Group Releases Buharimeter Mid-Term Report
The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has released its two years’ assessment report of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration today, Sunday 23rd July 2017. The report, titled Buharimeter Mid-Term Report provides independent and systematic assessment of the performance of the incumbent administration against its 222 campaign promises. Buharimeter is a trailblazing initiative to measure the progress of the government, bridging the gap between the governing and the governed to make democratic accountability the norm. This is a must-read report for anyone wanting to keep up to date with Nigerian politics, governance and development.
According to the findings of our assessment, the performance of the incumbent administration improved during its second year in government. This may be partly because the government began to implement promises, having had time to prepare for outlined programmes and determine which resources are required. Furthermore, ministers who were not appointed until November 2015 began work in Year Two. However, the government’s approach needs to be holistic and not limited to fighting corruption, tackling insecurity and pursuing a diversification agenda. While these are important for the socio-economic and political development of the country, commensurate effort should be made to revive education, health and other key sectors.
The Buharimeter report draws its strength from a well-defined methodological framework. The 222 election pledges are carefully sourced from 1) APC Manifesto: An Honest Contract with Nigeria; 2) My Covenant with Nigeria released by the Campaign Team of the APC Presidential Candidate, Muhammadu Buhari; and 3) Unrefuted media reports including national newspaper reports and electronic media reports (television and radio) on election promises made by the President during campaign tours across the country. Data for analysis is also sourced through review of relevant policy documents and reports, fact checking, on the spot visits, interviews of government officials and experts, surveys and media tracking. We employ a ranking system for rating performance per tracked promise, which rates promises as either ‘achieved’, ‘ongoing’, ‘broken’ or ‘not rated’.
Buhari Breaks Five Promises and Achieves Seven
The two years’ assessment report reveals that five of the campaign promises have not and cannot be achieved by the incumbent administration. These are “broken promises”! The promises include: the commitment to end medical tourism, which has become a routine feat of President Muhammad Buhari, who is presently being treated in London for an undisclosed ailment; the creation of three million jobs annually; provision of steady power supply to Nigerians between 12 and 18 months of the administration coming into power; the building of one million new houses a year over the next decades; and immediate increase of the national budget to the health sector from 5.5% to 10%.
The report shows that the Buhari administration also achieved seven of its campaign promises during its first two years. These promises include: the public declaration of assets and liabilities (though the details are yet to be publicly released); presentation of National Anti-Corruption Strategy; establishment of a good working relationship with state governments in the North East, neighbouring countries and the international community in the fight against Boko Haram; introduction of time-limited partial amnesty to rank and file Boko Haram members; review of health policy; introduction of social insurance scheme; and review of the structure of Joint Venture Companies and ensuring transparent tendering process, not managed by federal ministers.
A comparative analysis of the performance of PMB in his first two years shows significant progress in terms of promises rated as ‘achieved’ and ‘ongoing’. In the first year Buharimeter report released in July 2016, it was reported that overall performance was low, with the government having achieved only one out of 222 campaign promises, while progress was made towards fulfilling 45 of the promises. However, performance has reasonably improved within the year under review. The total number of achieved and ongoing election pledges has increased from 1 to 7, and 45 to 114 respectively in year one and year two. The report also reveals that promises rated as ‘Not rated’ decreased from 179 to 96.
Security sees improvements but more needs to be done for education and health
The report indicates that government emphasis in the last two years has been on security. Corruption, agriculture, oil and gas, social safety net and industrialisation have seen progress, but there have been no corresponding interventions in sectors including education, health, sports and culture, women and youth empowerment. As such, these sectors have performed poorly.
It is particularly worrying that despite milestones recorded in the fight against corruption there are still genuine concerns over how the war is being prosecuted. In particular, the anti-graft war is rife with a lack of viable instruments to enforce compliance. It also continues to be prosecuted in an uncoordinated and disjointed manner by several institutions, including the Department of State Security, police, EFCC and ICPC, among others. These institutions need better coordination and increased understanding of their roles and responsibilities. Other challenges include the unlawful detention of suspects and refusal to obey court rulings. Even so, the approval rating of the anti-corruption war in the Buharimeter Perception Survey conducted by the Buharimeter stands fairly high at 52%; the greater proportion of Nigerians who expressed satisfaction are resident in North West (80%), North East (61%) and North Central (55%).
The newly introduced whistle blowing policy, which has helped in the recovery of looted funds, is also popularly received by Nigerians, with 47% of the sampled population in the Buharimeter Survey applauding it. However, it is crucial that a substantive legal framework be immediately provided to strengthen citizens’ engagement in the process.
In terms of fighting insecurity, the government appears to have begun to shift from the state and enemy-centric approach to an approach which uses dialogue and negotiation. While this may achieve laudable results in the case of the Niger Delta, caution should be exercised in employing such a strategy to deal with Boko Haram. It is recommended that the government adopts an approach which balances the rights of both victims and perpetrators. The report calls on the government to prioritise dealing with ongoing agitations for a state of Biafra. The government should go beyond dialogue and intervention in redressing economic and other development issues in the region, by acknowledging the local grievances from the Biafran War and charting a path towards memorialisation and healing.
According to the report, there have been several violations of human rights, due process and lack of respect for the rule of law since the Buhari administration came into office. The government refusal to obey several court orders demanding the release of retired colonel Sambo Dasuki, Sheik Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife Zeenat is a serious blight on the administration’s commitment to the rule of law. The laxity of the administration in responding to several violent conflicts erupting across the country is a source of concern for citizens. For instance, the pastoralist/farmer conflicts plaguing all the six geo-political zones of the country have recorded numerous casualties. In Benue State alone, between 4th August 2015 and 25th April 2017, 37 incidents of pastoralist/farmer conflicts were reported with an estimate of 612 deaths recorded.
There is no doubt that restoring Nigeria’s economy is a priority for the administration. However, its inability to translate several monetary and fiscal policies to economic growth and development in the last two years raises some concerns. Even the interest rate regime in the monetary market has not made any meaningful impact on the all-time inflation rate. As revealed in the Buharimeter Survey report, in spite of the government’s efforts to tackle the economic recession, most Nigerians do not believe these approaches are effective. Only 17% and 1% of Nigerians consider government’s approach to tackling the economic recession very effective and extremely effective, respectively. 46% and 36% of surveyed Nigerians consider the government’s approach somewhat effective.
The recession continues to impact negatively on the country’s employment and poverty rate as well as food inflation. The Buharimeter Survey further reveals that 9 in 10 Nigerians believe that the recession has resulted in ‘high cost of foodstuffs’ (90%) followed by ‘high cost of transportation’ (61%), ‘high cost of house rent and utilities’ (56%) and ‘high cost of school fees’ (55%), among others, which have altogether affected their household negatively. The government’s measures to address poverty and the unemployment rate are made less effective by politicised selection process (especially at state level), inconsistency in registered name and bank details, supply of wrong bank details, improper registration, lack of effective coordination arising from inexperienced focal persons in states, and failure of beneficiaries to present themselves for physical verification. While it is crucial for government to address all these, it is also important that a commensurate effort should be made to revive education, health and other key sectors.
Majority of Nigerians give Buhari the thumbs up
Despite the problems articulated above, the Buharimeter Perception Survey reveals that 57% of surveyed Nigerians approve of the job performance of President Buhari, while 40% do not approve of his job performance. Significantly, the 57% job approval has a regional dimension, with those from the northern region viewing Buhari more favourably. While respondents from the North West (85%) and North East (66%) constitute the majority of those who approve of his performance, respondents from the South East (72%) and South South (60%) make up those who do not approve of his performance.
As President Buhari has not been seen publicly since May 2017, much uncertainty remains regarding the next stage of his presidency. The Buharimeter Mid-Term Report provides invaluable analysis and citizen perspectives on what Buhari’s term has achieved so far, and offers useful contextualisation for whatever is to come. The report is also itself a celebration of democracy through its combination of citizen engagement and rigorous analysis to hold Buhari and his government to account.