is already seven months since President Muhammadu Buhari was inaugurated as the President of the nation on May 29, 2015. With 222 (two hundred and twenty-two) documented electoral promises from both the President and his political party during the campaigns, civil society organizations have continued the process of meticulously scrutinizing the administration with the aim of ascertaining the extent to which concrete steps are being taken to fulfil promises made.
One of which is the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), the organization that designed the Buharimeter, an innovative governance tracking tool to give citizens an evidence-based platform to assess and score the President on a range of political, social and economic issues. The fourth Buharimeter report, issued in December and titled: Seven Months After: Delivering on Campaign Promises provides important insights into the current realities in key sectors of the national economy and the polity. The fourth Buharimeter report makes informed, and evidence-based judgment calls on the President’s scorecard in critical sectors, such as security, the economy, fighting corruption, oil and gas, agriculture, and social and environmental sectors.
Naturally, security being one of the signature issues on which the President made solemn promises to Nigerians during the electioneering period, occupies a place of prominence in the Buharimeter Report. On the one hand, the report notes that since the inauguration of the administration on May 29, 2015, the Nigerian military has made progress in curtailing the Boko Haram insurgency in North East. It goes on to chronicle how the nation’s helmsman rejigged the counterterrorism architecture, forged regional alliances, appointed new security chiefs and gave the marching orders for the insurgency to be defeated by December 2015.
The effect of these measures, according to the report is that the “Nigerian Army is making gradual gains in the war on terror recovering territories and rescuing abducted citizens.” With these gains, the report infers that the administration has gone on to claim a technical victory, with the argument that that Boko Haram is no longer capable of carrying out conventional attacks on security forces or population centres.
On the flipside of these gains in the war against the insurgents, however, is the fact that there are serious downsides. The fourth Buharimeter report goes on to put on record the sticky issues that have continued to stare the nation. According to the report, over 1949 lives have been lost since the Buhari administration came on board in May 2015. On a rather worrisome note, the report warns that the Boko Haram sect continues to display strong resilience and shocking adaptability.
“Members of the group, who formerly travelled in Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) now ride horses, motorbikes and bicycles to carry out their nefarious activities. These range from poisoning water when fleeing villages and adopting soft targets attacks using suicide bombings executed mostly by young girls.” Furthermore, the report observes that the recent pledge of allegiance by Boko Haram to the Islamic State has seen the Nigerian terror group become much more knowledgeable in the use of technology to further its terrorist objectives. Still on important issues yet to be addressed by the administration on security, the report stresses that interventionist strategies being implemented to curtail the insurgency in the North East would only be effective if the fundamental causative factors fuelling extremism are addressed. The fourth Buharimeter Report equally identifies other forms of insecurity challenging the authority of the Nigerian State as rural banditry, kidnapping, piracy, armed robbery. It notes that all these extant challenges to the suzerainty of the Nigerian State require a robust, direct and strategic response from the administration of PMB.
Still on the security front, the fourth Buharimeter report points at an increase in the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to over 2 million, just as it underscored the fact that half of the IDPs are children. The report states: “While the government and its partners have been responsive, their responses have been largely unable to improve the living conditions of IDPs, which are generally poor. There are severe health hazards in IDP camps, with cholera being just one example. From early September 2015, more than 500 cases of cholera were reported in five camps and the neighbouring communities in Maiduguri, Borno State.”
On providing education for the IDPs, the report acknowledges government efforts, which have been demonstrated in efforts such as the School on Wheels programme. The report is equally upbeat about the reported placement of 2,400 displaced children in Unity Schools across the country. It, however, laments that the number of children benefiting from these schemes is significantly small compared to the number, which is in dire need of the crucial service of education.
On the welfare of IDPs, especially with regards to human security, health and sanitation issues, the Buharimeter report points at the menace of human trafficking and sexual violence as some of the recurrent threats displaced people face. For instance, the report stresses the fact that the estimated number of Nigerian refugees displaced to other countries stood at 164,715 at the end of October 2015, with 34 percent in Cameroon, 9 percent in Chad and 57 percent in Niger. It was observed in the report that most of the camps are overcrowded and lacking basic services and facilities thus posing high health risks to the camp population.
Another signature issue of the administration, which was tracked by Buharimeter is the war against corruption. The report enthuses that there has been renewed vigour in the anti-corruption crusade with has seen the prosecution of high profile officials in the immediate past government, who were indicted over allegations of corrupt enrichment. The report lists the ongoing comprehensive probe of the $2.1 billion arms procurement case, the alleged pilfering of public funds in the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) as examples of an anti-corruption war that has been revved back to life. Buharimeter points to the establishment of an Anti-corruption and Criminal Justice Reform Fund to assist extant government structures in the war against graft.
On the other hand, however, the report notes that despite the renewed effort demonstrated in the fight against graft, there has been no effort by the government to amend relevant laws to guarantee the independence of the anti-graft agencies.
“Moreover, nothing has been done to enact the Whistle Blower Act, as promised by the administration,” the report said. Subsequently, the report puts the spotlight on the economy, after seven months of Buhari in the saddle. It asserts that the dwindling price of crude oil, which nosedived from $115 per barrel in 2014 to $37 in November 2015, has impacted significantly on Nigeria’s revenues. In the face of rising debt stock and the free fall of the national currency, Buharimeter concedes that the government has created several directives and policies to improve the economy. Nonetheless, the tracking tool is of the view that the interventions are mainly monetary policies that “could not hold sway in the absence of fiscal policies.” It goes on to state that reversal of some economic policies and the poor implementation of the Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) Agreement have negatively impacted on the quest for an enabling environment for investments. The report states that; “The deplorable state of infrastructure in the country is also disturbing given its relevance to boosting investment, industrial growth and the economy. There is hardly any part of the country that has well-maintained roads. The railway system is dysfunctional, and the air transport sector is largely inefficient, as well as being unaffordable for the vast majority of the population.”
The fourth Buharimeter Report offers an interesting insight into how the administration is faring with respect to its promises in agriculture, oil and gas, as well as the social and environmental sectors. Under the section “Metering the Interventions, the report concludes that PMB has only achieved one out of the 222 tracked promises, which constitutes 0.5 percent of the promises. The report further notes: “Only 27 (12.2 percent approximately) of the tracked promises are ongoing, which suggests that the government is taking action. In view of this, 194 electoral promises are still “Not Rated” perhaps owing to lack of practical steps taken to achieve them. Unfortunately, these unrated promises constitute 87.3 percent of the tracked promises,” the report concluded. The report calls for the strict adherence to the rule of law in the prosecution of the anti-corruption efforts, the inclusion of women, youth and other vulnerable groups in the governance processes and the protection of civilians in armed conflicts.