YESTERDAY, Wednesday, May 29, President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in for his second and final term in office. How time flies!
Four years ago, he assumed office amid great hope, after achieving an unprecedented feat by defeating a sitting president! Buhari pulled off that historic victory by riding the wave of popular anger against the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and by promising change.
Indeed, his party, All Progressives Congress, APC, described itself as a “change agent”, determined “to cleanse our closet to halt the dangerous drift of Nigeria to a failed state”. What General Buhari promised Nigerians was akin to the famous saying of St. Francis of Assisi: “Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we bring hope”.
Put simply, Buhari promised to be a transformational leader, with a change agenda to bring order and harmony in place of insecurity and tensions, to restore faith and trust in government by tackling corruption and abuse of power, and to give hope to ordinary Nigerians by running a successful economy, reducing poverty and increasing prosperity.
But four years later, President Buhari failed to achieve any of these promises. Unless he misreads his re-election as an endorsement of his first-term performance, Buhari himself should admit that his first term was a betrayal of the hopes and expectations of most Nigerians. Truth is, he did not keep his 2015 electoral promises! Certainly, not on the economy, which went into recession on his watch, in 2016, for the first time in 25 years, and has flat-lined ever since, growing at just about two per cent.
Nor his promise to keep Nigerians safe, what with the spread and impunity of the Boko Haram terrorists and the marauding herdsmen, killing innocent people across the country. Ah, what about Buhari’s flagship pledge to tackle poverty?The APC promised a “massive social security scheme” to, among other things, give between N5,000 and N10,000 per month to the poorest Nigerians.
The Buhari government later launched a social investment programme, SIP, which it described as “the largest and most ambitious in the history of Nigeria”, with a budget of N500 billion. But if the president’s wife, Aisha, is to be believed, the programme is a monumental failure. Speaking recently in Abuja, she said: “I don’t know where the social investment has worked”, adding: “I can say it has failed woefully”.
Truth is, whatever government officials say, the SIP hasn’t lifted the pall of gloom and misery hanging over Nigerians, now exacerbated by sad stories of suicides across the country. This dire situation is a total failure of governance and a betrayal of the promise of hope! What about Buhari’s promise to tackle corruption? Well, some progress there, but don’t buy the presidency’s hype that “grand-scale corruption has been nipped in the bud”.
Corruption is still rife in Nigeria, and apparently in the president’s government and party. Buhari’s wife, who has become the conscience of her husband’s government, has been making coded remarks about alleged corruption in the government. Recently, she questioned how the N500 billion SIP budget and the $16 million for buying mosquito nets were spent.
She also said her husband approved N12 billion for trauma treatment across the country, adding, with a heavy undertone: “Can you please monitor the money?” Make what you like of that loaded statement!
Last week, President Buhari said the corrupt would come after him once he leaves office in 2023. But why would they? Not if an appreciative nation recognises his legacy of a credible and successful anti-corruption war.
The truth, though, is that an anti-graft war can only be credible if it’s fought systematically, institutionally and transparently, without bias or vendet