address this case of fund diversion instead of his campaign of calumny against Bawa.
In this same Zamfara State, a special prayer was recently held at the Eid Mosque in Gusau by civil servants to seek divine intervention for payment of the three-month salaries owed by Matawalle. The Zamfara governor should also address this indictment.