On October 17, 2022, President Muhammadu Buhari stated that given the list of finished and ongoing infrastructure projects done in the previous seven years, his rule had met Nigerians' yearnings and ambitions.
President Buhari made the announcement while speaking during his administration's Ministerial Performance Review Retreat, which was organized to assess the amount of progress made in implementing his administration's Nine Priority Agenda.
He emphasized the amazing gains made in agriculture, the economy, infrastructure, security, health, and anti-corruption, among other areas.
”In recognition of the importance of critical infrastructure in economic development and the quest of this administration to leave a lasting legacy, we have implemented high-impact projects across the length and breadth of the country that meets the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians,” Buhari said at the last Ministerial Performance Review Retreat of his government at the State House, Abuja.
Buhari informed a group of ministers, parliamentarians, service chiefs, and other high government officials that over 3,800 kilometres of roads had been built around the country and that the Nigerian Air Force has acquired 38 new aircraft to help combat insurgency.
”Some of the notable achievements include the completion of 326km Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri rail line and railway ancillary facilities; the completion of over 156.5km Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge railway modernization project with extension to Lagos Port, Apapa.
”On road projects, this administration has constructed 408km of roads; 2,499km of SUKUK roads, and maintenance of 15,961km of roads across the country.
”Key among these projects is the construction of 1.9km 2nd Niger Bridge linking Anambra and Delta States with 10.30km approach road; rehabilitation, construction and expansion of Lagos-Shagamu-Ibadan dual carriageway; the ongoing rehabilitation of Abuja-Kaduna – Zaria – Kano Road, among others,” he said.
Still, on infrastructure, the President stated that over 941 kilometres of finished SUKUK road projects have been handed over nationwide.
In addition, the Road Infrastructure Development & Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Policy will fund the reconstruction of 21 designated Federal Roads totalling 1,804.6km.
Buhari stated that the establishment of a National Carrier for Nigeria is 91% complete, with flight operations set to begin by the end of 2021.
According to him, the process is being accelerated by the International Civil Aviation Organization's certification of Lagos and Abuja International Airports, while Kano and Port Harcourt Airports are undertaking similar certification processes.
Giving specifics on his administration's economic accomplishments, Buhari announced that Nigeria saw seven straight quarters of growth, following negative growth rates in the second and third quarters of 2020.
”The GDP grew by 3.54 percent (year-on-year) in real terms in the second Quarter of 2022.
“This growth rate represents a sustained positive economic performance, especially for the Non-Oil GDP which fell by 4.77 percent in Q2 2022 against Oil GDP that grew by -11.77 percent,” he said.
In the Communications and Digital Economy Sector, the President stated that Nigeria now has 44.32 percent broadband coverage, supplemented by 77.52 percent 4G coverage thanks to the installation of 36,751 4G base stations nationwide.
Concerning efforts to bolster national security, the President stated that his administration has made significant investments in guns, weapons, and other important military assets, as well as constant training for the Armed Forces.
”The Nigerian Air Force has acquired 38 brand-new aircraft and is expecting another batch of 36 new ones, while the Nigerian Navy has been equipped with new platforms, sophisticated riverine, Rigid-Hull Inflatable, Seaward Defence, Whaler & Fast Attack Boats as well as Helicopters and Capital Ships.
”To boost the number of our Police personnel, 20,000 policemen have been recruited, trained, fully integrated, and deployed in 2020 and 2021.
"This exercise has strengthened our community policing strategy which is enshrined in the Police Act, 2020,” he said.
Concerning the battle against corruption, the President promised retreat attendees and visitors that the administration would continue to review and prosecute high-profile corruption cases and ensure their timely completion.
With hardship defining ordinary Nigerians' lives, public universities on strike for eight months, and hopelessness being worn as a badge by all and sundry as a result of rising existential crises, the president's self-adulation is a harsh parody of government.
The theme of the retreat: “Enhance security, fight corruption and transform the economy” when criticised objectively will show how inaccurate the President's claim is.
The statement and self-appraisal strongly demonstrate his distance from reality and terrible disconnect from the plight of the people he controls.
On Insecurity, the rampage of non-state actors such as Boko Haram, the Islamic State West African Province, armed robbers, kidnappers, bandits, and herdsmen, has placed Nigeria second on the list of the most terrorized country in September 2022.
According to the Nigeria Security Tracker, over 53,418 Nigerians were killed under Buhari's administration between May 29, 2015, and October of this year.
Residents of Abuja are currently in a state of panic as a US Embassy security advise, confirmed by other Western embassies, warns its citizens of an impending terror attack on the Federal Capital Territory, possibly similar to the ISWAP attack on the Kuje jail in July.
Despite 44 intelligence reports foreshadowing the occurrence, the attack took place and about 800 convicts escaped, including members of the Boko Haram terrorist group.
The President may have created 3,800 kilometres of highways, restored 21 kilometres of federal roads, erected the Onitsha Second Niger Bridge, finished the 326-kilometre Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri rail line, and provided the 156.5-kilometre Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line.
He may have also rehabilitated the Lagos-Ibadan dual carriageway and the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano motorway, as well as procured 38 new aircraft for the Nigeria Air Force and achieved seven consecutive quarters of economic development.
However, the average Nigerian understands how dangerous it is to drive or travel on these roads, as kidnapping and murder cases have increased dramatically.
Families of victims are being compelled to pay up to N100 million in ransom payments per person if the abductee is lucky enough to survive.
Those who travel by train are not immune. In July, the first group of eight kidnapped victims of the Abuja-Kaduna train attack that happened in March 2022 paid a total of N800 million in ransom.
The president's convoy was also assaulted in his home state the same month.
In August, some members of his personal security force, the Presidential Guards Brigade, were ambushed and killed while on a surveillance assignment on the outskirts of Abuja.
Contrary to the claim of the President, none of these paints the picture of a secure country. And fighting insecurity is more than buying equipment, aircraft, or recruitment.
When it comes to corruption in the country, it is unfathomable that rogue oil tankers or vessels enter Nigeria's maritime waters, load the country's crude oil, and then successfully disappear without triggering sensors or trackers that would easily flag such illegality in other jurisdictions with oil economies.
A revelation on major oil theft was disclosed on national television by Ehiozuwa Agbonayinma, former Chairman of the House Committee on Nigeria/US Parliamentary Relations.
An administration serious about tackling corruption would have seized on this to apprehend the perpetrators of the heinous deeds.
But the President, in less than six months to the end of his tenure continues to 'promise' that the administration would continue to review and prosecute high-profile corruption cases and ensure their timely completion.
How can the President of a country whose food inflation reached 20.57 per cent year on year in January 2021, the highest in 11 years; one identified by the World Poverty Clock as having 83 million people living below the poverty line; and with an unemployment rate of 33.3%, the highest in 13 years, claim to have met Nigerians' yearnings?
In 2015, inflation was in the single digits of 9%, which commentators regarded high at the time.
It was 7.7 per cent earlier in 2014. Unfortunately, inflation has been trending downward for most of Buhari's tenure, reaching 19.64 per cent year on year in July, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
In terms of the country's currency, the naira's value has steadily declined due to progressive devaluation.
According to the Hanke Currency Watch List, the naira was the 11th worst-performing currency in the world in relation to the US dollar in August.
This is reflected in the N800 to $1 which is currently trading in the parallel market, as opposed to the N197 to $1 which averaged in November 2015, or even the N155 which was in the same period in 2014.
The country's debt situation has deteriorated and should not be permitted to worsen further.
Surprisingly, the finance minister revealed that the Federal Government borrowed N5.33 trillion as of August, N430.82 billion more than the plan to fund the 2022 elections.
What Nigerians yearn for is an economy that creates jobs and puts food on their tables, as well as a country where their lives and properties are safe.
It is difficult to see how this regime's 3.5 per cent economic growth is being flaunted as a major accomplishment while most Nigerians are at their lowest.
The N11 trillion shortfall in the 2023 budget, insecurity, hunger in the country, an increasingly weakened currency, and other factors are glaring facts that contradict the President's self-evaluation and appraisal.
Whether or not the yearnings of Nigerians have been met is not supposed to come from the President, but rather from the citizens who are at the receiving end of the governance.