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Comparing President Buhari To Nelson Mandela (3)

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Under the administration of President Jonathan, the national economy slowed down by about 3.96%, while the National Bureau of Statistics reported that over twenty-two million (22m) Nigerians constituting 31% of our population were unemployed at the end of the year 2014. Indeed, the states nearly collapsed under the administration of President Jonathan. The transition committee set up by the Buhari administration stated that it discovered that corruption had permeated almost every ministry, department and agency (MDA) of government.

 The head of the committee, Malam Ahmed Joda, revealed that the former government headed by Jonathan did not tell Nigerians the whole truth about the state of the nation. He acknowledged that while the former regime declared about N1.3 trillion deficits, his committee later discovered that there were actually some N7 trillion deficits undeclared by the Jonathan’s administration. Ahmed Joda maintained that throughout the previous administration, every year’s budget was passed only halfway through the year the budget was supposed to be run. The legislators of the period encouraged poor management of the economy by refusing to let the people have a good budget. One, therefore, wonders how Nigerians were supposed to have a sound economy when spending is without planning for about six months before a so-called plan is approved as budget.                  

The Buhari administration maintained that building a productive economy for Nigeria through a sustainable and inclusive growth is the priority of the administration. This is to be achieved through a sustained focus on the productive sectors to drive inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the country. The administration contended that while mistakes have been made in the past, it is going to look ahead and lay the ground work for building a resilient economy that will not be vulnerable to boom and bust cycles (Adeosun, former Minister of Finance, Presidential Diaries, 2017).

The administration maintained that government revenues remain overly reliant on oil and this must change. The focus of the administration remains committed to using oil revenues to develop and diversify the economy and not just to sustain consumption. The administration noted that while oil proceeds have represented between 50 percent and 70 percent of Federal Government revenue over the past 3 years, it has contributed 10% or less to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the same period. The emphasis of the administration in this respect is geared towards changing the Nigerian growth model to deliver inclusive and sustainable growth by broadening the range of economic activities in the production and distribution of goods and services.

The Buhari administration’s economic policy drive is intended to create jobs for the people and to achieve this noble objective, it must look beyond the extractive industry and to invest across the value chain in agriculture, construction, manufacturing and trade to localize production. This is intended to create jobs, drive innovation and support knowledge transfer to local businesses. The focus is on activities that are value adding to the economy in order to ensure long term sustainability. The administration has built infrastructure in order to facilitate power and transportation as vital components required in achieving diversification and sustaining economic growth. The government is investing in massive domestic fertilizer production, making it cheaper to grow the food Nigerians need and raw materials to support moribund industries. The government is also investing in rail transportation, making it quicker and cheaper to get produce across the country. This project, though on a pilot level, has shown that it is possible to reduce the cost of food if the government can cause its movement across the country faster.

Under the Federal Government’s enterprise and employment programme, the Buhari administration introduced the trader-money-initiative targeting petty traders in markets across the country through the Bank of Industry (BOI). The programme aimed at increasing wealth of the Nigerian masses by making it easier for them to do business in what the Government tagged a financial inclusion agenda. The initiative which began in October 2018, has generated wide-spread enthusiasm and appreciation across the country especially by the low income earners comprising mostly market’s men and women because of the opportunity given to them to expand their businesses and earn more income (NTA NEWS, December, 2018).

The Buhari administration is convinced that people are the greatest assets of any nation. Thus, the administration re-kindled its effort to increase support for innovation and entrepreneurship with the understanding that investing in the people is akin to building human capital. In a related development, the government has conceived advanced plans to broaden its tax base and improve tax compliance in order to increase government revenue because it has an unacceptable low level of non-oil revenue, an issue that has been driven by a failure to collect tax revenues. The federal government envisaged that with a tax to GDP ratio of only 6%, which is one of the lowest in the world, a lot of work has to be done in order to build a sustainable revenue base that will deliver inclusive growth. Towards the realization of this objective, the government maintained that attaining the objective of a diversified economy in Nigeria would definitely reduce revenue volatility in the long term, encourage more inclusive growth and reduce inequality.

The achievement of the Buhari-led-administration in the economic sector cannot be complete without mentioning its agricultural transformation agenda. Indeed, the significant progress recorded under the agricultural sector has become a national stride. Under its Anchor Borrower’s Programme, the Nigerian government supported about 850,000 farmers nation-wide to significantly alter rice production in the country. Nigeria requires about 7 metric tonnes of rice annually to feed its teeming population and out of this projection, the Buhari administration has through its Anchor Borrowers initiative mid-wifed by the Central Bank, being able to produce about 5.7 metric tonnes of rice this year alone and the production level is on the increase. The rice production programme has generated about 165 main clusters and 2,812 sub-clusters spread across the country.

This giant stride in agricultural production has recorded a 90% reduction rice importation while overall export growth of 59.9 was recorded in 2016/2017 fiscal year (NTA, news report, Nov, 2018). In addition to this positive development, crop production levels in Soya Beans, Millet, Sorghum, Maize, Yam, Potatoes and Guinea-Corn have all risen significantly during the period under report (Kebbi State Ministry of Agriculture Report, Dec, 2018). Specifically, Nigeria has become the 2nd largest producer of Sorghum in the world after the United States of America. In the same token, Nigeria is currently the 3rd largest producer of Millet in the world after India (NTA news report, 3rd, Dec, 2018). This achievement in agricultural production has never been recorded in Nigeria’s history.

Societal Re-engineering

President Muhammadu Buhari has been confronted with many challenges during his four year tenure as chief executive of the Nigerian nation but the most daunting of these challenges is societal re-engineering. This is primarily because it entails a moral rearmament programme that is different from the militarized version known to exist in the barracks but a structured scientific programme aimed at attitudinal change. Attitudinal change is not an easy thing to achieve but with an inward conviction and determination, it can be achieved. It is a social science that studies human behavior in order to understand the motives behind such a behavior and its characteristic features. Comprehending such a human behavior would provide the basis for critical analysis which would serve as a foundation for planning on the basis of scientific variables that would lead to predictions, resultant possibilities and choices amongst alternative courses of action geared towards causing positive changes. This is the task that the President Muhammadu Buhari set for itself in its desire to re-order the Nigerian nation to a path that would lead it to become an accomplished state where the collective aspiration of its people would become not only possible but realizable.

This re-orientation enterprise entails designing programmes that espouses the inner goodness of Nigerians, the fellow feelings, the sense of belonging, the sense of order, and the self belief that we can make our own path on earth a desired destination where peace, tranquility and progress shall reign supreme.  It requires a societal re-orientation designed to celebrate the re-discovery of our old values of honesty, dedication to duty, hard work, transparency, accountability and compassion. Notably, these are the virtues that helped the founding fathers of our democracy record many achievements in their journey to nationhood. In this respect, instilling discipline on the part of both governmental and quasi-governmental agencies and individuals alike is a task that must be undertaken.

Thus, government actions must be seen to be not only responsible but believable as it matches words with deeds. Simple etiquettes have to be re-learned. Nigerians as a people have to be inculcated to go back to doing things properly and behaving decently. We must touch the minds of our young generation who have for too long been fed with a diet of treachery, greed and magical unearned wealth. Our youth have to be educated on the dangers of living on the fast lane. They should quit believing that it is all right to live fast, die young and have a nice looking corpse. Equally, Nigerians must stop protecting treasury looters simply because they belong either to their ethnic groups or party affiliations. Such a behavior must be condemned in its entirety. There is a great need to retrace our steps and bring back the ethics we are known for so as to be appreciated among comity of nations.

This calls for a complete ethical re-orientation encompassing war against indiscipline and war against corruption, indolence and the like. The re-orientation exercise required to re-order Nigeria is nothing short of a social-cum-ethical-revolution and this is the task ahead of the Buhari-led- administration.

– Sama is a Permanent Secretary, Ministry For Higher Education , Kebbi State

CONCLUDED

By the time the Buhari administration took over the mantle of leadership in Nigeria, a lot of things have gone so bad. Many people in Nigerian are damn-right unpatriotic with no sympathy to the nation. People are not interested in the Nigerian project but what they can get out of the system. Corruption has permeated every facet of the Nigerian fabric. In the public service, there is no ministry, department or parastatal that can be said to be free of corruption. It has become embedded in the minds of the people because the rule books have been thrown away and everybody is doing what he or she likes. Nobody follows the rules anymore. The civil service is bloated and non-functional. The police and custom services throughout the country are visibly taken bribes on the street.

The judiciary has become the pinnacle of corruption with judgments swayed in favour of the well connected and the rich in society. The National Assembly which is supposed to enact laws guiding the government and people of Nigeria towards societal good has jettison such a delegated responsibility for the pursuit of self interest and corruption. Indeed, even the military which hitherto has been known for its discipline, uprightness and patriotism is not immune to the canker worm of corruption in Nigeria. The situation was has become so gloomy as the country has been turned into a total mess.

However, the gloomy picture painted above is gradually changing into something positive as the President Muhammadu Buhari-led-administration pushes through with its reformation exercise. President Buhari has been credited by many observers of the Nigerian project both within and outside the country for his stance on nation building and fight against corruption and injustice.

The administration being led by him has pursued empowerment programmes across the length and breadth of Nigeria in areas of need and sustainability. The empowerment packages being distributed by the government especially to low income earners in every part of the country in terms of employment, interest free loans, agricultural implements and loan schemes in addition to many other commercially but income-induced programmes has earned the Buhari administration wide acclaim throughout the country raising hopes of many Nigerians for a better tomorrow.

The patriotic and incorruptible disposition of both the president and his deputy has raised the profile of the administration giving it the conviction and the much needed legitimacy to govern the people successfully and by implication propelling the people to trust and believe in the ability of the government to deliver towards societal expectations. This simple ambiance has in no small measure promoted unity and patriotism in the country where such symbols of nationalism have hitherto become scarce.

The anti-corruption crusade being pursued by the President Buhari administration has earned it admiration nation-wide, though many others are against it. However, even those opposed to goals and objectives of the administration must admit that the anti-corruption war has yielded fruitful results throughout the country. The capacity of the institutions fighting corruption in Nigeria was strengthened by the Buhari administration since its inception.

The assurance and confidence reposed in the two anti-corruption institutions namely EFCC and ICPC by the administration, gave the institutions leverage to pursue corrupt public servants everywhere and staggering stolen loots were recovered at the hands of many Nigerians who wrongly enriched themselves and stashed their ill-gotten wealth both within and outside the country. The apex of this exercise was the imaginative and creative initiative of whistle blowing scheme which was successfully executed. The scheme caused the wide-spread revelation of credible information to anti-corruption agencies leading to wide-scale seizure of stolen government funds. Indeed, much to the chagrin of those who stole government funds, the atmosphere became so charged that it became near impossible to hide ill-gotten wealth in Nigeria.

Consequently, many of the people who stole such funds had to either willingly return them to the government or abandon them and ran for their dear lives. For the very first time in Nigeria, people became afraid of stealing government funds because when they do there is nowhere to hide such funds. This is by no means a small achievement for a government that aims at changing the attitude of Nigerians from indiscipline to discipline and from corrupt behavior to a decent and patriotic disposition.

At the international level, the image of Nigeria has been steadily on the increase. Nigeria has earned international respect since the assumption of office of President Muhammadu Buhari. This is buttressed by the enthusiasm displayed by the international community at the inauguration of the president in May 2015. The enormous support for Nigeria at this occasion was precipitated by the world perception of the character of the president owing to his tract record as a disciplined, courageous, dedicated and trust-worthy individual. The support given to Nigeria by the international community takes into consideration the challenges that lie ahead of the country and the confidence reposed in President Muhammadu Buhari to deliver Nigeria out of its predicament.

The international community takes the new government in Nigeria seriously. This fact was demonstrated by the first visit of President Buhari to the United States of America. During the visit, the reception accorded the Nigerian President was like non-other from the African continent. Buhari was received by the United State’s President together with his Vice President, the Secretary of State as well as the National Security Adviser.

Indeed, when President Muhammadu Buhari retired to his residence, a whole coterie of United State’s government officials visited him at his official residence including the Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Treasury, the Attorney General, the Head of CIA, the Secretary of Commerce, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, the Joint chief of Staff and many other important dignitaries (Daily Trust, August, 6, 2015). It was very clear from the visit that the United States’ team wanted to hear from the Nigerian President about his agenda for Nigeria and offer him assurance about their readiness to help him actualize his goal.

The same first class treatment was accorded the Nigerian President during his visits to Britain, Germany, France and many other advanced countries of the world. This was a clear demonstration of the changing image of Nigeria internationally from the hitherto negative to a positive one which signals the gradual acceptance of Nigeria and Nigerians into the world comity of nations with pride, integrity and prime status. The international respect and recognition accorded Nigeria and its President reached its peak level when President Muhammadu Buhari was invited in year 2018 as a special guest of honour by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the Hague in Netherlands to deliver an address on Corruption and its debilitating effect on the actualization of human potential for development.

This recognition by the world court has never been extended to any leader in the world. Thus, Nigerians have every reason to be proud because they have a leader who has the audacity to be different. He differed from many past leaders produced in the country that enriched themselves at the expense of the nation. The new Nigerian President has earned world respect and derivatively, has given all Nigerians reason to be proud of themselves and their mother land.

Conclusion

President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria and Nelson Modi’be Mandela of South Africa lived at different times and different countries but shared many things in common. They are men of proven personal qualities and achievements chiefly among which were the struggle to rid their societies of un-wanton vices particularly, injustice, discrimination, corruption and denial of the potentials for self actualization and the collective development of their respective societies. The patriotic tendencies of these great leaders are not hidden to all, their opponents inclusive. They are men whose vision and mission are in no doubt. They are the very few people whose disciplinary attributes, uprightness and quest to move their respective countries forward are clearly visible. The rare qualities of these great men have been acknowledged world-wide. Both personalities are epitome of the highest ideals of selfless service to their respective peoples. The achievement of these great leaders in the area of nation-building gave them a standing above other leaders in the world. Both of these individuals in their different capacities became advocates of empowerment across their societies, pursuing capacity building in areas of need and sustainability and excelled.

In the Nigerian scenario, despite the teething problems of nation building which President Buhari met on assumption of office in May 2015, the determination and commitment of his administration to face the challenges that confronted it, made it to stand high and achieve a score card of success. These remarkable achievements spread across the areas of security, economy and indeed, societal re-engineering. Despite having met a crippled economy, President Buhari struggled through sheer determination and clear focus to revive the Nigerian economy. Today, the Nigerian economy has been built to become resilient, inclusive and diversified.

Through these confidence building mechanisms, the Nigerian economy has been made to be sustainable. The administration has built massive transportation architecture across the country, resuscitated moribund industries, strengthened the energy sector and created employment especially to the teeming youth populations. Though security challenges have persisted across the country, nonetheless, its crippling effects have been mitigated. The Boko Haram insurgency has been subdued, although its presence in Nigeria is still visible but there is improved security in the country.

The reformation exercise undertaken by the Buhari administration has yielded fruitful results. There are positive changes being witnessed within the political platforms in the country. Sanity is beginning to prevail even in the electioneering processes in Nigeria. The capacity of INEC, the electoral umpire has been strengthened by the Buhari Administration. The peaceful conduct of electioneering campaigns currently being witnessed all over the country is a living testimony of the sanity that has prevailed in the political system. People are now more aware of their rights politically and prepared to defend such rights.

The anti-corruption crusade mounted by the administration since its inception has become successful. The amount of money recovered by the administration has been staggering. Many corrupt individuals have been prosecuted and many Nigerians are now afraid to steal or to partake in corrupt self-enrichment. The anti-corruption agencies have been strengthened and this has sent a very strong message to Nigerians that it is no longer business as usual. The task of re-orientation undertaken by the administration has espoused the inner goodness of Nigerians arousing their fellow feelings and generating in them a sense of belonging. This has engendered increased nationalism and patriotic tendencies across the land reducing ethnic and parochial tendencies and promoting peace and tranquility, unity and compassion.

The steadfastness, commitment and dedication to duty in addition to the patriotic disposition and self-less service displayed by the Nigerian leader, has set a shining example of what Nigeria needed to correct many of its societal ills. In addition to these rare qualities of good leadership, President Muhammadu Buhari has led Nigeria to attain international respect bestowed with a very positive image. In my humbled opinion, our dear President deserved to be rewarded with nothing short of a Nobel Prize for Peace.

ISA MUHAMMAD SAMA PERMANENT SECRETARY MINISTRY FOR HIGHER EDUCATION KEBBI STATE.


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