© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Lai Mohammed says Buhari presidency has met promises to Nigerians, public record says otherwise
MINISTER of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, says the Buhari administration has kept all the promises and obligations to Nigerians and is determined to do more.
Mohammed said this while addressing State House correspondents on Friday. He was responding to the criticism of the 2019 budget by Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who had described the budget as one that has no hope for Nigerians.
Refusing to join issues with Saraki, Mohammed said “it is not the practice of the executive to be exchanging words with the legislative arm of government” as both arms of government were independent of each other.
“To the best of our knowledge, we presented a budget given the circumstances of our resources this year, we feel that is the best we can. It is left for the National Assembly to consider it,” Mohammed said.
“I wish everybody Merry Christmas and as a government, we are happy that we have been able to meet all our promises, all our obligations to Nigerians. And as the year rolls out, we are more determined to even deliver more to Nigerians.”
During his presidential campaign in 2015, President Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) promised to run a government based on three major agenda, namely: to revive the economy, to reduce insecurity and terrorism, and to fight corruption.
The presidency has consistently maintained that it has delivered on the three major campaign promises, however, available statistics suggest otherwise.
A recent report by the National Bureau of Statistics shows that the unemployment rate in Nigeria currently stands at 23.1 percent, as over 20.9 million Nigerians are unemployed. When Buhari took over in the second quarter of 2015, the unemployment rate was at 8.2 percent.
Nigeria’s debt profile under Buhari has risen to about N22 trillion, from the N12.1 trillion it was in 2015. The president, however, maintains that the debt level is within a healthy range.
On anti-corruption, the Buhari administration has commenced the trial of several high-profile, politically exposed persons on several allegations of corruption, but little convictions have been witnessed.
Two former state governors − Joshua Dariye of Plateau State and Jolly Nyame of Taraba State − were sentenced to 10 and 12 years imprisonment respectively for corruption, but their cases had been on long before the Buhari presidency.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it has secured 703 convictions between 2015 and 2018, including that of Dariye and Nyame, and one Joseph Nwobike, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
Between 2013 and 2015, the EFCC recorded 346 convictions, according to figures on its website. The statistics for the convictions secured by the commission from 2003, when it was created, to 2012, was not available on the website.
The commission also said it has recovered more than N794 billion, over $261 million, £1,115,930.47, €8,168,871.13, and 86,500 CFA, cash from “corrupt elements”.
These do not include “filling stations, petroleum products, land, jewellery, automobiles, real estate, vessels, hospitals, company shares, heavy machinery, and broadcast equipment” also confiscated by the commission.
Also, records from the website of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) have recovered billions in cash and property in the course of its anti-corruption activities.
On the issue of anti-terrorism and combating insecurity, the Buhari administration has consistently said it has tactically defeated Boko Haram, and that the insurgents no longer have the ability to launch massive attacks across the country like they used to do.
But while it is true that Boko Haram’s ability to launch attacks on targets outside the North East has greatly reduced, the group remains relatively potent in their stronghold of Borno State, according to recent events. They have carried out several attacks, most times successfully, on military formations in Borno State, killing several soldiers and making away with weapons belonging to the Nigerian military.
While campaigning for the presidency in 2015, Buhari said he would ensure the release of the over 200 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Hara. Indeed, some of the girls − 82 of them − have regained their freedom, though reports suggest FG paid millions of Euros to the terrorists for the release. However, majority of the Chibok girls have remained in captivity.
The insurgents even did a repeat of the Chibok incident of 2014, when over 100 school girls in Dapchi, Yobe State, were kidnapped in February this year. All but one of the girls were released after one month, again, after the government had allegedly paid millions in ransom.
Outside the North East, there are several armed groups almost in all regions of the country terrorising citizens and appearing almost too strong for security operatives. In 2018 alone, there have been recurrent fatal attacks by suspected herdsmen in Benue, Kaduna, and Kogi States, bandits in parts of Zamfara and Plateau States, and kidnappers in parts of the North Central, South South, and South East regions.
Overall, just as was the case in 2015, Nigeria remains the third most terrorised country in the world in the latest Global Terrorism Index released earlier this month, though the number of terrorism-related deaths have dropped.
A recently retired Army Major General, Idris Alkali was murdered in Plateau State on his way to Bauchi from Abuja, and just a few days ago, the former Chief of Defence Staff, Alex Badeh, was murdered in cold blood along the Abuja – Keffi expressway, while returning from his farm.
The 2019 general election presents the best opportunity for Nigerians to decide whether indeed the Buhari administration has kept its promise to the people.