Is it time to declare Muhammad Buhari a failure?

Politics and Society

Nigeria: Is it time to declare President Muhammadu Buhari a failure?

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari was voted into power promising change and Nigerians were hopeful. The country wanted corruption eradicated, poverty reduced and lives improved, but the hope is fading. Currently, the Nigerian Army is accused of extra-judicial killings in south-eastern region, where members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) mostly reside. Poverty is rife and economy is struggling. Is it time to declare Buhari a failure?



During the 2015 elections, Nigerians came out in droves to vote out the then ruling party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Then president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan had become unpopular, and a source of ridicule amongst his critics in Nigeria. Jonathan’s ministers were implicated in corruption and the president paid dearly for the mistakes of his comrades in government.

The General, who once wept because of his love for Nigeria after previously suffering defeat came to power promising change. Nigerians were hopeful and even more elated when President Muhammadu Buhari promised an inclusive approach. During his speech Buhari declared, “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody.” That speech should have been the cue Nigerians should have taken about the kind of president that was coming in. Instead they jumped with excitement at that simple statement, in hindsight, a prophetic statement.

Read: Buhari and the new economy called medical tourism

When Buhari declared he belonged to nobody, everybody thought it was the end to ‘cabaltocracy’ and also an end to corruption.


Biafrans protest against unlawful imprisonment of IPOB’s leader, Nnamdi Kanu, and demand secession from Nigeria. Photo:

The past two years, Nigerians have watched as the economic situation remains precarious. The country is slowly coming out of a recession and some citizens feel things are worse now than before.

President Buhari has been criticised for engaging in medical tourism, going to London for an undisclosed ailment. Buhari recently returned to the country after more than 100 days overseas, and Nigerians were treated to a less than five minutes pre-recorded message. The next day, headlines from newspapers reported that Buhari couldn’t resume work in his office because rats had invaded his office. The rats were said to have destroyed furniture and air conditioning fittings in the President’s office, hence the president would work from home. Buhari had initially promised there would be no medical tourism during his tenure in office.

Prior to Buhari’s medical trip, his Chief of Staff Abba Kyari, a man who’s said to be one of those heading a powerful cabal in the presidency was alleged to have taken $1.4m (N500million) from operators of MTN to help the telecommunications company ease the fine imposed on them by the Federal Government. Another member of Buhari’s inner caucus, the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF) Babachir Lawal was said to have diverted $751,000 (N270 million) meant for Internally Displaced Persons just to clear grass. The allegations made against members of Buhari’s inner caucus stand in stark contrast to the president’s anti-corruption message, which was what made Nigerians vote him into power.

For a country like Nigeria that’s divided along ethnicity and religion, critics argue that Buhari is ill equipped to deal with problems affecting the country. Buhari has proven he is neither tolerant nor emotionally intelligent, critics argue, and it might be his undoing. The recent agitations for Biafra under the auspices of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) led to the arrest, detention and finally the release of Nnamdi Kanu, the  Biafran leader. This week, chaos reigned in south eastern Nigeria, where the Army was unleashed on IPOB youths and protesters. Nigeria has been thrown into more sectarian violence with threats between northerners and the Igbos. Buhari’s response to the crisis engulfing the country has been one of silence and more violence.

This week, two videos circulated on social media. One video showed Nigerian soldiers punishing and beating up youths who carried the Biafran flag. The second video showed members of IPOB searching buses for any Hausa people.

The Nigerian Army is still fighting off Boko Haram in the northern part of the country. Many Nigerians have condemned President Buhari for the violence on IPOB. The Nigerian Army is still under scrutiny by Amnesty International for alleged extra-judicial killings during the 2016 protests by Biafran agitators in Onitsha, a market town in south east Nigeria.


Read: Resume or resign: Protesting Nigerians tell Buhari

For many Nigerians, Buhari aggravated the agitation for Biafra. Till now, the president has not visited the eastern part of the country where the Igbos live, and where the bulk of the Biafran agitation has been taking place. There are questions on Buhari’s leadership qualities. For a man that contested thrice before becoming president, much more is expected from him, and Nigerians are slowly losing patience in the administration which came to power promising to change the country.

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