Five years into his presidency, Chiemelie Ezeobi reviews the scorecard of President Muhammadu Buhari in agriculture, economy, infrastructure, security, health, science, sports and education, among others
Upon assumption of office on May 29, 2015 after a keenly contested election, President Muhammadu Buhari, pledged to tackle insecurity, corruption and unemployment headlong, as well as ensure economic stability and infrastructural renewal across board.
Given the inherent challenges in governing a nation like Nigeria, many of the president’s supporters have scored him high in different areas like road construction, agriculture, health, security and otherwise.
This position was further strengthened by the fact sheet made available by the presidency, through the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, detailing some accomplishments of this administration in the past five years in different areas like infrastructure, security, power, agriculture, education, healthcare, and job creation, among others.
The document also lists the achievements and efforts of the government in other areas like education, healthcare, sports, science and technology, oil and gas, anti-corruption and transparency, support for the creative industry, and many more.
With the continuous crashing of crude prices, many countries are focusing on agriculture as their mainstay. Nigeria is not different having diversified into agriculture. In the past five years, this sector has received tremendous attention from the government.
Recall that the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was launched by the president on November 17, 2015 and under the programme, more than N200 billion in funding has been provided by the CBN to over 1.5 million small holder farmers in 16 different commodities.
Aside the provision of funds for farmers of rice, wheat, maize, cotton, cassava, poultry, soy beans, groundnut and fish, over 1.4 million hectares of farmland have been cultivated and production of rice has doubled between 2015 and 2019, even as more than 10 new rice mills were established in the country.
Through the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative launched in January 2017, as a government-to-government agreement with the Kingdom of Morocco, more than a million metric tons of fertilisers have been produced since 2017, while 22 blending plants have been resuscitated. According to the fact sheet, with the above development, the nation now makes subsidy savings of N50 billion annually, with price per bag reducing from between N9, 000 and N11, 000 to N5, 500.
Whether on the roads, health wise or structurally, infrastructure is another area that has been scored high for the past five years of this administration. From the rails to roads and the big fish, the residential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF).
About the rails, the Lagos-Ibadan Rail Project which was started in 2017 is due for completion this year, while the Abuja Metro Rail and the Abuja-Kaduna Rail, as well as the 327 kilometre Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri Rail, started in 1987, all inherited from past administrations, have been completed.
The number of light rail networks have been completed, while new airport terminals and runways are either being done or have been completed. Among these are Abuja Light Rail system which connects the city centre with the airport, and the Abuja-Kaduna Railway Line. The new Abuja and Port Harcourt International Airport Terminals have also been completed, while the new Lagos and Kano International Airport Terminals are scheduled for completion this year.
This administration also completed the reconstruction of the Abuja Airport runway while the reconstruction of the Enugu International Airport Runway will be fully achieved before 2020 runs out.
With the Sukuk Bonds, the presidency said it is working on about 25 important road projects scattered around the country.
For this administration, the launch of the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF), which started with a seed funding of US$650 million, and is being used to fund the Second Niger Bridge, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Expressway, among others, was another plus.
Not neglecting the water sector, several water supply projects, including dam and irrigation projects have been completed in places like Bayelsa, Katsina, Edo, Taraba, Sokoto, Delta and Plateau States.
Health infrastructural-wise, projects instituted include the world-class Cancer Treatment Centre at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) which cost $11 million, and two Diagnostic Centres at the Aminu Kano University Teaching Hospital and the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia respectively.
As one of the key drivers of this administration, the economy has not been left hanging. In this regard, this administration said it launched a series of interventions in terms of funding and capacity development initiatives to support micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
The new Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN), with its initial funding of $1.3 billion (N396.5 billion), has been providing medium and long-term loans to MSMEs. Since 2017, the bank has disbursed a total of N100 billion through its 27 Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs), with more than 100,000 enterprises benefitting.
The Bank of Industry has also disbursed more than N400 billion in loans to large, medium, small and micro enterprises since 2016, while it established a N5 Billion Fund for Artisanal Miners. It also instituted a $20 million Fund to support young technology entrepreneurs.
In August 2016, Buhari established the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council. Along with the Enabling Business Environment Secretariat (EBES), they have helped in moving the country 39 places up on the World Banks Ease of Doing Business rankings since 2016. And in the last three years, Nigeria has twice been adjudged one of the 10 most improved economies.
Besides, some companies in E-commerce, Software Development, Animation, Music, Film and TV have been granted a tax holiday of between three and five years. Also, with Buhari assenting to the Finance Bill 2019, the Finance Act 2019 was the first time Nigeria would be accompanying the passage of a Budget with complementary fiscal and business environment reforms legislation.
Also, the 2020 Budget became the first time that the Federal Budget would be running a January-December cycle in 12 years. There are also a number of other initiatives, including the implementation of functioning Visa-on-Arrival system for business visitors and nationals of the African Union (AU).
Also, the president has issued a number of landmark Executive Orders including the Executive Order (001) on Improving Efficiency in the Business Environment; Executive Order (002) on Promoting Local Procurement by Government Agencies; Executive Order (005) on Planning and Execution of Projects, Promotion of Nigerian Content in Contracts and Science, Engineering and Technology; Executive Order (008) on the Voluntary Offshore Assets Regularization Scheme (VOARS); Executive Order (007) on Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme and Executive Order (010) on Implementing Financial Autonomy of State Legislature and State Judiciary.
The aspect of pension is one area past governments, both federal and state, have been scored low. According to the fact sheet, in January 2019, Buhari launched Nigerias Micro Pension Scheme. This allows self-employed persons and persons working in organisations with less than three employees to save for the provision of pension at retirement or incapacitation.
Some other initiatives of the administration, according to the factsheet, include the N54 billion released to settle outstanding 33 per cent pension arrears; placement of Delta Steel Companys 3,542 pensioners on payroll after a 13-year wait and NITELs 9,216 pensioners placed on payroll, after more than a decade of neglect.
In October 2017, 174 Biafran police officers dismissed by the Federal Government after the civil war but pardoned by President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2000 were paid N571.56 million by the Buhari government. Former staff of the defunct Nigeria Airways also got N24 billion in September 2018.
The Buhari Administration said it has expended more than N2 trillion in bailout packages to the different state governments for the payment of salaries and pensions, especially between 2015 and 2018. Such support, it was learnt, were through budget support facility (totalling N614 billion extended to different state), Paris Club refunds of $5.4 billion and infrastructure loans, among others.
With challenges of insecurity ranging from banditry to terrorism, cattle rustlers, kidnappers, piracy, and militancy, Nigeria has not had it easy.
On this, the presidency said the Buhari administration has invested heavily in arms and weapons through government to government military deals with the United States, Russian, Chinese and Pakistani governments. In April, the first batch of 17 military vehicles (VT-4 main battle tanks, ST-1 wheeled tank destroyers, self-propelled howitzers, among others) came in from China to boost the fight against Boko Haram.
Since Buhari took over, the Nigerian Air Force has acquired 22 brand new aircraft, even as another 16 are being expected, including 12 Super Tucanos from the United States government next year.
It was gathered that the Nigerian Navy also deployed 12 naval security stations along the nations coastline under its Choke Point Regime and Control operations and have acquired several platforms and patrol crafts.
The presidency said between 2015 and last month, the Nigerian Navy conducted 34 operations that have substantially boosted security in the countrys waters.
The epileptic power supply has been the bane of Nigeria and have outlived successive governments.
But the Buhari administration maintained that the nation is experiencing a steady rebirth in the sector.
According to them, through the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), the FG’s Energising Economies Programme, a public-private partnership, has been able to deliver stable power supply to markets and economic clusters across the country.
Also, several rural communities in many parts of the country now have access to clean and safe electricity, while some university campuses have also been supplied with solar power by the REA.
This is just as the FG said it launched a N1.3 trillion Payment Assurance Programme designed to resolve the liquidity challenges in the power sector by guaranteeing payments to generating companies and gas suppliers.
It said there are also more than 90 transmission projects completed or ongoing since 2016, which they noted that with its arrangement with Siemens in Germany, Nigerians would soon start enjoying a more stable power supply.
Social Intervention Scheme
Also in the fact sheet was the various social intervention schemes of the Buhari administration.
The Social Investment Scheme (SIP), for instance, is described as the largest and most ambitious social safety net programme in Nigerias history. Half a million people are said to be benefitting from the N-Power programme, receiving N30,000 in monthly stipends.
There are the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP); Home Grown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP) where nearly 10 million primary school pupils in 54, 952 public primary schools in 35 states are being fed daily, and the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) under which more than three million poor and vulnerable households have been registered on the National Social Register.
More than one million of these families are currently benefiting from the CCT Scheme, which pays N5, 000 to each household monthly, the presidency said in the factsheet.
Just as the scorecard highlighted the achievements of this administration in the past five years, it is imperative to note that there are areas Nigerians would certainly want the presidency to do better before this administration winds up in three years time.