Category: Issues

The fuel pricing debate: our story- V.P Osinbajo

Fellow Citizens:

I have read the various observations about the fuel pricing regime and the attendant issues generated. All certainly have strong points.

The most important issue of course is how to shield the poor from the worst effects of the policy.  I will hopefully address that in another note.

Permit me an explanation of the policy. First, the real issue  is not a removal of subsidy. At $40 a barrel there isn’t much of a subsidy to remove.

In any event, the President is probably one of the most convinced pro-subsidy advocates.

What happened is as follows: our local consumption of fuel is almost entirely imported. The NNPC exchanges crude from its joint venture share to provide about 50% of local fuel consumption. The remaining 50% is imported by major and independent marketers.

These marketers up until three months ago sourced their foreign exchange from the Central Bank of Nigeria at the official rate. However, since late last year, independent marketers have brought in little or no fuel because they have been unable to get foreign exchange from the CBN. The CBN simply did not have enough. (In April, oil earnings dipped to $550 million. The amount required for fuel importation alone is about $225million!) .

Meanwhile, NNPC tried to cover the 50% shortfall by dedicating more export crude for domestic consumption. Besides the short term depletion of the Federation Account, which is where the FG and States are paid from, and further cash-call debts pilling up, NNPC also lacked the capacity to distribute 100% of local consumption around the country. Previously, they were responsible for only about 50%. (Partly the reason for the lingering scarcity).

We realised that we were left with only one option. This was to allow independent marketers and any Nigerian entity to source their own foreign exchange and import fuel. We expect that foreign exchange will be sourced at an average of about N285 to the dollar, (current interbank rate). They would then be restricted to selling at a price between N135 and N145 per litre.

We expect that with competition, more private refineries, and NNPC refineries working at full capacity, prices will drop considerably. Our target is that by Q4 2018 we should be producing 70% of our fuel needs locally. At the moment even if all the refineries are working optimally they will produce just about 40% of our domestic fuel needs.

You will notice that I have not mentioned other details of the PPRA cost template. I wanted to focus on the cost component largely responsible for the substantial rise, namely foreign exchange. This is therefore not a subsidy removal issue but a foreign exchange problem, in the face of dwindling earnings.

Thank you all.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN
May 13, 2016

Nigeria derived no benefit from previous devaluations of the Naira – President Buhari

President Muhammadu Buahri insisted Friday in Abuja that he was yet to be convinced that the vast majority of ordinary Nigerians will  derive any tangible benefit from a devaluation of the Naira.

Speaking at a meeting with members of the Council of Retired Federal Permanent Secretaries, President Buhari said that he still held the conviction which motivated his principled resistance to devaluation in his first tenure as Head of State.

“When I was military Head of State, the IMF and the World Bank wanted us devalue the Naira and remove petrol subsidy but I stood my grounds for the good of Nigeria.

“The Naira remained strong against the Dollar and other foreign currencies until I was removed from office in August, 1985 and it was devalued.

“But how many factories were built and how many jobs were created by the devaluation?

“That is why I’m still asking to be convinced today on the benefits of devaluation,”  President Buhari told the retired Permanent Secretaries led by Otunba Christopher Tugbobo.

President Buhari welcomed the Council’s pledge of support for the successful implementation of his administration’s Change Agenda, especially in the priority areas of improving security, curbing corruption and revitalizing the national economy.

“I am glad you have rightly identified the key issues we campaigned on.

“We need a dynamic bureaucracy  which will not mislead us into taking wrong decisions,” the President said.

The Council of Retired Federal Permanent Secretaries was established in 2004 to serve as a platform for retired permanent secretaries to offer constructive advice to government on key policy issues.

Chief Philip Asiodu, the Pioneer Chairman of the Council, said that its members want the present Administration to succeed because Nigeria has already lost many opportunities for progress.

“We are non-partisan. The interest of Nigeria is paramount to us and we are anxious that you should succeed,” Chief Asiodu told the President.

Femi Adesina
Special Adviser to the President
(Media& Publicity)
April 22, 2016

FG wants speedy completion of Mambilla power project – President Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari pledged Wednesday in Beijing that his administration will honour all agreements concluded between Nigeria and China under previous administrations to ensure the speedy completion of outstanding joint projects, including the 4,000 megawatts Mambilla Hydro-Electric Power Project.

Speaking at a meeting with Mr Li Keqiang, the Premier of the State Council of the Peoples Republic of China, President Buhari regretted the failure of past governments to meet Nigeria’s obligations in joint projects with China.

The President told the Chinese Premier that his administration was committed to the completion, in the shortest possible time, of all joint power, rail, road and aviation projects that will directly and quickly improve  the lives of Nigerians.

President Buhari said that he was particularly keen on actualizing the Mambilla Power Project because of its huge potential to boost employment and  national economic growth.

The Chinese Premier commended ongoing efforts by the Buhari Administration to improve Nigeria’s  infrastructure.

He assured the President that China was ready to work with his administration to complete all joint projects, including the Mambilla Power Project.

Garba Shehu
SSA to the President
(Media & Publicity)

Diversification of Nigeria’s economy now a matter of urgency – Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari Friday in Guangzhou, China, said that his administration will take urgent steps to restructure Nigeria’s economy by encouraging new investments in mining, agricultural and manufacturing.

Speaking at a reception in his honour by the Communist Party of China, President Buhari said that Nigeria will welcome the support of the Chinese government, foreign investors and local businesses for efforts to diversify the nation’s economy.

The President noted that the diversification of the Nigerian economy was long overdue as continued reliance on crude oil exports had always made the economy vulnerable to shocks.

‘‘This time we will be more deliberate. The government and businesses will be involved,” President Buhari said.

In his remarks, the Secretary of the Communist Party, who is also the Governor of the Guangdong Province, Mr. Hu Chinhua, pledged that the region will support the implementation of all the bilateral agreements reached with the Chinese government during President Buhari’s visit.

President Buhari also visited the Sino-Singapore Knowledge City  in Guangzhou, which showcases advancements by China in medical, science and technological inventions.

Garba Shehu
SSA to the President (Media & Publicity)
April 15, 2016

Morality and Integrity in Party Politics in Nigeria

Morality and Integrity in Party Politics in Nigeria
Dr. S. Okechukwu Mezu

The Presidential, national Assembly, gubernatorial and state assembly elections of 2015 have come and gone. They were not perfect but with few unfortunate exceptions here and there, including the very regrettable violence leading to loss of lives and other anti-democratic activities, they were the closest Nigeria had come to a free and fair election. The nation is definitely maturing in its electoral journey since 1999.

For instance, as early as December 2006, Nigerians knew and the world confirmed it that the government and INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) would not be ready for the election. As pointed out by Pierre-Richard Prosper, a former US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crime Issues, who led a ten-man delegation from the International Republican Institute (IRI), Washington D. C that spent one week in Nigeria to assess the country’s readiness for a free and fair election in April, 2007. He observed that with only two weeks remaining before registration deadline, less than half of the machines and only 3.5 million of the potential 60 million eligible voters had been registered.  Furthermore, INEC’s noble and ambitious goal of implementing a cutting edge system to deter the past fraud in the registration efforts was turning problematical. Dr. Maurice Iwu, INEC Chairman claimed to have awarded about 1000 contracts for the election supplies including the introduction of the Direct Data Capture Machine(DDC), that was “to prevent all loopholes that existed in the past for fraudulent politicians to rig elections.”  The DDC machines were neither available for registration purposes nor for the actual election.

Warnings came from at home and abroad, including from the Sultan of Sokoto, , Alhaji Mohammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, who on March 15, 2007 in Kaduna  described the INEC as “unserious and ill-prepared for the April 2007 general elections,” and warned about the dangers of a failed transition program and characterized the INEC’s efforts as being tantamount to “manifest un-seriousness.” The Nigerian Elections of 2007 turned out to be a chronicle of shame and deceit: shame to the country and deceit of the population. One CIA agent in a moment of unguarded indiscretion or blunt honesty quipped that: “No country of this [Nigeria’s] size and financial structure has much to say about its operation. The big money-men of the world who decide whether to invest or not; and the big governments of the world who decide whether or not to give aid, run just as much of Nigeria (or maybe more) than the Nigerians.”

Today we live in a global village complicated by events in other parts of the world.  The Nine-Eleven tragedy in America had hardened the attitude of the former colonial masters and the United States.  Life has become a serious matter of survival.  Irrespective of the government in power in America and the Western world, the economy must be fueled. The millions of vehicles in the Western world must be fueled; the houses need heat; electricity is taken for granted.  Every second in life needs oil to function. There are no sentiments about this. It is a matter of survival. The Mid-Eastern oil has become problematic with the posture of Iran, the debacle in Iraq, the intractable problems between Israel and Palestine, the fragility and nervous vulnerability of Saudi Arabia. The western world does not care what sort of government is in power in Nigeria as long as the flow of Nigeria’s sweet crude oil continues whether through the black or white market.  The illegitimate devil you think you know that came to power through undemocratic means is better that a legitimate democratically elected government whose tomorrow is unpredictable to the West and possibly inimical to its interests.

Democracy and government of the people by the people for the people has never been donated as a gift to the people. No it was not so in France in the eighteenth century; neither was that the case in Britain with the Monarchy. Even colonial America had to fight the British government not the people for their independence and democracy. Any Nigerian who believes that the Western world and foreign countries will fight to install democracy in Nigeria for Nigerians is living in a volcanic fool’s paradise. The rigging of Nigerian elections in 1963 was child’s play compared to the rigging in 1983 and each one was followed by a military take-over.  The rigging in 1999 was out of the playing field when placed side by side with that of 1983.  Because Nigerians accepted the election sham of 1999, the players of the political parties perfected the rigging and killing and maiming in 2003.

Many of the present civilian governments of Nigeria on the Local, State and National levels have failed the people woefully. The hope that Nigeria’s civilian leaders would accomplish for the nation what military rulers hungry for adulation at home and meteoric respect abroad failed to achieve has been dashed. Nigeria continues to be buffeted by the very same pressures and centrifugal forces that led to the demise of the regimes of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, General Aguiyi Ironsi, General Gowon, General Murtala Muhamed, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Generals Buhari and Idiagbon, General Babangida and General Sanni Abacha. Any Government that comes to power without the will and concurrence of the people is doomed to failure. The eventual security and salvation of the individual Nigerian and the individual component ethnic groups in Nigeria lie not in the disintegration of the country and/or ethnic control of the sector’s natural resources, but in the eventual further amalgamation of the component elements of black Africa under a government of the people for the people  where the resources of the whole are used for the benefit of the many and not expropriated by the few for abuse by privileged aliens and non indigenes. This is a task Nigerians and Africans alone can and must do.

The Presidential Elections of 2011

The 2011 Elections was a repeat of the electoral farce of 2007. Two examples will suffice. I contested as a deputy gubernatorial candidate for CPC in Imo State, Nigeria in 2011.

  • During the Presidential elections, 734 votes for the CPC Presidential candidate in one Ikeduru polling station metamorphosed to 34 by the time it reached the Local government collation center and further became 4 votes for candidate Buhari at the Imo State Central Collation center.
  • Following the 2011 presidential elections, I was in the office of the then State Commissioner of Police’s to secure the release of one of our polling agents, a young married man with four children from Ohaji who tried to stop the presiding officer, the police and PDP polling agents from openly thumb-printing ballot papers for PDP. They were being given out in batches of twenty ballot papers. He risked his live after severally warning them. He snatched from the presiding officer a batch of twenty ballot papers destined for further thumb-printing as evidence and ran out of the polling booth. They called for police reinforcement and he was arrested for ballot snatching, mercilessly beaten, stripped naked and locked up in Owerri police detention station. This incident was widely reported on the internet immediately to the extent that INEC in Abuja sought clarification from Imo State about what happened. After I explained the situation to the State Commissioner of Police, he could not control his laughter and almost fell of his chair. He immediately ordered the immediate release of the young man and the interrogation of all those involved. He wanted to handle the matter himself. While in the office a phone call came from Abuja, complaining that the Presidential votes ascribed to PDP from Imo State exceeded the number of registered voters. They required the State Commissioner of Police to fly to Abuja immediately with the corrected results that showed total votes that are less than the number of registered voters.

The main reason for some improvement in the running of 2015 general elections was the insistence on the use of the Permanent Voters Card (PVC). The use of PVC led to a decrease in the number of eligible voters. The number of eligible voters dropped from 67,422,005 voters to the only 56,431,255 who collected, or were able to collect, their PVC that would enable them to vote. In the 2015 presidential election approximately there were 31,746,490 accredited voters from these eligible voters’ group. The total number of votes cast was 29,432,083. The rejection of 844,519 votes brought the number of valid votes to 28,587,564. Out of this number, APC General Buhari scored 15,424,921 votes to President Jonathan’s 12,853,162 votes. The other twelve candidates shared the remaining votes. In the case of the 2011 presidential election, by January/February 2011, INEC had registered over 73.5 million voters and had registered also 63 political parties. In the actual election these were the scores of the leading political parties and their candidates.

Candidates Parties Votes %
Goodluck Jonathan People’s Democratic Party (PDP) 22,495,187 58.89
Muhammadu Buhari Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) 12,214,853 31.98
Nuhu Ribadu Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) 2,079,151 5.41
Ibrahim Shekarau All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) 917,012 2.40


In the actual so-called election, President Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) thus scored 22,495,187 votes to General Buhari’s 12,214,853. The valid votes cast were quoted by INEC as 39,469,484 with 1,259,506 as invalid votes. The turn-out was put at 53%.  When compared with the 2015 election figures of 67,422,005 registered voters and the figure of 56,431,255 who collected their PVC and the actual number (29,432,083) of people who voted, one can deduce that the rigging in 2011 surpassed the worst fears of many. Like the 2007 election, it could be said quoting, the 2007 Movement of the Nigeria House of Representatives that: “[By] any standard, this election cannot be called free, or fair, much less credible. It was a predetermined systematically orchestrated exercise that was out to return the ruling party at all cost. The barbarism, violation, etc, were as outrageous as they were unprecedented.” Foreign election observers and observers from Nigeria have confirmed that that was probably the worst election ever not only in Nigeria but in the history of electoral democracy. The electoral crimes ranged from the stuffing of ballot boxes, to the hijacking of ballot papers.  Several polling stations were not opened.  The ones that opened had no ballot boxes.  During the gubernatorial and state assembly elections, many people lost their lives; there was thuggery and burning and intimidation using state security services which was unleashed to stymie opposition.

In that Presidential election, it was been adduced that more than seventy percent of the sixty million ballot papers (printed in South Africa at the very last minute by INEC for the Presidential election) were deliberately abandoned in the cargo wing of the airport in Johannesburg, South Africa.  This means that about eighteen million ballot papers only were delivered in Nigeria for the sixty million prospective registered voters.  Since these arrived in Nigeria on the very night before the election, how were those delivered to the nooks and corners of Nigeria’s 923,768 square kilometers stretching from the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean (Bights of Benin and Biafra) to areas bordering with Cameroon in the East and Chad in the North-East, Niger in the North, and Benin Republic to the West? How were these ballot papers and election materials delivered over night to the low coastal zone, the hills and plateaus of the Center, to the mountainous zones of the East, some between 1,200 and 2,042 meters high and this including the riverine areas of the Delta region and the impassable gullies of the hinterland.

General Buhari – a constant in Nigerian presidential elections

General Muhammadu Buhari has been the one constant in Nigerian presidential elections since 2003. He has also brought morality and integrity into Nigeria’s political landscape. He contested the presidential election in 2003 on the platform of All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) and was defeated by President Obasanjo with over eleven million votes margin.  Again he was nominated as the presidential candidate of the All Nigeria People’s Party for the 2007 election to contest against Umaru Yar’Adua, the candidate of the PDP. The April 2007 elections awarded the PDP presidential candidate 70% of the votes and 18% to General Buhari. These results were flatly unacceptable and not based on voting or on reality. The results were rejected by General Buhari. On invitation by the Yar’Adua government, following the election, the All Nigeria People’s Party. (ANPP) agreed to join the government, but Buhari denounced this betrayal and accommodation and in March 2010. Buhari left the ANPP and helped form a new party, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), to pursue his ideal of progressive change in Nigeria “as a solution to the debilitating, ethical and ideological conflicts in my former party the ANPP”. This represents morality and integrity in party politics in Nigeria. General Buhari became the candidate of the quickly formed CPC. Even though he had no funds of his own, he rejected as gubernatorial candidates in his party some who wanted to fund CPC with what he believed was ill-gotten wealth. Despite contesting against two other Muslim and Northern Nigeria Presidential candidates in the April 16, 2011 general election, – Mallam Nuhu Ribadu of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau of ANPP amongst twenty other contestants – General Buhari, the CPC Presidential candidate in the 16 April 2011 general election, was the main opponent of President Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

With barely one year to the presidential elections, Buhari had a hard time organizing ground support and had barely time for zonal rallies before the elections.  For instance, barely one week after I joined CPC in Imo State as the Deputy Gubernatorial candidate, the party (CPC) scheduled the Southeast zonal rally in Owerri. The PDP Governor Ikedi Ohakim of Imo State, denied CPC the use of the Owerri Stadium for the rally, denied the party the use of any other location in Owerri; refused even a courtesy call on him by the former President and Commander in Chief, General Buhari. The State Chairman of Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers refused a courtesy call by General Buhari. I had to overnight organize the Southeast zonal CPC rally in front of Our Lady’s School, Emekuku, my home town. To fill up the program, I arranged a courtesy call on the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri, Dr. Anthony Obinna (incidentally a native of Emekuku) who gave me one sole condition that no pictures of the visit would be allowed to be taken. I also finally arranged a courtesy call on the traditional ruler of Emekuku, Eze Peter Obi. People traveled from all corners of South Eastern states to the rally that saw over a hundred thousand participants. Yet when the presidential election came votes were counted in my Emekuku polling station, my own vote apparently disappeared as Buhari scored zero votes at the polling station and some CPC party agents who tried to follow the ballot box to the Owerri North Local Government collating center at Uratta, came back with broken skulls.

Where then in 2011 did the 22,495,187 votes for President Jonathan come from when he only scored 12,853,162 in 2015? General Buhari’s winning score of 15,424,921 votes in 2015 was a mere marginal increase over his losing score of 12,214,853 votes in 2011. The introduction of PVC in 2015 more than any other measure curtailed the inordinate harvesting of spurious votes but it did not eliminate it because the real or engineered malfunction of card readers and the substitution of voting with incident forms became the new vehicle for vote rigging and inflation of votes. In the actual so-called election 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) thus scored 22,495,187 votes to CPC General Buhari’s 12,214,853. The valid votes cast were quoted by INEC as 39,469,484 with 1,259,506 as invalid votes. The turn-out was put at 53%. When compared with the 2015 election figures of 67,422,005 registered voters and the figure of 56,431,255 as those who collected their PVC and the actual number (29,432,083) of people who voted, one can deduce that the rigging in 2011 and consequent vote inflation surpassed the worst fears of many. It is interesting to note that the combined votes of General Buhari (CPC), Nuhu Ribadu (ACN) and Ibrahim Shekarau (ANPP) totaled 15,211,016 in 2011, a few votes shy of the 15,424,921 votes secured by General Buhari in 2015 to win the Presidential election.

Morality and Integrity in Politics

The formation of All Progressives Congress (APC) was due to the collective effort and personal sacrifices made by the leaders and members of the Legacy Parties. That was the epitome of morality and integrity in politics. President Jonathan, in defeat also became magnanimous by conceding even before INEC announced the actual results of the 2015 presidential elections. Supporters of the President took the cue and saved the country Nigeria from violence and kata-kata and possible disintegration. The country had had enough of it already. Congratulations galore flowed from all over the country, all deserved and merited – from friends and foes, some out of sportsmanship, others out of greed, avarice and pandering. Overnight, the worst enemies of the opposition party and their antecedents the past fifteen years now defect in droves to the winning All Progressives Congress (APC). Politics should be made of sterner stuff, of greater morality and integrity. Congratulations to the winner are in order, understandable and commendable but defection from PDP to APC within hours of APC victory is self-serving, reprehensible and offensive. General Buhari has maintained his moral and political integrity all these years and refused even to serve in Yar’Adua’s government when invited to do so and had to leave the ANPP on the basis of principle when ANPP, his party elected to join the PDP government. What respect then would a man like Buhari have for those apostles of Any Government In Power (AGIP) who defect to the winning party on the morning of victory?. Politics should be made of sterner stuff and greater integrity and morality. The five PDP governors that left the governing party PDP and joined the nascent opposition party APC not only showed political courage but moral integrity in the face of the venomous and slanderous onslaught from the impolitic elements that surrounded and led a President Jonathan who was rather lukewarm to a second or third term. We salute the courage of PDP members of the National Assembly who defected from PDP when they had nothing to gain but everything to lose.

A Buhari government should and could appoint men of integrity (and some there are) from the PDP because of their integrity, expertise and devotion to the nation. A Monday morning defection from PDP to APC should be enough reason for a PDP candidate to be disqualified from consideration for any meaningful post in an APC government. The Good Lord once said: “I have chosen you, you have not chosen me.” For the growth of democracy in Nigeria, PDP must not be allowed or helped to crumble leading to a one party system. Only 2,357,854 presidential election votes separate APC from PDP whose members should show political courage and moral integrity like General Buhari, rebuild the party, dress themselves in a newer fashion and robes and look for a less difficult electorate to paraphrase Oliver Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer.

Dr. S. Okechukwu Mezu

Prospects for Democratic Consolidation in Africa: Nigeria’s Transition

Being the text of a speech delivered by General Buhari, presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), at the Royal Institute on International Affairs, Chatham House, London, on February 26, 2015

Permit me to start by thanking Chatham House for the invitation to talk about this important topic at this crucial time. When speaking about Nigeria overseas, I normally prefer to be my country’s public relations and marketing officer, extolling her virtues and hoping to attract investments and tourists. But as we all know, Nigeria is now battling with many challenges, and if I refer to them, I do so only to impress on our friends in the United Kingdom that we are quite aware of our shortcomings and are doing our best to address them.


The 2015 general election in Nigeria is generating a lot of interests within and outside the country. This is understandable. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and largest economy, is at a defining moment, a moment that has great implications beyond the democratic project and beyond the borders of my dear country.

So let me say upfront that the global interest in Nigeria’s landmark election is not misplaced at all and indeed should be commended; for this is an election that has serious import for the world. I urge the international community to continue to focus on Nigeria at this very critical moment. Given increasing global linkages, it is in our collective interests that the postponed elections should hold on the rescheduled dates; that they should be free and fair; that their outcomes should be respected by all parties; and that any form of extension, under whichever guise, is unconstitutional and will not be tolerated.

With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, the collapse of communism and the end of the Cold War, democracy became the dominant and most preferred system of government across the globe. That global transition has been aptly captured as the triumph of democracy and the ‘most pre-eminent political idea of our time.’ On a personal note, the phased end of the USSR was a turning point for me. It convinced me that change can be brought about without firing a single shot.

As you all know, I had been a military head of state in Nigeria for twenty months. We intervened because we were unhappy with the state of affairs in our country. We wanted to arrest the drift. Driven by patriotism, influenced by the prevalence and popularity of such drastic measures all over Africa and elsewhere, we fought our way to power. But the global triumph of democracy has shown that another and a preferable path to change is possible. It is an important lesson I have carried with me since, and a lesson that is not lost on the African continent.


In the last two decades, democracy has grown strong roots in Africa. Elections, once so rare, are now so commonplace. As at the time I was a military head of state between 1983 and 1985, only four African countries held regular multi-party elections. But the number of electoral democracies in Africa, according to Freedom House, jumped to 10 in 1992/1993 then to 18 in 1994/1995 and to 24 in 2005/2006. According to the New York Times, 42 of the 48 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa conducted multi-party elections between 1990 and 2002.

The newspaper also reported that between 2000 and 2002, ruling parties in four African countries (Senegal, Mauritius, Ghana and Mali) peacefully handed over power to victorious opposition parties. In addition, the proportion of African countries categorized as not free by Freedom House declined from 59% in 1983 to 35% in 2003. Without doubt, Africa has been part of the current global wave of democratization.

But the growth of democracy on the continent has been uneven. According to Freedom House, the number of electoral democracies in Africa slipped from 24 in 2007/2008 to 19 in 2011/2012; while the percentage of countries categorized as ‘not free’ assuming for the sake of argument that we accept their definition of “free” increased from 35% in 2003 to 41% in 2013. Also, there have been some reversals at different times in Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Cote D’Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Mali, Madagascar, Mauritania and Togo. We can choose to look at the glass of democracy in Africa as either half full or half empty.

While you can’t have representative democracy without elections, it is equally important to look at the quality of the elections and to remember that mere elections do not democracy make. It is globally agreed that democracy is not an event, but a journey. And that the destination of that journey is democratic consolidation – that state where democracy has become so rooted and so routine and widely accepted by all actors.

With this important destination in mind, it is clear that though many African countries now hold regular elections, very few of them have consolidated the practice of democracy. It is important to also state at this point that just as with elections, a consolidated democracy cannot be an end by itself. I will argue that it is not enough to hold a series of elections or even to peacefully alternate power among parties.


It is much more important that the promise of democracy goes beyond just allowing people to freely choose their leaders. It is much more important that democracy should deliver on the promise of choice, of freedoms, of security of lives and property, of transparency and accountability, of rule of law, of good governance and of shared prosperity. It is very important that the promise embedded in the concept of democracy, the promise of a better life for the generality of the people, is not delivered in the breach.

Now, let me quickly turn to Nigeria. As you all know, Nigeria’s fourth republic is in its 16th year and this general election will be the fifth in a row. This is a major sign of progress for us, given that our first republic lasted five years and three months, the second republic ended after four years and two months and the third republic was a still-birth. However, longevity is not the only reason why everyone is so interested in this election.


The major difference this time around is that for the very first time since transition to civil rule in 1999, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is facing its stiffest opposition so far from our party the All Progressives Congress (APC). We once had about 50 political parties, but with no real competition. Now Nigeria is transitioning from a dominant party system to a competitive electoral polity, which is a major marker on the road to democratic consolidation. As you know, peaceful alternation of power through competitive elections have happened in Ghana, Senegal, Malawi and Mauritius in recent times. The prospects of democratic consolidation in Africa will be further brightened when that eventually happens in Nigeria.

But there are other reasons why Nigerians and the whole world are intensely focused on this year’s elections, chief of which is that the elections are holding in the shadow of huge security, economic and social uncertainties in Africa’s most populous country and largest economy. On insecurity, there is a genuine cause for worry, both within and outside Nigeria. Apart from the civil war era, at no other time in our history has Nigeria been this insecure.


Boko Haram has sadly put Nigeria on the terrorism map, killing more than 13,000 of our nationals, displacing millions internally and externally, and at a time holding on to portions of our territory the size of Belgium. What has been consistently lacking is the required leadership in our battle against insurgency. I, as a retired general and a former head of state, have always known about our soldiers: they are capable, well trained, patriotic, brave and always ready to do their duty in the service of our country.

You all can bear witness to the gallant role of our military in Burma, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Darfur and in many other peacekeeping operations in several parts of the world. But in the matter of this insurgency, our soldiers have neither received the necessary support nor the required incentives to tackle this problem. The government has also failed in any effort towards a multi-dimensional response to this problem leading to a situation in which we have now become dependent on our neighbors to come to our rescue.


Let me assure you that if I am elected president, the world will have no cause to worry about Nigeria as it has had to recently; that Nigeria will return to its stabilizing role in West Africa; and that no inch of Nigerian territory will ever be lost to the enemy because we will pay special attention to the welfare of our soldiers in and out of service, we will give them adequate and modern arms and ammunitions to work with, we will improve intelligence gathering and border controls to choke Boko Haram’s financial and equipment channels, we will be tough on terrorism and tough on its root causes by initiating a comprehensive economic development plan promoting infrastructural development, job creation, agriculture and industry in the affected areas. We will always act on time and not allow problems to irresponsibly fester, and I, Muhammadu Buhari, will always lead from the front and return Nigeria to its leadership role in regional and international efforts to combat terrorism.


On the economy, the fall in prices of oil has brought our economic and social stress into full relief. After the rebasing exercise in April 2014, Nigeria overtook South Africa as Africa’s largest economy. Our GDP is now valued at $510 billion and our economy rated 26th in the world. Also on the bright side, inflation has been kept at single digit for a while and our economy has grown at an average of 7% for about a decade.

But it is more of paper growth, a growth that, on account of mismanagement, profligacy and corruption, has not translated to human development or shared prosperity. A development economist once said three questions should be asked about a country’s development: one, what is happening to poverty? Two, what is happening to unemployment? And three, what is happening to inequality?

The answers to these questions in Nigeria show that the current administration has created two economies in one country, a sorry tale of two nations: one economy for a few who have so much in their tiny island of prosperity; and the other economy for the many who have so little in their vast ocean of misery.

Even by official figures, 33.1% of Nigerians live in extreme poverty. That’s at almost 60 million, almost the population of the United Kingdom. There is also the unemployment crisis simmering beneath the surface, ready to explode at the slightest stress, with officially 23.9% of our adult population and almost 60% of our youth unemployed. We also have one of the highest rates of inequalities in the world.

With all these, it is not surprising that our performance on most governance and development indicators (like Mo Ibrahim Index on African Governance and UNDP’s Human Development Index.) are unflattering. With fall in the prices of oil, which accounts for more than 70% of government revenues, and lack of savings from more than a decade of oil boom, the poor will be disproportionately impacted.


In the face of dwindling revenues, a good place to start the repositioning of Nigeria’s economy is to swiftly tackle two ills that have ballooned under the present administration: waste and corruption. And in doing this, I will, if elected, lead the way, with the force of personal example.
On corruption, there will be no confusion as to where I stand. Corruption will have no place and the corrupt will not be appointed into my administration. First and foremost, we will plug the holes in the budgetary process. Revenue producing entities such as NNPC and Customs and Excise will have one set of books only. Their revenues will be publicly disclosed and regularly audited. The institutions of state dedicated to fighting corruption will be given independence and prosecutorial authority without political interference.

But I must emphasize that any war waged on corruption should not be misconstrued as settling old scores or a witch-hunt. I’m running for President to lead Nigeria to prosperity and not adversity.

In reforming the economy, we will use savings that arise from blocking these leakages and the proceeds recovered from corruption to fund our party’s social investments programs in education, health, and safety nets such as free school meals for children, emergency public works for unemployed youth and pensions for the elderly.


As a progressive party, we must reform our political economy to unleash the pent-up ingenuity and productivity of the Nigerian people thus freeing them from the curse of poverty. We will run a private sector-led economy but maintain an active role for government through strong regulatory oversight and deliberate interventions and incentives to diversify the base of our economy, strengthen productive sectors, improve the productive capacities of our people and create jobs for our teeming youths.

In short, we will run a functional economy driven by a worldview that sees growth not as an end by itself, but as a tool to create a society that works for all, rich and poor alike. On March 28, Nigeria has a decision to make. To vote for the continuity of failure or to elect progressive change. I believe the people will choose wisely.

General Muhammadu Buhari