President Muhammadu Buhari’s Democracy Day speech drew mixed reactions yesterday.
The President reeled off the achievements recorded by his administration since its inception three years ago.
Two days earlier, the-Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had also stated: “President Buhari’s administration has achieved a lot in the delivery of dividends of democracy and campaign promises despite the challenges it encountered in the last three years. We are putting our nation on the path of sustainable growth and development, diversifying our economy like never before, tackling corruption at its very core and devising creative measures to secure life and property.”
But NOIPolls, “a country-specific polling service in the West African region, in technical partnership with Gallup (USA) to develop opinion research in Nigeria” scored the government poorly in a report.
The findings of the organisation, named after its creator, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (NOI), former vice president of the World Bank, rated the administration’s performance thus: security 43 per cent; corruption 32 per cent; agriculture and food security 34 per cent; power 27 per cent; healthcare 25 per cent; infrastructure 21 per cent; education 24 per cent; economy 16 per cent; job creation 15 per cent; and poverty alleviation 12 per cent.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the speech was uninspiring, hollow and full of self-praise, without addressing issues agitating the minds of Nigerians.
“Mr. President’s handlers chose to subject him to a fantasy trip, making false performance claims with phantom projects, muddling up economic statistics and ending up worsening his already diminished public perception,” the party said in a statement by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan.
It described the address as the worst since Buhari took office in 2015, saying: “The few Nigerians who bothered to listen to the address were miffed that, in the most insensitive manner, Mr. President failed to show the least empathy to millions of citizens groaning under the worst form of poverty, starvation and economic hardship occasioned by his misrule.”
It regretted the President’s failure to show “any inclination towards justice for victims of abuse of human rights, reported executive high-handedness, illegal arrests and detentions, extra-judicial executions, as well as victims of killings and daily bloodletting” in parts of the country.
The PDP added: “The President said nothing on the humongous corruption going on under his administration, where All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders and cabal at the Presidency have stolen over N10 trillion, mainly from a sector under his direct supervision.”
In a series of tweets, former aide to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Reno Omokiri, said he was “stunned at the level of lies” in the speech.
“Buhari lied when he said he has reduced inflation. In truth, inflation increased by 50 per cent from 9.8 per cent when Buhari took over in May 2015, to 13.34 per cent. The last time Nigeria enjoyed single digit inflation rate was under ex- President Jonathan.
“Buhari lied by claiming to increase foreign reserves. He met a reserve of $32 billion on May 29, 2015. In three years, he has borrowed N11 trillion. This is more than the PDP borrowed in 16 years combined. It is from this debt that he has ‘increased’ our reserve.
“Buhari lied he will bring criminals to justice. Facts contradict this assertion. Under Buhari, close to 1000 so-called ‘repentant’ Boko Haram terrorists have been released. Herdsmen killing Nigerians have not been prosecuted. Instead they are defended.
“Buhari lied by saying Nigeria is more secure under him. According to the Global Terrorism Index, Nigeria is now the third most terrorised nation in the world. We were number four under Jonathan. We have moved one step backward. Herdsmen now kill more than Boko Haram.
“Buhari lied when he said Nigerians are enjoying increased power supply. This is such an obvious lie. He has not built a single power station. The last power station built in Nigeria was by Jonathan. I ask you, ‘Has your power improved?’”
However, a top source at the Central Bank of Nigeria argued that there might be credibility to the claim that the administration has seen rice importation drop by 90 per cent. He said $600 million worth of forex was saved due to the policy on the commodity, adding that about N60 billion was extended to more than 250,000 farmers under the bank’s Anchor Borrowers Scheme in partnership with state governments.
But the claim on 30 per cent capital expenditure was described as mere paper work. According to fiscal governance campaigner and Executive Director of Centre for Human Rights and Conflicts Resolution, Idris Miliki, “It is not about 30 per cent. It is the implementation of the 30 per cent. How much of the vote is actually released? How much can be accomplished between June and December, when discussions about another year’s budget are in full gear? To me, there is no change.”
Aviation stakeholders were divided on the Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility named as an achievement of the administration.
While some said the facility is a private-sector initiative of Aero Contractors airline, others noted that the Federal Government has acquired the firm.
The facility, owned and operated by the airline, was recently turned around to commence the local maintenance of Boeing 737 classic aircraft, a task formerly done overseas at about $2 million per airplane.
The controversy is that though the initiative is private sector-driven, the MRO facility and Aero Contractors have come under the ownership of the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
A consultant with the Ministry of the Aviation, who did not want to be quoted, said: “The Federal Government saved the airlines because of the workers and the economy. AMCON has acquired the airline, just like it did to Arik Air, under certain circumstances. The issue for me is that of ownership.”
On electricity, the President of Nigerians for Super Energy, Joseph Bassey Inyang, said: “There may be increase in generation, but there has not been increase in supply to households. This is because the amount of power the country is generating is not enough to overcome increasing demand on a daily basis.”