Buhari’s Footprints in the Economy

Buhari’s Footprints in the Economy

Festus Akanbi and Emmanuel Addeh examine key areas of intervention of the outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari administration in critical sectors of the economy in the last year eight years

Finally, the curtain falls on President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration tomorrow, Monday, May 29, 2023, when the baton of leadership is to be officially handed over to the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, amidst pomp and ceremony at the Eagles Square Abuja. 

As expected, the past two weeks have witnessed a clinical examination of the performance of the outgoing administration which came into power, first in 2015 before it secured the mandate for a second term in office in 2019.

However, in what observers described as a last-minute effort to set the record straight, the presidency through the Presidential Communications Team (PCT) last week released a list of President Buhari’s major achievements in key sectors, including security and justice, the economy, power, housing, infrastructure, among others.

Investments in Rail Transportation

Top on the list are the rail projects including the 156-kilometre Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Rail completed and commissioned, within a period of four years (2017 to 2021). Others include the 8.72-kilometer extension to Lagos-Ibadan Rail Line, to Lagos Port Complex and which was completed in 2021.

Also on the list are the 186-kilometre Abuja-Kaduna Standard Gauge Rail Line, completed and commissioned in 2016, and the – 327-kilometre Itakpe-Warri Standard Gauge Rail completed and commissioned in 2020, 33 years after construction began.

The administration also completed the Abuja Light Rail in 2018 while construction has commenced on Kaduna-Kano Standard Gauge Rail Line, following the ground-breaking by President Buhari in July 2021.

The rail project has turned out to be a huge employment generator as more than 11,000 new jobs were said to have been created from the ongoing rail modernisation projects in the country.

Milestones in Road Construction

The Buhari administration indeed recorded some milestones in the area of road construction and rehabilitation in its eight-year tenure.

The road projects were anchored by the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF), which invested over a billion dollars in three flagship projects: The Lagos-Ibadan Expressway (for completion in May 2023), Second Niger Bridge (which was commissioned last Tuesday) and the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Expressway (two of three sections for completion in May 2023).

One novel idea by the Buhari administration was the Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme, which was issued by President Buhari on January 25, 2019, through Executive Order #7 of 2019. It allows companies that are willing and able to spend their funds on constructing critical roads, to recover their construction costs by paying reduced taxes, over a while, and in a transparent manner.

So far, about three trillion naira has been mobilised or committed through Executive Order 7, for road projects across all six geopolitical zones of the country, by companies like Dangote Group, MTN, BUA, NLNG, and NNPC Limited.

Another initiative was the Highway Development and Management Initiative (HDMI), a public-private partnership programme to mobilise, in its first phase, over a trillion Naira in private investment into the development and maintenance of 12 roads, amounting to 1,963km in length.

Under President Buhari, more than N600 billion worth of Sukuk Bonds were raised since 2017 for more than 40 critical road projects across all six geopolitical zones, saying between November 25 and December 13, 2021.

Air and Seaports

Among the achievements of the Buhari administration was the completion of new terminals for international airports in Lagos, Abuja, Kano, and Port Harcourt. This included the completion of new runways for the Abuja and Enugu International Airports. The Abuja International Airport Runway was reconstructed in 2017 for the first time since the airport was built in the early 1980s. 

In 2019 President Buhari approved a special fund of N10 billion for the reconstruction of the Enugu Airport Runway; it was completed and reopened in August 2020). 

It was gathered that President Buhari approved funds for the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) / Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) to build a world-class Flight Safety Laboratory (FSL) in Abuja, and train personnel to run it. Now Nigeria no longer has to send aircraft Cockpit Voice Recorders and Flight Data Recorders (Black Box) abroad for downloading and analysis.

The list of the achievements also includes the cabinet’s approval for the award of a 30-year Concession of Onitsha River Port, under a Rehabilitate, Operate, and Transfer (ROT) arrangement in February 2022.

Port Activities

It is also on record that it was under the regime of President Buhari that the Lekki Deep Sea Port – the first new Sea Port in Nigeria in decades, was completed in Q4, 2022, and inaugurated by the President in January 2023. On Thursday, 6th April 2023, the first commercial vessel berthed at the new Deep-Sea Port, formally marking the start of commercial operations at the port.

Other port activities included the ground-breaking for Bonny Deep Sea Port in March 2021); the inauguration of Kaduna Inland Dry Port in 2018; the construction of Kano and Katsina Inland Dry Ports is ongoing, for completion in 2022, and the inauguration of the ‘Deep Blue Maritime Security Project, completed in 2021. The project includes 17 special mission vessels, two special mission aircraft, and three helicopters.

It was also to the credit of President Buhari that a new Cabotage Compliance Strategy was launched in 2019, by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), to enforce the implementation of the Cabotage Act.

Huge Investment in Power Sector

One of the promises of the administration was to effect an incremental 4,000MW+ of power-generating assets during the life of the Buhari administration, including the Zungeru Hydro, Kashimbila Hydro, Afam III Fast Power, Kudenda Kaduna Power Plant, the Okpai Phase 2 Plant, the Dangote Refinery Power Plant, and others.

It also embarked on the project of energising education programme by taking clean and reliable energy (Solar and Gas) to federal universities and teaching hospitals across the country. Four universities were already completed and commissioned: BUK (Kano), FUNAI (Ebonyi), ATBU (Bauchi), and FUPRE (Delta); others are ongoing.

The second dimension involves energising economic programme by taking clean and reliable energy (solar and gas) to markets across the country.

Completed projects include Sabon-Gari Market in Kano, Ariaria Market in Aba, and Sura Shopping Complex in Lagos.

Also on the scorecards was the National Mass Metering Programme which entails a nationwide rollout of electricity meters to all on-grid consumers, launched in August 2020. The Central Bank of Nigeria is providing 200 billion.

It would be recalled that the contract for the pre-engineering phase of the Presidential Power Initiative (PPI) was signed in February 2021, following the 2020 approval for the payment of FGN’s counterpart funding for that phase, while the first set of equipment contract awards was made in December 2021, comprising 10 Mobitra Mega Transformers and 10 Substations.

There are, as of Q1, 2022, 135 ongoing projects for transmission lines, substations, and other associated grid infrastructure. TCN has completed 30 key substation projects and 12 important transmission lines.

Some of the critical grid interventions across the NESI include the resuscitation of the second Egbin-Ajah Transmission Line and the recently commissioned NDPHC Lafia 2X150 MVA & 2X60 /132/33/330 KV Transmission Substation (under NIPP). Other ongoing interventions include 330kV Quad Lines in Alaoji to Onitsha, Delta Power Station to Benin as well as the Kano to Katsina 330kV line (respectively).

Housing Projects

President Buhari’s presence was felt in the housing sector as well. For instance, the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, has completed or is completing housing projects in 34 states of Nigeria, under the National Housing Programme, with the support of the state governors who provided the land. So far more than 5,000 houses are at various stages of completion, and thousands more are planned.

Water Resources

It is also to the credit of the Buhari administration that a Nigeria Water Sector Roadmap (Immediate and long-term strategies for the sater Sector), 2016-2030 has been developed.

Upon assumption of office, the administration inherited dozens of projects in the water sector; many of which had been abandoned before 2015. A technical audit in 2016 identified 116 inherited projects for priority completion: 37 dams and reservoirs, 41 water supply projects, and 38 irrigation and drainage projects.

Since 2016, 12 dam projects have been completed by the Buhari Administration – 10 completed construction projects and two rehabilitations – as follows: Kashimbila

Multipurpose Dam, Taraba; Ogwashi-Uku Multipurpose Dam, Delta; Adada Dam, Enugu; Sulma Earth Dam, Katsina; Gimi Earth Dam, Kaduna; Amla-Otukpo Dam, Benue; Amauzari Earth Dam, Imo; Ibiono-Ibom Earth Dam, Akwa Ibom; Gadau/Lafia Zigau Dam, Bauchi; Alajue Small Earth Dam, Osun; Kampe Omi Dam, Kogi (Rehabilitation) and Kargo Dam, Kaduna (Rehabilitation).

Ease of Doing Business Reforms

In pursuant of the ease of doing business, President Buhari established the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) in July 2016, under the chairmanship of Vice President Osinbajo, to drive reforms to eliminate critical bottlenecks and bureaucratic constraints to doing business in Nigeria. For the first-ever, the Buhari administration instituted a coordinated effort in implementing reforms to improve the business environment.

In July 2017, the National Economic Council (NEC) unanimously approved the replication of PEBEC’s intervention structure at the subnational level implemented through the PEBEC-NEC Technical Working Group. This mandate was later articulated in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020 and subsequently retained in the National Development Plan (NDP) 2021- 2025.

The Enabling Business Environment Secretariat (EBES) is the operational unit of the PEBEC and collaborates with Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), the private sector, and other stakeholders at national and subnational levels to articulate and implement reforms.

PEBEC has, working with the public and private sectors, recorded notable achievements, including:

Subsequently, Nigeria Moved 39 places up the World Bank Doing Business ranking from 170 to 131.

During the period under review, Nigeria was twice recognised as top 10 most improved economies by the World Bank Doing Business Report.

Also, more than 160 individual reforms were implemented/achieved since 2016 and this led to a 360 per cent reduction in time for filing Corporate Income Taxes, from 14 days to 72 hours, a 60 per cent reduction in time to register property in Lagos and Kan, a 51 per cent reduction in time to obtain development permits in Lagos from 61 to 30 days.

 Digital Economy 

Buhari administration also witnessed record-setting contributions to GDP. In the first quarter of 2020, ICT singlehandedly (without digital services) contributed 14.07per cent of Nigeria’s GDP, topping this in the second quarter of 2021, with a 17.92 per cent contribution to GDP and again topping this in the second quarter of 2022 with 18.44per cent.

The administration also extended the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) ‘Pioneer Status’ to e-Commerce and software development companies.

The regime’s achievements also included the launch of a new national 5G policy in 2021 and the successful licensing of two private companies to roll out 5G nationally.

Nigeria’s 5G rollout commenced in August 2022. The 5G spectrum auction has generated $547 million in license fees.

Energy Sector: PIA as a Game Changer

Buhari’s assent to the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) on August 16, 2021, was a game changer as it broke a two-decade-old jinx and set the stage for the unprecedented transformation of Nigeria’s oil and gas sector.

Under the new Act, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC), has now become a limited liability company, while a number of the agencies under the petroleum ministry have been restructured.

Again, the signing ceremony in May 2021 of the execution of Oil Mining Lease (OML) 118 Agreements between NNPC Limited and its Contractor Partners: Shell, Exxon Mobil, TOTAL, and NAOC was a major feat.

These agreements no doubt settled the long-standing disputes that stalled NNPC’s development of deepwater assets as it will unlock more than $10 billion of new deep-water investment in Nigeria.

Under the Buhari-led administration, Nigeria’s oil and gas industry also recorded a major feat with the Final Investment Decision (FID) in January 2021 on 10,000 tonnes per day methanol plant and 500 million standard cubic feet of gas per day gas processing plant, being promoted by the NNPC Limited and the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) in partnership with the private sector. The plant is being constructed in Odeama, Brass, Bayelsa State.

As part of its oil sector recovery agenda, the outgoing administration embarked on the comprehensive rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Refinery (PHRC).

Buhari also supported the establishment of modular refineries across the Niger Delta.

Making Agriculture a Priority

In agriculture, the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) of the Central Bank of Nigeria, launched on November 17, 2015, has disbursed more than N800 billion to more than four million smallholder farmers of 23 different commodities (including rice, wheat, maize, cotton, cassava, poultry, soybeans, groundnut, fish), cultivating over five million hectares of farmland.

Another initiative was the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative (PFI) launched as a government-to-government partnership between the Nigerian and Moroccan Governments, in December 2016 and it has produced 30 million 50kg bags of NPK 20:10:10 equivalent in 2020, bringing total production since inception to over 60 million 50kg bags equivalent; and some participating blending plants.

The administration also came up with the Special-Agro Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) Programme which is a half-a-billion-dollar partnership between the FGN, AfDB Group, IsDB, and IFAD. Under the SAPZ programme, Agro-processing centres will be established across the country.

Social Investment, Poverty Alleviation 

In 2016, President Buhari launched the National Social Investment Programme, currently the largest such programme in Africa and one of the largest in the world. The National Social Register (NSR) of poor and vulnerable Nigerians (NSR) now contains more than 50 million persons from more than 12 million poor and vulnerable households, identified across more than 150,000 communities in the 36 states of the country and the FCT.

From this number, close to two million poor and vulnerable Nigerian households are currently benefiting from the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program, which pays a bimonthly stipend of N10,000 per household. – In addition, about 355,000 vulnerable persons have received a special one-off grant of N20,000 each in the 36 states and the FCT.

Fiscal Trade, Monetary, and Investments Reforms

The Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) has seen total additional inflows from the government of around US$2 billion under the Buhari Administration – since the original US$1 billion which the Fund kicked off in 2012.

The Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC) 2017 completed a long-overdue revision of the list of activities that can benefit from Nigeria’s Pioneer Status Incentive, which grants beneficiary companies a three to five-year tax holiday.

The administration will also be remembered for the restoration of the Federal Budget to the January-December cycle, with the 2020 Budget, for the first time in 12 years.

It also introduced the annual Finance (Reform) Bills to accompany the annual Federal Appropriation Bill.

Support to States

The Buhari administration has extended more than N2 trillion in bailout packages to state governments, to enable them to meet their salary and pension obligations, especially in the face of dwindling oil revenues in the first three years of the administration. The support has come in the form of the Budget Support Facility (total of N614 billion) extended to the states.

Paris Club Refunds ($5.4 billion). It also made more than N700 billion in refunds for federal road projects embarked upon by state governments.

Economic analysts said the onus lies with the Tinubu administration to take the gauntlet and build on the achievements of the Buhari administration.

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