By James BWALA, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari’s score card in the last 365 days may make or mar the ruling APC change agenda. The reactions by Nigerians have indicated that, the people have been keeping count of every detail on whether the government has kept its promises or not but the President has assessed his administration, giving it a good score in a broadcast to mark the government’s one year anniversary and Democracy Day which often are incidentally celebrated simultaneously.
nationalTrail reports that, while the President has some kudos to go with in the last one year particularly on the corruption crusade and fight against the dreaded Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast; The knocks goes to show that President Muhammadu Buhari has a lot to do to impress ordinary Nigerians, whose problem is about the lightening speed at which the Nigerian’s economy is fast going down.
It was observed that, for the common man on the street, his desire is not about arresting those who were alleged to have drench the naira and kobo in the country’s coffers, but what the President is doing in ensuring that, there would be food on the table of the common man the next day as he rode in the tide to consolidate on the promises he made for those Nigerians who waited in the heat of the sun to ensure they sell the change message as well as bring the change from dream to reality.
For many Nigerians, It will be naïve to say that everything is now fine and dandy. Far from it, but the shoots of change according to some of the supporters of APC are beginning to take root. Change is not easy, and admittedly for years people had given up hope and dared to dream, some still doubt if the recent change is really for the better, they said, and it is understandable. The change in Nigeria has been long time coming and for many years, Nigerians had developed an attitude of futility and a well-worn saying that “only God can save Nigeria”.
Speaking on the one year anniversary of the Buhari’s administration, the Centrum Initiative for Development and Fundamental Rights Advocacy (CEDRA) has noted that President Muhammadu Buhari has not live up to the expectations of Nigerians in his one year old leadership.
Addressing newsmen in Kaduna on Friday, the Chairman, CEDRA board, Dr John Danfulani said, “His constant blame game of past regimes is exposing his limited understanding on how to run a Nigeria of 2015/16. The political setting and consciousness seems to be too complex for his understanding.
“We counsel that his cabinet members and aide should create a way of simplifying competing options for him to ease his job. His human rights record is not too good and it’s a sad thing to notice.”
Danfulani noted that the President Buhari-led administration has done much in the area of combating Boko Haram but regretted that new forms of insecurity are on the rise, namely the herdsmen and Niger Delta Avengers, thereby posing serious threats to the physical and economic security of the country.
“President Muhammadu Buhari came out and condemned the activities of the herdsmen but it was too little too late unlike how strongly and swiftly he reacted to the avengers. We insist that the treatment intended for avengers be meted for the rampaging Fulanis that are killing the people all over the country as well,” he explained.
He called on the opposition parties and advocates of good governance and liberty not to lower their guard, stressing that the Buhari led government is composed of leaders not willing to lead by the constitution but by their whims and caprices. Adding that, ‘the gains of our sixteen years democracy are shrinking as such; Nigerians must keep them in check.”
National Trail reports that many Nigerians have scored President Muhammadu Buhari low on jobs, economy, and power for the first time in months according to Governance Advancement Initiative for Nigeria (GAIN) analysis.
It’s the first time since December last year that a monthly poll that track the performance of governments at all levels in Nigeria, has recorded main approval rating slide.
Earlier the survey found that majority of Nigerians did not accuse President Buhari of Nigeria’s ongoing economic troubles. They blamed ex-president Goodluck Jonathan instead. However, the trend changed significantly in February as country’s economic crisis bit harder, in what the poll coordinators suggested that Buhari’s “honeymoon” is over looking at some of his administration’s sectoral achievements.
While some Nigerians are questioning the economic policy and drive of the president in the last one year, the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun has said that the Federal Government’s economic team is doing everything to ensure that the economy is reflated and also to improve the lives of Nigerians.
She said the economic team is competent, hardworking and would turn the economy around.
Adeosun said this while speaking on Sunrise, a programme on Channels TV.
Responding to a question that Nigerians were not feeling the presence of an economic team she said:
“There is an economic team. It is chaired and managed by the Vice President. I am a member. Others include the two ministers in the Budget and National Planning Ministry, the Minister of Trade and Investment, the Minister of Information & Culture, Head of the Debt Management Office and the Director General of Budget, among others. So, there is an economic team. It is just a different structure from having a Coordinating Minister of the Economy (CME). Remember that under the CME system, Budget was under the Ministry of Finance. But Budget has now moved to National Planning.
“The economic blueprint is very clear. We are going to invest in capital projects to ensure that we diversify this economy. We have been talking about diversification since I was a child and we haven’t achieved that.”
One of the key achievements of the Muhammadu Buhari administration thus far is the overhaul of the dysfunctional topmost hierarchy of the Nigerian military. Since May 29, new service chiefs have been brought in, the military command centre has been moved to the heart of the war in Maiduguri and the troops’ morale and confidence are on an upswing. Furthermore, the United States government has finally agreed to commit their resources to the fight against the insurgents after previously backing out of negotiations with the previous Nigerian government, citing alleged human rights abuses by the Nigerian military.
Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Garba Shehu, described the war his administration is currently waging on corruption in the country as “non-negotiable.” In his words: “It is sine qua non to the overall reconstruction of the economy and social system which have suffered destruction and severe denigration under the last administration.” Be that as it may, the present government must learn to go about its probe of the immediate-past Goodluck Ebele Jonathan administration with more hush and decorum, so that it looks less like a persecution and more like an actual prosecution
With the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari on May 2015, farmers were optimistic that the agricultural sector would experience the much awaited change, expected to transform the sector. Though PMB has continued assuring the nation that developing the sector and ensuring food security in the country remained a priority to his administration. One year under the President’s watch agriculture has experienced tremendous set back as the prices of farm produce have gradually become out of reach for consumers.
While some stakeholder and farmer scored president Buhari’s administration a lean 5 percent in agricultural sector, yet another stakeholder in support of PMB insist that one year in office was not enough to judge one’s performance. They said the budget has just been approved and that with time Buhari will turn the sector around.
The initial focus of the Muhammadu Buhari administration in the health sector is maintenance of existing infrastructure, projects and completion of ongoing ones. Towards this end, the government aimed at infrastructure upgrade, with the view to having ensuring sound healthcare delivery system. However, this has been expanded to include the establishment of new facilities that would meet international standard, and by so doing reduce health tourism to other countries.
The Federal Government is looking at partnership with the private sector to run tertiary health institutions, as most of them are doing the job of primary healthcare centres and secondary health institutions. The plan is to make teaching hospitals and research institutions centre of excellence that will tackle heart diseases, cancer, stroke and the like. This will reduce capital flight lost to medical tourism.
Nigeria experienced Lassa fever outbreak in the past few months in Bauchi, Edo, Gombe, Kano, Nasarawa, Niger, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Taraba and Lagos. The first case was reported from Bauchi State in November, 2015. The total number of cases reported by the Federal Ministry of Health was much, with a Case Fatality Rate of 46.5 per cent. A total of 101 deaths were recorded, out of 175 people affected.
Interventions by the Ministry of Health include airing of jingles on Lassa fever on electronic media, distribution of fact sheets on Lassa fever to the medical directors, health officers in all the LGAs and all other agencies of the ministry for circulation to Nigerians. There was also reactivation of isolation wards in teaching hospitals for isolation of any suspected case.
The Disease Surveillance and Notification Officers (DSNOs) in all the LGAs and States were sensitized on Lassa fever to enhance early detection and prompt reporting of cases. Collaboration of Federal Ministry of Health with state ministries of health, virology reference laboratory, teaching hospitals and other tertiary health institutions and the WHO was highlighted. The Federal Government did earmark the sum of N140 million to tackle the disease.
In the last one year, with millions of job loss and still counting as a result of skeletal production or outright closure of compa¬nies due to the Federal Government policy on restriction of foreign exchange for 41 raw materials, high cost of living, poor wag¬es, further deteriorating electricity with high tariffs, persistent fuel crisis with the new pump price of petroleum of N145 per litre, workers indeed are the endangered species.
Although in reaction to this, and before the protest of the hike in the petroleum price by the Ni¬geria Labour Congress (NLC), the Organ¬ised Labour had held a one-day nationwide protest along with a warning strike to draw the attention of the Federal Government to the innumerable hardship workers and Nigerians in gen¬eral are facing.
The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, said the response to the prevailing economic situation by all tiers of govern¬ment in the country had been a source of worry for many Nigerians, especially Nigerian workers.
Wabba said though the president’s battle against corruption is commendable and had the backing of the entire workers, he said labour, however, felt government should start paying attention to other details aside corruption and security, more so the issue of electricity and petroleum, which are im¬portant to the survival of the country.
“Since we have voted for change, we be¬lieve that we should have the change,” he said.
Deputy President of the NLC, Peters Ad¬eyemi, said the last few months had seen the workers take home being highly deplet¬ed with the inflation and state of the dollar exchange.
“When the present Minimum Wage was negotiated, a dollar exchange then was be¬tween N135 – N145, but now with the ex¬change at about N340, the worker’s salary has been grossly devalued by more than 100 per cent. An average worker in Nigeria doesn’t earn $100 dollars in a month, this is unacceptable anywhere in the world,” he said.
Nigeria’s education sector is currently battling with corruption, inadequate funding, low enrolment of students in basic education as Nigeria houses over 10 million out of school children, low quality of teachers at all levels of education, poor performance of students in public examinations, among others.
During his presidential campaign, Buhari promised that, if elected, his administration would provide free education, one free meal a day to students in primary and secondary schools, decent accommodation and involvement of teachers in school-related decisions, and provision of allowance to discharged but unemployed Youth Corps members who are in the skills and entrepreneurial development programmes, among others.
Education has almost lost identity as a public trust, rather it has become a private franchise thus denying the less privileged access to tertiary education. “I expect that under Buhari, while existing programmes and policies are pursued in the short and medium terms, a sustainable long term plan should be pursued expeditiously and the reasonable funding available should be monitored for high impact. Public education must be given pride of place.”
For a teacher in one of the government-owned schools, Mrs. Kathrine Oragui, more teachers should be employed to ease the stress public school teachers go through. According to her, “I’m the only teacher handling the whole primary six class in my school and it is not an easy task. I expect that under Buhari’s administration, more teachers would be employed as most schools lack teachers. Also, there is the need to improve the standard of education and increase the salaries of teachers.
As President Muhammadu Buhari marked one year in office, the Foundation For Human Rights And Anti-Corruption Crusade, FHRACC, has claimed that the President’s stay in office so far has been characterized by economic repression, ethnocentrism, lack of parity with the composition of the Government, gross abuse of human rights, persecution of old time enemies and political rivals under the guise of fighting corruption.
In a statement signed on Friday by its National President, Alaowei Cleric Esq, the group described Buhari’s first year in office as one of “vain-glory” and “ego-boosting”, alleging that there has been an abuse of democratic ethos within the period.
The statement reads, “The vain-glory and ego-boosting one year in office by President Mohammadu Buhari is a mishmash of economic disaster, pirated propaganda of image laundering and democratic attrition. His eventful one year in office gives Nigerians a miasma of hope of the nation’s dangling future. Buhari’s first tenure is characterized with economic repression, ethnocentrism, lack of parity with the composition of the Government, gross abuse of human rights, persecution of old time enemies and political rivals in the name of Anti-Corruption war as well as an abuse of democratic ethos thereby reducing Nigerians to collywobbles at the mention of democracy or Buhari Government.
In his speech on Thursday, during a commemorative lecture for the celebration of 2016 democracy day in Abeokuta with the theme: ‘Democracy in Nigeria, the pains, the gains: Ogun example’. put together by the State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, as part of activities to mark the Democracy Day, Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun had declared that the federal system of government being practised in Nigeria is fraudulent.
The Governor posited that the resources allocated to the Federal Government when compared to what was being allocated to the states was quite disproportionate, given the fact that states had more responsibilities than the centre.
He said, “The federalism enshrined in our constitution is an important area of our democracy. But do we have a good federalism in Nigeria? What we have in Nigeria has been described as fraudulent federalism, because a federalism that put all the power, all the levy and all the money at the centre but put all the responsibility at the state is not a good federalism.
“Today in Nigeria, the Federal Government takes 74 per cent of the wealth of the nation, the 36 states and Abuja share 26 per cent. But the states are given all the bureau agencies. So, there is pain. Ogun State, as an example, has 70 bureau agencies; most of these agencies require the state to support their activities financially.”
Amosun called on Nigerians to endure the present economic hardship confronting the country, adding that their pains would soon be over.
He said, “As the saying of the elders that when our mothers are going into the labour room, they are usually in so much pain but after the baby is born, they will smile. By God’s grace, that will be the story of Nigeria at the end of the day.”
By James BWALA, Abuja