Muhammadu Buhari became the president of the country at a critical time in our history. The country was battling with Boko Haram insurgency in which several local governments of Borno State were under the control of the insurgents. The Federal Capital Territory Abuja was not spared as it was severally attacked by the terrorists, including the United Nations Building Abuja in which many Nigerians and others lost their lives. The economy was in the doldrums, which was clear to all discernable Nigerians. The then minister of Finance and coordinating minister of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had raised the alarm that the country was on the verge of recession. At this time even the federal government borrows to pay federal workers, while several states governments owed several months of unpaid salaries and pensions.
The power sector was in comatose, while agriculture was neglected in favour of the importation of all manners of agricultural produce. Nigeria pays humongous amounts as petroleum subsidy, which was largely rent seeking payments to corrupt politicians. Even with the high corruption-induced subsidy payments petroleum products are not readily available. At this point corruption was already walking on four legs in the country and the government of President Goodluck Jonathan appeared helpless in checking the menace.
On coming to power on May 29, 2015 President Muhammadu Buhari in recognition of the challenges facing the country anchored his administration on the defeat of insurgency in the North East, revamping the economy and the war against corruption. As the president himself acknowledged recently, war against corruption is not an easy task. That acknowledgement by the president not withstanding, it is undeniable that a lot of progress has been made in the war against corruption. The Treasury Single Account (TSA) Policy, which Buhari introduced, has gone a long way to reduce corruption in the public sector. The TSA was a World Bank recommendation adopted by the Goodluck Jonathan administration, but that government lacked the political will to implement it. Buhari adopted it and made it his own and it has paid off. The federal government has recorded over N7 trillion in the TSA according to the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), Ahmed Idris. Government has also saved N24.7billion monthly from charges by banks as a result of the policy. Acting chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu, recently, announced N739 billion as the amount recovered in the first two years of his stewardship. Two former governors, who are also members of Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC), have been jailed and are serving time in jail. However Buhari’s critics believe he has not done enough on the war against corruption especially when it involves some key members of the administration. They often cite the case of the former minister of Finance Femi Adeosun who was accused of parading fake NYSC certificate, but was allowed to continue in her position until it became an embarrassment to the administration.
In the area of security, the President has succeeded in decimating the Boko Haram insurgents, reducing them to attacks on soft targets. Bombing of Kano, Kaduna and Abuja as was the case at the height of Boko Haram terrorism has become distance memories. Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have returned to their ancestral homes and many more are expected to go back home as our gallant soldiers restore law and order in their communities. Sadly while gains have been made in the North East, new centres of terrorism have emerged in the North West particularly in Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna and Sokoto states that requires urgent attention of the federal government to stop it before it escalates to insurgency level. There was also the farmers/herders crisis, which claimed many lives, homes and farmlands in North Central Nigeria and beyond, which happily has been brought under control. The government at the time did not quickly address the herders/farmers clashes. It is hoped that lessons had been learnt and that such security breaches should be tackled with the urgency that it requires.
The diversification of the economy of Nigeria has been the singsong of successive administrations, however no administration has promoted the diversification of the economy to agriculture like Muhammadu Buhari. Through the Anchor Borrowers Programme managed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and introduced by President Muhammadu Buhari, farming has been made lucrative again in the country. Nigerians are today proud eaters of Ebonyi Rice; Kebbi Rice; Bida Rice etc. As a result of the Anchor Borrowers Programme Nigeria has emerged the largest producer of rice in the continent, while rice importation has reportedly reduced to 95 per cent. As it stands Nigeria is on the verge of self-sufficiency in rice production for the first time in its history.
One of the great legacies of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in the last three and a half years is that new administrations should not abandon laudable projects and programmes started by the previous administrations. A survey by the Chartered Institute of Project Management of Nigeria revealed a litany of abandoned projects estimated at N12 trillion nationwide, which validates the president’s insistence of completing ongoing projects or abandoned projects by previous administrations.
According to the Director of Administration of the Institute, Mr. David Godswill Okoronkwo, there were at the time of compilation of the survey report, approximately 56,000 abandoned government projects across the country’s geopolitical zones. A breakdown of the abandoned projects shows that 15,000 of them are in the South-East, 11,000 in the South-South, 10,000 in the South-West, 6000 in the North-West, 7000 in the North-Central, 5000 in North-East, and 2000 in Abuja.
President Buhari at the presentation of the 2019 Budget also made it clear that his government has prioritised the completion of critical on-going projects over the introduction of new ones. As a result his administration has identified 116 abandoned or uncompleted projects relating to irrigation, dams, drainage and water supply. Buhari listed completed and/or commissioned projects to include- Central Ogbia Regional Water Project in Bayelsa State; Northern Ishan Regional Water Supply Project, Edo; Sabke Water Supply Project, Katsina State and Takum Water Supply Project in Taraba. Others, according to the president, are Ogwashi – Uku Dam in Delta; Shagari Irrigation Project in Sokoto State, Galma Dam, Kaduna State; Mangu Water Supply Project, Plateau State as well as the Federal University of Agriculture and Makurdi Water Supply Project in Benue. His administration has also made giant strides in the railway sector. There are also ongoing road projects in all the six geopolitical zones in the country as a testament of his desire to make the whole country accessible for seamless economic activities.
The President in all fairness have not disappointed majority of Nigerians, but a lot still needs to be done to take the country to the next level. We may not be where we want to be as a country, but we are certainly not where we were before Buhari came to power in 2015. Progress has been made in the past three and a half years under Buhari’s leadership. He has the experience to provide the needed leadership for the country in the next four years.