IN THE ARENA
Despite the nationwide insecurity and the global recession-induced economic challenges which are competing to eclipse the giant strides of the outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, Ejiofor Alike writes that in addition to the verifiable achievements in the areas of ensuring the country’s self-sufficiency in food production, building health facilities and development of infrastructure, among others, this outgoing administration empowered the Nigerian military more than any other previous government since 1999
Three major challenges – insecurity, corruption and economic issues – had confronted President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration on assumption of office in 2015.
As part of his campaign promises, President Buhari had promised to tackle these challenges, especially the menace of Boko Haram in the North-east, which was the major security threat he inherited.
But no sooner had the administration assumed office than killings, abductions and cattle rustlings by herdsmen and bandits spread nationwide and escalated to alarming proportions.
This had led to unverified conspiracy theories on how the chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC) allegedly imported bandits into the country to destablise Jonathan’s government if the then opposition party failed to win the 2015 presidential election.
In addition, foreign herdsmen were also said to have been encouraged by forces close to this administration to invade Nigerian communities on a land-grabbing mission.
Corruption was also a major challenge inherited by Buhari’s administration as Nigeria was sliding embarrassingly in the anti-corruption ranking by Transparency International (TI).
Also, with the world assuming the status of a global village, the Nigerian economy was not insulated from the global economic recession occasioned by the plummeting crude oil prices.
These challenges were in addition to the country’s decaying infrastructure, which was largely abandoned by the previous administrations.
Eight years down the line, the country has recorded much progress, while efforts to eliminate the remaining challenges remain work-in-progress.
While many believe that corruption became worse under Buhari’s government, there is a near consensus that the administration has successfully degraded Boko Haram, which had made the North-east and Abuja unsafe under the previous administration.
It is on record that President Buhari empowered the military and other security agencies more than any other previous administration since 1999.
However, as the Buhari-led government was successfully tackling Boko Haram in the North-east, a new form of insecurity fuelled by herdsmen and bandits was spreading nationwide without a proportionate response by security agencies.
As the outgoing president prepares to hand over to the incoming government, hundreds of Nigerians are being killed weekly by bandits and herdsmen in Benue and Plateau states.
The Boko Haram bombs that had made the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, unsafe have been replaced by bandits who abduct the residents of the capital city for ransom.
Buhari also recorded giant strides in agriculture through the efforts of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which has helped the country to achieve food security.
However, the celebrated self-sufficiency in food production is being threatened by bandits, which kill and abduct farmers nationwide.
Also, his administration’s soft handling of herdsmen who destroyed farms and invaded communities has also threatened agricultural activities, as many farmers in many parts of the country are scared to go to the farm.
Verifiable achievements were also recorded in the health sector as the outbreak of COVID-19 had forced the government and the private sector to make huge investments in the previously-neglected country’s health facilities.
As the administration winds down tomorrow, many feel that Buhari would be remembered well especially security and justice, the economy, power, housing, and infrastructure.
In the area of security, 38 brand new aircraft were procured for the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) by Buhari’s administration between 2015 and 2023.
The list also included 10 super Mushshak, five MI-35 helicopters and two bell helicopters.
With the intervention of this administration, NAF now has in its kitty 12 A-29 Tucano, four Agusta, three JF-17 Thunder and would be expecting another 12 new attack helicopters and 24 M-346 fighter attack aircraft.
Under Buhari’s government, NAF had successfully conducted several in-country periodic depot maintenance and avionics upgrades of some of its platforms.
The Nigerian Navy also benefitted from this unprecedented massive procurement of military equipment as more than 400 new platforms are now available.
These include: 200 riverine patrol boats, 114 rigid hull inflatable boats, 22 fast attack boats, 14 unmanned aerial vehicles, four barges, four helicopters, among others.
The Nigerian Navy has established a naval base at Lake Chad in Baga, Borno State and has received approval to establish new naval bases in Lekki in Lagos State, Oguta in Imo State, and Kano.
The Nigerian military had also acquired 700 brand new troop-carrying vehicles all assembled in Nigeria.
The outgoing administration also recruited 20,000 new police officers in two tranches of 10,000, and had commenced the process of recruiting the third batch.
It is on record that no administration since the enthronement of democracy in 1999, has equipped and fortified the military like the Buhari’s.
His administration also recorded remarkable achievements in provision of infrastructure.
Under his administration, the Infrastructure Corporation of Nigeria (InfraCorp) was established with initial seed Capital of N1 trillion, provided by the CBN, the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) and the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC).
With the N1 trillion equity seed capital, InfraCorp is expected to mobilise up to an additional N14 trillion of debt capital, according to the Presidency.
The 156 kilometres Lagos-Ibadan rail line, purchase of 64 coaches and 21 locomotives, 186-kilometre Abuja-Kaduna rail and the completion of the 327-kilometre Itakpe-Warri standard gauge rail are some of Buhari’s legacy projects.
These projects are in addition to the Second Niger Bridge and several ongoing road projects, including the 337-kilometre East-West Road project, awarded since 2006, and scheduled by the outgoing administration for completion this year.
However, these infrastructure developments were achieved at very exorbitant cost – huge debt burden, which many analysts have described as unsustainable.
As President Buhari hands over a largely insecure nation, which is sharply divided along ethnic and religious lines by his alleged mishandling of the country’s diversity, he will also be remembered for leaving behind many legacies to the present and unborn generations.