• Thursday, April 25, 2024
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BusinessDay

A post-mortem on the Buhari administration

160 days to polls, Buhari sets up another advisory group on economy

Next week Sunday, President Muhammadu Buhari will enter his final year in office. Necessarily, he must start thinking of his legacies and we can begin to write a post-mortem on his administration since the last year of governance in Nigeria is lame-duck period overtaken by political activities rather than governance.

I understand Buhari doesn’t like numbers. When presented with figures, he bluntly retorts “I don’t know where you got your figures from.” All he knows – and the constant talking point of his administration and ministers is that his administration has revitalised Nigeria’s economy, built massive infrastructure, lifted millions of Nigerians out of poverty, and improved the living standards of Nigerians. But as usual, they provide absolutely no proof of these bold assertions or indices to measure the progress he claimed to have made.

But how can the administration be making such bold claims without evidence? How can you understand or even improve a situation you can’t measure? To be sure, the government knows there are globally accepted indices with which progress in virtually all socio-economic and political processes are measured. In fact, it is obsessed with those figures and has tried to control and manipulate them at various times.

So, when the Buhari administration is done and out of office and the history of his administration is being written, it is those official figures that will be used and not the administration’s propaganda that are empty and unmeasurable

In August last year, the administration moved quickly to claim credit for the 5 percent quarterly growth of the Nigerian economy – the first such growth since 2014. But we also know that in 2018, when the same National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released a record unemployment figure, the then statistician-general of the country, Yemi Kale, according to Buhari’s spokesman Garba Shehu, was summoned to Aso Rock and the president ordered him “to change the high unemployment statistics.”

When Mr Kale wouldn’t budge, the president instead set up a new Economic Advisory Council (EAC) and in his inaugural address, admonished them to help produce regime-friendly data/figures to highlight the gains of his administration.

Don’t take my words for it. Hear him: But make no mistake about it, these are the numbers the Buhari administration – and all other administrations for that matter – will be judged with. Here we go!

The GDP – the total final market value of all goods and services produced within a country during a given period – as insufficient as it is, is generally used to measure the wealth of a country and GDP per capita measures prosperity of the citizens of a country.

In 2014, just months before Buhari took over, Nigeria’s GDP was $546.7 billion, but it has been dropping consistently and is now $432.29 billion. GDP per capita in 2014 was $3,098; today it is $2360.00. What about inflation? In 2014, inflation rate was 8.05 percent.

Today, it has doubled to 16.82 percent. Unemployment? In 2014, the unemployment rate was 9.7 percent. Today, it is hovering around 33 percent while youth unemployment sits gingerly at around 55 percent – one of the highest in the world together with South Africa’s.

What about Nigeria’s Human Development Index? In 2014, Nigeria scored 0.504, ranking 152 out of 189 countries. Today, it is ranked 0.539 falling to 161 position out of 189 countries and territories.

Also, although the figures are currently being disputed, Nigeria’s out of school children are said to have grown from 10.5 million in 2015 to about 13.2 million and currently ranked the highest in the world.

Health figures are even scarier. In 2017, the World Health Organisation’s analysis of health systems ranked Nigeria 187 out of 191, ahead only of The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, and Myanmar. Its verdict was damning: “Nigeria lacks a serious approach to healthcare.”

The WHO also put maternal mortality rate in Nigeria as 814, per 100,000 live births only outperforming Chad with 856, Central African Republic; 882, and Sierra Leone; 1360. War torn countries like Somalia and Democratic Republic of Congo even outperformed Nigeria.

Also, while Botswana and Mauritius have the proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel as 100 percent, Nigeria is again down the pyramid with 35 percent, competing with countries like Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Chad.

The statistics get worse, for every 1000 births in Nigeria, 108 infants (and children) die before the age of five, and again, the country sits comfortably close to the bottom of the ladder in Africa.

Data from WHO statistics 2017 further show that over 72 million Nigerians are at risk of malaria, with 380.8 at risk out of every 1000 Nigerians, whereas malaria has ceased to be a health concern for many other countries. Yet, Africa’s largest economy shares the three bottom slots on the continent with Burkina Faso and Mali.

The figures for cancer are even more mind-boggling. Nigeria has a cancer death ratio of 4 in 5, one of the worst in the world. According to the WHO, over 100,000 people are diagnosed with cancer annually in Nigeria, and about 80,000 die from the disease, amounting to 240 daily.

Furthermore, cervical cancer, which is virtually 100 percent preventable, kills one Nigerian woman every hour while breast cancer kills 40 Nigerian women daily.

What about the administration’s favourite talk point – lifting millions out of poverty, fighting corruption and insecurity? Figures from various measuring agencies show poverty in Nigeria has worsened with Nigeria overtaking India as the poverty capital of the world in 2018.

What about corruption? In 2015, Nigeria was ranked 136 out of 180 countries on Transparency International’s corruption perception index. By 2021, Nigeria has risen sharply to occupy the 154th position. Talk of progress!

What about security or insecurity – Buhari’s greatest selling point in 2015? Maybe we should begin with food insecurity? According to Statista, an agency monitoring and recording vital statistics in countries around the world, the prevalence of severe food insecurity and hunger in Nigeria increased from 6.6 percent in 2014 to 21.4 percent in 2020.

Read also: Electoral Act: Buhari’s refusal to sign best for the polity – Mohammed

The Council on Foreign Relations developed a security tracker to monitor deaths per month in Nigeria. While death per month in May 2015 was 767, it has actually reduced to just 121 in May 2022.

While the Buhari administration may want to count that as a huge success, when the same tracker looked at deaths by both state and non-states perpetrators, it tells a different story.

There is a huge jump from 3,952 in May 2015 to 14, 620 in May 2022. Also, Buhari has claimed several times that he has ensured no territory of Nigeria is under Boko Haram.

Also, a cursory look at the travel advisory of most western countries on Nigeria in 2015 shows they advised their citizens mainly against travel to the northeastern part of the country due to the Boko Haram insurgency and some parts of the south-south due to pockets of kidnappings.

However, currently, travel advisories forbid travel to most parts of Nigeria except just Lagos and Abuja for obvious reasons – Boko Haram insurgency, banditry and kidnap for ransom in virtually all parts of the country, senseless killings and the sheer reign of terror being unleashed across all the country with the government virtually unable to do anything to stem the tide.

So, when the Buhari administration is done and out of office and the history of his administration is being written, it is those official figures that will be used and not the administration’s propaganda that are empty and unmeasurable.