Some Nigerians have expressed divergent opinions on the performance of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in the last eight years, with some commending his achievements and others describing some of his policies as disastrous.
The residents of the South-South expressed their feelings on the performance of the outgoing administration in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria.
The chairperson of International Federation of Women Lawyers, FIDA, in Rivers, Adata Bio- Briggs, said in Port Harcourt that Buhari’s administration achieved a lot in depending the country’s democracy by assenting to the Electoral Bill, 2022.
She said that the signing into law of the electoral bill by the president brought a lot of positive changes to the country’s electoral process.
Ms Bio-Briggs said Mr Buhari recorded a milestone achievement in the contrary’s democratic journey with the passage of the electoral, financial independence of state houses of assembly and state judiciary, among other laws.
The FIDA chairperson called on the incoming administration to uphold the current laws which she said had impacted positively on the nation.
Also, a lawyer based in Port Harcourt, Mankie Tambari, commended the passage of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act, 2019.
According to him, the act aims at developing appropriate correctional methods for reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration of inmates into the society.
Mr Tambari said the act had opened up Nigerian correctional service to a global perspective, thereby empowering inmates through educational and vocational skills programmes, facilitating incentives and ensuring income generation.
In the same vein, Jaspa Jumbo, an indigene of Bonny Local Government Area of the state, commended the outgoing administration for the construction of Bodo-Bonny road.
The Bodo-Bonny road project was a collaborative effort of the Federal Government and the Nigerian Liquified Natural Gas, NLNG.
“The Bodo-Bonny road project is a 37.9km single-carriageway road with nine bridges.
“The road is a historic project that will not only enhance transportation and economy of the state, but will drive development, civilisation and peaceful coexistance across the local communities,” he said.
The Port Harcourt-based businessman commended the president for uplifting the international terminal of the Port Harcourt International Airport, a project which, he said, was co-funded by the Nigerian and Chinese governments.
On agriculture, an agro industry and value chain expert, Dr Chijioke Osuji, said in Calabar that the outgoing administration achieved a lot, noting that Nigeria’s integrated rice mills grew by about 100 per cent in the last eight years.
Osuji, an associate professor at the Federal University of Technology, FUTO, Owerri, said the immediate past administration that started the rice revolution only recorded between 20 to 25 per cent integrated rice mills.
He said the present administration must be given credit for its huge investment in the agro industry, especially in rice production and milling.
“The momentum that was gained in the distribution of improved seeds and good quality fertiliser continued in the present administration. If not for this, the 2016 recession would have been more devastating.
“The continuation and expansion of the Anchor Borrower’s Programme from the previous administration ensured that Small and Medium Scale Enterprise (SMEs) rice millers expanded and improved in technology,” he said.
Mr Osuji said that courtesy of the initiative of the present administration, local rice was everywhere in the Nigerian markets and farmers were also exposed to the use of good inputs.
He noted however that the present administration did not do so well in security, and urged the incoming administration to improve the security of the nation, which, he emphasised, greatly affected food production.
He said that many farmers fled their communities and farmlands and had remained internally displaced, thereby causing food shortage.
According to him, Buhari’s administration did not perform well in the management of natural disasters such as flooding.
“The case of flooding in 2022 was a sad one because it showed that we did not learn from the 2012 experience when many farming communities were submerged by flood.
“Flood is bad but if properly managed it can solve problems, especially that of dry season farming.
“The flood of 2022 damaged our food security plan considerably because farms, storage facilities and homes where food were stored and even food on transit in trucks were washed away,” he said.
Mr Osuji said the incoming government must pay close attention to flooding, adding that engineers and other experts should be consulted to develop a robust national plan to combat flooding while making good use of the water.
The associate professor said there was also the abandonment of tree crops like cocoa, oil palm, timber and forest reserves which used to be huge contributors to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP.
He maintained that the new administration must take this into cognisance and improve the sector for the betterment of the nation.
Also, the president, Etche Farmers Cooperative Union in Rivers, Godwin Akandu, lamented the absence of agricultural support programmes for farmers in the state.
According to him, farmers in the state have yet to benefit from the numerous agricultural policies, incentives and support initiatives of the Buhari administration.
A lawyer in Uyo, Oyibio Oko, condemned the cashless/naira design policy of the federal government, saying it was done without prior preparation.
“If you fail to plan, it means you are planning to fail. The cashless policy from day one was not well thought out. It was a disaster.
“Nigeria spent so much on the cashless policy which was unplanned for,” he said.
The lawyer noted that Nigerians were forced to buy the country’s currency with naira as a result of the policy.
“We witness a situation where people bought N10,000 for N5,000. That was what government did to us, the same government we voted into power.
“The policy was not well thought out; you don’t make rules targeting a certain person or certain individuals,” Mr Okon said.
In his contribution, a public affairs commentator, Mr Franklyn Isong, said that the cashless policy crumbled Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs, in the country.
“Even those who engaged in recharge card business were forced out of business because they didn’t have cash.
“This is the only time in Nigeria, you would used your money to buy your own money. I have never seen that before. Up till now we have not seen the gain of the policy.
“At the initial stage, they said it will help to reduce vote buying and make election to be free, fair and credible, but, we still witnessed vote buying. INEC became an interested party in the context,” he said.
Still on economy, an industrialist in Port Harcourt, Ernest Wigolo, lamented that the Buhari administration piled up about N77 trillion debts for the incoming government to contend with.
This is disastrous because there is nothing meaningful to show for the huge debt,” he said.
Mr Wigolo said the outgoing administration recklessly borrowed for consumption, expressing fears that unless something dramatic was done, Nigeria would in no distant time spend all her revenue to service debts.
Although an educationist, Ntiaobong Ekong commended Buhari for performing “fairly well” in the primary and secondary education sector, he scored the administration low in handling the country’s tertiary education.
Mr Ekong, a professor of Agriculture Education and Dean, Faculty of Education, University of Uyo, says education is an instrument of development and any country that does not attach importance to education is “dead.”
“When you talk of education in a nation, it is the instrument of development. In other words any country that does not attach importance to its education is a dead country
“I wouldn’t say they have really done well; I wouldn’t say they have really done badly,” Mr Ekong noted.
He said that the country’s economy required both theoretical and practical skills, stressing that practical elements in Nigeria’s educational system was not well taken care of.
The professor of agriculture education said that the administration did not performed well in the area of university education as the ivory tower was always closed down due to strikes.
He expressed regrets that the outgoing government would always allow universities to embark on strikes before their demands were met.
According to him, public universities over the years are not well funded and this has brought about decay in infrastructure in the university system.
Mr Ekong said it was unfortunate that public universities were starved of funds and could not provide necessary facilities.
He said that there was a high level of brain drain in the system as lecturers left for other countries that attached value to education, adding that it had affected the system negatively.
“We just exist in name, but the relevant facilities are not there in the system.
“It becomes a culture that if you don’t go on strike you don’t get what you need. The last strike lasted for eight months and as we speak, the salaries for the months the strike lasted have not been paid.
“It becomes punitive that if you go on strike, you lose your salaries and this killing the system, he lamented.
Mr Ekong called on the incoming government to place high premium on the education sector to enhance human capital development.