Alwan Hassan: Why Buhari Is Nigeria’s Best President – A Look At His Achievements In Infrastructure, Economy, Agriculture and Social Investment
By Alwan Hassan
The greatness of the Muhammadu Buhari presidency is hinged on the sustainable impact of many of its policies, programs, and projects — many of which will be highlighted herein. Since coming to power in 2015, President Buhari has spearheaded several key policy interventions in every major sector of the Nigerian economy. This is why, with all these achievements, he has clearly secured his place as Nigeria’s best President so far.
The achievements that will define the legacy of Buhari are also the inconvenient truths that will unsettle those who place themselves above Nigeria’s interest. And this is why this compilation of facts is not an attempt at image laundering, but a verifiable record on his significant accomplishments in infrastructure, agriculture, economy, social welfare, industrialization and a legion of other interventions that combine to justify Buhari’s record as Nigeria’s best President.
Unarguably, one of the biggest achievements of the Buhari administration has been his administration’s unrivalled investment in infrastructure — a feat that has gained his government a competitive edge when compared with the previous democratic regimes that it has succeeded.
An x-ray of the infrastructural development facilitated by the Buhari-led Federal Government between 2015 and 2019 reveals the following:
N2.7 trillion was spent on Infrastructure in 2016 and 2017 fiscal years, an unprecedented allocation in Nigeria’s recent history. Out of this figure, N1.219 trillion was released for capital expenditure in the 2016 budget, and N1.476 trillion so far in the 2017 budget — making for a total of N2.7 trillion (about US$9 billion) in two years. This investment has enabled the resumption of work on several stalled projects — road, rail and power projects — across the country.
Through the N100 billion Sukuk Bond issued in 2017 by the Buhari Administration, 25 major road projects have been financed across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria. It is also important to note that road projects are now going on across every state in the country. This is despite the fact that many of these projects had been abandoned by previous administrations because of the mounting debts owed by the Federal Government to contractors.
The Works Ministry, marshaled by Babatunde Fashola (SAN), since this administration came into office, has seen to the rehabilitation of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway; the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano expressway; and the Second Niger Bridge following the release of US$650 million from the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) launched in 2018 by the Buhari government.
Additionally, under Executive Order 7 signed by President Buhari on January 1, 2019, to develop critical road infrastructure in the country, six companies will construct 19 federal roads that have been prioritized in 11 states across each of the six geo-political zones. Again, this project covers an impressive 794.4km.
The companies which include, Dangote Industries Limited; Lafarge Africa Plc; Unilever Nigeria Plc; Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc; Nigeria LNG Limited; and China Road and Bridge Corporation Nigeria Limited will invest in the following road projects:
The Construction of Ashaka-Bajoga Highway in Gombe State; the reconstruction of Dikwa-GambaruNgala Road in Borno State; the Reconstruction of Bama-Banki Road in Borno State; the rehabilitation of Sharada Road in Kano State; Rehabilitation of Benin City – Asaba Road in Edo State; and the rehabilitation of Nnamdi Azikiwe Expressway / Bypass, in Kaduna State.
Others are the reconstruction of Birnin Gwari Expressway – Road in Kaduna State; reconstruction of Birnin Gwari – Dansadau Road in Kaduna State; reconstruction of Makurdi-Yandev-Gboko Road in Benue State; reconstruction of Zone Roundabout-House of Assembly Road in Benue State; reconstruction of Obajana-Kabba Road in Kogi State; and the reconstruction of Ekuku-Idoma-Obehira Road in Kogi State.
Additionally, the companies will also construct the AdaviEba-Ikuehi-Obeiba-Obokore Road in Kogi State; rehabilitate the Lokoja-Ganaja Road in Kogi State; the Ofeme Community Road Network and Bridges in Abia State; the Obele-Ilaro-Papalanto-Shagamu Road in Ogun State; Bodo-Bonny Road & Bridges across Opobo Channel in Rivers State; and work on the reconstruction of Sokoto Road in Ogun State and the Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki-Ojota Road in Lagos State.
The Buhari Administration, through the Ministry of Transport headed by Rt. Hon Rotimi Amaechi has completed some rail projects and started others. This includes the Abuja-Kaduna line, which has been completed. Meanwhile, the tracks and the signalling have been completed on the Abuja-Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri rail, while work has started on the Lagos-Abeokuta-Ibadan rail.
Similarly, the upgrade of Nigeria’s 3,500km network narrow-gauge railway network has commenced, with the signing, in April 2018, of the interim phase of a concession agreement between the Government of Nigeria and an International Consortium led by General Electric (GE).
The target of this Interim Phase is that within the next 12 months, passengers will experience reduced travel time by rail between Lagos to Kano, and, for the first time in over a decade, contracted and scheduled freight rail services will be available.
Abuja’s Light Rail system is ongoing and will go into operation in 2020. The first line to be launched will connect the city center with the Airport, with a link to the Abuja-Kaduna Railway Line.
The Buhari government, according to the Transport Minister, Amaechi would create about 5,000 jobs upon completion of the railway Wagon Assembly Plant being built at Kajola in Ogun State. Nigeria would also, in the long run, be able to manufacture rolling stock for the country’s use as well as for other African countries.
According to the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO), one of the President’s 100 days in office milestones for his second and final term was a remarkable deal with Siemens to rejig Nigeria’s power supply, as well as the inauguration of Africa’s largest hybrid solar power plant. For the avoidance of doubt, the President, within the first few days of his second term, concluded plans for improved electricity supply by signing a six-year power deal with German energy giant Siemens, which will result in the production of at least 25,000 megawatts of electricity by the year 2025.
More than 2,000MW of additional power generation capacity by the end of 2018 — some of it via publicly owned plants (Afam Fast Power, 240MW); others through private sector investment supported by the Federal Government.
Launch of the Energizing Economic Programme which is bringing reliable and efficient power to economic clusters /markets around the country. Pilot projects are currently being implemented in Aba (Ariaria Market), Lagos (Shomolu Printing Community, (Sura Shopping Complex), Kano (Sabon Gari Market) and Akure (Isinkan Market).
Furthermore, the Transmission Expansion and Rehabilitation Programme has resulted in a 50 percent expansion in Grid Capacity since 2015, from 5,000MW to 7,125MW as of December 2017. Beyond the Grid Programme, a Public-Private Partnership scheme championed by the Presidency and the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), successfully deployed 20,000 units of solar home systems to power rural households across 12 States, between July 2017 and April 2018.
In Kaduna, the Federal Government spent N11.8bn to build Galma Dam to ensure the realization of the Zaria water project which was virtually abandoned by previous administrations. Now, residents of that ancient city who may not have seen water flow from public taps for about 30 years have a new lease on life with the 150 million liters per day water source as a result of the collaboration with the state government.
Additionally, the following Water Supply Projects and Dam/Irrigation Projects have been completed by the Buhari administration through the Ministry of Water Resources led by Engr. Suleiman Hussein Adamu: the Central Ogbia Regional Water Project, in Bayelsa; the Sabke/Dutsi/Mashi Water Supply Project, in Katsina; and the Northern Ishan Regional Water Supply Project, serving Ugboha and Uromi communities of Edo State.
Other noteworthy water projects being completed by the Buhari administration are the Kashimbila Dam, in Taraba State; the Ogwashi-Uku Dam, in Delta State; the Shagari Dam Irrigation Project, in Sokoto State; and the Rehabilitation of the Ojirami Dam Water Supply Project in Edo State.
Moreover, more than 70 Ecological Fund projects have been awarded and completed by the Buhari Administration, across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria. These include flood control projects; erosion control projects; bridges and dams; channelization and desilting.
According to the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, one of the major achievements of President Buhari’s administration in the aviation sector is the sustenance of safety. This development, the Minister says, has further boosted and restored the confidence of the public in Nigeria’s aviation sector. The Minister cited the fact that ensuring the safety of fliers would not have been possible without the enforcement of regulatory rules by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
In the area of upgrading Nigerian airports to international standards, President Buhari’s administration has worked to complete the Kano Tower Automated Air Traffic Management and Meteorological Systems, installed the Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) Category II (CAT II), Doppler VORs (DVORs), Distance Measuring Equipment (DME) at four airports across the country: Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt, and Kaduna completed, while that of Minna, Jos, Yola, Maiduguri, Benin, and Akure are nearly completed. Additionally, CAT III Instrument Landing Systems have been installed in Lagos and Abuja, which has helped to improve the operation of aircraft during inclement weather conditions.
Similarly, this administration has also installed solar airfield lighting at 10 airports; Akure, Port Harcourt, Sokoto, Yola, Kaduna, Minna, Enugu, Maiduguri, Jos, and Ibadan, as well as installed Very High Frequency (VHF) radios for aerodrome and approach air-ground communication in 18 airports nationwide. The airports are Maiduguri, Enugu, Jos, Calabar, Yola, Ilorin, Sokoto, Lagos, Kano, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Zaria, Katsina, Owerri, Yola, Calabar and Kaduna to ensure passenger safety.
First of all, to give us an insight into some of the notable achievements of Buhari’s administration, during his first term as a democratically-elected President, in 2017 alone, Nigeria’s agricultural exports grew by an outstanding 180.7% above its 2016 value.
Similarly, the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) of the Central Bank of Nigeria, to encourage farming across Nigeria, has made available N82 billion in funding to 350,000 farmers of rice, wheat, maize, cotton, cassava, poultry, soybeans, and groundnut. So far, these farmers have helped to cultivate over 400,000 hectares of land — leading Nigeria to become more self-sufficient when it comes to the provision of basic food items.
It is important to also point out that the ABP has substantially raised the local production of rice in the country. As it currently stands, yields have doubled from 2-3 tonnes per hectare while Nigeria’s paddy production has doubled compared to its 2014 levels.
Between 2016 and 2018, eight new rice mills have come on-stream in Nigeria, a situation that has increased the country’s milled rice production by about 60 percent, from 2.5 million metric tonnes in 2015, to 4 million metric tonnes in 2017. There is also more than a billion dollars private sector investments in the production of rice, wheat, sugar, poultry and animal feed, since 2015 — this shows that many more Nigerians have returned to the farm and reaping significant rewards.
Additionally, there is also the Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises (LIFE) programme which was initiated by the Buhari administration. This program, which is aimed at bringing life back to rural communities through the empowerment of youth, women and other vulnerable groups across the country, is geared towards promoting community-based on-farm and off-farm business activities as a model for job and wealth creation amongst unemployed youth and women in rural and suburban households. As the programme continues to grow, it is expected to establish over 150,000 cooperatives nationwide under commodity value chain groups.
The Buhari administration has made provision of agricultural credit for financing the production of rice, wheat, ginger, maize and soybeans in Kebbi, Niger, Kaduna, Kano, Enugu, Benue, Zamfara, Anambra and Kwara States.
Still, in a bid to aid the growth of the agricultural sector, fourteen moribund Fertilizer Blending Plants have been revitalised so far under the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI); with a total capacity of 2.3 million metric tonnes of NPK fertilizer.
The Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (which involves a partnership with the Government of Morocco, for the supply of phosphate), has thus far resulted in the revitalization of 14 blending plants across the country, with a total installed capacity over 2 million metric tonnes. The benefits include Annual savings of US$200 million in foreign exchange, and N60 billion annually in budgetary provisions for fertilizer subsidies. The Scheme has also made it possible for farmers to purchase fertilizer at prices up to 30 percent cheaper than previously available.
Shifting to the economy, the Buhari administration has made concerted efforts in resuscitating the economy which was worst hit by the 2016 – 2017 recession. The inflation rate has fallen from about 17% to the current 11.61%. Nigeria’s External Reserves have risen from $29 billion in May 2015 to $42 billion in 2019.
Tax Revenue increased to N1.17 Trillion in Q1 2018, a 51% increase on the Q1 2017 figure, following the addition of six million new taxpayers to the tax base in an effort by the Buhari administration to diversify government revenues.
Solid Minerals’ contribution to the Federation Account outstandingly rose from N700 million in 2015 to N3.5 billion in 2017.
Moreover, US$1.7 billion has been saved by the Buhari government following negotiations to reduce the US$6.8 billion accumulated in NNPC/IOC Joint Venture Cash Call arrears to US$5.1 billion. While for Nigeria’s non-oil export earnings, for the first time in Nigeria’s history, it reached a record high of 577 billion naira between January and March 2018.
Similarly, under the Buhari administration, the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) has seen fresh inflows of US$1.15 billion since 2016, and more than N300 billion in private sector investments in the rice value chain since 2015.
Nigeria has moved 24 places upwards in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings since 2018, earning a place on the list of top ten reforming economies in the world. Nigeria has similarly moved 22 points upwards in the Global Competitiveness index. Of course, the Buhari-led Federal Government has made investments in modular refineries, to ease the fuel situation in the country.
The Bank of Industry under this government has disbursed more than N160 billion in loans since 2016, just as the Nigerian Stock Market ended 2017 as one of the best- performing in the world, with returns over 40 percent.
An average of US$1 billion is recorded as weekly turnover through the new FX Window introduced by the CBN headed by Godwin Emefiele in April 2017. This attracted about US$25 billion in inflows in its first year, and a total turnover of $47.14 billion – indicating rising investor confidence in Nigeria.
President Buhari on November 4, 2019, assented to the Bill amending the Deep Offshore (and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract) Act, which is projected to generate an est. $500 million in additional revenues for the Federal Government in 2020, and over $1 billion from 2021.
Above all else, the Buhari government has proven to be pro-masses with the incredible success recorded with its celebrated Social Investment Programme (SIP), which has been praised as the largest and most ambitious program in the country’s history, with a clear focus on the most vulnerable of our population.
Notable for its aim of investing in people, the four components of the Social Investment Programme, have yielded tremendous successes. For example, the Home Grown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP), has witnessed massive enrolment in primary schools in participating states as over nine million pupils are being fed at schools with one nutritious meal per day. The Buhari-led Federal Government has so far paid out over N66 billion to the 26 states currently enrolled in the scheme.
The Buhari administration also supports nearly 300,000 Nigerians with a monthly cash transfer of N5,000 to lift them out of absolute poverty. The Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) scheme provides targeted monthly Base Cash Transfer of N5,000 to the poorest and most vulnerable households in the country, to lift them out of absolute poverty. This scheme runs across 26 states with N12.8 billion so far disbursed to beneficiaries.
With over 500,000 Nigerian graduates, selected from 36 states, and being paid a monthly stipend of N30,000 to work in various sectors like education, health, agriculture, construction, etc, the N-Power scheme is undoubtedly the largest post-tertiary employment programme in Africa. This has also — to a large extent — reduced youth unemployment as many young people who take part in the program have been reported to go into self-employment immediately after, using the monies they saved up from the program.
Through the GEEP programme which consists of the FarmerMoni, MarketMoni and TraderMoni schemes, the Buhari government has disbursed N26.4 billion in interest-free loans, to over 1 million market women, traders, artisans and farmers across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT.
As the Buhari administration works to improve Nigeria’s business climate, in line with the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, and the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP), which is hinged on the growth and support of MSMEs; and accelerating further investments in Nigeria, the Federal Government has also launched a series of key initiatives that are aimed at increasing the production of priority products to meet local demand and improve our exports.
These initiatives include the Sugar Backward Integration Program; the National Automotive Industry Development Plan; and a focus on priority production and manufacturing in areas like cotton and textiles; cassava; dairy; oil palm; leather and leather products; and construction.
These initiatives have also been backed up by the provision of access to credit for 10million MSMEs at single-digit rates; and the facilitation of tax and regulatory incentives for these MSMEs.
To encourage foreign direct investment for pioneer companies — those producing for exports, establishing new industries or expanding production — in areas that a crucial to the growth of the Nigerian economy, the Buhari administration is giving investors some significant tax holidays. While for non-pioneer investors, several non-tax investments currently exist. For example, in the agricultural sector, Nigeria currently operates a five-year tax holiday for agro-industrial ventures, an agricultural credit scheme guaranteed by the Central Bank, subsidies for fertilisers and limited import duties on raw materials required to make livestock feed.
Moving forward, as Nigerians continue to experience President Buhari’s economic, social investment and investment policies, it is clear that in the coming years, history will point back to this period as being a significant turning point in the history of our nation.
Alwan Hassan is a NewsWireNGR Contributor. He is is a public policy professional and social commentator who serves as the CEO of Greycube Dynamics and Alsad Integrated Resources. Alwan is a politician and works in developing and sustaining strategic partnerships between governments and internal and external non-governmental organisations.
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