Eight years after he swept to power on a wave of promises, President Muhammadu Buhari has looked back on his tenure with a sense of fulfillment and of progress for the country under his watch.
On Sunday morning, in his final broadcast to the nation, the President admitted challenges to his administration and grieved for children in captivity and the loss of lives to insecurity, but his summary was clear.
“As I retire home to Daura, Katsina State, I feel fulfilled that we have started the Nigeria Re-Birth by taking the initial critical steps,” he said.
“I am confident that I am leaving office with Nigeria better in 2023 than in 2015.”
One of the areas in which the President is happy with his performance is the country’s electoral process.
Celebrating another peaceful transition of power from one elected government to another, he called for accountability.
“We must as a nation improve and sustain gains we make in the electoral process, on an incremental basis for Nigeria to take its rightful place among Nations,” he said.
“To ensure that our democracy remains resilient and our elected representatives remain accountable to the people, I am leaving behind an electoral process which guarantees that votes count, results are credible, elections are fair and transparent and the influence of money in politics reduced to the barest minimum. And Nigerians can elect leaders of their choice.”
The President had promised to tackle insecurity, fight corruption, and strengthen the Nigerian economy, promises critics have accused him of failing badly on.
In his broadcast, the President admitted that he started his tenure with a “great deal of promise and expectation” before moving to defend his performance and stating his conviction that “the in-coming administration will quicken the pace of this walk to see a Nigeria that fulfills its destiny to be a great nation.
In terms of the economy, critics have pointed to the numbers — worsened inflation and unemployment rate as well as a significantly weaker naira and concerning debt levels among other things — as evidence of the President’s failure in office.
“The Nigerian economy has become more resilient due to the various strategies put in place to ensure that our economy remained afloat during cases of global economic downturns,” he said in his broadcast.
Recalling the supply chain disruptions and economic downturn that the world witnessed between 2020 and 2022 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the President gave his administration’s response the thumbs up.
“The deftness of our response to the pandemic still remains a global best practice,” he said.
Staying with the economy, President Buhari explained that his administration supported rural and poor Nigerians by helping them to earn a better living, backed young Nigerians up in terms of skill acquisition and strengthened the private sector. He also talked up his administration’s performance in terms of infrastructure development.
“Mindful of the need to ensure adequate infrastructure to drive economic growth, we completed age-long projects and processes notably amongst which are the Petroleum Industry Act, completion of some power projects, completion of the second Niger bridge and various important roads linking cities and states,” he said.
Security was a major concern for Nigerians when the President came into power with the Boko Haram insurgency the biggest threat. Throughout his campaign, he had promised to crush the insurgency and secure the nation.
Critics say although the insurgency is no longer the threat it was, insecurity has worsened under the President’s watch. However, as with the economy, the President sees a better picture, albeit he acknowledged that some Nigerians remain in captivity and there have been needless loss of lives.
He said, “Our battle to ensure that all Nigerians live in a safe and secure environment has achieved considerable results. As I complete my term in office, we have been able to reduce the incidences of banditry, terrorism, armed robbery and other criminal activities considerably.
“To sustain the gains made so far, I call on all Nigerians to be more vigilant and support the security agencies by ensuring that our values defined by being your brothers’ keeper govern our actions.
“Up-till now, I still grieve for our children still in captivity, mourn with parents, friends and relatives of all those that lost loved ones in the days of the senseless brigandage and carnage. For all those under unlawful captivity, our Security Agencies are working round the clock to secure their release unharmed.
President Buhari also saw considerable progress in his administration’s fight against corruption, which was driven by what the President described as a dear desire in his heart to rid the country of corrupt practices that had “consistently diminished our efforts to be a great country”.
“I did pursue this commitment relentlessly, in spite of the expected pushback,” he said of the fight against corruption. “I am happy that considerable progress had been made in repatriating huge sums of money back to the country and also taking over properties illegally acquired from our commonwealth.”
According to him, steps have also been taken to improve service delivery. The steps include the implementation of a number of reforms aimed at producing an Efficient, Productive, Incorruptible and Citizen-oriented (EPIC) Federal Civil Service.
“The results are beginning to show,” he said.