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Published On: Fri, May 25th, 2018

Third year anniversary: Evaluating Buhari on his terms

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Precisely on Tuesday next week, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari will be three years in office. As being said in Nigerian parlance, much waters have passed under the bridge in these last three years.
As usual, analysts and political watchers are bound to do critical examination of his policies with a view to evaluating their successes and foibles; achievements and let-downs using the the parameters set by the President himself three years ago while receiving the baton of power.
Teachers are known for setting examinations for their students after which they mark same based on an accompanying marking scheme detailing step-by-step guide for the grading of their wards.
In this case, the President set three tasks before himself: revamping the nation’s economy; addressing the challenge of insecurity in the land and fighting corruption which had become a culture in the land. It is from these perspectives that the Buhari’s administration would be examined and evaluated.
Evidently a lot has been done in the onerous task of repositioning the nation’s economy especially considering the manner in which it exited recession. Progress is being made in diversification of the economy. Agricultural and solid minerals sectors, hitherto been neglected, have been rejuvenated.
The bug of grow-what-you-eat campaign championed by the President has caught up with discerning populace and today, the country is self sustaining in the production of some staple food items, especially rice. Several billions of dollars annually used in the importation of rice is being conserved and used for the benefit of the country.
With over N300 billion investment in the Rice Value Chain through the Anchor Borrowers Program of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), rice production in the has increased from 2.5 metric tonnes to about 4 metric tonnes making Thailand lose billions of dollars as revenues from Nigeria which used to her mega importer of rice.
Already, 14 fertilizer blending plants have be revitalized resulting in annual savings of US$200 million in foreign exchange, and 60 billion annually in budgetary provisions for fertilizer subsidies.
Similarly, contributions from the solid minerals sector continue to grow in leaps.
From mere N700 million in 2015, it grew to N2 billion in 2016 and again rose to N3.5 billion in 2017. There are high expectations that the sector would even contribute more in 2018.
The gloom, which followed the economic recess occasioned by the sharp drop in earnings from sale of crude at the international market, caused some heartaches in the country. With frugal management of resources, the government was able to reflate the economy by increasing government spending on infrastructure. The sum of N1.219 trillion was released Mfor capital expenditures in 2016.
In 2017, the capital budget release was N1.476 trillion.
Due to the frugality of his administration, Nigeria External Reserves, despite low revenues, have doubled since October 2016 from $24 billion to $48 billion.
Similarly, records made available showed that the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) had seen inflow of $500 million in 2016 and 2017.
Experts are however of the view that though the Buhari’s administration has succeeded in initiating policies with a promise to lead the nation’s economy on the path of sustainable growth, there are indications that the common man on the streets are yet to feel the impact of his reforms as the rate of unemployment and despondency in the land remain high especially among the youths.
Apart from this, the Buhari administration must take more than a passing look at the rate at which inflation has made nonsense of the income of an average Nigerian and consider the proposal for increment in workers’ salaries as a palliative.
The Buhari administration’s major challenge today remains that of security. While impressive progress has been made in combating the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East, menace of incessant killings by herdsmen, especially the North-Central region, has become a great concern. No day passes without reports of killing by suspected herdsmen.
Undoubtedly, killings in Benue and Taraba states have attracted international attention with the image of the country bearing the brunt. As at today, human life in the region has become short and brutish.
There have also been upsurge in the activities of kidnapping for ransom especially in Birnin Gwar area of Kaduna state. We are being daily regaled with tales of kidnap
in tens and twenties from the dare-devil hoodlums in this area even when the government had announced the establishment of a battalion in the place.
Nevertheless, the Buhari’s administration has listed as part of its achievements the return of more than a million displaced persons to their homes in the north east since 2015.
The government also claimed to have rescued more than 13,000 Boko Haram hostages have been freed from Boko Haram captivity, including 106 of the Chibok Girls abducted in April 2014, and 105 of the Dapchi Girls abducted in February 2018.
The Nigerian Army equally recorded the capture of Boko Haram’s operational and spiritual headquarters, “Camp Zero”, in Sambisa Forest, in December 2016. This came with the transfer in 2016, of two AW 101 Helicopters from the Presidential Air Fleet to the Nigerian Air Force, for deployment in support of Operation Lafiya Dole in the North East.
In the north central, the government has deployed security agencies to enforce the peace. Already, notorious cultists, robbers, insurgents and kidnappers operating in this area have been apprehended.
Buhari administration has the reputation of being the first with the political will to confront the menace of corruption in the country. Though other administration preceding him fought the menace haphazardly, Buhari left nobody in doubt of his determination to extirpate corruption in the country.
While some of those suspected to have soiled their hands in the last administration under the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are being hunted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), critics have continued to point out that major players in the regime of the locusts are being exempted because they found wisdom in joining to the ruling party.
Nonetheless, the President has succeeded in making official sleaze unattractive because of his ruthless pursuit of corruption cases locally and internationally.
Looters have been made to return stolen loots with some having their properties confiscated. This is notwithstanding the fact that suspected corrupt persons are using all avenues to fight back.
The President’s Whistleblowing Policy has succeeded in plugging financial hemorrhage. N13.8bn was recovered from tax evaders and N7.8bn, $378million, £27,800 retrieved from public officials.
Between 2010 and 2015, the National Economic Council (NEC) approved the audit of key federal revenue generating agencies, with revealing results. Total sum of N526bn and US$21 billion (over N8 trillion) discovered to have been underpaid into the Federation Accounts have been ordered to be remitted by the concerned MDAs immediately.
Buhari’s resolve to fully implement the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy, which his predecessor had no political will to do, also shored up his image in the anti corruption fight. Ditto the Bank Verification Number (BVN) policy which helped weed out ghost workers in the government pay-roll.
According to available statistics, with the implementation of the TSA, an average of
N4 billion is being saved monthly in bank charges associated with indiscriminate government borrowing from commercial banking charges.
A critical analysis of Buhari’s administration, three years on, shows that progress has been made even though there are rooms for improvement.
As the 2019 general election approaches, Buhari’s scorecards will obviously be difficult to fault by the opposition working tirelessly to stop his re-election bid.

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