The Patriot Institute of Journalism and Arts (PIJA), Lance Magazine is a public-centric independent media organisation dedicated to fighting injustice, fostering social justice and community development through the telling and retelling of the marginalised-oriented stories.
Missing Buhari: A Delusion of Grandeur
Nigeria has been deeply affected and the wound is profound. Unfortunately, it is likely to remain even after the current President of Aso Rock leaves office. The day will soon come, but the damage he is leaving behind is too severe to be repaired in just eight years. Yet, the President has stated that Nigeria will miss him when he departs, adding that Nigerians don’t usually realize the value of what they have until it is gone. But is this really true? Let’s take a look back in time.
In 2015, Nigeria was described by economic elites as being in “abject poverty,” with a poverty rate of 90.80%, a 0.9% decrease from 2012. This was during the democratic era of President Goodluck Jonathan, with northern states having a higher percentage of poverty. At this time, the Boko Haram insurgency had just begun. However, Nigerians were still of the view that their current situation was difficult, and they wanted the leader to go, despite paying N87 per liter for petroleum. They wanted to see “Sai Baba” who promised “Change,” particularly a change in the price of petroleum from N87 per liter to N50 per liter. Unfortunately, this change never materialized during his tenure, as the Niger Delta remained volatile, Boko Haram continued to wreak havoc, oil prices increased, and the naira declined.
Today, elites are at a loss for words to describe the decadence Nigeria has experienced in recent years. With northern states experiencing ongoing insurgent attacks, rampant kidnapping, a rising poverty rate, and both the naira and petroleum prices facing unprecedented challenges, the situation is dire.
Jonathan, who left Nigeria in a state of disarray, also famously said, “you’ll miss me.” Interestingly, President Muhammadu Buhari has also claimed that Nigeria will miss him, despite his regime being characterized by terrible economic conditions, inflation, and a rapidly increasing national debt, with poverty rates reaching unprecedented levels. But will we really miss the President when he leaves office?
According to a World Bank study, 40% of Nigerians (83 million people) lived below the poverty line in 2018, with another 25% (53 million) being vulnerable. With Nigeria’s population growth outpacing poverty reduction, the number of Nigerians living in extreme poverty is projected to increase by 7.7 million between 2019 and 2024, during the President’s tenure.
The Nigerian economy is expected to grow at an average of 3.2% between 2022 and 2024, but this growth outlook is subject to significant risks, including further declines in oil production and heightened insecurity. Additionally, the continued scarcity of foreign exchange and tighter liquidity could negatively impact economic activity in the non-oil sector and undermine overall macroeconomic stability, leading to higher inflation and continued fiscal and debt pressures.
Furthermore, under President Buhari’s regime, Nigeria’s debt hits N44.5bn with external debt over 15tn. Under his watch, journalists and human rights activists have faced assault, while freedom of speech has been suppressed. This tenure saw the infamous Twitter ban, which lasted more than 200 days and resulted in an economic loss of over N546.5 billion for Nigerians. During the President’s watch, peaceful protesters who were demonstrating against police brutality and inhumane treatment by SARS were shot, resulting in over 77 deaths, with more than half of the bodies still unaccounted for. To say that this regime will be missed is a comic that could have been written by the dead Michael Morris who would have titled it; Missing Buhari: A delusion of grandeur or a delusional belief chiefly in grandeur.
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