by Mark Amaza
Buhari is a terrible leader
2016 was President Muhammadu Buhari’s first full calendar year in office and save for the successes recorded against Boko Haram in the North-East, it was very underwhelming.
Sadly, his record on other internal security matters has been dismal: the clashes between many communities in the Middle Belt and Fulani herdsmen militia continued from Benue to Southern Kaduna, the police with the backing of many state governments continued to clamp down on the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, the country’s largest Shia group; Nnamdi Kanu’s IPOB continued to clash with the military in the South East and Niger Delta militancy continues to show signs of resurgence.
The country’s economy also slipped into a recession for the first time in two decades after three-quarters of negative growth. This was caused not just by low prices of crude oil, but also a foreign exchange policy that has strangled the economy and caused investors to flee. There is also a lack of economic reforms and poor budget implementation.
In all, this earns him a poor grade from us.
Aisha Buhari is a formidable woman
On the other hand, Wife of the President, Aisha Buhari has shown herself to be her own woman and not afraid to speak her mind. In an interview in October last year, she said that her husband’s government had been hijacked by a cabal that was behind presidential appointments, and said she will only support him for reelection in 2019 if he shakes up his government.
Expectedly, the interview caused an enormous scandal, and was worsened by the attempt by President Buhari to downplay it in Germany with a sexist joke.
INEC has lost the credibility Jonathan gave it
One of the biggest, even if few, achievements of former President Goodluck Jonathan was the improvement of the country’s electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Starting with the appointment of celebrated academic and activist, Professor Attahiru Jega as its chair, the commission conducted two general elections with improved performances, evident in how election petitions fell drastically from 2007.
However, Jega’s replacement, Professor Mahmood Yakubu has fallen far short of the standard of his predecessor. Elections conducted are now routinely inconclusive, or increasingly postponed as the dates get closer. All these erode the confidence of the commission to conduct excellent general elections in 2019. It must fix these issues before then.
Still on the matter of the economic recession – it is disheartening that the Federal Government is yet to present a plan that will take us out of it. What it has presented has been a mishmash of ideas and proposals, from tax relief for companies that invest in infrastructure to the possibility of selling national assets – but no plan that is all-encompassing. This is not to mention that these plans are very inadequate.
It seems the government is unwilling to do the necessary reforms because they do not tie in with its ideology – liberalize the foreign exchange policy, truly float the naira and do these next set of reforms.
Mo Abudu (and others) proves the economy can expand
The year 2016 started with people flocking to the cinema to see Fifty, the movie produced by Mo Abudu’s Ebonylife Films, which had opened in December 2015. The critically-acclaimed movie, which went on to gross N94million to land it as the 4th highest grossing Nigerian movie, opened the door for more Nigerian movies to do well at the cinema – four of the top 10 movies were released last year.
The creative industry continues to grow in leaps and bounds – it currently contributes almost 2% of the country’s GDP, which is amazing for a sector that has received barely any support from the government.
It remains to be seen how governments at the federal and state level will tap into it to create more economic opportunities and jobs. Maybe it is time for the Federal Government to look into the Nollywood Intervention Fund of the previous administration.
And a bonus takeaway…
On Boko Haram, it is not yet uhuru
Since the assumption of office by President Buhari in May 2015, there have been two declarations of victory against Boko Haram – first, a ‘technical victory’ declared in December 2015 and another victory declared a year later as their Sambisa forest base was taken over by the military just before Christmas.
However, the terrorist group remains a potent threat with the ability to carry out suicide bombings in urban areas and to attack rural areas in a vast space as the North-East is. Not only that, the leadership of the group remains alive, as we were reminded by Abubakar Shekau, in a new video days after the capture of Sambisa Forest.
The government and security forces should not go to sleep thinking Boko Haram has been totally defeated. Without eliminating its leadership, the group will continue to terrorize Nigerians. It must strengthen intelligence in order to achieve this and prevent more attacks.