As if, it would never come; today marks Retired General Muhammadu Buhari’s last day in office as Nigeria’s president for 8 years. He was first sworn in as a democratic president on 29 May 2015 for a 4 year tenure and again in 2019 for four years; today, he is handing over to Bola Tinubu, his successor.
During the 2015 election, Buhari promised Nigerians so much as his performance target; he reeled various expectations that our country men and women were made to believe him and his party, the All Progressive Congress (APC) and in return gave his administration, the best of supports they can offer but were ultimately disappointed with the turn of events under Buhari’s watch for a whopping 8 years.
In his words “My only desire is to prove to you that Nigeria can truly work… Allow me to prove to you that in your lifetime, you can be proud of this country,” he further promised to tackle corruption and insecurity and as well develop the economy.
His eight-year reign as president has seen the nation wriggle through numerous challenges, with inflation and unemployment at worse levels than he met them. Some Nigerians believe the Buhari administration has performed way below the bar it set for itself in seeking office.
In 2015, before President Mummadu Buhari took office, Nigeria’s inflation rates remained at single digit, though analysts still maintained it was relatively high at that time. For instance, in the whole of 2014, the inflation rate moved between 7.7 per cent, which was the lowest, to the highest point of 8.5 per cent, official data reveals.
By 2015, when Buhari took over power, the inflation rate averaged 9 per cent but since then, the nation has witnessed an unprecedented surge in inflation rates. Data released by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, shows that under Buhari watch as President, Nigeria’s inflation rate hit a 16-year high amid an increase in prices and poor purchasing power.
In 2016, inflation rose to 15.68 per cent and jumped to 16.52 per cent in 2017. The numbers dropped to 12.09 per cent in 2018 and down to 11.40 per cent in 2019. By 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it had risen to 12.2 per cent and closed in 2021 at 16.95 per cent.
In 2022, NBS said the inflation rate climbed to 21.34 per cent. As food prices rose, Nigeria’s inflation rate hit 22.22 per cent in April this year.
When President Buhari took over power in the second quarter of 2015, Nigeria’s unemployment rate rose to 9.9 per cent in the third quarter of that year from 8.2 per cent in the second quarter, according to the NBS.
Since then, unemployment, poverty, and economic disempowerment have remained a disturbing feature of Nigerian life. Between May 2015 and May 2021, Nigeria’s unemployment rate more than tripled.
The current data on the NBS dashboard shows Nigeria’s unemployment rate is 33.3 per cent, translating to some 23.2 million people, the highest in at least 13 years and the second-highest rate in the world.
Similarly, the last poverty survey from the NBS showed that 63 per cent of the Nigerian population, or almost 133 million people, are multidimensionally poor. Prior to 2015, only 53 per cent of Nigerians were multidimensionally poor.
On the nation’s GDP, Data from the World Bank shows that Nigeria’s GDP per capita declined by 0.02 per cent, 4.16 per cent, and 1.78 per cent in 2015, 2016, and 2017, respectively. In 2018, 2019, and 2020, it declined by 0.68 per cent, 0.38 per cent, and 4.57 per cent, a painful squeeze for Nigerians whose average incomes are about $2000, less than half the $5,000 of South Africans.
Nigeria’s annual GDP growth rate also declined from 6.22 in 2014 to 3.10 in 2022.
Also, between May 2015 and now, the Nigerian economy fell into recession twice. Under Mr Buhari’s stewardship, the economy fell into recession, first, in 2016 when the economy contracted by 2.06 per cent between April and June, and in 2020 when COVID-19 decimated economies all over the world.
In November 2015, barely six months after Buhari was inaugurated as president, the naira sold against the dollar at N197. Between then and now, the Nigerian currency has gone through ceaseless devaluation, with two such exercises occurring in 2020 alone.
This year, 2023, the currency had been trading in the range of N445 and N463 for a dollar on the relatively flexible spot market window but on the black market, used by most Nigerians and foreigners, dealers exchange the naira at N730 and above.
In the same vein, Nigeria’s debt profile has risen considerably since Mr Buhari took over power, as budgetary proposals have been designed around debts.
The Debt Management Office (DMO) said Nigeria’s debt profile stood at N12.12 trillion as of June 2015, shortly after Mr Buhari took office.
DMO data shows Nigeria’s total public debt as of 31 December 2022, was N41.6 trillion. The figures include the Debt Stock of the federal and state governments, as well as, the Federal Capital Territory.
Also, between 2014 and 2019, Nigeria dropped nine places on the Global Human Development Index (HDI) published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The country was ranked 152 out of 187 countries in 2014. But, in 2022, the index placed Nigeria 163 out of 191 countries worldwide.
Again on corruption, Nigeria’s ranking on the global index has not been impressive. Between 2016 and 2020, Nigeria slipped in ranking by 18 positions, from 136 in 2016 to 154 in 2021. The rankings are from one to 180, with 180 indicating the country that has the worst perception of corruption.
Nigeria is among countries that “have serious corruption problems” and are at their “lowest level in the last decade.” The global average remains unchanged for the tenth year in a row, at just 43 out of a possible 100 points, and Nigeria’s points remain less than 30 despite multiple commitments.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that about 58,000 maternal deaths occurred in Nigeria in 2015 and that the MMR declined from 1350 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 814 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015.
By 2022, the latest United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report titled “Situation of Women and Children in Nigeria,” states that the country recorded 576 maternal mortality per 100,000 live births.
Maternal mortality is a major public health problem in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMIC) such as Nigeria and it is one of the strongest indicators of a country’s standard of living and maternity care.
We therefore urge the next administration to face these problems with resilience, proactivity and dutifulness in order to salvage Nigeria from the dungeon that Buhari’s administration docked it.