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Buhari’s presidency and the journey so far

By Obaka Abel Inabo

“BY May 27, 2017, President Buhari’s presidency will be two years old and also halfway through its tenure. It is, therefore, not too early to assess his performance at this point in time. But I must confess at the outset that this exercise will not be an easy one. What with the general opinion of the public that Buhari has not met their expectations? What with the inflation and naira devaluation? However, it is not all a gloomy picture as this article shall reveal shortly. Sentiments aside, Buhari is on track towards rebuilding Nigeria, and the rebuilding will be holistic and comprehensive. Here are Buhari’s landmark achievements less than two years into his tenure.
First and foremost, Buhari is rebuilding the image of Nigeria through shuttle diplomacy by undertaking some foreign trips both within and outside Africa to re-establish Nigeria’s position in the global arena and solicit support for Nigeria and Africa. It is worth mentioning that Mr. President has continually pushed the agenda for enhancing Nigeria’s global image by always demonstrating Nigeria’s credentials in the 2015 general elections, which saw the country scoring high on peaceful transition. In addition, President Buhari strongly supported the emergence of a Nigerian, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, as President of the AfDB. Also, Buhari facilitated the appointment of Mrs. Amina as UN Deputy Secretary General.  All these restored Nigeria’s image globally.
Before I go further in stating the achievements of Buhari, I wish to highlight the view of Dr. Ganiyat A. Adesina-Uthman, ACMA, FCE, who is the Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN). She is of the opinion that Buhari has achieved a lot in the fight against corruption and commends him for his doggedness in the fight against the vice. She added that “This is the first time in  Nigerian history, at least since the advent of democracy, that the devilish monster terrorizing the economy, the cancerous menace that has eaten deep into our polity will be given attention and held tight at the jugular to ensure fair distribution of the nation’s wealth.”  Dr. Adesina-Uthman added that, “BVN and  TSA have no doubt blocked some leakages in the economy, but the economy is not recovering fast from the response to the shock of leakages because the level of looted funds in hidden places  may be too high as evidenced from the array of corruption cases.”
Coming back to my own contribution,  I can boldly state that the dreaded Boko Haram terrorist group has largely been defeated, thus restoring the dignity of the Nigerian military. In fact, the dreaded Sambisa forest has been taken over by our military.
Worthy of mention is the reduction in the cost of governance with the merging of some ministries and introduction and implementation of TSA. It is indisputable that TSA has succeeded in curtailing corruption in the MDAs. So, no more free and idle money to be shared among the civil servants at the end of the year. In other words, leakages and avenues to loot government  funds are now blocked. No more free government money for Xmas bazaar and bonanza among the hitherto kleptomanic civil servants.
In terms of infrastructural development, many roads are being constructed. For instance, the Calabar-Itu road was repaired completely and the work on the 2nd Niger Bridge at Onitsha has commenced. On employment and empowerment of Nigerians, Buhari’s government has created 200,000 N-Power jobs and 10,000 police recruitment without charging application fees and without a single loss of life. Furthermore, the payment of N5,000 stipend for the core poor has commenced and it is real because I know some of the recipients.
On macro-economic management, our foreign reserve is on a steady rise. In addition, the age-long budget padding has been stopped. Also, accountability in Customs and other revenue generating agencies of government has been restored. There is increase in food production as can be seen with the surge in rice production across the country.
Happily, Nigerian (local) rice is now a brand. And that is to say that Nigeria’s internal production capacity is on the path of recovery. In addition, the successful removal of fuel subsidy that was an avenue for corrupt importers fleecing the country of trillions of naira is a great achievement by the Buhari presidency.  No more subsidy scam and Nigeria is no longer indebted to fuel importers. Indeed, Nigerians celebrated the 2016 Christmas without fuel scarcity and bomb blast. Nigeria is now ranked 22nd largest economy in the world and 1st in Africa.
For effective fight against corruption, Dr. Adesina-Uthman  advised Mr. President to put in place a functional system. She suggested that, “A data bank of Nigerian citizens through the national identity scheme is a desideratum to a working system. For instance, Malaysia has a superb e-system for citizen and immigrants’ identification. If a crime is committed, forensic evidence is deployed, with data base support.’ On economic recovery, she advised that Mr. President should ensure diversification of the economy and that only made in Nigeria vehicles be used as official cars. In conclusion, I want Nigerians to exercise more patience and have the belief that Buhari’s presidency will fix Nigeria. As for the problem we now have in the economy, like inflation and naira devaluation, there is hope because if these achievements could be realized within 18 months, more would be attained before his tenure ends.
Luckily, global crude oil price has picked up, approaching $60 per barrel. In addition, once Dangote refinery comes on stream in 2018, freeing us from using almost all dollars earned from crude sales to import petroleum product, the dollar will automatically fall and prices of goods will come down then naira will pick up. That’s when Nigerians will actually see that God has started Nigeria’s restoration to the path of glory. Nobody can fix Nigeria in one day. Give Buhari time to fix Nigeria holistically. Even God believes in process. He is not in partnership with magicians. Buhari has not solved all our problems, but we are making progress. l believe Nigeria will be great once again.
Obaka, an economist, is a Lecturer at NOUN, Jabi

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