Barely eight months to the next general elections and in view of the re-election bid of President Muhammadu Buhari, MUYIWA OYINLOLA in this piece examines how the president has faired in his delivery of electoral promises three years after assumption of office
His ascension to the Number One seat of the nation on 29th May, 2015, was a dream come true, after three unsuccessful attempts. Hence, much was expected of him. The nation, as at the time President Muhammadu Buhari assumed leadership three years ago, was almost returning to the ‘state of nature’, a state of anomie.
From the North to South, East to West, it was the same song. Insecurity had paraded the land, corruption was being celebrated in the open and the economy was nosediving.
Buhari, along with his All Progressives Congress (APC), in their campaigns, promised to fix these problems and return the nation to its position of pride.
Whereas, the opposition has continued to criticize the President and his APC-led government of not doing enough, LEADERSHIP’s check reveal that Buhari has done so much to turn the fortune of the nation for the better.
According to LEADERSHIP’s findings, the nation’s economy is back and consolidating.
The Economy is back on the path of growth, after the recession of 2016-17 (1.95 percent growth in Q1 2018). This, it was discovered was made possible because this administration, in line with its promise to diversify the nation’s economy, put priority on Agriculture and Solid Minerals sectors, which have maintained consistent growth throughout the recession.
It is also on recover that inflation has fallen for the fifteenth (15th) consecutive month, from 18.7 percent in January 2017 to 12.5 percent as of April 2018, even as the current External Reserves of US$47.5 billion are the highest in 5 years, and double the size as of October 2016.
In the same vein, total exports in 2017 were 59.47% higher than for 2016. Moreover, in 2017, agriculture exports grew 180.7% above the value in 2016. In 2017, raw material exports grew 154.2% above the value in 2016.
In the area of Solid Minerals, in 2017 exports grew 565% above the value in 2016, and within the same period, exports of manufactured goods grew 26.8% above the value in 2016. The first quarter of 2018, it was observed saw the fourth consecutive quarterly increase in capital importation since Q2 2017. The total value of capital imported in the quarter stood at US$6.3.
Also as part of efforts to revamp the economy, the Federal Government launched its mid-term Economic Plan April last year. It charts a course for the Nigerian economy over the next four years (2017–2020). The Vision of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) is to restore economic growth, invest in Nigerians, and to build a globally competitive economy, and the Plan aims to achieve these by focusing on five execution priorities including Stabilizing the macroeconomic environment; Achieving Agriculture and Food Security; Ensuring energy efficiency (especially in power and petroleum products); Improving transportation infrastructure; and Driving industrialization, primarily through SMEs.
To fast-track the implementation of the ERGP, the Federal Government launched the ERGP Focus Labs, as a targeted 6-week intervention (March to April 2018) bringing together all stakeholders to identify bureaucratic bottlenecks impacting medium-scale and large-scale investment projects in Nigeria, and then generate ideas and resources to resolve them. The just-concluded Phase 1 of the ERGP Focus Labs identified private-sector projects worth about US$22.5 billion and with a potential for 500,000 jobs (in Agriculture, Transportation, Manufacturing and Processing, Power and Gas) for unlocking by 2020.
This is one area that has come under critical scrutiny of the of the opposition. However, checks reveled that the Buhari-led Administration has demonstrated a single-minded commitment to upgrading and developing the nation’s Transport, Power and Health Infrastructure.
Recall that last month, the Federal Government launched the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF), under the management of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority. The PIDF is kicking off with seed funding of US$1.3 billion.
Also recall that Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) in March 2018 invested US$10m to establish a world-class Cancer Treatment Center at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), and US$5m each in the Aminu Kano University Teaching Hospital and the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, to establish modern Diagnostic Centres. These Centers should be completed before the end of 2018.
In 2014, the Federal Government spent these sums on the following sectors: Transport (N14 billion), Agriculture $ Water (N34 billion), Power, Works & Housing (N106 billion).
In 2017 those figures jumped to: Transport (N127 billion), Agriculture & Water (N130 billion), Power, Works & Housing (N325 billion).
Road Projects are ongoing across every State of the country; many of these projects had been abandoned in recent years because of mounting debts owed by the Federal Government to contractors.
The Buhari-led administration issued a N100 billion Sukuk Bond in 2017, which is Nigeria’s first sovereign Sukuk Bond. Proceeds from that Bond are funding 25 major road projects across the six geo-political zones of Nigeria.
In the same vein, upgrade of Nigeria’s 3,500km network narrow-gauge railway network has commenced, with the signing, in April this year, of the interim phase of a concession agreement between the Government of Nigeria and an International Consortium led by General Electric (GE). The target of this Interim Phase is that within the next 12 months, passengers will experience reduced travel time by rail between Lagos to Kano, and, for the first time in over a decade, contracted and scheduled freight rail services will be available.
Similarly, Abuja’s Light Rail system has been completed and will go into operation in 2018. The first line to be launched will connect the city center with the Airport, with a link to the Abuja-Kaduna Railway Line.
In a bid to curb corruption, the Buhari- led administration in the last three years has come up with a number of Anti-corruption and Transparency Fiscal Reforms as well as other initiatives to plug leakages.
The new Whistleblowing Policy introduced by the Federal Ministry of Finance in December 2016 has since then yielded the following in recoveries (arising directly from whistleblower tips): N13.8 billion from tax evaders (In May 2018, the Government paid N439.2 million to about 14 whistleblowers who gave specific tips on tax evasion). N7.8 billion, US$378million, £27,800 in recoveries from public officials targeted by whistleblowers.
The Ministry of Finance has received a total of 8,373 communications on contract inflation, ghost workers, illegal recruitment and misappropriation of funds, as a result of the Whistleblower Policy.
Of this number of communications, 1,231 are specifically whistleblowing tips. The Ministry has undertaken 791 investigations and completed 534 of those investigations. Ten are presently under prosecution and four convictions have been secured.
Increased Oversight of MDAs
The National Economic Council (NEC), under the Chairmanship of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, approved the audit of key federal revenue generating agencies, with revealing results: a total sum of N526 billion and US$21 billion was underpaid to the Federation Account between 2010 and 2015. NEC has now.
The primary responsibility of any government is the protection of lives and properties of its citizens. The previous administration failed woefully in this regard as the nation lost part of its territory to Boko Haram insurgents. Apart from that, the insurgents constantly launched attacks on several parts of the country, with several deaths usually recorded. Now, the insurgents have been defeated and many displaced citizens are returning home.
For instance, El-Kanemi Warriors Football Club returned to their home base in Maiduguri in April 2016, two years after relocating to Katsina State because of the insurgency. Also, Emirs of Askira and Uba returned home in May 2016, two years after fleeing their Palaces on account of the Boko Haram insurgency.
In the same vein, Public Secondary Schools resumed in Borno State on Monday September 26, 2016, after two years of closure even as Maiduguri-Gubio and Maiduguri-Monguno Roads reopened in December 2016, after being closed for three years.
Government also made a great feat with the capture of Boko Haram’s operational and spiritual headquarters, “Camp Zero”, in Sambisa Forest, in December
2016. Following this the Nigerian Army conducted its Small Arms Championship from 26th to 31st March 2017, a measure aimed at enabling the Armed forces to dominate the area, and avoid regrouping by the terrorists.
It will also be recalled that Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Borno State Chapter declared the 2017 Easter Celebrations as the best and safest since 2009.
To crown it all, Arik Air resumed flights to Maiduguri in May 2017, three years after suspending operations to the city, and Nigerian Military reopened Maiduguri-Bama-Banki Road in March 2018, four years after it was seized by Boko Haram.
Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) was established by President Buhari in August 2015 to, among other things; promote the reform agenda of the government on the anti-corruption effort, and advise the present administration in the prosecution of the war against corruption and the implementation of required reforms in Nigeria’s criminal justice system. It was the very first committee the President set up after he was sworn into office.
PACAC has empowered Judges and Prosecutors to operate effectively in carrying out their responsibilities through Workshops on the new Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.
It has also trained both Federal and States Prosecutors on proper drafting of charges and has also helped anti-corruption agencies devise clearer strategies for obtaining forfeiture of assets suspected to have been acquired fraudulently, mainly from State Coffers, before prosecuting suspected culprits. Part of this work has involved painstakingly reviewing existing Laws (like the Money Laundering Act, 2004, the EFCC Act, 2004 and the ICPC Act, 2000), to identify and highlight sections directly conferring powers of forfeiture on Nigeria’s anticorruption agencies.
This advocacy has led to a significant increase in the use of Non- Conviction Based Asset Forfeiture Mechanisms by anti-corruption agencies.
In this critical area of Electricity, the federal government has mapped out plans to increase power generation with an additional 2,000MW by the end of 2018, some of it via publicly owned plants. According to the plan, Afam Fast Power is to generate 240MW; others through private sector investment supported by the Federal Government.
It has also launched the Energizing Economic Programme which is bringing reliable and efficient power to economic clusters /markets around the country. Pilot projects are currently being implemented in Aba (Ariaria Market), Lagos (Shomolu Printing Community, (Sura Shopping Complex), Kano (Sabon Gari Market) and Akure (Isinkan Market).
As part of the efforts, it has also launched the N701 billion Payment Assurance Programme designed to resolve the liquidity challenges in the Power Sector by guaranteeing payments to Generating Companies and Gas Suppliers.
Similarly, Transmission Expansion and Rehabilitation Programme has resulted in a 50 percent expansion in Grid Capacity since 2015, from 5,000MW to 7,125MW as at December 2017.
The Distribution Expansion Programme (DEP) was approved by the Federal Executive Council in February 2018 to increase distribution capacity in collaboration with the DisCos.
Implementation of the DEP has commenced, with the issuance, in May 2018, of a call for tenders for the procurement of distribution substations and electrical equipment.
Interestingly, ‘Beyond the Grid’ Programme, a Public-Private Partnership scheme championed by the Presidency and the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), has successfully deployed 20,000 units of ‘solar home systems’ to power rural households across 12 States, between July 2017 and April 2018.
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