Published On: Fri, May 24th, 2019

Assessing Buhari’s tenure of change and people’s expectations at Next Level

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Like a flash in the pan, the first tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration will expire in a few days. Precisely, the President will be taking another oath for his second term next Wednesday.
At the inception of the smothering administration, the President in 2015 told Nigerians that his administration would be focusing on three challenging areas of insecurity, corruption and economy.
No doubt, Nigerians in February this year conducted a referendum of sort on his performance and found him worthy to be returned as their leader for another turn of four years terminating in 2023. Buhari’s reelection is therefore a validation of his performance by the generality of the electorates.
Nonetheless, the performance of the administration must be dispassionately assessed with a view to identifying those achievements it needed to consolidate and pinpoint other areas where new strategies are expected to be deployed for better results going forward.
In the area of national security, checks have revealed that even though it is not yet Eureka, the Buhari’s administration has been able to withstand the expansionist agenda of the dreaded Boko Haram by confining them to secluded areas in Borno state, targeting soft spots.
Prior to Buhari’s administration, 17 local governments were reportedly under the control of the insurgents with potent threats of their percolation to the other parts of the country.
With the return of peace to the troubled region, many victims of the insurgents’ inhuman assaults have begun to return to their ancestral homes therefore de-populating the ubiquitous Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps.
As at last year, over one million displaced persons have returned to their homes in the North-east. More than 16,000 Boko Haram hostages were liberated from the insurgents’ captivity including 106 of the Chibok girls abducted in 2014 and 105 of the Dapchi girls abducted in February last year.
In order to address the devastation of the infrastructure in the beleaguered North-east region, the President recently inaugurated the North East Development Commission (NEDC) charged with the responsibility of assessing damages done to infrastructure with a view to rehabilitating them.
But while the government may have achieved a measure of success in curtailing the insurgents, the nation has been afflicted by an upsurge in banditry and kidnapping for ransom in the North-west and other parts of the country.
Conflicts between the herders and farmers consumed scores of lives in the north-central especially in Benue, Kaduna and Plateau states. But the government has ordered the deployment of security agencies leading to killing of some of the kidnappers, bandits and arrest of others.
In subsequent tenure, the government will have to put measures in place to tackle the root cause of terrorism, banditry and kidnapping.
Unemployment, which leads to despondency among the youth population, has been generally fingered as one of the causes. Government would do well to ensure that the millions of children currently out of school in the country are encouraged to return to school to tutored in relevant vocations.
Experts have consistently counseled the government on the need to equip the security agents with requisite trainings to respond to the current security realities in the country. There is also the need for the government to improve in the capacity of the security men by equipping and expanding their capacities. The government will also do well by injecting fresh, dedicated blood into the security agencies to bolster their capacities.
There is the need for the government to look closely into the nation’s security architecture in the Next Level. Issues of community and state police have gained currency as probable solution to the large scale insecurity pervading the country. The executive will do well by collaborating with the Ninth Assembly to see to the workability of community and state police.
In the area of fight against corruption, it is evident that it is no longer business as usual. The Buhari’s administration has frontally confronted the malaise and reduced the incidence of corruption, especially in public service, to the barest minimum.
The adoption of Treasury Single Accounts (TSA) policy by the Buhari’s administration has saved billions of Naira that would have been siphoned by corrupt government officials. This policy has brought transparency into government businesses.
The introduction of the Whistle-blowing policy last year led to the recoveries of N13.8 billion from tax evaders; N7.8 billion, $378 million and £27,800 from public officials caught in the web of the policy to mention a few.
The National Economic Council (NEC), under the Chairmanship of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, approved the audit of key federal revenue generating agencies, with revealing results: a total sum of N526 billion and US$21 billion was underpaid to the Federation Account between 2010 and 2015. NEC has now approved the extension of that audit to cover the period until June 2017.
Also, the Buhari Administration is addressing the issue of poor levels of remittance of operating surpluses by MDAs. From remitting only N51 million between 2010 and 2016, JAMB went on to remit N7.8 billion in 2017, and is on course to remit a similar amount in 2018.
The government set up the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA) to strengthen controls over Government finances through a continuous internal audit process across all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), particularly in respect of payroll. Through the activities of PICA, 54,000 fraudulent payroll entries were identified, with payroll savings of N200 billion.
Buhari’s administration also deployed the Bank Verification Number (BVN) for payroll and pension audits. The Federal Government has also ensured the deployment of BVN system to serve as the verification basis for payments to beneficiaries and vendors in the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), the N-Power Scheme and the Homegrown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP) amongst others.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and its sister agency, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) have been given unfettered powers to investigate, arrest and prosecute anyone suspected of financial mafeasance. Two former governors and several others individuals were convicted for corruption and they are currently cooling off in the prison.
High flying public officials and their private sector collaborators, hitherto considered untouchables, were either made to return billions of Naira into government coffers or currently having their days before the jury.
The President will need to consolidate on the gains in the fight against corruption and ensure that those corruption cases currently in the courts are expeditiously dispensed.
Buhari in this Next Level should continue with his zeal to rid the judiciary of bad eggs so as to make the third arm of government truly the last hope of the people.
On the economy front, Buhari was confronted with a decayed economy only waiting to crash in 2015. Due to dwindling revenue accruing to the country on the strength of the dip in the price of crude at the international market, the economy slid into unavoidable recession. It was so bad that about 27 states in the federation were unable to pay their staff salaries.
But with prudent management and uncommon application of workable economic policies, the nation was recused from economic morass in no time and it continued to record unfettered growth.
To save the insolvent states from total collapse, Buhari granted bail-outs to further reflate them and in no time, the economy began to experience unprecedented growth again.
Convinced that the country will continue to suffer economic shocks if it continues to rely on crude as its main source of sustenance, Buhari put in place policies to diversify the economy and the country is now self sustaining in the production of rice, wheat and some other commodities hitherto being imported into the cohntry.
Several policies to ensure ease of doing business were put in place while the government introduced Social Investments Programs (SIP) to address the ever present challenge of youth unemployment.
But experts have warned that the government must expand the economy as they argue that Nigeria’s current economy is small when compared to her population. They therefore counsel the President to broaden the revenue base and invest more in infrastructure for the nation to escape impending doom.

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