The Buhari Legacy: Killings without end, N77 trillion debt, 22% inflation
It may be wrong to assume President Muhammadu Buhari’s legacy would be a subject of controversy.
No, it won’t be like the bequest of many leaders, who had superintended over the affairs of nations for years.
That might be a break from tradition as the legacies of national leaders have always been subjects of critical argument for analysts and scholars.
In Nigeria, to date, the Yakubu Gowon, Ibrahim Babangida, Olusegun Obasanjo, Umar Yar’Adua and even Murtala Mohammed years are often issues of robust debate, especially on national development, unity and growth.
In matching his promise with performance, historians and analysts may have an easy consensus on many aspects of his scorecard.
Put differently, it’s unlikely the President’s record would be open to more than one interpretation.
Buhari, who, in his inaugural address in 2015, had said, “Nigerians will not regret that they have entrusted national responsibility to us. We must not succumb to hopelessness and defeatism. We can fix our problems,” is leaving behind an inheritance fraught with many puzzles.
As his tenure ends at noon next Monday, the nation Buhari leaves behind is in sharp contrast with Nigeria he inherited from former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015.
Observers believe Buhari’s is a more divided, unsettled and impoverished Nigeria.
The President, who had premised his campaign on security, economy and anti-corruption, is believed to have failed on the promises eight years after.
He didn’t resolve Nigeria’s age-long socio-economic challenges, but under his watch, the nation witnessed record-breaking retrogression on several Human Development Indices, HDI.
His staunch supporters and the President himself had severally scored the administration high, but statistics say something different on the economy, security, anti-corruption, infrastructure and national unity among others.
At the time Buhari came to power on May 29, 2015, Nigeria’s economy wasn’t the best of it as crude oil earnings had plummeted.
A barrel of oil sold at $65 against the $100 it attained under the Jonathan administration.
The country’s GDP was $493. 3 billion but it declined to $440.8 billion in 2021.
Growth rate in 2022 stood at 3.10 per cent, from the 3.40 per cent recorded in 2021.
On Foreign Direct Investment, FDI, at the time Buhari came to power, Nigeria had attracted $98 billion in the previous administration, but got $89.4 billion in Buhari’s eight-year reign, according to data from Nairametrics.
A breakdown showed that of the $89.4 billion inflow, $22.1 billion came from equity investments while $67.3 billion was debt-linked securities and repayable loans.
Before his election, the President had boasted that the Naira would have equal value with US dollar. But under his watch, the exchange rate rose from N197 at the official rate to N745 at the parallel market in 2023.
Within the period under review, foreign reserves rose from $29.59 billion in 2015 to $35.31 billion as of April 20, 2023.
The administration before Buhari had 6.07 per cent growth in four years, but the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics, NBS, said the economy grew by an average of 1.40 per cent under this regime.
When the President took over from Jonathan, Nigeria’s had single-digit inflation, which stood at nine percent. But as of December 2022, the NBS put the rate at 21.34 per cent.
Inflation, which led to daily increases in the prices of goods and services, resulted in the Naira losing more than half its value.
In 2015, a bag of rice was sold at N8, 000 while a litre of petrol was N87. As of May 22, 2023, a bag of rice sold for N40, 000 while a litre of fuel is more than N200. A loaf of bread, which sold for N200, now goes for N1, 000.
As of April 2023, the country’s Consumer Price Index, CPI, for food stood at 640.0, compared to 176.3 points it was in May 2015.
Specifically, the index gauges the average fluctuation in prices of major food items.
The World Bank, in its 2022 Nigeria public finance review report, titled, ‘A Better Future for All Nigerians’, said Nigeria’s development stagnated since 2015.
“Nigeria’s development progress has stagnated. Between 2001 and 2014, Nigeria was a rising star in West Africa, with an average growth rate of seven per cent per year, and it ranked among the top 15 fastest-growing economies in the world”, the Bank noted.
“However, this trend ended abruptly in 2015, as oil prices fell, the security situation deteriorated, macroeconomic reforms were reversed, and economic policies became increasingly unpredictable”.
On power generation, as of 2015, Nigeria was generating 4,949 megawatts, but at press time, it had dropped to 2,409.50 megawatts.
According to the Association of Power Generation Companies, the national grid collapsed 98 times under Buhari’s watch.
It observed that total power generation capacity loss in the energy sector rose to N1.76tn, between 2015 and 2022.
Upon assumption of office, Buhari inherited a debt profile of approximately $10.32 billion in 2015, but he is leaving behind total debts of about N77 trillion.
The administration of ex-President Obasanjo government inherited $28 billion as foreign debt in 1999.
When it left in 2007, it was $2.11 billion after successfully securing a write-off by the London and Paris Club debts
The Yar’adua/Jonathan government added $1.39 billion to what they inherited while the Jonathan government incurred an additional $3.8 billion.
As of May 29, 2015, Boko Haram terrorists posed a major security challenge to the nation. They held sway in some territories and at the same time could commit large-scale atrocities. The Buhari administration at some point succeeded in degrading the group’s capacity to commit mass murder beyond Borno State.
Sunday Vanguard recalls that upon assumption of office, the President had moved the military command centre to Maiduguri in Borno State, through the establishment of the Command and Control Centre, MCCC, in the state.
The aim was to effectively fight the Boko Haram insurgency. Irrespective of the successes recorded, the sect remains a potent threat.
However, just like the economy, security is one area many believe Buhari performed woefully. While Boko Haram was the only major threat at the time he came on board, Nigeria witnessed the birth of other terrorist groups.
The activities of Ansaru terrorists, herdsmen, bandits, kidnappers and Unknown Gunmen, UGM, have led to the death of thousands under Buhari’s watch.
Majority are still unconvinced his handling of herdsmen and bandits’ menace made the country more unsafe than he met it. In fact, several reports stated that Nigeria had more deaths under Buhari’s administration than in previous civilian regimes since 1999.
Data gleaned from Nigeria Security Tracker, NST, showed that no fewer than 54, 948,000 needless deaths were recorded as of May last year.
A breakdown showed that an average of 21 people was killed daily as of 2022.
In his first four years alone, 25,794 people were reportedly killed in various attacks, according to another report by Premium Times.
In the first quarter of this year alone, Nigeria Mourn, a violent incident tracking organization, reported that no fewer than 1,151 civilians and 79 security operatives were killed.
The latest Global Terrorism Index, GTI, report showed that Nigeria moved to 8th position from fourth position in 2022.
One of the major factors that made Buhari’s 2015 victory possible was the notion that he would be tough on corruption.
This was largely informed by the incorruptible image people attributed to him given his record as military Head of State.
Since the Jonathan administration was perceived as weak on anti-corruption, a lot was expected from Buhari in that space.
Nigeria had ranked 136th out of 168 countries in the 2015 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index.
Eight years later, analysts feel he hasn’t delivered on his promise of fighting corruption.
In his two terms, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has yet to record high-profile convictions while many cases against former governors and ministers are pending before the commission.
In the 2022 annual Correction Perception Index, Nigeria still ranked among the most corrupt nations. The nation ranked 150th out of 180 countries.
Nonetheless, there have been a few bright spots in the anti-graft war as the EFCC had secured some forfeiture to the Federal Government.
The nation has also witnessed the repatriation of money funds stashed overseas. Upon assumption of office, the President strengthened the Treasury Single Account and the IPPIS to ensure accountability in the remittance of public funds.
Buhari also spearheaded the amendment of the Asset Management Corporation Act in 2019 and 2021. The aim was to streamline asset recovery and disposal, leading to the Proceeds of Crime, Recovery and Management Act 2022.
There were also Executive Orders to improve the ease of doing business at the nation’s seaports.
8,871 convictions in eight years
In 2022, the EFCC said it recorded 3,785 convictions, describing it as the highest since its inception.
The commission was said to have secured 103 in 2015, 195 in 2016, 312 in 2018 and 1,280 in 2019.
In 2020, 976 were secured while it was 2,220 in 2021. The summary of the figure showed that 8,871 convictions were recorded under Buhari’s watch.
In 2015, EFCC recorded a total of 103 convictions, according to the EFCC. In 2016, the first full year of Buhari’s government, 195 convictions were recorded. The number increased to 312 in 2018, and 1, 280 in 2019.
The figure, however, decreased significantly to 976 convictions in 2020 and increased to 2, 220 in 2021.
Irrespective of these, several events and actions haven’t helped Buhari’s anti-corruption record in eight years. Prominent among them is the fact that several public office holders, who have cases at the EFCC, saw their trials being discontinued or paused the moment they defect to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
In the following pages, some Nigerians give their verdict on the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.