As President Muhammadu Buhari marks seven years in office, EGENA SUNDAY ODE, in this report, recalls the high points of the administration.
Taking the oath of office for his second term in 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari promised to sustain his earlier campaign promises of ensuring security, fighting corruption and revamping the dwindling economy with emphasis on agriculture, the same promises that he had made in his 2015 electioneering. While not relegating the other aspects of Nigerian’s social well being that are equally malaised, the public attention seems more to be focused on corruption being an age long malady that have seemingly defied all solutions. And it is on this premise that many critics of the Buhari administration and even citizens generally are quick to base their assessment of the government’s performance. Even the international community have not disguised their interest in this aspect of the national life of Nigeria.
There’s no doubt, however, that on a general sphere there have been successes and challenges across the sectors in the last seven years that the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, has held sway. President Buhari came on board in 2015 with three cardinal promises of fighting corruption, revamping the economy, and fighting insecurity. His re-election in 2019 can be said to be an approval that he did not fail in his promise to the citizens in his first tenure.
To strengthen the fight against corruption, on August 7, 2015, President Buhari issued a directive 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.
The presidential announcement on the implementation of this policy raised a lot of dust, with some people expressing fears that a wholesale implementation of the policy would bring the economy on its knees, as unemployment especially in the banking and related sectors would skyrocket.
The TSA system was launched in 2012 but failed to gain traction until President Buhari’s executive order in August 2015. Nevertheless, the TSA system has now been implemented in more than 90 percent of all federal MDAs, according to a document sourced from the media office at the State House, Abuja.
This decision to fully operationalize the Treasury Single Account (TSA) system—a public accounting system that enables the government to manage its finances (revenues and payments) using a single/unified account, or series of linked accounts domiciled at the Central Bank of Nigeria — has resulted in the consolidation of more than 17,000 bank accounts previously spread across DMBs in the country, and in savings of an average of N4 billion monthly in banking charges, according to the document.
Despite great opposition, however, the Buhari administration has expanded IPPIS coverage to the Armed Forces, as well as Federal Universities and other academic institutions.
At the early stage of the Buhari administration, the opposition politicians who believed that they were the targets of the anti corruption war shouted to hight heavens with allegations of bias or witch hunt on the part of the anti corruption watchdog, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. But with high profile arrests and convictions that have so far characterised the crusade, the cacophony of voices seem to have become silence.
Till date, the arms deal fraud remains the high point of the activities of the Buhari administration in the seven years of its campaign against graft.
The eighth National Assembly was generally perceived as an obstacle to the anti corruption fight. Accordingly, some legislative measures that could have been introduced to aid the fight were allwgedly unable to sail through.
Nevertheless, under President Buhari, Nigeria saw the most ambitious legislative programme in its history. Several landmark Bills have been passed or amended in the last seven years, including the following:
– Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Bill, 2022, which repeals the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended, and provides a comprehensive legal and Institutional Framework for the prevention and prohibition of 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(PreventionandProhibition)Bill,2022, which repeals the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 as amended in 2013, and provides for the effective implementation of international instruments for 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.
Others are “Deep Off shore and InlandBasinProductionSharingContracts Act, 1993 (Amendment) Act, 2019, which will deliver increased revenues to the Federation.
“Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON (Amendment) Acts of 2019 and 2021.
“Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) Bill, the first legislation in Nigeria’s history focused on curbing anti-competition practices; establishing the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.
– Nigeria Center for Disease Control(NCDC)EstablishmentAct, 2018.
“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.
“Act establishing the Police Trust Fund, which will significantly improve funding for the Nigeria Police Force (2019).
“Nigeria Police Act, 2020 – the first comprehensive reform of Police legislation since the Police Act of 1943.
“Repeal and Re-Enactment of the Companies & Allied Matters Act (CAMA), 2020 – the first comprehensive reform since 1990.
“NotTooYoungtoRunBill(2018)–constitution amendment Bill, to reduce the age of eligibility for running for elective office in Nigeria.
“Nigerian Correctional Services Bill, 2019 – the first comprehensive reform of prison legislation in close to five decades.
Suppression of piracy and other Maritime Offences Bill,2019– the first anti-piracy legislation in West Africa.
“A Bill to grant financial autonomy to States’ Houses of Assembly and States’ Judiciary (2018).
Banks and Other Financial institutions Act(BOFIA)2020
Finance Act 2019 and 2020
“The Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2018.
While landmark bills have been signed, one area of worry for most Nigerians is the security situation in the country. Sadly, every region of the country is facing one security challenge or the other. While Boko Haram insurgents are still wreaking havoc in the northeast, bandits are terrorizing citizens in the northwest and north-central. The Indigenous People Of Biafra( IPOB) are gradually turning the south East into another epicenter of insurgency in the country.
However, the government has made some efforts in curtailing the insecurity in the country.
According to the Global Terrorism Index 2022, 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.
Recall that during his visit to the Northeast early this month, United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres said: “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…”
Similarly, the International Maritime Bureau reported that Nigeriain2021 saw the lowest number of piracy attacks in its waters in 27 years.
Also, the Nigerian Air Force 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.
Similarly, 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.
In 2016, President Buhari launched the National Social Investment Programme, currently the largest such programme in Africa and one of the largest in the world. The National Social Register (NSR) of poor and vulnerable Nigerians (NSR) now contains more than 46 million persons from more than 11 million poor and vulnerable households, identified across more than 8,000 wards and 125,000 communities across the 36 States of the country and the FCT.
From this number, close to two million poor and vulnerable Nigerian households are currently benefiting from the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program, which pays a bi-monthly stipend of N10,000 per household.
In 2020, Covid -19 took the world by storm. The country managed the pandemic fairly well. President Buhari approved an N49 billion Covid-19 Intervention Fund, for deployment to 52 Federal health institutions in the country. The Fund was used to develop healthcare infrastructure and finance equipment upgrades.
The President in March 2020 set up an Economic Sustainability Committee chaired by Vice President Osinbajo, to develop a comprehensive economic plan to respond to the disruptions and dislocations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The ESC produced an EconomicSustainabilityPlan(ESP)that is being implemented and has been credited with helping Nigeria exit the Covid-induced recession faster than expected.
The President March 2020 set up a Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, chaired by the 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 of a national Special Public Works Programme, as well as any other interventions that may be approved in the future.
– Launch of the Export Expansion Facility Programme, designed to ameliorate the impact of the pandemic on exporting businesses. The goals are market development (22 identified export markets), capacity building, export aggregation, and trade facilitation.
The Buhari Administration also extended more than N2 Trillion Naira in bailout packages to State Governments, to enable them to meet their salary and pension obligations, especially in the face of dwindling oil revenues in the first 3 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($5.4billion).
“Infrastructure Loans & Refunds: More than 700 billion Naira in refunds for Federal Road projects embarked upon by State Governments.
“Loan Restructuring for Facilities with Commercial Banks: In 2015, the DMO restructured Commercial Bank loans with a total value of N575.516 billion for 23 States to reduce the debt service burden on the states. In exchange for their loans to State Governments, the banks were issued 20-year FGN Bonds at a yield of 14.83% per annum.
The Restructuring Exercise benefited the States through:
Reduction in the monthly debt service burden of States from between 55% to 97% for various States; Interest rate savings for the States ranging from 3% to 9% per annum; Longer repayment period for the loans now converted into Bonds; and, Freeing up of needed cash to run the machinery of Government.
Also, the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) of the Central Bank of Nigeria, launched by President Buhari on November 17, 2015, has been a massive success.
The CBN has disbursed more than 800 billion Naira to more than 4 million smallholder farmers of 23 different commodities (including Rice, Wheat, Maize, Cotton, Cassava, Poultry, Soybeans, Groundnut, and Fish), cultivating over 5 million hectares of farmland and Presidential Fertilizer Initiative.
President Buhari approved, under the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) the release of the first tranche of 5 Billion Naira to the Aviation industry. The money was shared amongst airlines (7 scheduled operators received 2.84 billion Naira, and 20 non-scheduled operators received 949 million Naira). The balance went to 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. as a Bailout package for the Aviation Sector.
Release of special intervention grants of 10 billion Naira and 5 billion Naira to the Lagos State Government and the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) respectively, to facilitate the Covid-19 Response.
The post COVID-19 era also came with recession which was the second in the life of the Buhari administration but was shortlived.