By John Ikani
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described as accurate, an article by London-based news magazine, The Economist, which described the administration of the President Muhammadu Buhari as inept and high-handed.
The 178-year-old magazine in an Editorial titled, ‘The Crime Scene at the Heart of Africa,’ published in its October 23, 2021 issue, stressed that the president had also failed to tackle corruption.
The influential magazine had a few weeks before the 2015 presidential election, endorsed Buhari for the presidency, noting that even though Nigerians were faced with two options that were not good, Buhari was a better candidate than the then incumbent, Dr Goodluck Jonathan.
The February 7, 2015 editorial partly read, “Nigerians must pick between the incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan, who has proved an utter failure, and the opposition leader, Muhammadu Buhari, a former military dictator with blood on his hands. The candidates stand as symbols of a broken political system that makes all Nigeria’s problems even more intractable.”
The magazine said if it were to make a choice, it would choose Buhari and that if he could save Nigeria, history might be kind to him. “We are relieved not to have a vote in this election. But were we offered one, we would – with a heavy heart – choose Mr Buhari,” it added.
The President, whose three-point agenda during the campaign were security, economy and fight against corruption, had in his address at the Chatham House in the United Kingdom on February 25, promised that he would fight corruption and that no corrupt person would be appointed into his administration.
He noted, “In the face of dwindling revenues, a good place to start the repositioning of Nigeria’s economy is to swiftly tackle two ills that have ballooned under the present administration: waste and corruption. And in doing this, I will, if elected, lead the way, with the force of personal example. On corruption, there will be no confusion as to where I stand. Corruption will have no place and the corrupt will not be appointed into my administration.”
Many Nigerians however expressed surprise when the President announced his cabinet members in 2015 about six months after his inauguration.
But in the Saturday article, The Economist said due to Buhari’s mismanagement of the economy, food prices had soared while life had become more difficult for Nigerians.
The editorial read in part, “Economic troubles are compounded by a government that is inept and heavy-handed. Mr Buhari, who was elected in 2015, turned an oil shock into a recession by propping up the naira and barring many imports in the hope this would spur domestic production.
“Instead he sent annual food inflation soaring above 20 per cent. He has failed to curb corruption, which breeds resentment. Many Nigerians are furious that they see so little benefit from the country’s billions of petrodollars, much of which their rulers have squandered or stolen.”
The Economist stated that even before COVID-19 last year, Nigeria was already witnessing unprecedented poverty.
The news magazine opined that this economic hardship was fuelling the current insecurity in the country.
It argued, “Two factors help explain Nigeria’s increasing instability: a sick economy and a bumbling government. Slow growth and two recessions have made Nigerians poorer, on average, each year since oil prices fell in 2015.
“Before COVID-19, 40 per cent of them were below Nigeria’s extremely low poverty line of about $1 a day. If Nigeria’s 36 states were stand-alone countries, more than one-third would be categorised by the World Bank as “low-income” (less than $1,045 a head). Poverty combined with stagnation tends to increase the risk of civil conflict.”
The Economist echoing what we’ve always known, says PDP
In its reaction, the PDP said the editorial echoed what it had always known and said about the current regime.
The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said this in a telephone interview with local newspaper Sunday PUNCH on Saturday.
He said, “The respected international news magazine was spot-on. It echoes what we have always known and said about this regime. Corruption under this regime is on steroids; the looting going on now has never been witnessed anywhere in modern history.
“Senior members of the regime and top members of the ruling party are having a field day looting our common patrimony, those who are caught with their hands in the cookie jar, are simply eased out – no consequence.
“Nigerians have a unique opportunity to vote out the All Progressives Congress and its corrupt elements come 2023.”