Eight days to the expiration of Muhammadu Buhari’s eight years in office, Nigerians have said that they would roll out the drums, not in celebration of any worthy legacy, but in praise of their Maker who graciously enabled them to weather all the storms.
The last eight years, they noted, had been harrowing. They expressed, however, the optimism that the country would not pass such a route anymore.
Our correspondents spoke with citizens across the country who recounted their ugly experiences in the life of the expiring regime.
Graves of victims of the eight years of maladministration of the President Muhammadu Buhari regime are littered across the country. The majority of these graves contain the bones of Nigerians slaughtered in their own homes by invading and rampaging AK-47-bearing herdsmen.
Some other graves are those of victims of kidnapping who were killed even after the ransom had been paid to secure their release. Many forests across the country are filled with shallow graves of those who just “disappeared.”
There was a point in the life of the outgoing administration when people were killed on a daily basis; school children, and their teachers were kidnapped and kidnappers were just taking hostages on the highways and interstate journeys were high risk.
Abuja was always in the habit of condemning “in strong terms.”
Many families lost their means of livelihood. Farmers were chased away from their farms by herders. Women and girls were assaulted at gunpoint, sometimes before their husbands and fathers as the case may be.
Some citizens who visited the country from their base abroad tasted the bitter pill from the highway vampires.
The story of that woman who was kidnapped alongside her husband and daughter is still fresh in the memory of many Nigerians.
The horror the woman went through was indescribable. Upon release, she reportedly vowed never to visit Nigeria again in her lifetime. She also warned that her remains at death must not be brought back to the country.
Many Nigerians speak in tandem that the outgoing administration negatively impacted their lives, contrary to the claim by the Presidency that all promises made had been kept and fulfilled.
Nigerians, across the country, say it is only he/she that wears the shoe that knows where it pinches, not the cobbler.
For many Nigerians, the last eight years can be best described in two words “frustration and hardship.”
58-year-old Beatrice Ezennaya, a petty trader residing in Bwari said the Buhari administration was perhaps, the worst she has experienced yet. She recounted how her business collapsed in the last six years, due to high operating costs.
“I was compulsorily retired in 2017; with the money I was paid, I started a business, a provision store. I rented a shop and stocked up the place. In the first year, it was going fine. But gradually, things started going, prices of goods started rising, and every time you go to market, prices have gone up. On top of that, the cost of running the business doubled, the light bill and the rent spiked.
“The landlady raised the rent by 50 percent, and in other locations, it’s the same. The house owners are complaining, we are also complaining. I could not cope, I started selling these provisions in front of my house. But with low patronage, and the little profit I get I spend to buy foodstuff and essentials. But the cost of living is rising, gas, light bill, transportation, everything is on the high side now. It is making living really difficult,” she lamented.
She decried that Buhari, who promised to lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty ended up pushing more into poverty, and his promise of a more secured Nigeria is yet to be seen.
“In 2021, when my daughter was to serve in Bauchi, I had to pay for flight ticket because of how bad the road was,” she said.
Clara Udom, a civil servant, also decried the high cost of living due to Buhari’s failure to grow the economy.
“When Buhari was campaigning, promises upon promises were just falling off his mouth. Things have gotten worse under him. I earn less than N70,000, but transport alone takes not less than N15,000, then you talk of food, rent. I had to look for a roommate because rent has risen to N120,000 from N80,000 where I live. Milk, rice and ordinary bread is out of reach,” she said.
Udom further said: “At my former work place, I was earning N35,000, that was about four years ago, but it had more value than now. When the job I was doing crashed, getting a new job was so difficult and frustrating. But even, with this job I do, I sell clothes to meet my needs.”
A 2022 survey by Africa Polling Institute (API) has found that only 8 percent of Nigerians are happy with the current state of affairs under President Muhammadu Buhari,
The result of the survey showed that as of January, about 78 percent of the citizens were not happy with the country’s state of affairs; with almost half of that (37 percent) saying they felt ‘extremely sad’ about the state of the country.
The remaining 14 percent of the citizens said they were indifferent to the state of affairs in the country.
The API report also said 34 percent of Nigerians noted the inability to meet basic needs as part of their challenges. This may not be unconnected with the present economic realities in the country.
About 38 percent mentioned heightened insecurity as the biggest challenge facing them today, and about 20 percent of Nigerians consider unemployment as their biggest challenge.
Other challenges the citizens identified were electricity outages and lack of basic infrastructure.
API , an independent research think-tank, said the survey was conducted to elicit citizens’ perception and attitudes on topical issues and trends covering a potpourri of social, economic, political, governance and public-life issues.
The project, API added, was part of a series of monthly nationwide public opinion polls, aimed at bridging the gap in primary data, by capturing public opinion and giving citizens an opportunity to lend their voice to public policy discourse, practice, and advocacy.
“To say the least, no government will be like Buhari’s administration in terms of suffering the masses, nepotism and failure. Even during late General Sani Abacha’s regime, we still had peace of mind, despite the draconian measures then,” Chijioke Umelahi, a former Abia lawmaker, said.
The Abuja-based lawyer is so disappointed with the manner Muhammadu Buhari handled the country, despite being sustained by the country’s resources and living large at the expense of the suffering masses.
“I was a teenager in the late 80s when people were checking out of the country because of hardship. Today, and while Buhari is in charge, it has been an exodus, I mean unimaginable number running away for safety and from hunger. I have lost count of my family friends, relations and associates that have left the country in the last eight years of Buhari’s administration.
“The worst is that his people are suffering more than the rest of the country, with untold hardship, death in the hands of bandits and Boko Haram, yet a once-feared general is in power.
“I am in pain. See where the economy is, worst exchange rate in history, worst unemployment, hyperinflation, worst insecurity with the number of deaths nearing the civil war number. We will not forget Buhari in a hurry,” he said.
For Bamidele Apampa, a lecturer at the University of Lagos, life has been hell under Buhari’s eight years administration.
“We were happy with the growing middle-class, which was why global companies were coming to Nigeria to reap from their growing purchasing power, we had a growing pool of professionals and brains impacting the economy.
“Today, we have lost everything. The middle-class has vanished with the country now being regarded officially as the capital of poverty in the world. We have lost the good hands to brain-drain. I can count over 25 colleagues that have relocated since Buhari came to power. Our students are regularly being withdrawn by their parents to private schools here or overseas. The usual strike took a deadlier dimension under Buhari.
“I had a thriving business centre and office solution firm I was running alongside my lecturing job, but all that collapsed during the strike.
“I borrowed money from my younger brother who does timber milling business to sustain my family during the strike and many lecturers lost family members because there was no money to get them good treatment, some of their children were withdrawn from private schools because of no money to pay tuition fees ,” the aggrieved lecturer lamented.
Sylvanus Nwafor, a trader, congratulated Nigerians for patiently striving to survive the present administration, saying that Africa’s most populous country has further taken a backward step.
“Eight years ago, jubilation rocked the streets of Nigeria with high hopes that governance would take a new dimension in favour of the people. But nothing has changed for the better; instead our economy, health, security, among other key sectors have taken a worse dimension.
“Surviving this eight-year administration is a no-small feat for anyone considering what we have been through all these years. We will never forget what this present government did to us, citizens, and the only thing I can say is that we have suffered and thank God we scaled through but this mark will remain indelible in our lives,” Nwafor said.
Joseph Ogbemudia, a medical doctor, said the Buhari-led administration did not live up to expectations, noting that no Nigerian can attest to any meaningful development done by the out-going administration.
“Just imagine a president going outside the shores of the country he presides over to get medical treatment such as ear and teeth in another country. Who does that? What stops the government from revitalising its own health sector to attend to varieties of ailments?
“Government goes and comes but the people are always there to make their choices. We made ours eight years ago, believing in the mantra of ‘change’. Today, where is the change? Where are the jobs they promised? What is the state of our naira as against the pledge they made to stable the currency? How is the education sector? What is the situation of our security?” Ogbemudia queried.
“We have become a laughing stock to global community. I really hope the new administration can redeem our image and put us on a successful path,” he added.
Ifeyinwa Ifediegwu, an Asaba resident and businesswoman, said: “The eight-year of Muhammadu Buhari’s reign has taught me a harrowing experience and I thank God it’s going to be over on May 19.
“It’s happy survival to me and my family and to all Nigerians who are alive to see the end of Buhari administration. May we never experience an administration such as this again in the history of our nation!”
Speaking in an interview with BusinessDay, Sunday, Ifediegwu said: “Buhari made things extremely difficult for Nigerians. His ill-thought-out policies birthed many Yahoo-Yahoo and Yahooplus boys, some are already dead, some imprisoned and some are walking corpses. They took to crimes due to joblessness. The closure of boarders made things worse for our people and as a result, they took to crimes. It bleeds the heart what transpired these past years.”
Ifediegwu further said: “Cost of foodstuff skyrocketed as a result of border closure and ban on several items. Buhari said the essence of such ban and closure was to encourage local producers amongst other things. But he forgot that Nigerians depend on foreign countries in terms of technology. For you to do commercial agriculture, you need modern farming implements and those equipment are not produced in Nigeria. Big-time farmers find it difficult to operate because of lack of equipment and necessary farm inputs. So, when you don’t produce, how would you have food security as a nation not to talk of exporting? So, the aim of the ban and border closure was defeated and no sector of the economy was spared.
“Personally, as an entrepreneur, I’ve experienced huge setbacks in my business. I used to deal on just one item (Ghana Must Go bags) and make huge sums of money but Buhari’s policies banned such. I had to become a general merchandise (varieties) entrepreneur in order to survive.
Even landlords took advantage of the ugly situation in the increase their rents outrageously. You struggle to pay house rent and at the same time pay shop rent, school fees and other bills. Thank God that I’m still in business and my family survives on it. Indeed, we deserve certificate of survival for making it all through Buhari’s harrowing eight years in office.
“I advise the incoming president of Nigeria to review all the policies that do not have human face, which Buhari imposed on Nigerians.”
Idi Shadrach, who lives in Yola, Adamawa State, said that the past eight years have been a turbulent years in the history of Nigeria, especially for people who experienced different regimes from the 1990s.
According to her, “this is so because life has been tough; there’s nothing that actually works for the common man, ranging from the prices of food items, the cost of transportation, education and the list is endless.”
He further said that everything about Nigeria has been practically difficult.
“Hardship has multiplied ten times; the policies of government have not favoured the common man on the street,” he said.
This government will go down into history as one government that has put Nigeria into a terrible hardship.
Talking about policies that mortgaged the future of this nation, Shadrach mentioned the excessive borrowing that did not meet with infrastructure or improve the standard of living of citizens.
“As a matter of fact, I don’t envy anyone that will take over this government because of the mess that’s on ground,” he said.
He also described what has happened to Nigerians in the last eight years as scam.
“The situation became so bad that you could hear people say ‘bring back our corruption”l.’ It sounds funny but it’s the plain truth because if under a corrupt country I as a citizen could afford three square meals but under a supposedly honest government it became a war for me to eat once a day, then something is wrong; where’s the justification for saying you are fighting corruption?
“The change they kept chanting is just a mere propaganda; they want to shift their responsibility to the common man. When they were campaigning they came as a solution but when they came on board they pushed the responsibility on the common man and play the blame game on the past government.
“If we happen to see another administration like that of the past eight years, am afraid this country will crumble,” he said.
Shem WoyoPwa, another Yola resident, said that surviving eight years of the Buhari administration was a miracle.
“It was not easy at all because it was a survival of the fittest and a horrible voyage where getting basic needs such as food was a serious challenge. For me, this is the most horrible administration we have ever witnessed as a nation
“For the past eight years, the common man in Nigeria has been in critical situation. For instance, the educational sector especially the universities were crippled, for almost eight years they were perpetually on strike,” he said.
He further said: “The health sector too has had its own share being in devastating state. It is nothing to write home about due to lack of standard health facilities.
“The past eight years recorded an avalanche of scandals of high level corruption that were jettisoned by the EFCC; in other words, nothing was done to revamp the economy, and there were political and social crises. It was a terrible mess that Nigerians found themselves.”
Victor Kuti, who lives in Ilorin, said: “The regime of President Buhari has been fire. It has not been easy for my family, my loved ones and me personally. I don’t even know how my life is up till now I am just coping. Police embossment, you have to pretend for what you are not just to survive.
“If you are youth, you and having a hair style that is not appropriate you are a criminal. I am an artist but I can not feel free any more, I can not dress as real artist that I am, just to mingle with others. During former president Jonathan administration, although he did not do fine but I never complained during, I was taking care of myself and didn’t even have cause to ask my mama or papa for money but this time around, I even called my junior sister for help; you can imagine.”
Also, Nwite Michael Izuchukwu, submitted that, ‘Nigeria has never been the same.
“I want to be sincere, the government’s promise of change has been in negative way. The leadership under Mr. Muhammadu Buhari is not good. It is not favourable to me particularly and I believe some other people have similar feelings,” he said.
Obinna Nwagbara, executive director, Youth and Students Advocates for Good Governance (YSAD), a civil society organisation (CSO), ssid that Buhari’s eight years in office, as President of Nigeria, can best be described as an era of deceit, parochialism, waste and lack of patriotism and direction.
According to him, “Buhari deceived most of us with his fake integrity posture; a no-nonsense retired army general who came to fight corruption, insecurity and build the economy.
“In his fight against corruption, I remember vividly how Buhari wanted the allegation of fraudulent activities brought against Babachir Lawal, his ally and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, to die a natural death. It took many months of Buhari keeping quiet over the revelation that Kemi Adeosun, former Minister of Finance, did not participate in the compulsory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
“Buhari sumed his fight against corruption with the pardon he granted Joshua Dariye, former Governor of Plateau State and Jolly Nyame, former Taraba State Governor, the two convicted ex-governors.
“Buhari promised to fix the power sector and also the refineries and in 8 years, the problems are still there. It’s not possible to address security challenges in the country without genuinely reforming the Nigeria Police, ENDSARS provided an opportunity for him to reform the police, but he failed to do so.
“The senseless and cashless policy of Buhari and Godwin Emefiele, the country’s Central Bank Governor, is a pointer to how nonchalant Buhari is as a President.
“With that policy, he further destroyed the economy he promised to build. With what we passed through during the cash crunch.”
He continued, “Buhari was parochial in his appointments. For a heterogeneous society like ours, it’s a no, no. Borrowing for consumption, thus leaving a huge debt burden for the country. It’s not as though he didn’t do anything right at all, but his failures will continue to overshadow whatever thing he did well.”
Chijioke Ogbodo, a media consultant, described the eight years of Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, as a monumental disaster in Nigeria’s history of existence.
“I thought that the regime that preceded his was corrupt, but I was totally wrong. 2015 to 2023 redefined corruption as never before witnessed in the country. Nepotism was at its highest, while debt profile of the country is at its highest ever,” he said.
For Kingsley Umunna, a politician and businessman, the survival of an average Nigerian through the PMB administration may look as an act of God but I look at it as an act of readjustment- from a life of wasteful management to that of prudence.
“In my personal capacity, the first adjustment was to reorder my priorities in terms of family consumption pattern to need not want in the family consumption pattern to cut waste.
“As the economy continued to bite, consumption pattern changed from the costly foreign goods to local and cheaper goods; effort was made to consider price as a factor and goods were procured from areas of lower cost; a factor not considered in the past.
“A more rational management of household economics was employed to reduce cost of household management.
In all the harsh economic experience during the period under review was of great benefit because it helped to reset the mind set of many Nigerians for self employment as a means of survival. The gains of unleashing the ingenuity of nigerians was marked by insecurity and corruption of officials in charge of government empowerment programmes to help the masses.
“Thinking outside the box on how to make a living was the plank of our survival and it is a positive thing for our economy as before these past few years, youths were not thinking of farming or any other trade other than white collar job as a means of survival,” he said.
Yakubu Ibrahim, a graduate-turned Keke operator, disclosed that life at a stage became meaningless but he looked at himself and remembered that it was a fight he must fight to keep his family going.
“I did many odd jobs to survive; I sold second hand clothes, opened Point of Sales (popularly known as PoS) shop to make sure there is bread on the table.
“When the price of second hand clothes rose, I switched to Keke that am doing now, and then the price of repairing it is another big problem starting from the tyres to the parts; the levies both from federal, state, and local governments is another problem you can’t sweep under the carpet.
“In short, it is only the grace of God that is keeping Nigerians; Buhari has failed Nigerians and he pretended as if nothing has happened. The suffering the Buhari administration brought will not be forgotten in a hurry,” Ibrahim said.
Abdulrasheed Akintola, a business man, said he had to adjust to the economic realities and situation of the country in the last eight years.
He said he could not secure new businesses to survive, and that at a point things were though he couldn’t eat three square meals with his family as well as not been able to pay school fees of his children.
According to him, “The insecurity hampered food security which resulted in inflation. So, prices of things went up astronomically and continues to go up everyday. So we had to adjust at home, by taking two meals a day or less.”
He also said that the recent cash crunch and cashless policy dealt a big blow to Nigeria’s economy with large, big, and small businesses counting their losses and this affected him and many Nigerians also.
On his part, Babatunde Alao, an engineer, who described the outgoing government as worse, attributed his family’s survival to the hindiwork of God.
“It is during this government that many died as a result of Boko Haram attacks, kidnappings, armed robbery. There were always promises from the Federal Government to tackle them, but nothing tangible was done. You can see some committing suicide as a result of the situation in the country,” Alao said.
Mercy Udo, a political economist and current affairs analyst, said despite the huge resources invested in agriculture, and the increase in revenue generation, the Muhammadu Buhari/Yemi Osinbajo administration could not salvage the state of the economy as many Nigerians had expected.
Udo observed that many of the administration’s economic policies were elite-oriented, not pro-poor economic development policy.
She said the harsh economic situation affected her financially, stressing that cost of living is becoming unbearable.
“Personally, I am disappointed in Muhammadu Buhari administration, just like many other Nigerians are.
“But the toughest period for me was the naira redesign policy era, where cash was scarce. I have a friend whose business was affected.
“The news was everywhere, where people’s businesses slowed down or closed during those few months,” she said.
Folarin Ogunwale, a banker, said Muhammadu Buhari’s eight years in office was a waste for him and the country.
He said the last eight years have been the most difficult part of his life so far, stressing that God should never give the country such administration again.
“The last eight years has not been what I expected; I just think we could have done better but rather we retrogressed as a nation.
“I spent three years at home after graduation before I could get something doing.
“I finished NYSC during the recession period in 2016 and it was tough. I finally got a job through a friend’s assistance, but the salary is small.
“It was tough initially, but thank God. Cost of living is high, because of inflation; you spend most of the little salary on food and transport, with little left for saving.
“I think just like most Nigerians; I can’t wait for May 29 to come, so we can see the end of the Buhari administration. Its been hell,” he said.