Opinion: See the Worst President in the history of Nigeria

Opinion: See the Worst President in the history of Nigeria

 

Muhammadu Buhari

Muhammadu Buhari GCFR (born 17 December 1942) is a Nigerian politician currently serving as the President of Nigeria, in office since 2015. He is a retired military general of the Nigerian Army and previously served as military head of state from 1983 to 1985, after taking power in a military coup d’état. The term Buharism is ascribed to the conservative right wing policies of his military regime. Buhari has stated that he takes responsibility for anything over which he presided during his military rule, and that he cannot change the past. He has described himself as a “converted democrat”.

He unsuccessfully ran for the office of President of Nigeria in the 2003, 2007, and 2011 general elections. In December 2014, he emerged as the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress for the March 2015 general elections. Buhari won the election, defeating the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. This marked the first time in the history of Nigeria that an incumbent president lost to an opposition candidate in a general election. He was sworn in on 29 May 2015. In February 2019, Buhari was re-elected President, defeating his closest rival Atiku Abubakar by over 3 million votes.

Early life

Muhammadu Buhari was born to a Fulani family on 17 December 1942, in Daura, Katsina State, to his father Mallam Hardo Adamu, a Fulani chieftain, and his mother Zulaihat. He is the twenty-third child of his father. Buhari was raised by his mother, after his father died when he was about four years old.

2003 presidential election

In 2003, Buhari ran for office in the presidential election as the candidate of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP). He was defeated by the People’s Democratic Party incumbent, President Olusẹgun Ọbasanjọ, by a margin of more than 11 million votes.

2007 presidential election

On 18 December 2006, Buhari was nominated as the consensus candidate of the All Nigeria People’s Party. His main challenger in the April 2007 polls was the ruling PDP candidate, Umaru Yar’Adua, who hailed from the same home state of Katsina. In the election, Buhari officially took 18% of the vote against 70% for Yar’Adua, but Buhari rejected these results. After Yar’Adua took office, he called for a government of national unity to bring on board aggrieved opposition members. The ANPP joined the government with appointment of its national chairman as cabinet members in the government of Umar Musa Yaradua, but Buhari denounced this agreement.

2011 presidential election

In March 2010, Buhari left the ANPP for the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), a party that he had helped to found. He said that he had supported foundation of the CPC “as a solution to the debilitating, ethical and ideological conflicts in my former party the ANPP”.

Buhari was the CPC Presidential candidate in 16 April 2011 general election, running against incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), and Ibrahim Shekarau of ANPP. They were the major contenders among 20 contestants. He was campaigning on an anti-corruption platform and pledged to remove immunity protections from government officials. He also gave support to enforcement of Sharia law in Nigeria’s northern states, which had previously caused him political difficulties among Christian voters in the country’s south.

The elections were marred by widespread sectarian violence, which claimed the lives of 800 people across the country, as Buhari’s supporters attacked Christian settlements in the country’s centre regions. The three-day uprising was blamed in part on Buhari’s inflammatory comments. In spite of assurances from Human Rights Watch, who had judged the elections as “among the fairest in Nigeria’s history”, Buhari claimed that the poll was flawed and warned that “If what happened in 2011 should again happen in 2015, by the grace of God, the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood”.

However, he remains a “folk hero” to some for his vocal opposition to corruption. Buhari won 12,214,853 votes, coming in second to the incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP, who polled 22,495,187 votes and was declared the winner.

2015 presidential election

Buhari ran in the 2015 Presidential election as a candidate of the All Progressives Congress party. His platform was built around his image as a staunch anti-corruption fighter and his incorruptible and honest reputation. However, Buhari stated in an interview that he would not probe past corrupt leaders and that he would give officials who stole in the past amnesty, insofar as they repent.

In the runup to the 2015 Presidential elections, the campaign team of incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan asked for the disqualification of General Buhari from the election, claiming that he is in breach of the Constitution. According to the fundamental document, in order to qualify for election to the office of the President, an individual must be “educated up to at least School certificate level or its equivalent”. Buhari has failed to submit any such evidence, claiming that he lost the original copies of his diplomas when his house was raided following his overthrow from power in 1985.

In May 2014, in the wake of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping, Buhari strongly denounced the Boko Haram insurgency. He “urged Nigerians to put aside religion, politics and all other divisions to crush the insurgency he said is fanned by mindless bigots masquerading as Muslims”. In July 2014, Buhari escaped a bomb attack on his life by Boko Haram in Kaduna, 82 people were killed. In December 2014, Buhari pledged to enhance security in Nigeria, if he wins the general elections on 14 February 2015, which were later rescheduled for 28 March 2015. Since this announcement, Buhari’s approval ratings reportedly have skyrocketed amongst the Nigerian people (largely due to the incumbent Goodluck Jonathan’s apparent inability to fight Boko Haram’s brutal insurgency). Buhari made internal security and wiping out the militant group one of the key pillars of his campaigning. In January 2015, the insurgent group “The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta” (MEND) endorsed Buhari in the Presidential race, saying he is the best candidate to lead the country.

2019 presidential election

On 24 January 2018, former president Obasanjo wrote a letter to president Buhari accusing his government of nepotism, while commending his war against corruption and lauding his achievements on Boko Haram. Obasanjo’s letter also included an appeal to president Buhari not to contest re-election in 2019 but to instead “join the stock of Nigerian leaders whose experience, influence, wisdom, and outreach can be deployed on the sideline for the good of the country”.

Shrugging off opposition from a previous president, during a national executive council meeting on the morning of April, 9th 2018, President Buhari declared his intention to re-enter the presidential race in 2019 and seek a second term in office as a democratic leader. This came after much speculation by political players and members of the public about whether or not he was going to run, especially considering his rather late timing. Reactions to his announcement have been mixed, as many observers think this put a question to his integrity. Buhari said during the 2011 presidential campaigns under the CPC banner that he would never seek a re-election bid should he ever become president.

On 26 February 2019, Buhari was elected to a second term, defeating People’s Democratic Party opponent Atiku Abubakar.

INEC issued the certificate of return to President Buhari and Osinbajo on February 27, 2019. On May 29, 2019, President Buhari took his oath of office for the second term.

Whilst the country commemorate Democracy Day on May 29, in remembrance of May 29, 1999, when democracy was restored after a long term of military rule; Buhari changed it to June 12 for heroic remembrance of MKO Abiola, who won the June 12, 1993 election was overruled. The maiden commemoration was marked on June 12, 2019. President Buhari hosts the principal officers of the National Assembly to dinner at the state house on Thursday July 11, 2019.

Presidency (2015–present)

Buhari has a contemplative approach to governance, his presidency improved in dealing with corruption and also in deploying resources to the field to combat the insurgence of Boko Haram. But in a country with 23% unemployment rate, Buhari’s un-energetic personality and his contemplative decision making has not earned him admiration from some independent supporters who voted for him in 2015.

Cabinet

Buhari’s key advisers include his nephew, Mamman Daura, the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari and in the late stages of his first term, Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF). Empowering his kitchen cabinet after his second inauguration, the President has stated his preference for cabinet members seeking meetings or consultation to direct such requests through the office of his Chief of Staff or through the SGF so as to improve coordination and communication flow.

Since the Fourth Republic, ministerial positions are legally required to be composed of a federal ethno-demographic character with a minister representing each state of the federation. A result of this has created the outcome of political considerations as an important factor in nominating ministers as local party officials lacking in merit jostle for cabinet positions. Nomination into Buhari’s cabinet has been influenced by those political considerations and also closeness to the president and his inner cabinet.

Economy

An attractive choice to many Nigerians because of a perceived incorruptible character. Once in power, Buhari who had earlier mobilized supporters in three previous elections was slow to manifest his intention to solve problems he mentioned during his campaign. Determination to initiate his domestic policy agenda like naming of cabinet officials took six months, while the passage of the 2016 and 2017 budgets were delayed by infighting.

In Buhari’s first year in office, Nigeria suffered a decline in commodity prices which triggered an economic recession. To source funds to close shortfall in revenue and fund an expansionary capital budget, Buhari traveled to 20 countries seeking loans. Thereby, expansionary budget allocation to finance infrastructure was pushed back to a further date.

In the first year of the administration, Naira, the currency of Nigeria depreciated in the black market leading to a gulf between the official exchange rate and the black-market rate. A resulting shortage in foreign exchange hit various businesses including petroleum marketers. However, the gulf between the official rates and the black market rates opened up the opportunity for well connected individuals to engage in arbitrage, making a mockery of the president’s anti-corruption image. In May, 2016, the government announced a rise in the official pump price of petroleum to curtail shortfall in the commodity as a result of foreign exchange shortages.

In 2016, the country’s economy declined by 1.6% and in 2017 per capital economic growth is projected to be negligible. Buhari’s first tenure as head of state coincided with a decline in oil prices similar to his second stint but his administration has not shown dedicated effort to diversify sources of government spending. The 2018 budget signaled an expansionary fiscal policy with funds dedicated to infrastructural projects such as strategic roads, bridges and power plants.

Since an upturn in economic growth from the decline of 2016, a slow pace of recovery has the country behind many of its continental neighbors in GDP growth. Unemployment levels remain high and any effort to increase non-oil revenues has not improved while government deficit spending include a significant portion of its yearly budget dedicated to service debts.

The government continued to operate flexible exchange rates into the second term of the administration despite critics alluding to the exchange rate regime of being susceptible to arbitrage abuses and round tripping by cronies of the government.

Anti-corruption

The $2 billion arms deal was exposed following the interim report of Buhari’s investigations committee on arms procurement under the Goodluck Jonathan administration. The committee report showed extra-budgetary spending to the tune of N643.8 billion and additional spending of about $2.2 billion in the foreign currency component under the Goodluck Jonathan’s watch. Preliminary investigation suggested that about $2 billion may have been disbursed for the procurement of arms to fight against Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria. The investigative report indicated that a total sum of $2.2 billion was inexplicably disbursed into the office of the National Security Adviser in procurement of arms to fight against insurgency, but was not spent for the purpose for which the money was disbursed. Investigations on this illegal deal led to the arrest of Sambo Dasuki, the former National Security Adviser who later mentioned prominent Nigerians involved in the deal. Those who were mentioned and arrested includes Raymond Dokpesi, the Chair Emeritus of DAAR Communications Plc, Attahiru Bafarawa, the former Governor of Sokoto State, and Bashir Yuguda, the former Minister of State for Finance, Azubuike Ihejirika, the Chief of Army Staff, Adesola Nunayon Amosu, the former Chief of the Air Staff, Alex Badeh and several other politicians were mentioned.

On 21 December 2016, the government’s Federal Ministry of Finance announced a whistle-blowing policy with a 2.5%-5% reward. The aim is to obtain relevant data or information regarding:

  • the violation of financial regulations
  • the mismanagement of public funds and assets
  • financial malpractice
  • fraud
  • theft

In May 2018, the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) announced that 603 Nigerian figures had been convicted on corruption charges since Buhari took office in 2015. The EFCC also announced that for the first time in Nigeria’s history, judges and top military officers including retired service chiefs are being prosecuted for corruption. The successful prosecutions were also credited to Buhari’s EFCC head Ibrahim Magu. In December 2019, Mohammed Adoke, the nation’s former Attorney General, was extradited to Nigeria to stand trial on corruption charges. In January 2020, however, Transparency International still gave Nigeria a low performance in its corruption perception index.

Foreign policy

Buhari described the military crackdown by the Myanmar Army and police on Rohingya Muslims as ethnic cleansing and warned of a disaster like the Rwandan genocide.

Nigeria and South Africa between them share about 50% of Africa’s economic output but both countries macroeconomic structure is hampered by high poverty rates, youth unemployment and decline in capital investment. About 600,000 Nigerians have emigrated to South Africa to seek out better economic opportunities and like in Nigeria, it is an economy struggling with its own high unemployment rates. Tensions between migrants and the local populace have occasionally flared up, in 2008, 2015 and in 2019. The last resulted in the violence between migrants including Nigerians and black South Africans. The leaders of both countries met in early October 2019, to discuss measures to improve the relationship between both countries which has been affected not only by anti-migrant violence in South Africa both issues about profit repatriation by South African firms operating in Nigeria.

Insecurity

Niger Delta

Nigeria has the second-largest reserves of crude oil in Africa, reserves largely found in the Niger Delta region of the country. Years of oil production have resulted negative impact on farming and fishery by oil spillage. The government initiated Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) to help clean up Ogoniland while other state governors within the region want a similar setup. HYREP was initiated in 2005 but has been slow to commence remediation works in Ogoniland.

Nonetheless, there are still intermittent attacks on oil facilities by groups such as the Niger Delta Avengers. This has significantly affected oil production leading to cuts in exports and government revenue. The Avengers are waging conflict for greater economic and political autonomy.

Shia Muslims

The Islamic Movement of Nigeria led by Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky is one of the country’s leading organization of Shia Muslims. Nigeria’s Muslim population is mainly Sunni while the Shia population have gone through sporadic persecution by governments. After the Islamic movement was accused of an attack against Chief of Army Staff Tukur Buratai in December 2015, Zakzaky’s base was shelled causing hundreds of fatalities while Zakzaky was arrested.

Biafra separatists

A separatist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra and led by Nnamdi Kanu became high profile in 2015 for advocating independence for a separate nation of Biafra. A breakaway Biafra republic was briefly formed during Nigeria’s Civil War. The group agitating for a resurgence of Biafra, a republic not constrained by dis-empowerment of Igbos gradually founded favor among many economically and politically dis-empowered youths in Southeastern Nigeria. In October 2015 Kanu was arrested on allegation of treason, his arrest was followed by protest against his detention across many Southeastern states.

Boko Haram

Since 2015, the fight against the extremists has taken a new dimension, internally the groups have splintered into the traditional Boko Haram sect controlled by Abubakar Shekau and the Islamic State in West Africa Province controlled by Abu Musab al-Barnawi. Other groups supported by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb such as Ansaru, who were driven from Mali due to the French-led Operation Serval have surfaced and co-operated with Boko Haram despite being its rival. This was mostly out of necessity, as the two factions could not risk to weaken themselves by fighting each other. In February 2020, over two hundred and fifty Ansaru members were killed in a police raid in Birnin Gwari.

In October 2016, the government negotiated a deal with the terrorist group, Boko Haram which secured the release of 21 Chibok girls. By December 2016, the government had recovered much of the territories previously held by Boko Haram and after the capture of Sambisa Forest, Buhari announced that Boko Haram has been technically defeated. The insurgency displaced about 2 million people from their homes and the recapture of the towns now present humanitarian challenges in health, education and nutrition. On 6 May 2017, Buhari’s government secured a further release of 82 out of 276 girls kidnapped in 2014, in exchange of five Boko Haram leaders. On 7 May 2017, President Buhari met with the 82 released Chibok girls, before departing to London, UK, for a follow up treatment for an undisclosed illness.

Farmer-Herder violence

The Middle-Belt region of Nigeria has been vulnerable to clashes between farmers and cattle herders, two groups trying to secure arable land for grazing or farming and access to water. The intensity and politicization of the conflict along ethnic and religious divide increased during the administration of Buhari as instances of conflicts flared in parts of Southern Nigeria. About 300 civilians were killed in a village in Benue State, Middle-Belt of the country and about 40 civilians were killed in Enugu in Southeastern Nigeria. The violence has displaced upwards of 250,000 villagers who migrate to cities ill-prepared to handle the influx of migrants. The conflict between farmers many of whom are largely Christians and herders who are predominantly Muslims has stoked religious tension not helped when the president sent in military troops disarm ethnic Christian militias while critics allege of his lukewarm towards armed cattle herders.

The administration’s effort to solve the conflict led to the National Livestock Transformation Plan to modernise cattle grazing and stabilize the Middle Belt region. In 2017, RUGA, an acronym for Rural Grazing Area but also a word meaning settlement in Fulani was a proposed solution that came from deliberations of the transformation plan. RUGA was to set aside grazing areas for herders as they migrate south, however, many Southern states opposed any involuntary acquisition of land for RUGA and the plan was suspended.

Banditry in Northern Nigeria

Since 2015, the Buhari administration has suffered with an increased spate of banditry-related activities in Northern Nigeria. The Abuja-Kaduna highway has been termed the “highway of kidnapping”, due to the rampant atrocities committed by bandits. In February 2020, the Northern Elders Forum, a socio-political organisation, said the administration has failed Nigerians in terms of security.

Controversies

US$2.8 billion NNPC scandal

During his tenure as Federal Commissioner of Petroleum and Natural Resources, US$2.8 billion allegedly went missing from the accounts of the NNPC in Midlands Bank in the United Kingdom. General Ibrahim Babangida later allegedly accused Buhari of being responsible for this fraud.

However, in the conclusion of the Crude Oil Sales Tribunal of Inquiry headed by Justice Ayo Irikefe to investigate allegations of 2.8 billion Dollars misappropriation from the NNPC account, the tribunal found no truth in the allegations even though it noticed some lapses in the NNPC accounts.

Chadian military affair

In 1983, when Chadian forces invaded Nigeria in the Borno State, Buhari used the forces under his command to chase them out of the country, crossing into Chadian territory in spite of an order given by President Shagari to withdraw. This 1983 Chadian military affair led to more than 100 victims and “prisoners of war”.

Umaru Dikko affair

The Umaru Dikko Affair was another defining moment in Buhari’s military government. Umaru Dikko, a former Minister of Transportation under the previous civilian administration of President Shagari who fled the country shortly after the coup, was accused of embezzling $1 billion in oil profits. With the help of an alleged former Mossad agent, the NSO traced him to London, where operatives from Nigeria and Israel drugged and kidnapped him. They placed him in a plastic bag, which was subsequently hidden inside a crate labelled as “Diplomatic Baggage”. The purpose of this secret operation was to ship Dikko off to Nigeria on an empty Nigerian Airways Boeing 707, to stand trial for embezzlement. The plot was foiled by British airport officers.

53 suitcases saga

Buhari’s administration was embroiled in a scandal concerning the fate of 53 suitcases with unknown contents. The suitcases were being transported by the Emir of Gwandu, whose son was Buhari’s aide-de-camp, and were cleared through customs on 10 June 1984 without inspection during his return flight from Saudi Arabia.

PTF allocation to the military

While Buhari was Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund, critics had questioned the PTF’s allocation of 20% of its resources to the military, which they feared would not be accountable for the revenue.

Sharia in Nigeria

Previously, Buhari gave his support for the total implementation of Sharia in the country. He was quoted in 2001 as saying, “I will continue to show openly and inside me the total commitment to the Sharia movement that is sweeping all over Nigeria”, he then added: “God willing, we will not stop the agitation for the total implementation of the Sharia in the country.” Buhari has denied all allegations that he has a radical Islamist agenda. On 6 January 2015, Buhari said: “Because they can’t attack our record, they accuse me falsely of ethnic jingoism; they accuse me falsely of religious fundamentalism. Because they cannot attack our record, they accuse us falsely of calling for election violence – when we have only insisted on peace. Even as Head of State, we never imposed Sha’riah.”

Mediation with Boko Haram

In 2012, Buhari’s name was included on a list published by Boko Haram of individuals it would trust to mediate between the group and the Federal Government. However, Buhari strongly objected and declined to mediate between the government and Boko Haram. In 2013, Muhammadu Buhari made a series of statements, when he asked the Federal Government to stop the killing of Boko Haram members and blamed the rise of the terrorist group on the prevalence of Niger Delta militants in the South. Buhari stated that “what is responsible for the security situation in the country is caused by the activities of Niger Delta militants […] The Niger Delta militants started it all”. He also questioned the special treatment including close to $500 million a year paid to 30,000 militants under the amnesty programme since 2013 by the Federal Government and deplored the fact that Boko Haram members were killed and their houses destroyed.

Abolishing the office of the first lady

In December 2014, Muhammadu Buhari went on the record to say he would abolish the office of the First Lady if he was elected as President, claiming it was unconstitutional.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), a Nigerian militant group that endorsed Buhari during the 2015 general elections, commended Buhari for his plans and went on to say that the office of the First Lady was “obviously an irrelevant, fraudulent and unconstitutional office, whose only purpose is to further plunder the resources of the country.”

Since assuming the presidency on 29 May 2015, Buhari has yet to terminate the office of the First Lady. Aisha Buhari operates from the office of the First Lady as “wife of the President”.

Share this to friends

Related posts

Leave a Comment