#Buharimeter LIVE UPDATES: Policy makers, experts review President Buhari’s performance, proffer solutions

An expanded array of public policy experts are slated to attend this year’s edition of ‘Buharimeter’ town hall meeting to discuss the intricacies of the Buhari administration’s policy frameworks two years on.

In a distributed programme, the Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD, said the experts, who were pooled from diverse professional backgrounds, will discuss how the government has been tackling issues of national importance during different segments of the event.

The event will hold today at Abuja Sheraton Hotel and Towers between 10 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
PREMIUM TIMES will provide live updates of the event.

The event would “broadly examine, interrogate and proffer practical recommendations to the lingering socio-economic and political challenges confronting the country amidst several policies and programs of the government,” organisers said.

A former governor of Kaduna State, Balarabe Musa; General-Secretary of Nigeria Labour Congress, Peter Ozo-Esan; and economic analyst, Tope Fashua, are amongst invited panelists.

A former vice-chancellor at the University of Abuja, Nuhu Yaqub, is the chairman of the occasion and keynote speaker.

Their contributions would focus on three priority areas of Mr. Buhari’s government, which include corruption, economy and security.

Other emerging issues such as restructuring, human right abuses, unemployment, amongst others, would also be discussed, according to organisers.

The CDD launched ‘Buharimeter’ shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in to track his campaign promises to Nigerians.

Five ministers participated at the maiden edition of ‘Buharimeter’, which held in June 2016.

In March, the tracker found that Mr. Buhari had only managed to fulfil one out of 13 campaign promises, representing only 7.7% achievement rate. The fulfilled promise was the declaration of assets by the president and his vice-president, Yemi Osinbajo.

But even this is still a subject of intense debates across the country, as many argue that the president did not fulfill the basics of assets declaration or the precedent set by one of his predecessors, Umar Yar’Adua.

Mr. Yar’Adua, now late, distributed copies of his asset declaration documents as filed at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, which included specific details like locations of properties declared, their worth and family debt profile.

Mr. Buhari’s declaration did not include those specific details.

As at March, ‘Buharimeter’ said the president was in the process of fulfilling about 46.2% of his anti-corruption promises while noticeable actions were yet to be taken towards achieving six of its 13 promises.

Unlike past editions, this year’s would feature a different format as it won’t facilitate an interaction between senior administration officials and participants. Instead, it would feature a wide array of experts invited to contribute at different panels.

Each of the experts would then engage the audience after their initial takes on allotted subject and time.

Follow live updates of the event here.

10:15 am – Registration and arrival of guests.

Moderator, Imoni Amarere takes the stage as he introduces the panelists.

He said this year’s event is not like the previous one, “when it was we against them. this time we asked Nigerians to come and access governance in the nation.”

“This time, its our show, we Nigerians,” Amarere said.

Idayat Hassan, CDD director takes the stage.

Her welcome address centered on Mr. Buhari’s fight against corruption and insecurity.

Ms. Hassan said Mr. Buhari has spent 881 days in the country and yet issues of corruption and insecurity is still rife in the country.

She said the Buharimeter came out of the challenges to assess governance in the country.

“This will serve as a bridging gap between the people in power and the masses.

” This administration prided its self with fighting corruption but it still lacks viable instrument in the fight.

“Importantly in the last two weeks, the NNPC scandal and issue revolving around Maina’s secret reinstatement is another blow to the anti-graft war.”

Ms. Hassan said the Buhari administration is still under-performing in securing the nation.

She said though these challenges predate the administration but it needs to take charge of the situation.

“Benue state is the most affected with challenges of security with the herdsmen and cattle rustling issue.”

She further cited challenges in the North-east, the murder of the Shites and the clashes between members of the Indigenous People of Biafra and security agencies.

She also accused the Buhari administration of flouting court orders and violations of human rights.

She however commended the administration for its progress in agriculture.

Opening remarks by Jude Ilo, OSIWA Country Officer.

Mr. Ilo who was represented by, Okairo Ezimma, said the event offers the country an opportunity to monitor governance.

He also spoke on the inability of the government to pay salaries.

Panel discussion on State of the Nation commences

First panelist, Simile Hamza, said there is a disconnect in the Nigeria security agencies.

Ms. Hamza said criminal offences are often translated into ethnic battle and rivalry.

She also spoke on the issue of unemployment in the country.

Another panelist, Peter Ozo-Eson spoke on the need for citizens to add voices on issues affecting the nation.

He also stressed the need for a blueprint for the economy.

“We must engage and decide if we should purge the constitution as the first step in mapping out a new blue print for the economy.”

According to the NLC scribe, the constitution is designed in such away that wealth falls on the hands of a limited few.

Full opening remarks by Jude Ilo.

‎Restoring Citizens’ Hope: Remarks at the Buharimeter Citizens’ Town Hall
By Udo Jude Ilo

Let me start by extending my thanks and congratulations to the Centre for Development and Democracy CDD for this excellent work and their dedication in promoting democracy in Nigeria. The work you do and the courage you have shown in your conviction is heart-warming. I also want to thank and recognise the bravery of government representatives here. These are difficult times for the country and it takes a strong heart to attend an event of this nature where obviously a lot of uncomfortable question will be asked about the performance of this administration. I apologise also for my inability to be physically present in this timely national conversation.

More than two years since the advent of the President Buhari administration, there are many questions that beg for answers. It is obvious that the lofty expectations and infectious excitement that met this government’s inauguration have given way to anger and hopelessness. One of the challenges that this government recognized that it will face was the high expectation that heralded it. Understandably, after years of bad governance, unprecedented corruption and economic challenges, Nigerians hoped for a remarkable departure from the past practices of impunity and graft. Accepted that change doesn’t come easy, what has happened over the last two years have not given Nigerians enough reasons to hope. Like they say in my village Achi in Enugu State, it is from the picking of breadfruit that you recognize a child that is going to be greedy.

It is often said and quite truthfully too that it is easy to criticize government from the outside. Some of the challenges that this administration inherited may well be unprintable. So I recognize that government is dealing with a really difficult situation. In some sectors, government has tried but the enormity of the challenges makes it difficult to see these efforts.

They also say where I come from that the goat works really had but its hairs don’t allow people to see its sweat. Therefore we must acknowledge that there has been enormous effort by this government to move the country forward. Sadly if anything, our lives are not better. This is a huge source of worry. Is this government’s best not good enough or is government not doing its best?

I am convinced that Nigeria has everything it needs to overcome its problem. I am equally convinced this government has all it needs to transform Nigeria. That we don’t see this trajectory of recovery is an indictment on this administration. We are witnessing a very troubling period in Nigeria. No time since after the civil war have we seen the kind of tension and bitterness across divides in Nigeria. The stuttering economy is troubling. Inability of governments to pay salaries especially at the state level speaks to a dangerous condition that is now seeing public officers take their lives in worrying circumstances.

Unemployment is not going down and there is a general feeling of frustration. The footprints of violence is expanding- from Plateau to Kaduna, from the marauding herdsmen to a resurgence of Boko Haram, Nigerians are worried about their safety and security. These trends may have their origins from previous administrations but outside of Boko Haram, other trends have worsened under this administration such as the worrying pattern of the Governments’ reluctance to obey court orders. Nothing can justify the disrespect for the rule of law.

The sense that there is lack of commitment to the anti-graft campaign that heralded the coming into power of this Government is fast destroying its credentials of credibility. The leaked memo by the State Minister for Petroleum on the alleged illegalities and opacity in the operations of the Nigeria National Petroleum Cooperation NNPC is terrifying and government’s reluctance to push for any meaningful inquiry is as curious as it is disappointing. Months after the report of the investigation into the allegation of fraud against the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation Babachir David Lawal and the then Director General of the National Intelligence Agency Ayodele Oke was submitted to the President, nothing has been heard of it.

These trends undermine the narrative that government is working hard for Nigerians. It seems to suggest that there are different sets of rules in the country.

The discordant tunes from government especially the drama that has surrounded the nomination and Senate confirmation of the Acting Chair of the EFFC suggests incoherence and absence of coordination in government. If the government is at war with itself, how can it function? While we have a duty to appreciate the challenges facing government, it will be difficult for government to justify or excuse some of the events outlined above.

The country requires some very serious steps to deal with these challenges and to restore the hope of citizens in their government. This Town Hall event provides an opportunity for reflection and frank conversation on how this government has fared. The interest here is to find a way to move the country forward, restore hope and improve the quality of lives. This government came into power on the heels of its exceptional manifesto which painted a believable picture of a new Nigeria. Many Nigerians bought into that vision. The Buharimeter offers the country an opportunity to monitor the effort of government to be true to these promises. Governance and democracy do not end on Election Day. What happens after election is equally important if not even more so. This forum provides an opportunity for us to be part of that democratic conversation. My hope is that we will leave this room with a better understanding of the challenges facing us and a clearer view of the pathway to progress.

I thank you for your attention.

Tope Fasua, an economist, said despite coming out of recession, the interest rate is still high in the country.

Mr. Fasua said immigration is another problem affecting the economy.

He noted that the 2018 proposed budget is not enough for over 180 million people living in the country citing comparison with Angola, Egypt and South Africa.

“The truth is that the government has no plan for the people,”‎ he said.

Patricia Achakpa, another panellist, said over 872 billion has been invested in the North-east to tackle insurgency. Despite the huge spending, he said, there is nothing to show.

Ms. Achakpa said terrorism is being sponsored by many people in the territory.

She also lamented the issue of gender imbalance in the Buhari administration.

“Only five ministers in Buhari’s cabinet are women. So where is the gender equality the APC promised Nigerians?”

Ishaq Akintola said the average Nigerian still lives on less that one dollar per day.

He said the economic drive in the country is low and that poverty keeps getting high.

Mr. Akintola, however, said the Buhari administration has done well in fighting corruption. This, however, caused a mild boo of disapproval from some participants.

“There is no more impunity in this administration,” Mr. Akintola said.

He further cited the whistle blowing policy which he said has netted an enormous amount of looted funds

“Buhari has also done well in cutting down the cost of running the government,” he said.

General conversation (Challenges and opportunities of the nation)

Ishaq Akintola was asked questions on security matters.

Mr. Akintola maintained that the Nigeria military is strong in facing security challenges.

He however said the military needs to sit up so as to wipe away every trace of Boko Haram from the country.

12:35 p.m. – Floor opens for participants to ask questions and make comments.

The first participant to speak urged government to make the military more proactive and not defensive in their approach towards the fight against Insurgency.

“I am afraid Boko Haram will continue to raise head in Nigeria in the next 100 years If the security agencies continue at this pace.”

He also said government cannot deny the fact that it was aware of Maina’s reinstatement.

A participant suggested that security will continue to be a challenge in the country if dedicated men and women of the military are not well treated.

He cited the unlawful dismissal of 48 officers from the Nigerian Army.

For Garba Manza, stomach security is a major issue.

“State government collected Paris Club funds and could not afford to pay salaries for over 10 months.

“How do you expect us to feed if we are not paid. How do you expect people to discuss the way forward when they are hungry.”

A cooperative farmer, Aisha Geku, said some things happening in the Muhammadu Buhari administration is laughable.

“APC campaign promises on food is still a mirage. We need to get up, enough is enough,” Ms. Geku said.

She alleged that the CBN anchor borrower scheme for farmers can only be accessed by the politicians and their cronies and not the real farmers.

Peter Udo, a participant, suggested that the organisers of the event need to holistically take the APC campaign promise side by side.

“The Buhari administration has not met up with the desired change it promised.”

He said the aim and objective of the Buharimeter is to help the government to achieve their unfulfilled campaign promises.

He urged the conveners to prioritize the unfulfilled promises the government made during the campaign.

Reacting to questions raised, a panellist, Peter Ozo-Eson said the most important thing to be done to tackle the issue of salaries is for the security agencies to track allocations to governors especially the Paris club funds.

He also said Nigeria should have an economic framework that is driven towards internal job creation through partnership with other countries.

Idayat Hassan gave more insight on the Buharimeter frame work.

She said the Buhari administration is being measured against its 222 campaign promises.

“That is the indices we are using to evaluate the Buharimeter which we release it’
s report quarterly.

“We urge Nigerians to visit www.Buharimeter.com to access the report.”

She also said the organisers of the event are partnering with PREMIUM TIMES newspaper in fact checking the APC campaign promises through investigative reporting.

Round 2: General discussions.

A participant, Peter Ifayon suggested that everybody should also take the performance score card to their various states to access the governors.

“I am from Benue State, we are starting our own assessment as Otom meter.”

A participant decried the rising trend of banned products in other climes being allowed to enter the country.

Another participant asked why there was no government functionaries as panellists at the event.

Imoni Amamere, a moderator, said the event had been shifted severally because most people in the government invited for the event gave several excuses on why they could not make it.

A participant said the meter should not only focus on Buhari but taken from the ground to the top.

“The meter should start from the local government to the 36 governors.”

CDD director, Idayat Hassan, gives vote of thanks.

The Buharimeter event comes to an end.