A Seven-Year Scorecard of My President
I deem it most appropriate at this period to share my objective assessment of the performance of the president of my country, retired Army General, Muhammadu Buhari GCFR for posterity to judge not minding the political party he belongs or the consequences of my assessment from lap and attack dogs in desperation for recognition as the vogue these days.
Retired General Buhari as president right from the start of his model of governance cornered two important and strategic portfolios that carry along with them considerable executive powers for the past seven years since he was sworn-in on May 29, 2015, and has, in the opinion of most Nigerians, failed woefully in both of them.
First, he is the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and head of the nation’s other security and intelligence agencies as well. Secondly, he has for the same period been the Minister of Petroleum Resources, which puts him directly and squarely in charge of the nation’s cash cow.
My focus for this discourse is on his performance as president, and not any other person or political party because he is the very embodiment of the government he leads.
In the presidential system that we operate, all executive powers of the government reside in the person and, office of the President-In-Council.
According to Section 5(1) (a) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), that the executive powers of the federation “shall be vested in the president…..” In this sense, President Muhammadu Buhari sits atop the executive branch to whom, everyone in that branch answers. In the exercise of these immense powers, he personally appoints ministers, and advisers, including heads of all the branches of the armed forces, police and allied security and intelligence agencies who serve at his pleasure.
A grave implication of the enormous powers concentrated in the president is that he alone bears overall responsibility for whatever happens in the country during his tenure! This makes him unquestionably the most powerful figure in our country’s democratic governance organogram.
The role of Head of State which attaches to the office of president is purely symbolic, that is, he symbolizes the entirety of the nation, the whole country being his constituency. In that capacity, he is expected to symbolize unity, oneness; be a rallying point and the person around which the totality of national sentiments will coalesce as the father of all. As a divisive figure, he has failed in that regard too.
Since he was sworn into office on May 29, 2015, our president has not just been the overall Head of Government, but he is, as Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, particularly in charge of security of the nation. As full minister of petroleum resources, he is directly in charge of the economy. I will explain the strategic combination of C-in-C and Minister of Petroleum Resources as there is an inextricable link between the two, in the light of Nigeria’s substantial dependence on petroleum for foreign exchange earnings.
From all we know already, the oil bearing but partially neglected Niger Delta has been on the boil for too long, but it has become ever more volatile and combustible under the present Buhari led-government, facilitated and aided in small measure by the untamed insecurity bedeviling the country, and specifically in the Niger Delta where oil theft and pipeline vandalism continue to wreak considerable havoc on the economy.
President Buhari is both officially and personally to be held responsible in that he holds the two strategic positions of security and petroleum resources!
Insecurity is pervasive and government seems clueless and helpless. The terrorists who bombed the Kaduna-Abuja train, killed innocent passengers and abducted scores of others specifically alleged that the federal government knows what they really want, but has not responded appropriately. The implication here is that the government may actually be complicit in this wanton, mindless daily slaughter of Nigerians, and that is why it has not been able to do anything tangible about it until of recent when a Presidential Committee was appointed to secure freedom for the remaining abductees in the custody of the vandals.
A notable politician and founding member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) once claimed that the ruling APC imported foreign thugs to help it win the 2015 election and to create mayhem should Muhammadu Buhari the APC presidential candidate got defeated. That allegation has neither denied, nor its blower arrested or questioned by those whose responsibility is to do so, meaning it might not be a frivolous one after all. Could it then be that these same imported thugs are now terrorizing the nation to get what they want from the government they helped to install in 2015?
Three indices of how insecure we are under this government will suffice. First, 178, 459 arms belonging to the Nigeria Police are reportedly missing from the police armory, and yet there have been no arrests or report of official investigations made public, nobody has been held to account unless in few cases probably. Second, tens of thousands of Nigerians have been brutally murdered by sundry armed criminal elements since 2015, and there seems to be no let up. Third, mass abduction of mostly teenage students and daily abduction of people on the highways and even from their homes have overwhelmed the capacity of the security forces, with Kaduna State, the most militarized territory in the continent of Africa, is emblematic of this evil.
According to Governor Nasir El-Rufa’i of Kaduna State, as of 2021, 1,192 persons were gruesomely killed while 3,348 were kidnapped and 891 injured in that state alone not to talk of those figures in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Kogi, Benue, Niger, Nasarawa and parts of Plateau state while IPOB is there occupied with the task of murdering innocent people mercilessly in the southeastern states. South-western states are battling to survive the acts of hooliganism and murder from marauding herdsmen and bandits.
Pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft are demons the government has not been able to curtail even with the creation of the Ministry for Niger Delta and Niger Delta Development Commission (NNDC). Prominent players in the oil and gas industry have claimed that 80% of derivable oil revenue never reaches the national coffers but to the vaults of the criminals. These are no phantom figures, as Mele Kyari, NNPC Group Managing Director (GMD), a man who cannot be said to be ignorant of the goings-on in that sector, said on April 8, 2023 that Nigeria daily loses a whopping 240,000 bpd to pipeline vandals and oil thieves, more than the average daily production of some so called oil producing countries. As is usual with Nigerian officialdom, it is not impossible that that quantity is understated. But understated or not, the loss of 240,000 bpd to indentified and unidentified thieves everyday under Buhari’s watch is too mind boggling to contemplate.
Insecurity that aids pipeline vandalism has often forced foreign oil companies in the Niger Delta to declare force majeure and shutdown oil production activities. Nigeria is currently unable to produce its OPEC assigned daily quota because major oil corporations have either diverted or are refusing further participation in the Nigerian oil industry because of insecurity. It is truly disheartening that a country that depends substantially on oil and gas exports for foreign currency earnings cannot manage its oil industry effectively.
In seven years as petroleum minister, President Buhari has not been able to address Nigeria’s petrol (PMS) supply crisis, fix the refineries and ensure uninterrupted supplies without importing refined crude. We still import refined petrol because none of the four refineries on which huge sums are yearly sunk on bogus turnaround maintenance (TAM) have been functioning. But what is it that makes Nigeria’s oil problem so intractable, defying solution by all regimes since the 1970s? And why does fuel scarcity still persist in spite of Buhari’s vaunted experience in the petroleum ministry? As Federal Commissioner for Petroleum Resources in the 70s, he couldn’t solve the problem then, and as president in a democracy, he has not solved it either till date. A typical case of the more things change, the more they stay the same! The more you look the less you see, and the more you see, the less you understand! That’s typical Nigerian abracadabra on display under President Buhari.
My personal assessment of the seven-year summary of the Buhari brand of government is this: the President with all modesty has failed the trust of Nigerians in the two strategic portfolios (security and oil) where he is the supremo. We can extend the same blame to all other MDAs he oversees. How can we expect performance from any of the ministers etc when the overall supremo himself has failed so woefully in his own assignments?
Pipeline vandalism, oil theft and other unruly behaviors from Niger Delta militants, avengers and other criminal elements may continue to defy solution for several factors.
First, for the government to be in a better position to defeat the demons, let it dig deep down into the modus operandi of the folding Amnesty Programme superintended by the Ministry for Niger Delta Affairs that necessitated the government to fold it up. If a professional forensic auditing of the entire programme is holistically conducted, several cases of malfeasance and corrupt practices abound in the programme that defeated its core value. Those from other regions of Nigeria not from the targeted Niger Delta troubled areas benefitted tremendously from the programme through criminal insertions of names of political thugs and relations on the list of beneficiaries of the programme by some criminally-minded highly placed officials of the Ministry for Niger Delta Affairs.
An investigation shows which report may soon be published that part of the proceeds from the scam was diverted to the purchase of property with one of the properties acquired at a whopping N100million at an estate located in the capital city of one of the states in the north-eastern part of the country and the lubrication of the tall gubernatorial dream of one of the suspected scammers who behaves typical of a village tyrant that displays his village character at any public gathering allegedly facilitated the stealing of over N5billion from the ministry before going into silent retirement to join opposition party to masquerade as a gubernatorial aspirant before a humiliating defeat that served him right.
Now, with such itchy-fingered, shameless and un-Godly characters in government who believe God is their playmate, how could Buhari have succeeded as a president in repositioning Nigeria while his subordinates were and are agents of Satan deploying hypocrisy and pretence into service for business as usual? President Buhari should do the needful as he promised before his exit on May 29, 2023.
Muhammad is a commentator on national issues