Two years into his second term, President Muhammadu Buhari, last month, took stock of his performance in office so far.
The president and his team held a mid-term ministerial performance review retreat. The event which was held at the State House Conference Centre, Presidential Villa, Abuja, from October 11 and 12, 2021, had in attendance, President Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, secretary to the government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha.
President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, British High Commissioner, the cabinet ministers, permanent secretaries and other special guests attended.
The event no doubt presented an opportunity to situate the administration’s accomplishments in light of policies and ministerial mandates.
But it was more than an introspection. It afforded the President an opportunity to get feedback from top external evaluators.
For pundits, as the president’s tenure winds down, it is only fitting -as expected of most presidents- that he begins to define how his administration would be remembered after he leaves office.
Expectedly, the main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been critical of the government, even though critics of the opposition accuse it of not offering alternative ideas.
Although the president ran on the three pegs of fighting corruption, tackling the insecurity challenge and revamping the economy, even his supporters would admit that it’s not been easy meeting these expectations.
But speaking during the retreat, President Buhari situated the challenges accordingly just as he gave insights on how well his administration has done so far.
In his opening speech, President Buhari, noted that there were adjustments to policy approaches and methods of working to achieve the objectives of his government in the nine key priority areas.
Those nine listed priority areas are, to stabilise the macroeconomy, achieve agriculture and food security, ensure energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products, improve transportation and other infrastructure, drive industrialisation focusing on SMEs, enhance social inclusion and reduce poverty, fight corruption and improve governance as well as provide security for all citizens.
He further reeled off a holistic overview of some of his government’s achievements, which included among other things, the establishment of InfraCo Plc in 2020, as a world class infrastructure development vehicle, wholly focused on Nigeria, with combined debt and equity take-off capital of N15 trillion, to be managed by an independent infrastructure fund manager.
He noted that the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF), was established in 2020 with more than USD 1Billion in funding and there was also the Nigeria Innovation Fund by the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), which was designed to address investment opportunities in the domestic technology sector: data networking, data centers, software, Agri-tech, Biotech, and the likes.
He listed the 11.9km Second Niger Bridge, 120 km Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, 375 km Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria- Kano expressway and the East West Road as some of the efforts at improving transportation in the country.
On the economy, he said there were three consecutive quarters of growth after negative growth rates recorded in the second and third quarters of 2020.
“The GDP grew from 0.8 per cent in 2017 to 2.2 per cent in 2019, but declined in the first quarter of 2020, as a result of the downward trend in global economic activities triggered by the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“As at Second Quarter 2021, GDP growth rate was at 5.01 per cent, the highest since the inception of this administration. In the power sector, implementation of a ‘Willing Buyer-Willing Seller’ policy has opened opportunities for increased delivery of electricity to underserved homes and industries.
“We are also executing a number of critical projects through the Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme, which will result in achieving the national goal of improved power supply by 2025,” Buhari noted.
He continued,“We have also approved the sum of N13.3 billion for the take-off of the community policing initiative across the country, as part of measures adopted to consolidate efforts aimed at enhancing security nationwide.”
Happy that Nigeria recently received six A-29 Super Tucano aircrafts as part of efforts to boost the nation’s campaign against insecurity, Buhari stated that in the bid to address Nigeria’s over-dependence on other countries for military equipment and logistics, he has instructed the Defence Ministry to create “a modest military industrial complex for the local production of weapons to meet some of the requirements of the country’s armed forces.”
On his part, the ADB President, Dr. Adesina, who spoke on the theme: ‘Nigeria’s Economic Resurgence: Learning from the African Experience,’ expressed optimism that the GDP growth rate for the continent would recover to 3.4 per cent in 2021 and said Nigeria’s economic growth rate was projected to rebound to 2.4 per cent and could reach 2.9 per cent by 2022.
He, however, hinged the country’s recovery from the devastating effects of COVID 19 on the twin issues of vaccines and how the nation tackles debt concerns. He, therefore, implored the Nigerian government to build world-class local pharmaceutical industries, able to effectively tackle the production of therapeutic drugs and vaccines.
“Nigeria must decisively tackle its debt challenges. The issue is not about debt-to-GDP ratio, as Nigeria’s debt-to-GDP ratio at 35 per cent is still moderate. The big issue is, how to service the debt and what that means for resources for domestic investments needed to spur faster economic growth.
“The debt service to revenue ratio of Nigeria is high at 73 percent. Things will improve as oil prices recover, but the situation has revealed the vulnerability of Nigeria’s economy. To have economic resurgence, we need to fix the structure of the economy and address some fundamentals,” Adesina urged.
The SGF, Mustapha, said through the bilateral meetings and high-level engagements organised earlier in 2021, there was reliable evidence that MDAs had a better understanding and appreciation of how their ministerial mandates contributed directly to the priority areas and the possible impact of their activities on the lives of Nigerians.
The SGF said in Buhari’s second term from May 29, 2019, to August 31, 2021, FEC held 52 meetings and granted 579 approvals comprising 381 contracts, 110 policies and 88 briefs/notes.
Slide presentations showed the performance indexes of corresponding miniseries against the priority areas in the context of the deliverables set for 2023.
While some of the policy projects are up and running, there were some that were yet to kickstart or were not moving at expected speed due to specified conditions.
Also, the National Bureau of Statistics was urged to expand their scope to include key outcome metrics that measured the impact of the nine priority areas, just as ministries and their agencies were tasked to set up mini delivery units to improve systems and process of tracking and reporting on their deliverables.
Beyond, affording the opportunity to retrospect and introspect, the expectations are, perhaps, much higher with regards to actualising the programmes by the exit period of 2023.