Published On: Wed, May 31st, 2017

2nd anniversary: Buhari steering Nigeria from the precipice

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President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari

By Lawrence Olaoye

There has never been any dull moment since President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn into office two years ago after having defeated an incumbent, ex-President Goodluck Jonathan who ran a lack lustered administration.
Buhari, who came with iron cast determination to right the wrongs of the past, was confronted with malevolent security situation and an economy in total shambles. Notwithstanding the challenges on ground, the President was resolute in his resolve to change the status quo and rewrite the history of the country.
Buhari at the inception of his administration in 2015 set some targets for himself and he is being scored by the people basically guided with his own marking schemes. Buhari had premised his administration’s focus on the tripod of improving the economy, revamping security and fighting corruption. Two years into his four-year tenure, it won’t be out of place to rate his performance but this could only be better appreciated when the present situation in the country is contrasted with what obtained in the past.
Stating that Buhari inherited a nation at the edge of total collapse would be tantamount to pointing out the obvious. The economy bequeathed to him by the predatory Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led government, which came to an ignominious end in 2015, was in doldrums.
This was made even more precarious with the fall of the price of crude from over $100 per barrel to as low as $30 for same. The holes drilled into the nation’s coffers, with the fallen price of crude at the international market, made the country to slide into economic recess.
With the recess came the inability of most state governors to pay staff salaries with the federal government being unable to fund the 2016 budget as passed. As at the end of the 2016 fiscal year, the budget performance was put at slightly above 40 percent.
The refusal of Buhari’s predecessor to save for the raining day further compounded the nation’s economic woes. This is moreso when the country runs a mono economy depending hugely on foreign exchange derivable from sale of crude oil. The consequence of the financial recklessness and rascality of the past resulted into the immeasurable hardship the beleaguered people had to endure.
The challenge to the nation’s sovereignty by the Boko Haram insurgents, especially in the North East region, under Jonathan’s administration cannot be ignored. The marauding insurgents hitherto confined to their Borno/Yobe base extended their quest for territorial extension to Kogi state moving precariously unrestrained into the southern parts of the country. Everybody lived in palpable fear with Abuja not spared from the destructive boom of bombs.
Such was the society where life suddenly became brutish and short with the Jonathan’s administration demonstrating lack of political will to confront the anomaly.
Corruption under the previous administration assumed a life of its own. Though Nigerians have learnt to accept corruption as a way of life, the level of looting perpetrated under a leader who publicly declared that stealing was not corruption was mind boggling. Nobody doubted that Buhari’s tall task of fighting corruption would be Herculean. This became even more devastating when those accused of corruption have devised means of fighting back through conventional and unconventional means.
Considering the myriads of challenges left behind by his predecessor, Buhari hit the ground running by prioritizing security with a mindset that the nation’s economy cannot thrive in an atmosphere of insecurity. He immediately announced the relocation of the Military Command Centre to Maiduguri, Borno state, the theatre of the Boko Haram war. Fourteen local governments which were hitherto under the grip of the insurgents were recovered by the reinvigorated, motivated and rejuvenated Nigerian Army.
Within the period under review, over 100, out of the 276, Chibok girls adopted by the Boko Haram have been released and there are expectations that the remaining would soon regain their freedom.
Several others kidnapped by the blood suckers in their thousands were equally rescued by the Army. This feat was made possible by the deft tactics and negotiation skills employed by Buhari’s administration even as the army keep decimating the recalcitrant insurgents.
Sambisa forest which used to be the fortress of the insurgents has been overrun by the army and it’s been turned into training ground for the gallant soldiers.
To further bolster internal security in the country, Buhari approved the recruitment of additional 10,000 persons into the Nigeria Police Force. This, according to him, was to address the manpower gap which currently exists in the Nigeria Police. He also approved the overhaul of the dysfunctional topmost hierarchy of the Nigerian military which resulted in optimal result and degradation of the Boko Haram elements.
The President has also engaged the restive youths in the Niger Delta region by expanding the Amnesty Program and transforming the troubled area into a hotbed of developmental projects. The Maritime University in Delta state which has become a subject of controversy in the past has been revived.
With the pacification and ceasation of hostilities in the region, Nigeria can now meet and even surpass its daily crude oil production of 2 million barrels per day for export. This has helped the country in his drive to pilot itself out of recession.
In his determination to fight corruption which has become endemic in
the country, Buhari set up a Presidential Advisory Committee on War
Against Corruption. The anti-corruption battle is gaining ground with several high profile cases already in the courts. This is evident with certain individuals hitherto considered as untouchables wrapping their hands behind their backs to face the judges in courts.
Perhaps the most interesting step taken by the Buhari’s administration to trace and track looted funds in the country is the Whistle-blower policy. With the implementation of the policy, certain stolen funds in raw cash are being traced and recovered following leads from whistle blowers who are being compensated for releasing relevant information.
The recent recovery of several millions of cash, both in local and foreign currency, in an Osbourne apartment in Lagos and that of the former Group Managing Director (GMD) of the NNPC, Andrew Yakubu, and several others are pointers to the success of the policy.
In tackling the economic challenge facing the country, Buhari resolved to tackle the main cause of Nigeria’s economic woes by ensuring diversification of the economy. He banned importation of certain food items, especially rice, and encouraged local farmers to produce food for the country. As at today, several billions hitherto deployed for rice importation have been saved and the economy is better for it.
In order to stimulate Investments and create jobs for the teeming youths, the Federal Government signed an executive order on Ease-of-Doing Business. This is to ensure that bureaucratic obstacles before investors are removed.
Earlier into his administration, Buhari summoned the courage to implement the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy which aimed at blocking all loopholes in the revenue generating agencies. Between June 2015 and April 2016, the Federal Government TSA collection clocked N3trillion.
To further instill fiscal discipline, Buhari directed the closure of all multiple accounts in Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government, thereby plugging loopholes for leakages with new technology. This is just as he dismantled the opaqueness in the NNPC.
To alleviate the suffering of Nigerians in September 2015, President Buhari directed the Central Bank of Nigeria to disburse N689.5 billion as bailout to 27 states of the federation to pay salaries.
According to the spokesperson to the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, Laolu Akande, over 200,000 youths have been engaged in the SIP. He added that another 200,000 unemployed youth would be engaged immediately the 2017 budget is signed into law.
However, Buhari’s critics have counseled that he should take more than a passing interest in the recurring farmers/herdsmen clashes across the country which had dispatched thousands to their to early graves.
This is just as they are calling on the President to find a lasting solution to the ongoing progrom in Southern Kaduna.
Though Buhari’s media handlers have said that it would be premature to assess their principal midway into his tenure, people are unanimous in their submissions that the President has moved the country away from the precipice midway into his tenure but there are rooms for further improvement in the coming years.

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