While majority of Nigerians are aware of steps taken by the Muhammadu Buhari administration to curb corruption, they still think the government has not done enough to stop the stealing of public funds, a new report says.
The Buharimeter, published by the Centre for Democracy and Development, used media reports, desk review and survey to match President Buhari’s campaign promises with public expectation and action taken by the government in its first year in office.
On corruption, the report acknowledged the unsavoury image of the country as corruption haven and the pledge by Mr. Buhari to bolster the fight against graft.
A Buharimeter national survey says while 86 per cent of Nigerians are aware of the government’s actions to curb corruption, only 37 per cent said their expectations had been met. Another 63 per cent said the government should do more.
The survey also showed that the perception and expectations of the Buhari administration’s war on corruption varies among the six geopolitical zones. In the North West, Buhari’s home region, 60.2 percent said his war on corruption in the last one year met their expectations, while 37.2 per cent said the president should do more.
At the other end, the South East region showed the least faith in the president’s anti-corruption campaign. Only 10.7 percent of respondents from the region said the president’s anti-corruption war met their expectations. In all, 86.2 per cent of those surveyed from the region said the government should have done more in the fight to eradicate corruption.
The South East is followed by the South South region, where 20.4 per cent of those surveyed said Buhari’s anti-corruption campaign fell short of expectations. Also, 71.3 per cent said he should have done more.
The report further analysed other anti-corruption related campaign promises and policies taken by the president in his first year in office. For instance, it noted that the president partially fulfilled his promise to declare his assets publicly.
Buharimeter said that Mr. Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo merely released a summary of their assets to the media.
It said this fell short of their campaign promise to make public their asset declaration forms. The report said the two leaders failed to keep their promises despite the fact that the Code of Conduct Bureau had concluded the verification of their assets as required by law.
Of all Mr. Buhari’s appointees in the last year, the report said only one publicly published his assets, this was in spite of Mr Buhari’s campaign promise to make all his appointees release their assets to the public.
“It is also worth noting that the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Mr. Waziri Adio also publicly declared his assets. However, ministers are yet to follow suit,” the report noted.
The Buharimeter report said that the president’s anti-corruption campaign had been blunted by widespread claim that it is lopsided and targeted at the members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as that it lacks regard to the rule of law.
“One is the perception of a one sided war against corruption. Several pundits have consistently argued that the war against corruption mainly targets the opposition, with only politicians from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) singled out for prosecution in the new war against corruption. For instance, there are several claims that the armsgate scandal popularly referred to as Dasukigate is targeting only the members of the immediate past PDP administration.
“This is further accentuated by the feeling that the government does not respect the rule of law and due process in handling culprits, particularly those linked to the previous administration. However, the President, in response to non-compliance with the rule of law in prosecuting the fight against corruption, identified the challenge of law enforcement and accepted responsibility that in some cases prosecution was done with the overriding interest of national security,” the report said.
Buharimeter noted the gloomy economic outlook of the country was a source of serious concern across the country. The record rate of unemployment, inflation, volatile exchange rate and the negative slump in the GDP according to figures released by the National Bureau for statistics, were the hallmark of Buhari’s first year in office.
Therefore, it was not surprising that respondents rated the administration very poorly in economy. A whopping 61.8 percent of Nigerians said the government has either performed poorly or very poorly in the management of the economy. Only 10.2 percent said it has done well in managing the economy while 23 per cent gave it a fair rating.
On security, an overwhelming percentage of Nigerians expressed strong faith in the ability of the Buhari administration to handle the security challenges that bedevils the country.
More than 84 per cent of respondents said the president’s approach to urgently increase the capacity of the nation’s security agencies to tackle the security threats facing the country was the right approach. Only 9.2 per cent said it was not.
In a similar vein, 60.5 per cent said they believed this approach would solve the security problems while 32.7 per cent said the approach would not solve the problem.
However, these optimistic assessment of the president’s security policies were considerably dampened when respondents were asked to rate the performance of the government in security in its first year in office. Only 37.7 percent rated the government between good and very good in security. Conversely, 36.3 per cent believed the government performed either poorly or very poorly while 24 per cent said the government performance had been fair.
On whether their expectations of the Buhari administration in security were met in the last one year, 66 per cent said the government needed to do more while 34 percent said they were satisfied with its performance.
Buharimeter lauded the progress made by the administration in rolling back the progress made by radical Islamist extremist group, Boko Haram, and the release of $21 million out of the $100 million pledged to the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF).
It however observed that despite considerable successes made in the fight against Boko Haram in the North East, the sect has not completely lost its capacity to terrorise isolated communities in the region.
Also, it the fact that only one of the over 200 abducted girls from Chibok has been rescued and the fact that the government does not know the whereabouts of the other girls, a year after it took office remains a dent on the success it has recorded against the sect , the report said.
In other parts of the country, the report observed with worry the growing incident of attacks credited to Fulani herdsmen especially in the North Central region, the resurgence of militancy in the Niger Delta, and the agitation for the republic of Biafra in the South East.