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Buhari’s promises of change: How well has he fared on jobs, electricity & corruption?

On the back of vows to fight corruption and insurgency in Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in as successor to President Goodluck Jonathan a year ago. Buhari made history as the first challenger to defeat an incumbent since the return of democracy to Nigeria in 1999.

But how well has he fared in delivering on his promises of change to voters? We evaluated key promises to change sectors of the economy that directly affect citizens’ daily lives.


Promise: “Revenue-producing entities such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Customs and Excise will have one set of books only.”

Verdict: Not achieved

 President Muhammadu Buhari (right) listens to the president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, during an Anti-Corruption Summit in London in May 2016. Photo: AFP/Frank Augstein President Muhammadu Buhari (right) listens to the president of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim speak during an Anti-Corruption Summit in London in May 2016. Photo: AFP/Frank Augstein" />

made this promise in a debate at Chatham House in February 2015. He has since implemented the “Treasury Single Account” for a number of entities after both the Obasanjo and Jonathan administrations failed to do so.

The Treasury Single Account is held at the Central Bank. Before government bank accounts were scattered and some entities were reported to have up to 45 different ones. Officials would use the revenue to open fixed deposit accounts and have interest accrue while projects suffer.

Keeping the government’s funds in one place makes it easier to keep track it. The president has claimed that the single account brought together N2.2 trillion from the many scattered accounts. This includes the Nigeria customs service.

However, in September 2015 the accountant-general of the federation announced the exemption of the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and other entities, such as the Nigeria Railway Corporation and the Nigerian Export-Import Bank, from transferring their funds to the Central Bank. The reason given was that these were profit-oriented government business entities.

Therefore, all revenue-producing agencies in the country do not yet have one set of books as Buhari promised.

Declaration of assets

Promise: “Publicly declare my assets and liabilities and encourage my political appointees to also publicly declare their assets and liabilities.”

Verdict: Not achieved

Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu released details of Buhari’s assets last September when his asset declaration form and that of deputy president Yemi Osinbajo was handed to the Code of Conduct Bureau for verification. The president’s assets included five houses and livestock such as cattle, sheep, horses and a variety of birds.

Buhari has said he would make the documents available to the public after the bureau has finished their job but is yet to do so. Until this happens, we have to rate this promise as not achieved.

So far, only two political appointees in this dispensation have declared their assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau - the director-general of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms, Dr Joe Abah, who was appointed under the Jonathan administration as well as the executive secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, Waziri Adio.

National security

Promise: “Ensure that under my watch, no force, external or internal, will occupy even an inch of Nigerian soil.”

Verdict: Mixed progress

 President Mohammadu Buhari speaks with the Chibok schoolgirl who was freed in May 2016. Photo: AFP President Mohammadu Buhari speaks with the Chibok schoolgirl who was freed in May 2016. Photo: AFP" />

In Buhari’s inaugural speech, he immediately 
ordered that the military’s command centre be relocated to the capital of Borno state. Maiduguri was the hotbed of the insurgency being waged by Boko Haram, which had previously taken effective control of a swathe of territory about the size of Belgium in the North East region.

The president then strengthened Nigeria’s relationship with partner governments in the Multinational Joint Task Force, comprising Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria.

The insurgents have since lost control of most of the territory they held but still carry out suicide bomb attacks from time to time. One of the Chibok schoolgirls infamously abducted from their beds in April 2014 has been rescued and even fleeing emirs are returning to their domains.

To the south, the oil-rich Niger Delta is in the middle of another crisis. The Niger Delta Avengers, a startup ethnic militia, are destroying pipelines at will despite a heavy military presence in the area.


Promise: “To implement vigorously a comprehensive Niger delta pollution cleanup programme.”

Verdict: Achieved

 Spilled crude oil floats in the Niger delta at Bodo, a village in the oil-producing region of Ogoniland. PHOTO: AFP/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI Spilt crude oil floats in the Niger delta at Bodo, a village in the oil-producing region of Ogoniland. PHOTO: AFP/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI" />

Nigeria’s minister of environment, Amina Mohammed, took up the role after stepping down as a special adviser to UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon. Under her watch, the government
has started a programme to clean up oil pollution in the Niger delta.

This means the replanting mangrove trees and setting up of factories to process and clean heavily contaminated soil, as was recommended in a 2011 United Nations Environmental Programme report.

The clean-up campaign was officially launched earlier this month in Bodo, Ogoniland. Buhari was supposed to unveil the commemorative plaque but cancelled his visit.

However, the UK newspaper The Guardian reported that it will take some 18 months to start full remedial work.


Promise: “Target the creation of 3 million new jobs a year through industrialisation, public work and agricultural expansion.”

Verdict: No progress

In the first year of Buhari’s presidential term unemployment has shot up. In May, figures from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that the unemployment rate has risen to 12.1% in the first quarter of 2016 when it was at 8.2% in the quarter that Buhari was inaugurated.The number of unemployed has increased by nearly 4 million between the second quarter of 2015 and the first quarter of 2016.

The number of unemployed has increased by nearly 4 million between the second quarter of 2015 and the first quarter of 2016.

  April-June 2015 Jan-March 2016
Fully employed (40 hours/week) 55,693,723 53,977,958
Underemployed (20-39 hours) 12,208,823 15,023,327
Unemployed (1-19 hours) 3,087,719 4,436,07
No job at all 2,445,840 5,049,207

There doesn’t seem to be a concrete plan in place to turn the situation around. In Buhari’s Democracy Day speech on May 29 he only announced that a national women’s empowerment fund was going to provide N1.6 billion in microfinance loans to women.


Promise: “The APC government shall vigorously pursue the expansion of electricity generation and distribution of up to 40,000 megawatts in four to eight years.”

Verdict: No progress

Nigeria reached a peak generation capacity of 4,800 MW in 2015 but last week peak capacity only stood at 2,591 MW, data from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission showed. In March 2016, power generation collapsed completely and for three hours no part of the country was supplied from the national grid.

Buhari recently admitted that the power situation is "no longer a laughing matter".

However, only one new plant is under construction, the Azura thermal power station, which was started under Jonathan in 2014 and is an independent power plant. It will add 450 MW in its first phase.


Additional reading

Counting to 100: What promises did Buhari make to Nigerians?

BuhariMeter: Tracking President Buhari’s Promises

Is President Buhari correct that Boko Haram are ‘not holding any territory’ in Nigeria?

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