Dalung: Little Gain, More Controversy for Sports
Duro Ikhazuagbe assesses Sports Development Minister, Solomon Dalung’s tenure and concludes that it has been of little gain
That Solomon Dalung remains in office as Minister of Youth and Sports Development till these dying hours of the first tenure of the Muhammadu Buhari administration remains a mystery.
Nigeria’s sports have never had it so bad in terms of governance like we witnessed it under Dalung: a novice in the sector that refused to learn the ropes in order to be fully abreast of what it takes to run the sector.
From one controversy to another, the man from Langtang in Plateau State, simply refused to tow the line of his predecessor in office, Bolaji Abdullahi, who took his time to study how to manage the sector. Instead, the Tarok man resorted to use of tactics never known to solving sports problems. With barely days to ending his reign in that office, Dalung is leaving sports worse off than he met it. Some of the crises he created in some of the national sports federation are festering and going to outlive his tenure.
Dalung who was part of the 11-man transition committee headed by Ahmed Mohammed Joda to midwife the incoming cabinet, was surprisingly handed the Youth and Sports Development Ministry in October 2015 by President Buhari. A man whose only previous association with the ministry was being a part of Nigeria’s delegation to Mali to cheer the Super Eagles at the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations in Bamako suddenly became the Games Master General of the country.
Interestingly, of all the problems in Nigerian sports, what first caught the fancy of Dalung was the power tussle between his kinsman, Christopher Giwa and Amaju Melvin Pinnick. He went neck deep involved in trying to ‘settle’ the leadership tussle in the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) board despite world football governing body FIFA recognising the September 30 elections in Warri that ushered Pinnick into office. Even as a lawyer, Dalung refused to accept that the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in Switzerland (the supreme court of sports affairs, globally) had previously thrown out Giwa’s appeal. Dalung instead stood on the side of Giwa, claiming he had a Supreme Court judgment pronouncing him the duly elected president of the NFF board. He insisted that as a lawyer who swore to uphold the constitution, CAS ruling (in Switzerland) cannot be superior to Nigerian laws. The crisis reached a boiling point when policemen were deployed to seal the NFF headquarters in Wuse Zone 6 Area of Abuja in order to prevent the breakdown of law and order at the Glass House. The matter dragged on till the end of the tenure of that board late last year before another election gave Pinnick a second term mandate. In between, it took the intervention of the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (Mr. President was on vacation at the time) for Nigeria to escape a FIFA ban that would have prevented the country from participating at the last World Cup in Russia and other sundry competitions our national teams participated in under the Dalung watch. Rather than being remorseful for the role he played in the crisis, the Plateau man went on the comical lane of inferring that there was no point Super Eagles going to Russia for the World Cup as the team was not capable of winning the trophy.
Of course the rot in Nigerian sport had started festering before Dalung took charge, it is on record that all the moves made by his predecessor to turn around Nigeria’s fortunes in global sports fiestas were jettisoned. Did we fare better at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil after returning from London 2012 with no medal? The matter is better left to sports historians to determine the place of Dalung in Nigeria’s sport chronicle as the longest serving sports minister to date. The lone bronze won by the John Mikel Obi-inspired Under-23 Dream Team IV was the result of the ‘never say die’ Nigerian spirit of the boys under Samson Siasia’s watch. All that transpired in Atlanta when the team went on training tour but was abandoned by Dalung’s ministry remains very fresh in the minds of football followers in the land and beyond. The shame and angst caused by the total neglect of the team despite the fact that there was a vote for Team Nigeria’s training and participation at Rio 2016 is also a sore point of Dalung’s tenure.
Anyone who listened to Dalung saying that training was not necessary for Team Nigeria to do well at competitions will not be astounded by his cluelessness as to how the system works.
“The disabled athletes have shown that all you need is a winning mentality and not too much preparation. They trained under the same condition with their able bodied counterparts but they are winning medals now.” This statement was the height of the cluelessness of the man saddled with running the country’s sports.
Twice, Super Falcons won the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations without any serious input from his office. The first time the girls had to resort to embarrassing protest to draw attention to their plight.
Dalung, a self-acclaimed expert in conflict resolution, succeeded largely in creating conflicts in the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF), Nigeria Gymnastic Federation, the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), the Nigeria Rugby Football Federation (NRFF) and of course, the conflagration that enveloped the National Youth Council (NYC) is well documented.
It is thus on record that it is during the tenure of the conflict resolution expert that sports federations and other departments under his ministry have parallel leaderships. Perhaps, if reason did not prevail over sentiment to allow world basketball body, FIBA to intervene in the crisis in Nigeria basketball and allow our teams to continue to participate in their competitions, Dalung will not have the AFROBASKET male and female crowns he’s flaunting as part of his achievements today.
Enelamah: In Pursuit of Friendly Investment Climate, Ease of Doing Business
Obinna Chima and James Emejo examine the efforts of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment,
The concerted efforts at improving the ease of doing business in almost four years resulted to improvement in Nigeria’s business regulatory environment as the country rose 24 places from 169 to 145 in the World Bank’s 2018 Ease of Doing Business Index.
Indeed, the mandate of the Ministry includes the creation of an enabling business environment for businesses to thrive; implement the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP); attracting long-term local and foreign investment; encourage expansion of MSMEs and promote global and regional value chains that enhance trade.
That was why immediately after his appointment, the minister established the Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), which is committed to enthroning a more conducive and attractive business environment in Nigeria. Efforts by PEBEC have since made it somewhat easier to register businesses at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and have led to the automation of the way businesses pay their taxes.
The Council recently launched the REPORTGOV.NG App, an official public service feedback and complaints platform to support business climate reforms implemented by the Council since 2016. The app is to facilitate the escalation and resolution of issues encountered with Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) towards ensuring a more business-friendly environment. PEBEC has also commenced the fourth 60-day National Action Plan (NAP 4.0) on Ease of Doing Business, aimed at addressing challenges encountered by SMEs and businesses in areas such as starting a business; access to credit; paying taxes; enforcing contracts or trading within and across borders; amongst others, by eliminating critical bottlenecks and constraints.
In line with the commitment towards improving the business environment, under Enelamah, the Presidency passed the Executive Order 001 on transparency and improving the Ease of Doing Business in the country. The Executive Order 001 contains far-reaching measures with direct benefits for Nigerian businesses.
In addition, the ministry in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria and the International Finance Corporation, an arm of the World Bank Group, facilitated the passage of the Movable Assets Act, which is expected to make it easier for operators of micro, small and medium scale enterprises to obtain credit.
The Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), the Bank of Industry (BoI) and the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC), which are some of the agencies under the ministry have been alive to their responsibilities. For instance, the FRC, under the supervision of Enelamah has introduced the National Code of Corporate Governance, which is expected to drive business accountability and prosperity in the country.
Nevertheless, analysts believe that the inability of the ministry under Enelamah to influence Nigeria’s signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) agreement is one of the downsides of the ministry.
He ran into a pall of controversy over the establishment of a company, Special Economic Zone Company, with the Senate, which refused to approve a N42 billion provision in the 2019 budget that was meant for the establishment of the company. The Senate had declined approval on the ground that the company was a private entity.
Similarly, it was expected that Enelamah as the Minister of Investment would in the last four years have prevailed on the National Assembly to repeal the country’s obnoxious Land Use Act, which is not investor friendly. In fact, PwC, one of the leading professional services firms in Nigeria had pointed out that reforming Nigeria’s Land Use Act would liberate hundreds of billions of dollars of dead capital (potential but suppressed financial values in land and property-related transactions) that could lift off the Nigerian economy.
Fashola: Constrained by Paucity of Funds, Inherited Power Policies
Fashola is tackling infrastructural challenges but constrained by paucity of funds, says Tokunbo Adedoja
One of the cabinet appointments that attracted generous media reviews when President Muhammadu Buhari named his team in 2015 was that of Ministry of Power, Works and Housing. There were several reasons for this. Chief among them was the fact that the ministry had direct impact on job creation, the quality of lives of the people, the pace of development of the nation, the attraction of foreign investors, and how well the government would be rated. Prior to the advent of the Buhari administration, Power, Works and Housing were separate ministries manned by different ministers. It was surprising to many that these three critical sectors were merged. Not even the pedigree of the minister, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, a former governor of Lagos State who was adjudged to have performed well in office as governor, could allay analysts’ pessimism.
A clear indication of the importance of the ministry was the fact that it was the only ministry with a minister and two ministers of state until recently. The two ministers of state appointed for the ministry were Mr. Musthapha Baba Shehuri and Mr. Suleiman Hassan, who moved to the Environment Ministry.
Fashola, who was not oblivious of the great expectations of Nigerians and the fact that how the Buhari administration will be rated rests substantially on the record of his ministry, set out his agenda barely a month after he assumed office. He promised to address the funding gap that had made the ministry less effective, to increase in the budget for Power, which was N5 billion in 2015 and Works, which was N19 billion, and also to develop a model National Housing programme.
When the current administration came on board in 2015, several federal roads were in bad shape while many key road projects had been abandoned by contractors due to poor funding. Also, Power generation was 4,000 MW, transmission capacity 5,000 MW, and distribution capacity 2,690 MW. These were grossly inadequate for a population of close to 200 million and the largest economy in Africa. There was also a huge housing deficit.
The ministry has however completed several road projects while many others are ongoing, despite the paucity of funds. In addition to this, the federal executive council has just approved the award of contracts worth N169.74 billion for the construction and rehabilitation of 10 roads across the country. Apart from constructing or awarding contracts for new bridges such as the 2nd Niger Bridge, Bodo-Bonny Bridge and Loko-Oweto Bridge, the ministry has also embarked on maintenance work on bridges neglected by past governments. These include the 3rd Mainland Bridge, Isaac Boro Bridge, Tamburawa Bridge, Eko Bridge and the old Niger Bridge. In addition to working on public highways, the ministry has embarked on building and rehabilitating internal roads in federal universities and tertiary institutions, which were not focal points of the ministry for so long.
To ensure that Nigeria imbibes maintenance culture, the ministry is also embarking on the implementation of the National Infrastructure Maintenance Programme recently approved by federal executive council, hoping that it would be a double-edged sword to achieve durability of national assets and job creation for masons, carpenters, plumbers, welders, painters and other artisans that will be engaged for maintenance.
In the area of power, generation has increased from 4,000MW to 7,000MW; transmission from 5,000MW to 7,000MW and distribution from 2,690MW to 5,222MW. In its search for solution to the nation’s energy problem, the ministry has shifted Nigeria’s focus on power from the grid for the past six decades to the possibilities that abound in the Off-grid sector. Seven universities as well as two teaching hospitals are currently having their own independent power solution deployed at various states. Also, some markets in Lagos, Kano, Aba, Ondo, Ibadan now have their own steady supply of power, while six hydro dams were recently concessioned to supply power to rural, farming and contiguous communities.
Approvals had also been given to install solar power systems in government offices. The scheme, which takes off from the ministry, has received the buy in of a disco, which has offered to buy some of the excess power for its consumers at night when the ministry’s offices are shut. Also, communities like Magboro and Ibafo in Ogun State that had never been connected now have access to power. In the past three years, the budget of Works sector has moved from a paltry N5 billion in 2015 to N394 billion in 2018.
So far, the ministry has issued 1,417 consents to land transactions and 2,400 certificates of occupancy to beneficiaries, some of whom had paid for their properties about two decades ago.
But the ministry has its own challenges, one of which is low budgetary allocation. Though, its budget has increased substantially, it is still grossly inadequate for a nation desirous of speedy infrastructure renewal. Achieving massive infrastructure renewal requires channeling adequate resources to building critical infrastructure and maintaining existing ones. There is also the challenge of the time frame for project conception, approval and execution, and the high turnover of critical personnel such as ministers, directors and permanent secretaries. Fashola, who is the 34th minister of works, recently lamented that there had been 34 minsters of works in Nigeria since 1952, making it an average of a minister every 1.9 years – a time frame he said was barely enough to design a road project. Insecurity is also a challenge. There is no gainsaying that no construction work can effectively be executed in areas bedevilled by insurgency and terrorism. There is also the challenge of acquiring land for building projects. Sometimes, negotiations with communities and private land owners drag on for several months, thereby delaying execution of critical projects.
In terms of policy formulation, many will agree that the Power, Works and Housing Ministry under Fashola has been up and doing. A good few will also agree that the ministry has taken bold steps in terms of project execution, but largely constrained by funds. On the impact the ministry has had on Nigerians, quite a few will agree that even though it has done well within a short period of time despite inadequate resources, it is still work in progress because power supply is still largely unstable, coupled with other unresolved challenges of estimated billing, inadequate prepaid meters and ageing infrastructure. In Works, while the ministry has embarked on several road projects across the country, including rehabilitation works, some of the strategically important road projects like the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Oyo-Ogbomoso Expressway, and the 2nd Niger Bridge have not been delivered almost four years since the present team came on board even though they remain priority projects. In the housing sector where Nigeria is believed to have a deficit of about 17 million units, several building projects are on going in 34 states, but they are yet to be fully completed and delivered to the end users (Nigerians).
Bwari: Taking Mines and Steel Development to Next Level
Right from when the former minister and current Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, was in-charge, the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has witnessed a steady rise in policy formulation and projects implementation.
First, under Dr. Fayemi, the ministry, for the first time, came up with a roadmap to comprehensively address the sector’s myriad of problems. The ministry had launched a N732 million Web Porter to help identify and access various mineral sites in the country and worked assiduously to ensure miner’s royalties rate was reduced to 3.5%.
It was able to secure a N5 billion counterparts fund for miners in the country; and organised series of workshops, in collaboration with foreign agencies, especially the World Bank (The mining mini-diver event) for stakeholders in the sector.
More especially, the current Minister, Alhaji Abubakar Bawa Bwari, began laying foundations for exploration of solid minerals across communities. He flagged-off the groundbreaking and foundation laying ceremony of the Lead & Zinc Processing Plant in Ebonyi State.
He also flagged-off the first gold refinery in Nigeria in Ogun State; bought a N360 Mining Drilling Rigs for the sector and commissioned first gold incubator faceting in Gwarinpa, Abuja, Nigeria.
The ministry under the leadership of Bwari responded appropriately to the earth tremor witnessed in the FCT and its environs by suspending all mining activities in and around areas that experienced minor earth tremor at Mpape, Abuja.
The ministry went further to procure and install an earthquake detecting device in major part of the nation’s capital to arrest recent earth tremor and further threat of earth tremor.
Over the past four years, the ministry in collaboration with various security agencies was able to arrest, prosecute and consequently, secured judgment against illegal miners in the country. The ministry had also been able to woo foreign investors to the sector. The minister was at recent third Sino-Nigeria Mining road show, during the 2018 China Congress and Expo in Tianjin, China, where he presented the various investment opportunities in the mining sector in Nigeria to the foreign communities.
The ministry also procured specialised vehicles for mining inspectorate at various mining states; organised the Nigerian Mining Week — its third edition. The ministry recently partnered some private entities to resuscitate the Ceramic sector. According to Bwari, “I believed that the rebirth of the ceramics industry is key to attaining economic opportunities and employment for Nigeria’s teeming youth.”
The ministry under Bwari’s leadership had commenced a nationwide integrated exploration project, where eight out of 44 companies that submitted bids for the process were successful.
The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development (MMSD) had also organised the second Metallurgical Industry Stakeholders Forum (MISF) for metal sector operators in the country, especially the South-South based; having done same in the Northern parts of the country.
Bwari also officially launched a new mining exploration site in Kuchiko camp in Suleja, Niger State. Economically, the Ministry has been able to contribute to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as released by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics. The Ministry also, has been able to secure the services of the Nigerian Police Force and the Nigerian Civil Defence Corp to curb the lingering illegal mining problem in the country.
The ministry, despite not able to resuscitate the Itakpe iron ore, Osara dolomite site, the Ajaokuta Steel Company, was able to secure judgment for the reclaiming of the steel company, which has pitched the government against some private sector.
Ogbeh: Positioning Nigeria as Main Rice Producer in Africa
Minister Audu Ogbeh has devoted more time in his Agriculture and Rural Development ministry, trying to position Nigeria as the number one rice producer in Africa, writes James Emejo
Spearheaded by Chief Audu Ogbeh and Senator Heineken Lokpobiri as Minister of State, the policy focus of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development since the inception of the present administration is to reposition the sector in line with the federal government’s diversification objectives; as well as position agriculture as a business, boost produce export, encourage mechanisation, food security, plant health among others.
Perhaps, one of the legacies the ministers will boast of leaving behind as they wind up on their first tenure, is their efforts toward the partial commercialisation and privatisation of the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) which had reached final stage. The shares of the bank will be sold to farmers and private sector investors.
Though the federal government is expected to still maintain shares in the bank, the ultimate objective is to raise between N250 billion to N400 billion for recapitalisation with farmers owning the controlling shares; as well as reduce the lending rate to agriculture to a maximum of five per cent.
Another achievement of the ministry is the revolution in local rice production in recent times, which was largely achieved through the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Anchor Borrower Programme (ABP), which many said had caused drastic reduction in rice importation by 90 per cent, boost local demand and consumption as well as conserved the country’s foreign exchange.
Other initiatives include fertilizer production, which has been indigenised-ending the scandal and colossal waste associated with the procurement and distribution.
Another laudable achievement of the ministry in the estimation of some insiders, had been in cotton production, re-launched with the adoption of the BT Cotton to increase yield per hectare from one metric ton to four tons—as one of the practical measures by the present administration to revive the textile industry.
The ministry will also share in the glory regarding import substitution. The CBN had stated that in the last three and half years, the country had cut food import by $21 billion, and increased agro export by 600 per cent.
Other programmes, which had received a boost during the tenure of the ministers include seedling where the country currently remains the largest seed producing country in the West African sub-region. The digitisation of the seed processing is a plus for the ministry.
Another area of interest had been in effective pest control which threatened food security recently. In partnership with the private sector, the ministry found a cure for the Fall Army Worm and the tuta absoluta using organic pesticides -which are now in demand across Africa. Importantly, the ministry had provided support and encouragement for indigenous scientists who have come up with breakthrough solutions which had been approved by development partners including the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
Commendable efforts have also been made by the ministry towards the repositioning of research and development institutes in the country. The Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN) is being remodeled after Embrapa of Brazil and the Indian Council in Agriculture. The essence is to enable it become a research organisation and not an administrative unit. In all of these, the youth and women are a major target of the research findings aimed at improving agricultural productivity and enhancing incomes in the agricultural sector.
The three Federal Universities of Agriculture in Makurdi, Abeokuta and Umudike have been relocated from the Federal Ministry of Education to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture. These universities and other institutes, within the sector are openly commanding increased funding for education, teaching, research and learning, under their domiciliation in agriculture. The backlog of outstanding salaries and allowances has reportedly been fully settled in these institutions. Arguably, the Home Grown School Feeding programme of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has been taunted to be among the achievements of the ministry.
The scheme has reportedly created a vast market for farm products across the country as about 9.5 million children are currently being fed; while the figure is projected to increase to 20 million soon.
The ministry has further made concerted efforts for the country to consolidate its position as the world’s largest producer of yam – which is presently being exported. Nigeria is now the number one producer of rice and maize in Africa, as well as the number two producer of sorghum, sesame seed and gum Arabic.