It is no longer news that President Buhari has declared his interest to seek a second term in office, much to the secret chagrin of his side kick, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, who, though he feigns delight at the President’s decision, is secretly disappointed. His over ambition is very well known in power circles and he was hoping that the President would stand down and instead pick him as his proxy.
But that is not my focus for this piece. My focus is the reason the President gave for wanting to be re-elected President.
A statement released by the Presidency, “the President said he was responding to the clamour by Nigerians to re-contest in 2019.”
Notice the language. The President is not running because he has a good record of achievement (he does not). He is not running because he has plans to implement (again, he does not). He is also not running because he has unfinished projects to complete.
President Buhari instead is running because of the “clamour by Nigerians”. But who are these Nigerians?
The mistake people in the South of Nigeria make is to believe that President Buhari is still popular in his Northwest base. That is a fallacious assumption and I can prove it.
On February 16, 2018, after gunmen butchered his citizens like chicken in Zurmi, Governor Abdulaziz Yari said;
“I feel let down facing the people of this state whenever I remember the promise I made to them that when they elect President Muhammadu Buhari into power, these killings will end. But unfortunately, things are now getting worse.”
Those sentiments represent the feelings of the ordinary people of the Northwest with regard to President Buhari.
Obviously, from the comments of the Governors of Benue and Taraba states as well as the recent earth shattering statement by TY Danjuma, even the most pollyannaish supporter of President Buhari knows he has lost the North Central and huge swathes of the Northeast.
Contrary to pedestrian Southern opinions about Northern Nigerians, they are not just masses of sheeples who will support any Northerner no matter his performance. They are not masochists. They have compared their present lot to what it used to be under Jonathan and they have found Buhari wanting.
At the risk of repeating a very popular meme, sai Buhari! has turned to chai Buhari in the North!
In every sphere of the human development index, the Buhari administration has fared worse, much worse than the Jonathan government.
In every measurable index of government performance, the Buhari regime has paled when compared to the Jonathan administration.
On May 29, 2015, when President Buhari took over from former President Jonathan, the Nigerian economy was buoyant and had just been projected as the third fastest growing economy in the world after China and Qatar. Inflation was at a single digit rate of 8.7%. We had had a consistent year over year annual GDP growth rate of over 6% and the Naira had been stable for four years at ?150 to $1 and in the fifth year (2015) had moved slightly to ?199 to $1. Fuel was ?87 per liter and our food import bill had dramatically reduced.
However, after three years of Buhari in the saddle, Nigeria has had a recession, her first in 25 years. We were not even featured in the top 15 fastest growing economies in Africa talk less of the world. Inflation moved to double digits. The value of Naira tanked to the extent that Bloomberg listed it as the worst performing currency in the world in 2016 and one of the worst performing currencies of 2017. The price of petrol was increased from ?87 per liter to ?145 per liter under the guise that fuel subsidy had been stopped, only to find out that the government had continued paying the subsidy but had hidden it by disingenuously renaming it under recovery!
In the area of security, Nigeria which on May 29, 2016 was the fourth most terrorized nation in the world according to the Global Terrorism Index had by 2018 become the third most terrorized nation in the world according to the same index. Death by herdsmen had increased in occurrence and Boko Haram, which President Buhari had boasted was ‘technically defeated’ was managing to still storm military formations and kidnap school girls.
But it is in the area of anti corruption that the Buhari administration had proven to be a huge disappointment. He had been sold to Nigerians by Momoh and his ilk as a man of integrity who was incorruptible. Well, the facts don’t lie. According to Transparency International, Nigeria is now more corrupt under Buhari than ever before.
Whereas we were at 136 in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index when Buhari assumed power in 2015, according to TI, Nigeria has retrogressed so badly in the anti corruption war, that we are now moved 12 places backward to 148.
So with these facts in mind, it is not surprising that Buhari is refusing to run on his record.
Recently, some of the President’s supporters have found it difficult to sustain the comparison of their principal’s performance with that of former President Jonathan, so they have shifted base and now say that President Buhari’s three years in office as a civilian President has yielded more benefits to Nigeria than the eight years of former President Obasanjo.
Let us interrogate that assertion factually. In Obasanjo’s eight years in office as President of Nigeria, he paid off Nigeria’s entire foreign debt of $30 billion. But in three years, Buhari has borrowed more money than all the governments in the last 16 years combined.
Under Obasanjo, Nigeria moved from a poor nation to a middle income nation. Under Buhari, Nigeria had her first recession in 25 years.
So what rationale can anyone have for making the preposterous claim that Buhari has outperformed Obasanjo?
Even Buhari himself knows such claims can not stand before Nigerians. I mean, look at what happened when he declared his second term ambition.
President Buhari declared his intention to contest the Presidency for a second term and the Nigerian stock market crashed. Investors are taking their money and leaving Nigeria.
And would you blame them? Even Buhari himself left Nigeria after declaring. He knew what his declaration had done to Nigeria. No one wants to hang around when the air is polluted. And what Buhari did on the day he declared is to pollute Nigeria!
Nigeria needs a breath of fresh air in 2019. We do not need someone who pollutes the economic, political and social air over Nigeria and then runs to his United Kingdom base to leave us to breath the air he polluted!
I am a spiritually inclined man, and I know that there are significance beyond the natural to names, dates and figures.
It is a good thing that it was Nasir El-Rufai who first announced President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term because the President’s chances of being re-elected are as tall as El-Rufai.
In fact, it is more than good. It is almost prophetic that the President chose to announce his second term through El-Rufai. Rearrange the name El-Rufai and you find that the same letters that make up the word failure, make up the name El-Rufai.
Just like Lai Mohammed’s destiny is to lie for Buhari, so El-Rufai’s destiny is to prophesy Buhari’s failure! A man whose supporters cannot declare one thing he has initiated and completed has declared us all fools by this second term declaration.
Right now, the man who declared his second term ambition is in the United Kingdom. He went there a full 10 days before the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. We are not fools. We know why he went there so early. No one declares for a second term and absconds like he has done. No one.
How long will we keep having leaders who only use Nigerian medical facilities for the veterinary treatment of their dogs and other domestic and farm animals but only use foreign hospitals for themselves and their loved ones at public expense? Is this the change we were promised?
This is a question we will answer next year, and I have this warm fuzzy feeling that President Buhari may not like Nigeria’s answer to that question.