Despite facing harsh criticisms in recent times, Godless Eduviere writes that the Muhammadu Buhari administration has several achievements to its credit, after one year
In democracies across the world, it is a tradition for elected officers to be evalu- ated and judged after 365 days, based on their performances, which is set against the promises they made during electioneering and public expectations. The government of President Muhammadu Buhari will not be an exception.
On May 29, 2015, Muhammadu Buhari became the 4th Executive President of Nigeria’s 4th Republic. It was a moment of hope for the millions who had voted out erstwhile Commander-in-Chief, Goodluck Jonathan for the inadequacy of his government to confront Nigeria’s most pressing challenges. But with great hope came great expectations, and many wondered whether Buhari, the General from Daura, would be able to turn around the nation’s fortunes. 365 days after, the jury is still out.
Recently, Buhari has come under harsh criticism for his failure to halt the fuel crisis that has plagued most parts of the country for months. And the renewed militancy threats in the Niger-Delta are setting another tragic momentum that might derail the country’s gains in the North-east, where territories formerly claimed by terrorist group, Boko Haram, has been reclaimed. But has Buhari’s 365 days been a failure? It might be wiser to measure his successes.
On the Economy, one of the three pillars on which Buhari campaigned, he has implemented the Treasury Single Account (TSA), which has provided greater visibility for government revenues and cash flows. Between June 2015 and April 2016, the Federal Government TSA collection clocked N3 trillion. To further instill fiscal discipline, President Buhari directed the closure of all multiple accounts in Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government, thereby plugging loopholes for leakages with new technology. The opaque accounting structure of the NNPC has also been reconstructed to be more transparent with the closure of more than 40 accounts. As a corporate entity, NNPC is now accountable and more transparent in operations, publishing its monthly financial reports.
“For a nimble, measurable and effective entity, the NNPC is undergoing restructur- ing,” Special Adviser to Buhari on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, says. “The restructuring of the NNPC leaves more room for competition, predictable revenue generation and compliance with global best practice of operations.”
Initially grounded before the inauguration, the Port Harcourt and Warri refineries are back in operation with 60 per cent capacity and producing seven million litres of PMS daily. The Kaduna refinery also resumed production at the end of the April, 2016. Buhari has also resolved the lingering shadowy oil swap deals that had cost the country billions of dollars and left it at the mercy of a few rich Nigerians.
To alleviate the suffering of Nigerians in September 2015, President Buhari directed the Central Bank of Nigeria to disburse N689.5 billion as bailout to 27 states of the federation to pay salaries. Equally, to stimulate the economy and reduce poverty, in April 2016, Buhari approved deferment in the payment of the bailout as states were still reeling under the burden of the fall in commodity prices.
Also, records of more than 34,000 ghost workers draining the nation’s resources were expunged from the Federal Civil Service, saving N2.29 billion monthly. And in 2015, Buhari ruled out the appointment of a gov- ernment delegation for pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. By this decision, the government saved about one million U.S dollars and N30m of local expenses.
On anti-corruption, another of his campaign pillars, Buhari has created a framework for prosecuting the war against corruption and institutionalise probity by setting upan Advisory Committee on War Against Corruption. On assumption of office, he had
cut down the number of ministries from 42 to 25, to reduce the cost of governance, and he directed that all top government officials prioritise on foreign travels and use only business class tickets, instead of the statutory first class tickets
“Right from the moment he won the Presidential Election in 2015, the impres- sion of the President as no nonsense and incorruptible leader sent a signal to looters of public funds, with many of them returning funds that had been stolen under previous administration,” Mr. Adesina says.
“The anti-corruption battle is gaining ground with several high profile cases already in the courts. The administration is being guided by the rule of law in the prosecution of corruption cases.”
Buhari has enlisted the support of mul- tilateral institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), security agencies, Western countries and other friendly nations to source, locate and repatriate stolen assets. At a London summit on anti-corruption, Buhari announced that Nigeria will begin the full implementation of the principles of the OPEN contracting data standards.
In the first quarter of 2016, Buhari has embarked on trips to the Middle East to sensitise the governments on the need to
repatriate stolen assets and hand over the looters for trial in Nigeria. In January, Nigeria and United Arab Emirate signed Judicial Agreements on Extradition, Transfer of Sentenced Persons, Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters.
In March 2016, the Federal Government and the Swiss Government signed a Letter of Intent on the Restitution of Illegally-Acquired Assets forfeited in Switzerland. Under the agreement, Switzerland will repatriate $ 321 million USD illicitly acquired by the Gen. Sani Abacha family.
Also in March 2016, the Presidential Com- mittee set up to probe contracts awarded by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) from 2011 to 2015 announced the recovery of over N7 billion from indicted companies and individuals.
On security, the third tripod of Buhari’s campaign, the relocation of the Nigerian Military Command Centre to Maiduguri, since May 2015, has contributed to the success in the fight against insurgency in the North Eastern part of the country. As at February 2016, the total number of persons rescued by the Nigerian troops during the ongoing operations in the North East came to 11,595.
Since December 2015, the well-motivated and rejuvenated Nigerian Military have regained all Nigerian territories previously under Boko Haram control. Nigeria has provided $21million USD to the Task Force since June 2015 and is committed to an additional $79 million USD, bringing the total of Nigeria’s commitment to the Task Force to 100 million USD.
There has also been cohesive international support in the fight against terrorism and assistance to victims and communities affected by terrorism, following Buhari’s meeting with G7 leaders and other world powers.
In May 2016, Nigeria hosted a Regional Security Summit to boost military operations against Boko Haram and forge a global sup- port for the rehabilitation of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and rebuilding of the North-east. In June 2015, the United States announced a 5-million-dollar support for the fight against the terrorists in the sub-region. In April 2016, during the visit to Ms. Samantha Power, the U.S Ambassador to the UN to Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad, the U.S Government further announced an additional $40 million USD for humanitarian assistance in the sub-region
The recruitment of additional 10,000 persons into the Nigeria Police Force is ongoing. The recruitment will address the manpower gap which currently exists in the Nigeria Police
On Job Creation, Buhari ordered the release of 10,000 tons of grains from the National Strategic Grains Reserve in April 2016, to cushion the effects of rising food prices and directed the Ministry of Agriculture to provide assistance to able-bodies men and women in IDP camps to return to farming.
“To further demonstrate his penchant for fairness and justice, the President directed the CBN to clear all the outstanding allow- ances of former militants studying in various institutions across the world,” Buhari’s media chief, Adesina says.
Buhari also salvaged the Amnesty Pro- gramme from near collapse by changing the leadership, and giving it a new vision of catering for the weak, the poor and the vulnerable, instead of enriching a few. “The move has been well received by the people in the Niger-Delta,” Adesina notes.
To his credit, Buhari has also ordered a fast-track of the Ogoni clean-up, acting on a United Nations Environmental Project Report that had been long delayed by previous administrations.
Adesina said other sectors touched by Buhari’s administration include in health, solid minerals, power, education, infrastructural development and transportation, environment, sport, national image and many others.