PMB, THIS IS YOUR ASSESSMENT AT 7 – OLUSEGUN
Four times governor of New York, vice president for two years under Gerald Ford and presidential aspirant, Nelson Rockefeller, once observed that “If you don’t have good education and good health, then I feel society has let you down.”
If any objective examiner were to rate President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration on Rockefeller’s one-liner about two very crucial aspects of life, the very foundation on which nations depend for exponential growth/ development, he would be certain to give Mr. President an above average score.
From his election in 2015 till date, PMB has not let Nigerians down as far as those sectors are concerned. More than any other Nigerian president in recent times, Buhari has recognised the importance of having “a sound mind in a sound body,” to borrow the inspiring motto of King’s College Lagos.
It is not a coincidence that KC has produced more than an ample number of captains of industry and scholars more than any other such institution in the country. It is no coincidence, also, that higher rates of life expectancy and quality education are found in advanced countries, Scandinavian countries, for instance.
This is why PMB has committed so much to those two in his seven years as president. From 2015 to now, Buhari has dispensed over “2 trillion Naira of capital intervention to Nigeria’s tertiary institutions, through various means, including TETFund – with the universities taking the lion’s share of the total amount.”
Also, the Federal Government has disbursed more than 240 billion Naira in UBE Matching Grants to states and the FCT since 2015, and 24 billion Naira from the Teachers Professional Development Fund to states and the FCT.
What about places of learning built since Buhari’s assumption of office, specialized institutions such as Aerospace University in FCT, Nigerian Army University in Borno State, University of Transportation in Katsina State and Federal Maritime University in Delta State?
And then, there are the regular polytechnics, universities and colleges of education of which six new Federal Colleges of Education have been added to the existing ones in the six geopolitical zones: Odugbo in Benue, Isu in Ebonyi, Ekiadolor in Edo, Gidan Madi in Sokoto, Jama’re in Bauchi and Iwo in Osun.
For polytechnics, PMB’s Administration built some more – all of them federal institutions – eight of which now stand as solid structures in Kaltungo, Gombe, Ayede, Oyo, Daura, Katsina, Shendam, Plateau, Ohodo, Enugu and Ugep, Cross River not to mention Monguno and Wannue in Borno and Benue respectively.
Equally, half a dozen more Federal Universities of Science and Technology were established following the phased implementation of National Youth Policy in 2020. The six FSTC’s are located in Ogugu in Kogi, Hadeija in Jigawa and Umuaka in Imo. The other FSTC’s are Igangan in Oyo, Ganduje in Kano and Amuzu in Ebonyi. Five more will be located in Bauchi, Plateau, Sokoto, Enugu and Cross River states.
To promote education further, the Federal Government under PMB launched the Alternate School Programme (ASP) to ensure “that every out-of-school child in Nigeria gains access to quality basic education irrespective of social, cultural or economic circumstance.” ASP is in sync with the aspirations of Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG-4.)
Added to that is birthing of At-Risk Children Project (ARC-P) meant to facilitate programmes that will ensure the integration of at-risk (i.e. lacking basic education and social protection) children and young adults to “create opportunities for lifelong skills and empowerment.”
As to be expected, students are not the only ones provided for in the several presidential intervention measures. Their minders have benefitted as well. Thus, there’s a new extended retirement age and length of service for Nigerian teachers – 65 years as against 60 before and 40 in place of 35 years for length of service. There is also the new Special Teachers Salary Scale and a new Special Teachers Pension Scheme. All these became effective from January 2021.
Also commendable is the Federal Government’s collaboration with the World Bank through the Innovation, Development and Effectiveness in Acquisition of Skills (IDEAS) Project. Approved in 2020, US$200m is being invested in six participating states – Abia, Benue, Edo, Ekiti, Gombe and Kano – as well as in 20 FSTC’s across Nigeria.
Equally important is PMB’s attention paid to reducing the number of out-of-school children. Achieved through another World Bank-financed project ‘Better Education Service Delivery for All’ (BESDA) with the Federal Government, it has reached an inspiring total of 3,247,590 as of 31st December, 2020. Out of that number, 1.79 million are from formal schools while 1.4 million are through non-formal interventions such as Almajiri, Girl-Child, Nomadic/Migrant and IDPs education.
PMB has shown a corresponding concern in addressing the health needs of Nigerians since his government came on board seven years ago. So far, the Federal Government has disbursed “at least $2.5 million to the 36 states and the FCT, under the Saving One Million Lives (SOML) initiative to improve health outcomes.”
As most Nigerians know, the National Health Care Act was passed in 2014. But it was not until four years later that PMB started off a Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) including the 1% minimum portion of the Consolidated Revenue Fund – amounting to 55 billion Naira – to fund BHCPF.
“The Fund,” say sources in the know, “is designed to deliver a guaranteed set health services to all Nigerians, through the national network of Primary Health Care Centers.”
The most credit to give PMB’s Administration regarding health care is the prompt response of government to COVID-19 pandemic two years ago. Set up in 2011, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) faced a new kind of health challenge like never before in 2020. Tackling a treatable disease like polio, for instance, is different from containing a virus decimating thousands of lives all over the world by the hour. Anyone can imagine the tragic dimensions it would have reached had the Federal Government not responded swiftly to the scourge.
It is on record President Buhari approved a grant of 5 billion Naira for the NCDC in March 2020 “as part of the response to the Coronavirus pandemic.” This was under the Economic Sustainability Plan chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, “to develop a comprehensive economic plan to respond to the disruptions and dislocations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The ESC produced an Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) that is being implemented and has been credited with helping Nigeria exit the Covid-induced recession faster than expected.
It must be said that PMB’s boots-on-the-ground approach helped immensely in seeing Nigeria through COVID-19. There was a Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 chaired by Boss Mustapha Secretary to the Government of the Federation, to coordinate Nigeria’s multi-sectoral inter-governmental approach to COVID-19. The PTF has since April 2021 transitioned into a Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on Covid-19.
President Buhari also approved the following, in 2020: Establishment of a 500 billion Naira COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund, for the upgrading of health facilities nationwide, finance a national Special Public Works Programme, as well as any other interventions that may be approved in the future.
In the wake of COVID-19, countries around the world offered different packages to assist their citizens. Nigeria did, as well. Thus was the Export Expansion Facility Programme launched “to ameliorate the impact of the pandemic on export-based businesses.”
Individuals and private businesses like the Aviation industry got relief packages, up to 2.48 billion Naira shared by seven scheduled operators and 949 million naira for 20 non-scheduled operators. Also reimbursed were the Ground Handling Companies, the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies, Airport Car Hire Association of Nigeria, In-flight Catering Services Operators, and Aviation Fuel Operators.
Ten billion naira and 5 billion were released to Lagos State Government and NCDC, respectively, to facilitate the Covid-19 Response not to mention the three-month repayment moratorium for all Social Investment Programme microcredit loans (TraderMoni, MarketMoni and FarmerMoni, three-month moratorium for all Federal Government funded loans issued by the Bank of Industry, Bank of Agriculture, and the Nigeria Export Import Bank and PMB’s approval for the Expansion of National Social Register (official database for implementation of the Conditional Cash Transfer programme) by 1 million additional households.
By the time the pandemic surprised everyone, President Buhari approved a N49 billion Covid-19 Intervention Fund, for deployment to 52 federal health institutions in the country. The Fund is being used to develop healthcare infrastructure and finance equipment upgrades.
As a result, and despite its large population, Nigeria had far less casualties from the virus than some other African countries, thanks to the prompt bailout fund by the Federal Government under Buhari.
Still on health, some key federal hospitals and schools across the country are being upgraded under the Tertiary Healthcare Upgrade Programme “to effectively manage cancer and other major health challenges.” Already, Cancer Radiotherapy machines and other equipment have been provided to these hospitals. To cite an example: The National Hospital in Abuja has two LINAC (cancer treatment) machines.
Before then, through the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), US$10m was invested in March 2018 “to establish a world-class Cancer Treatment Center at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), and US$5m each in the Aminu Kano University Teaching Hospital and the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, to establish modern Diagnostic Centres. These Centres have all been completed and are now operational.”
Add to that the establishment of the National Emergency Medical System and Emergency Ambulance Scheme (NEMSAS) and you see how comprehensive PMB’s policies and rejigging of Nigeria’s health system have been since 2015. NEMSAS’s mission is to provide “pre-hospital care in the form of ambulance services, to promptly transport persons with acute illness or injury to hospitals and emergency medical treatment services for immediate initial care, without such hindrances as police reports or payment before service” – at no immediate cost to the patient at the point of care. The national pilot of NEMSAS will commence this year.
Any nation that cannot be self-reliant in food production, economists like to say, is doomed to snail-paced development or none at all. The reasoning is that if you have to depend on others for a necessity as food, if you have to worry about obtaining a loaf of bread, then you might not even consider going to space or carrying out any such high-profile technological feat.
In that light, PMB’s Administration has also scored big in agriculture since inception in 2015. First among the various intervention measures embarked on by Mr. President, is Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) of the Central Bank of Nigeria, which he launched in November 2015 – barely five months after taking oath of office in May of the same year. The Presidency has disbursed over 800 billion Naira to more than 4 million smallholder farmers of 23 different commodities including Rice, Wheat, Maize, Cotton, Cassava, Poultry, Soybeans, Groundnut, Fish cultivated in over 5 million hectares of farmland.
To boost the farmer’s morale, PMB also launched the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI) in a government-to-government partnership between the Nigerian and Moroccan governments. Soon after its launch in December 2016, PFI produced 30 million 50kg bags of NPK 20:10:10 equivalent in 2020, bringing the total production since inception to over 60 million 50kg bags equivalent. Also, the number of participating blending plants increased to 62 from the four that were operational in Nigeria at the inception of the initiative.
Special-Agro Industrial Processing Zones have also been established under PMB with half-a-billion partnership between the FGN, AfDB Group, IsDB, and IFAD. Like its equivalent EPZs, in the export trade, Agro-processing centres under SAPZ will be established across seven states and the FCT. The aim is to provide basic infrastructure such as water, electricity, roads as well as facilities for skills training. The seven states selected for the pilot test due to commence in 2022 are Cross River, Imo, Kaduna, Kano, Kwara, Ogun and Oyo.
Not least of PMB’s achievement in agriculture is the National Agricultural Development Authority (NALDA) to establish Integrated Farm Estates of which three have been commissioned in Katsina, Imo and Yobe states with a special presidential instruction to NALDA to commence the process of siting such farm estates in each of the 109 Senatorial Districts in Nigeria.
It must be said, however, that NALDA was established in 1992 but had been dormant since 1999. PMB only recently revived it last year with an all-purpose view of revolutionizing crop cultivation and animal husbandry designed, especially, “to fit the particular context of its host community i.e. cultivate crops and/or livestock peculiar to the community.”
There are countless intervention processes by the president to ensure that the Nigerian citizenry do not depend on other countries for food and to also create jobs. Consider, for example, the Nigerian Young Farmers Scheme. So far, over 1, 000 youths have been engaged in mechanized agriculture in the 774 local government areas in the country. More than 200 of them from each of the 36 states have been sent to Israel and Morocco “for training in greenhouse farming and animal husbandry. The beneficiaries will, upon completion of their training and return to Nigeria, be tasked with the training of other young people, on NALDA’s Integrated Farm Estates in their various areas.”
Or the Agriculture for Food and Jobs Programme (AFAJ) through which the Federal Government trained and deployed 34, 000 young graduates in all of the 774 local government areas as part of the Economic Sustainability Plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, each of the graduates were given a locally developed app on smartphones and e-Tablet, to digitally register farmers and map out their farm GIS coordinates.
Or the National Livestock Transformation Programme (NLTP) an initiative of the Nigerian Government under PMB “designed to modernise pastoral agriculture and livestock production in Nigeria, through the establishment of ranches, and to deliver a lasting solution to recurring clashes between pastoralists and crop farmers.”
NLTP is also meant to address the resource (land, water and pasture) constraints at the heart of the conflicts through which the Federal Government expects “to see a situation where both livestock pastoralists and crop farmers contribute amicably to the country’s agriculture sector.”
Like some other programmes in the agriculture sector initiated by the FGN, NLTP will “create jobs, expand domestic technical capacity, increase agricultural output (milk and meat yields of local cattle breeds) and, very importantly, engender peace and security across the country.”
Already, three pilot phases of NLTP have been established in Adamawa, Nasarawa and Plateau states “where the deployment of requisite infrastructure (grazing areas, pasture production, milk collection, admin area, water sources) and the training of pastoralist and crop farmer households will take place.”
Also set up by the Federal Government under PMB is the Green Imperative – a Nigeria-Brazil Agricultural Mechanisation Programme aimed at boosting agricultural production in Nigeria. As of today, there is a €995 million, 5-year project, funded by the Import/Export Bank of Brazil (BDES), with support from Deutsche Bank, Islamic Development Bank and other partners. The objective is to deliver agriculture technology transfer from Brazilian Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), Research and Training Institutes to Nigeria’s entrepreneurs, Research Institutes and businesses.
Both legislative arms of the National Assembly have approved the loans for the financing of the programme, which will involve the development of 632 privately-operated primary production (Mechanisation) Service Centres and 142 Agro processing (value-addition) Service Centres across the 774 LGAs, and the reactivation of six privately owned partially-operational or moribund tractor assembly plants nationwide. It will also train 100,000 new extension workers.
On election in 2015, Buhari let it be known to Nigerians and the rest of the world his aversion and zero tolerance for corruption. To that end, his administration has consistently battled corruption right from the get go. He is still tackling it head on to ensure transparency in government.
PMB not only set TSA and IPPIS to plug loopholes in government institutions and ministries, he has gone on to expand them for wider coverage.
Only three months into his presidency, Buhari issued a directive on August 7 to all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to close their accounts with Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) and transfer their balances to the Central Bank of Nigeria on or before 15th September 2015.
Though launched in 2012, TSA became functional after Buhari’s executive order in August 2015 and is now operational in more than 90 percent of all Federal MDAs. Treasury Single Account is exactly what it stands for: to enable government manage its finances (revenues and payments) using a single/unified account, or series of linked accounts domiciled at the Central Bank of Nigeria. It has saved the Federal Government a monthly average of N4billion as bank charges previously paid to DMBs spread across 17, 000 banks in the country.
Operating the TSA threatened the survival of many banks who were reaping huge interests from MDAs. It is understandable. So, it was with those in the academia when PMB initiated and effected IPPIS. Now, the presidency has expanded IPPIS to cover the Armed Forces, federal universities and other academic institutions.
Personnel costs of the Federal Government is huge, the largest expenditure line. Therefore, to ensure transparency, PMB has given priority to the deployment of BVN for payroll and pension audits. So far, it has led to the detection of more than 50, 000 fraudulent payroll entries. BVN has also been adopted as a basis for payments to beneficiaries and vendors in the Anchor Borrowers Programme, N-Power Scheme and Homegrown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP.)
You can’t fight corruption alone as a country. You get better results doing that with other countries. To that end, President Buhari attended and participated in the International Anti-Corruption Summit organised by the UK Government in May 2016. At that Summit he pledged that Nigeria would join the OGP, an international transparency, accountability and citizen engagement initiative.
Two months later, Nigeria became the 70th country to join the OGP. Following this, Nigeria constituted an OGP National Steering Committee (NSC), which went on to develop a National Action Plan (2017–2019) that aims to deepen and mainstream transparency mechanisms and citizens’ engagement in the management of public resources across all sectors.
Nigeria has been able to record a total of 80.7 million in its digital identity database (NIN), up from 41.5 million two years ago, now a pre-requisite for applications for passports, drivers’ licenses, JAMB and WAEC.
Though critics take potshots now and then at the Presidency on its fight against corruption, available records point to a different direction. Former DG of SEC, Ms. Arunma Oteh, famously remarked that when you fight corruption in Nigeria, corruption fights you back. It is entirely true. But what is even truer is how much PMB has done and how far he has gone in tackling this self-inflicted Nigerian scourge.
Ever since its launch, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) has helped anti-corruption agencies devise clearer strategies for obtaining forfeiture of assets suspected to have been acquired fraudulently, mainly from state coffers, before prosecuting suspected culprits.
Part of this work has involved painstakingly reviewing existing laws (like the Money Laundering Act, 2004, the EFCC Act, 2004 and the ICPC Act, 2000), to identify and highlight sections directly conferring powers of forfeiture on Nigeria’s anticorruption agencies.
Under President Buhari, Nigeria has seen the most ambitious legislative programme in its history. Several landmark Bills have been passed or amended in the last seven years, including the following: Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2022; Money laundering in Nigeria, while also conferring on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the legal status of the Special Control Unit Against Money Laundering; Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Bill, 2022, which repeals the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 as amended in 2013, and provides for the effective implementation of international instruments on the prevention and combating of terrorism and suppression of the financing of terrorism; Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Bill, 2022, which makes comprehensive provisions for the seizure, confiscation, forfeiture, and management of properties derived from unlawful activity.
There are a slew of other Bills PMB appended his signature to, from Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act, 1993 (Amendment) Act, 2019, to Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON (Amendment) Act, 2021 and Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) Bill, the first legislation in Nigeria’s history focused on curbing anti-competition practices.
Also the first signed into law by Buhari is the Nigeria Police Act, 2020. It is the first comprehensive reform of Police legislation since the Police Act of 1943 and the Nigeria Police Force Act 2019 establishing the Police Trust Fund. What about the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill, an Executive Bill, signed into law in 2019? The Bill facilitates the identification, tracing, freezing, restraining, recovery, forfeiture and confiscation of proceeds, property, and other instrumentalities of crime, as well as the prosecution of offenders in criminal cases regardless of where in the world they might be.
There are more than a dozen Bills concerning everything from the capability of Nigerian youths to contest for political office, people with disabilities, correctional institutions in Nigeria and the banking sector.
Being the first ever Nigerian president to sign Executive Orders, PMB made good use of that privilege by issuing a number of landmark Executive Orders such as on Promotion of Transparency and Efficiency in the Business Environment, on Promoting Local Procurement by Government Agencies, Submission of Annual Budgetary Estimates by all Statutory and non-Statutory Agencies, including Incorporated Companies wholly owned by the Federal Government of Nigeria, Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme. All were issued in 2017.
Two more issued in 2018: EO on Planning and Execution of Projects, Promotion of Nigerian Content in Contracts, Science, Engineering and Technology, EO and Amendment on Voluntary Offshore Assets Regularization Scheme (VOARS.) PMB issued one on Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme in 2019 and just this year an EO on National Public Buildings Maintenance.
Just as important as the Bills and Executive Orders are the physical structures on the ground in seven years of Buhari’s Administration. A running joke among Nigerian engineers these days is that the Chinese are everywhere. It is true. A country known for worshipping hard work instead of any professed religion, it is no surprise the hard-hatted Chinese are everywhere from Aba to Abeokuta, Bauchi to Benin, Itakpe to Ibadan and countless towns and cities across Nigeria building roads, rail, bridges.
PMB, say those in the know, has embarked on the “biggest and most ambitious federal infrastructure programme since Nigeria’s independence.” His critics may sniff at that but after taking count of the numerous infrastructural projects in the last seven years. Of course, PMB set in motion through legislative reform Infrastructure Corporation of Nigeria (Infracorp) in 2021 with an initial seed capital of N1trillion provided by the CBN, the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) and Africa Finance Corporation (AFC.)
The goal of InfraCorp is to “to catalyse and accelerate investment into Nigeria’s infrastructure sector by originating, structuring, executing and managing end-to-end bankable projects in that space.”
Some of these projects include 156km Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Rail completed and commissioned, within a Nigerian-record-time of 4 years (2017 to 2021), 186km Abuja-Kaduna Standard Gauge Rail Line, completed and commissioned in 2016, 327km Itakpe-Warri Standard Gauge Rail completed and commissioned in 2020, 33 years after construction began.
Those are just a few of the hundreds of rail projects embarked on by PMB of which, for lack of space, we cannot list all.
By far longer and more in number than the rail projects are the roads built under Buhari’s presidency. From remote northern villages to urban centres in the south, across running rivers, rolling hills and mountains, roads and bridges are crisscrossing them in every corner of Nigeria.
It all began with an Executive Order #7 of 2019 on the Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme and a Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF), investing over a billion dollars in three flagship projects: Lagos Ibadan Expressway (for completion in 2022), Second Niger Bridge (for completion in 2022), Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Expressway (first phase for completion in 2023).
At the last count, more than a trillion Naira has been mobilised through Executive Order 7, for road projects across all six geopolitical zones of the country, like Bodo-Bonny in Rivers and Apapa Oshodi-Oworonshoki-Ojota in Lagos. In all, 1, 963 length of roads have been built.
Mr. President has also shown a similar concern for air and sea transportation. Thus, new terminals in Abuja, Kano, Lagos and Port Harcourt airports were completed by PMB just the president turned his attention on runways, too, in Abuja and Enugu International Airports of which PMB approved 10 Billion Naira for the reconstruction of the runway of the latter. iIt was completed and reopened in August 2020).
As with roads, completed projects on air and sea are too numerous to mention here. Needless to say that aviation schools have also had serious makeovers under PMB. The Nigeria College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) in Zaria is one notable example. A new Boeing 737 Full Flight Simulator has been installed in the College, as well as a fully-automated Fire and Smoke Aircraft Training Simulator. Prior to the installation of the Fire and Smoke Simulator, Nigeria was sending personnel to Cameroon for the relevant training.
Two years into PMB’s Administration, Calabar Port commenced export of bulk cement to Tema Port in Ghana. It was also in Calabar in 2019 that container ships berthed for the first time in 11 years. There are many such feats in the country’s waterways since Buhari came to power in 2015.
Power is one sector successive Nigerian heads of government have tried but failed to address. Whether in the FCT, Lagos, Ibadan, Aba or Port Harcourt, power supply has increased tremendously for most folk. Again, it is not hard to see why. PMB’s intervention since 2015. Nothing suggests it won’t get better with time. Witness, for instance, the planned incremental 4,000MW+ of power generating assets to be completed during the life of the Buhari Administration. They 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.
Beyond that are the various energizing projects embarked on by the FG such as Energizing Education Programme, that is taking clean and reliable energy (Solar and Gas) to Federal Universities and Teaching Hospitals across the country. Four Universities completed and commissioned already: BUK (Kano), FUNAI (Ebonyi), ATBU (Bauchi) and FUPRE (Delta.)
There are similar plans in the pipeline to take such programmes to schools, farms and markets across Nigeria. The most interesting intervention so far is the National Mass metering Programme launched in August 2020. With more than N200 billion by the CBN, more than one million meters have been rolled out in the first phase, generating more than 10, 000 new jobs in meter installation and assembly.
PMB is also considering other alternatives of power supply like solar thus the Solar Power Naija (SPN) launched in April 2021 “to deliver 5 million off-grid solar connections.”
The FG has also built habitable homes in the Housing sector, completing through the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing projects in 34 states of Nigeria, under the National Housing Programme, built on lands provided by state governors. More than 5, 000 units have been completed or near completion.
Despite the fall in oil prices pre-Ukraine/ Russia war, the presidency is right on the beam when it said this is a decade of gas. In other words, oil and gas are still very crucial to human survival and development. Stakeholders in the O&G sector have been full of praise for PMB when his government started construction of the 614km Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano Gas Project, the largest domestic gas project in the country.
That’s not all. There is US$45 million Financing secured from the Islamic Development Bank, for the Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) Study for the Nigeria–Morocco Gas Pipeline (NMGP) project. The Agreement for the Pipeline project was signed by the two countries during President Buhari’s State Visit to Morocco in June 2018. “When completed it will be the longest offshore pipeline in the world, and the second longest pipeline in the world, running across 13 countries, 11 of them in West Africa.”
Other areas PMB has intervened in the sector are launch of National LPG Expansion Programme (including Removal of VAT from the domestic pricing of LPG), commissioning, in December 2020, of the new NPDC Integrated Gas Handling Facility in Edo State. It is the largest onshore LPG plant in the country, with a processing capacity of 100 million standard cubic feet of gas daily, producing 330 tonnes of LPG, 345 tonnes of propane and 2,600 barrels of condensate, daily.
If any average Nigerian were asked to score PMB on security in the country today, it will be below par. It will be so not necessarily because of any lack of commitment by Mr. President but which part of the country the examiner comes from and how much of security or lack of it in other countries he knows.
Let’s start with 9/11. We all pretty much know what happened on that day. What the rest of the world also know is that no single American blamed the sitting president at the time, George Bush the Younger, for the attack. Americans rallied as one behind their president to fight terrorism. There was nothing like finger-pointing because the terrorists would have benefitted immensely from the disunity.
Now, consider the Nigerian equivalent of terror at home. Prior to storming a Kaduna-bound train from Abuja on March 28, terrorists had planted explosives on the tracks to derail the train. Everyone pretty much knows what happened thereafter. Everyone pretty much also know at whose door most Nigerians laid the blame.
What security experts know is that in that kind of situation in Nigeria, terrorists are emboldened to carry out more attacks because Nigerians have never collectively condemned terror acts – whether up north, down south or in the Middle Belt.
Even so, we are proud to state some of the achievements of PMB in his seven years in government. First among them is a Global Terrorism Index 2022 report indicating that deaths caused by Boko Haram dropped by 92% from 2,131 in 2015 to 178 in 2021. The report acknowledged Nigeria’s “successful counter insurgency operations targeting Boko Haram” as a leading cause of the reduction in terrorism deaths in sub-Saharan Africa.”
Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres himself confirmed the sharp decrease in Borno state when he visited early May. “Now, the Borno State I have heard about… was a Borno State of terrorism, of violence, of displacement, of despair. This is not the Borno that I found today. The Borno I found today is a Borno of hope. It’s a Borno with future…”
On land, air and water, PMB has made security a priority with the International Maritime Bureau reporting that in 2021, “Nigeria saw the lowest number of piracy attacks in its waters in 27 years.”
How did Buhari do this? By funding the Armed Forces with equipment to combat terrorism.Let’s take some count: Nigerian Air Force has acquired 38 brand new aircraft since President Buhari assumed office in 2015 (10 x Super Mushshak; 5 x Mi-35M Helicopters; 2 x Bell 412 Helicopters; 4 x Agusta 109 Helicopters; 2 x Mi-171E Helicopters; 12 x A-29 Super Tucano; and 3 x JF-17 Thunder), and is expecting another 36 new ones (12 new AH-1Z Attack Helicopters and 24 M-346 Fighter Attack aircraft), which have already been ordered.
The Nigerian Navy has acquired more than 400 new platforms since 2015, including 172 Riverine Patrol Boats (RPBs), 114 Rigid- Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs), 2 Seaward Defence Boats (SDBs), 12 Manta Class/Inshore Patrol Craft (IPC), 3 Whaler Boats, 4 Barges / Tugboats, 22 Fast Attack Boats, 14 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), 4 Helicopters, 14 River Town Class, 14 House Boats and 4 Capital Ships.
Navy and Army have been similarly equipped, with a presidential directive to establish naval bases in Baga in Bornu state, Lekki in Lagos state, Oguta in Imo state, Kano in Kano state.
Also part of PMB’s are the ongoing major security operations to wit: Operation Hadin Kai (North East) Operation Lake Sanity (North East) Operation Desert Sanity (North East) Operation Hadarin Daji (North West) Operation Sharan Daji (North West) Operation Safe Haven (North Central) Operation Whirl Stroke (North Central) Operation Delta Safe (South South) and Operation Dakatar Da Barawo (South South.)
While these operations are on to degrade terrorists for internal peace and security, Mr. President is also forming alliances with countries such as Britain, China, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, etc, for trade and bilateral relations. The aim is to reestablish “Nigeria’s position and influence in the regional and global arena.”
Though critics have lampooned Nigeria’s ties with China under Buhari, knowledgable sources say the union is for then best. This is because China has supported Nigeria with billions of dollars in concessional infrastructure funding for critical road and rail projects made possible after PMB’s official visit to Oriental nation in April 2016.
Mr. President’s visit to other countries have yielded similar results, promises of trade partnership, return of looted monies by General Sani Abacha and other purloiners of FG money, either with the UK, looted art works in Germany, oil and gas deal with Morocco down to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and the USA.
The last has been particularly helpful on security issues and others bordering on internet fraud and scams.
Sports is one area the president has shown a definitive change in the status quo. For years, the two national stadiums have been left in a state disrepair. Both are now being renovated. Under the adopt a-Pitch Initiative of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Abuja Stadium has been completed while the National Stadium in Surulere Lagos will be completed soon.
What about the sportsmen and women for whose benefit the stadiums are being renovated? From the National Eagles team to the Falcons and Golden Eaglets, all have acquitted themselves creditably under PMB’s Administration in seven years. Just last April, for instance, after the launch of National Para-Sports Festival, more than 3,000 athletes and officials from 32 states of the country took part in it. The Festival, as it is now well known, “was established in line with President Buhari’s commitment to the welfare and empowerment of Persons Living With Disabilities.”
Past victories under PMB include U-17 football team, the Golden Eaglets, won the FIFA U-17 World Cup for the fifth time, in 2015, making it a unique double for PMB who was military head of state in 1985 when the chaps won the very first edition in 1985.
Perhaps in response to the ENDSARS youth protest in October 2020, Mr. President established a 75 billion Naira National Youth Investment Fund (NYIF) “to provide business loans ranging from N250, 000 to three million Naira to young Nigerians. More than 6,000 youths benefited from the first set of disbursements in 2020; the next set of beneficiaries, numbering about 25,000, have been selected and are expected to receive payments in 2022.
Equally targeted at young Nigerians, the presidency increased the monthly allowance for serving corp members from 19, 800 to 33, 000.
The 36 states also benefitted from Federal Government largesse, receiving “over N2 Trillion Naira in bailout packages 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 following: Budget Support Facility (Total of 614 billion Naira extended to the states, Paris Club Refunds ($5.4 billion), Infrastructure Loans & Refunds. The FG refunded to some states more than 700 billion Naira for Federal Road projects embarked upon by them.
Known for its restiveness among its youths, the Niger Delta today is one of the calmest regions in Nigeria. It is not to see why. Instead of hiding in the creeks planning and executing all kinds of criminalities, many young men and women in the region are now safely tucked in classes in the Nigerian Maritime University in Okerenkoko established by the Federal Government with a take-off grant of N5billion and granted approval by in January 2018 by the National Universities Commission (NUC.) NMU has since commenced undergraduate degree programmes and academic activities since April 12, 2018.
The FG also stepped up environmental cleaning operations in the Niger Delta – Ogoni, road construction and resumption of work on the 337km East-West Road project, originally awarded in 2006. The Buhari Administration expects to complete the project in 2022/23.
In seven years of Buhari’s presidency, Nigerians have moved on and up in various international appointments. In 2018, for instance, Buhari himself was designated by the AU as the Anti-Corruption Champion and COVID-19 champion in 2020 by the regional body, ECOWAS. In 2021, PMB was elected president of the Conference of Heads of State and Governments of the member states of the Pan African Agency for the Great Green Wall (PAGGW.)
Technocrats like Akinwunmi Adesina, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Amina Mohammed have made Nigerians proud in diverse international professional engagements such President of Afdb, DG World Trade Organisation and Deputy Secretary General of UN respectively. Adesina was reelected in 2020.
Others are Benedict Oramah, President of African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), re-elected for a second term in 2020, Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, Secretary-General of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC); elected 2016, re-elected 2019, Chile Eboe-Osuji, President of the International Criminal Court (ICC), 2018–2021, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, President of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly from 2019 to 2020.
Bankole Adeoye has been Commissioner, African Union Commission’s Department for Political Affairs & Peace and Security. He was recently reelected in 2021 while Oladele John Nihi was elected in 2021 as Vice President, Pan-African Youth Union (PYU) the overall coordinating body for all youth organizations (national, regional and continental) in Africa.
Mike Olusegun is a public affairs analyst