Two Years of Buhari’s Administration: Is Change Here With Us?

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Asks Sampson Ikemitang

Indeed, there is a raging debate among analysts, experts and commentators across the political spectrum as to whether President Muhammadu Buhari has so far delivered on his campaign promises to the Nigerian people, or whether he was yet to do so, halfway into the life of his administration.  This is against the backdrop that President Buhari rode to power on the mantra of change.  In fact, change was what he (Mr. President) promised Nigerians in the build-up to the 2015 general election.  It should be emphasized that the country had prior to this time, been enmeshed in an unprecedented terrorist debacle that nearly overrun the entire north-east in particular and the country in general.

Aside the issue of insecurity, the economic fortune of the nation has been bad and signs of possible collapse were imminent; owing to non-diversification of the economy and over-dependence on crude oil as the major foreign exchange earner.   Above all, a prolonged culture of corruption and impunity pervaded our national psyche.  As a result, the country bagged an ignoble status of a “fantastically corrupt” nation in the international arena.  There is no need to reiterate that the citizens were not spared either in this inglorious branding.  They were constantly humiliated, disrespected and viewed with utmost suspicion in their dealing with other nationals, at different countries, airports and seaports respectively.

To this end, President Buhari while trolling for votes from the electorate, promised to tackle the cankerworm of corruption, terrorism and the repositioning the nation’s economy through diversification and job creation with a view to taking the country out of the socio-economic and political quagmire that had hitherto threatened its corporate existence and relaunch it in the comity of nations.

While many are of the view that Mr. President should at least be commended for the appreciable progress he had made so far, especially in the areas of combating insecurity, anti-corruption as well as the resuscitation of the school feeding programme (which was only done in the 80s) among others.  Others have simply discounted the argument with a wave of the hand, insisting that the expectations of Nigerians had largely remained unmet.  In their own views, the comatose economy is undeniably a sore point of the current administration.

Be that as it may, it is important to observe that the assessment of President Buhari’ s mid- term score card should not be based on political or sentimental narratives, in a bid to cause chaos and unleash psychological mayhem on unsuspecting public, but on the solid points of logic and reason.  Therefore, a dispassionate look at the array of achievements recorded by the APC-led Federal Government, one may be persuaded to agree with the proponents of the Government that indeed, some measure of success have been made in the recent past.

It can also be safely said that Boko Haram terrorism which was once a thorn in the flesh of the nation, threatening it to extinction, has been roundly and technically defeated.  Communities which were ransacked by the terror groups, became occupied territories of the terrorists; as they hoisted their flag as a show of dominance.  Barely two years into the administration of Muhammadu Buhari, all the affected areas have been liberated by our gallant military.  The Buhari administration is able to bring about high morale in the military.  About a million people who fled the occupied but now liberated areas have since returned.  They had begun the rebuilding of their socio-economic life and can now go about their lawful business without fear of being attacked.

The defeat of the terrorists is evident in the reclaiming of camp zero in the Sambisa forest which for a long time served as a haven of the terrorists and their major stronghold from where they (terrorists) coordinated their activities and launched attacks.  In fact, the recapturing of the camp zero had paid off, as it has provided a soft platform for the Government to dialogue and negotiate with these criminal elements from the position of strength and secured the eventual release of 103 Chibok school girls which were abducted from their hostels in 2014.  Clearly, this is a demonstration that the terrorists are indeed, utterly decimated by the military.  They do not hold any Nigeria’s territory.  They can’t stage any spectacular attacks, as it was the case, and above all, they are now on the run.  Without fear of contradiction, the Buhari administration deserves a pat on the back.   ‘’

In addition, the APC –led government had during campaign promised to give N5, 000 monthly stipend to poor and vulnerable Nigerians.   Some of the States that have so far benefited from this arrangement are: Borno, Kwara, Bauchi, Cross River, Niger, Kogi, Oyo, Ogun and Ekiti.  Of the States, Borno, Kwara and Bauchi have started receiving the money while we are assured, the rest of the States in the first batch would commence the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) payment soon.

“The nine pilot States were chosen because they have an existing Social Register that successfully identified the most vulnerable and poorest Nigerians through a tried and tested Community Based Targeting (CBT) method working with the World Bank.  However, other States have already begun developing their social registers and would be included in subsequent phases of the CCT implementation.”

Similarly, Government has also started the implementation of the National Home-grown School Feeding Programme designed to feed 5.5 million children for 200 hundred school days in the first phase of the programme.  Although, the initial design was to feed pupils in 18 States, funding challenges had affected an earlier take-off.  But the programme has now commenced in Osun, Kaduna and Anambra States.  More States are expected to join soon. The school feeding programme has indeed increased school enrolment and improved the nutrition of school kids.  There is no denying the fact that if the programme is properly implemented and sustained, it would go a long way in alleviating poverty among the masses.

The statement which was signed by Mr. Laolu Akande, the spokesman of the Acting President, said, “Yemi Osinbajo recalled that the administration had also kicked-off the N-Power Programme where graduates numbering 200,000 were engaged and paid N30, 000 per month, and the National Home-grown School Feeding Programme now running in three States.  More so, the Buhari administration has kicked-off the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP).

“Under GEEP, soft loans ranging from N10, 000 to N100, 000 have been designed for artisans, traders, market women amongst others.   Already, thousands of cooperatives, market women associations, farmers and enterprising youths have been identified and registered for the purpose on an ongoing basis, and disbursement of the soft loans through the Bank of Industry and have started since November 25, 2016”, the statement stated.

Most importantly, the whistle-blowing policy of the Federal Government has also aided the anti-graft war in no small measure.   The introduction of the whistle- blowing policy incentive has exposed corruption and theft in the public service.  It has thus led to the recovery of some humongous amount of the nation’s looted wealth.  This indeed is change in action.

Another area the administration of President Buhari can be given the thumbs up is in food sufficiency and security.  The rice production initiative of his administration has triple to 5 million metric tons per annum.  The Government is determined to stop the importation of rice by 2019.  Akin to this, is the synergy between Lagos and Kebbi States in rice production and it is worthy of emulation by other States of the federation.   This will not only guarantee food security but also bring about foreign exchange earnings through agricultural export, thereby steering the country out of the mono cultural economy.

Worthy of note is the implementation of Treasury Single Account (TSA) by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.   It cannot be controverted that the Treasury Single Account (TSA) has to a large extent blocked all expenditure leakages in the system, thus instilling some measure of financial probity and accountability in the management of public funds.

– Sampson Ikemitang writes from Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Abuja.