By Eric Elezuo
…Nigeria’s economy improving, future very bright – President Buhari
Between May 29, 2015 when it came to power and August 2017, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC), struggled to find its feet in its self-created muddy waters of administration. The confusion that characterized the period in question was complicated by the fact that the President was never at home as he was busy gallivanting and crisscrossing the globe. At a time when it looks like he will face administration, Buhari was struck by a yet to be known ailment, which kept him away from office for a whopping 150 days. Much as the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo was in charge in his absence, he was incapable of taking any policy decision, and the country continued on its auto-pilot flight.
It was not until October 2017 while Nigeria was celebrating its 57th Independence anniversary that the Buhari administration through the office of the Vice President, released what he termed 57 achievements of President Muhammadu Buhari to mark the independence anniversary. Among the achievements were the release of 106 Chibok girls and the decimation of the Boko Haram sect.
Some of the reported achievements on the list include but not limited to the following
- The release of 106 Chibok girls
- The arrest of 16,000 Boko Haram members
- Tackling insurgency
- Decimation of Boko Haram in the North East
- Recovering 14 local governments and territories previously under Boko Haram control
- Rebuilding the lives of citizens affected by Boko Haram
- Curbing the incidence of kidnap across the country including the arrest of kidnap kingpins
- Restoring morale of the Nigerian military
- Re-organising and better equipping the Nigerian Armed Forces
- Purchase of 12 Super-Tucano aircrafts worth $600 million
- Ensuring continued peace in the Niger Delta through consistent funding of the FG amnesty programme for ex-militants
- Introduction of an improved mechanism for distribution of aid to IDPs
- The implementation of the National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan to aid economic recovery
- Taking the country out of her first worst recession in 29 years, despite fall in oil prices
- The N1.2 trillion expended on capital/infrastructure projects nationwide
- The effective implementation of the Treasury Single Account 17. Increasing government revenue by over N3 trillion
- Entrenching transparency and accountability
- Implementation of the Bank Verification Number
- The signing into law of two bills from the National Assembly (Acts are the Secured Transactions in Movable Assets Act, 2017 (otherwise known as Collateral Registry Act) and the Credit Reporting Act, 2017) to improve ease of doing business
- The establishment of the Presidential Quarterly Business Forum
- The prosecution of corrupt alleged public officers
- Institutionalising E-governance
- The successful establishment of the whistle-blower policy
- Voluntary Income Asset Declaration Scheme
- Signing of agreements with a number of nations to provide Automatic Exchange of Information
- Signing of the Extradition Treaty between Nigeria and United Arab Emirates toward strengthening Nigeria’s anti-corruption campaign
- The establishment of PACAC
- The eradication of polio in the country
- The introduction of the One Primary Health Centre per ward
In Buhari’s own words, he said: “In the almost two years of this administration, we have worked hard to meet the expectations of Nigerians by improving security, especially in the North-East, sustaining the campaign against corruption and have taken steps to revitalise the economy.”
But civil societies as well as the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) dismissed the President’s assessment as laughable, saying the so-called achievements were lies.
Responding through the office of the Publicity Secretary, the PDP said “these comments from Mr. President are to say the least untrue and an insult to the intelligence of Nigerians who have been at the receiving end of his government’s mismanagement in the last two years.
“Fellow citizens, we…wish to crave your indulgence to reflect on the state of affairs in the country before and after President Buhari’s APC led administration took over two years ago.”
The party went on to state that most of what the APC stated as achievements were actually their programmes before they left office and blamed the ruling party for feeding Nigerians with the wrong narrative.
“But Nigerians have been fed continuously with the wrong narrative as if we have all slipped into collective amnesia…,” it said.
The president’s efforts have had little or no effect on the man on the street as every Nigerian continues to power his own home and business concerns with the use of generator and expensive fuel; provide his own water through self-dug borehole, even tackles his own security with recruitment of vigilantes and other security mechanism at his disposal
Again in January 2018, the Presidency came up with another list of achievement, but this time either reduced in quantity or shrunk. Instead of the previously published 57 of about four months behind, the achievements were 17 in number vis-à-vis
- Exit from the worst recession in decades. Also, Inflation fell for ten consecutive months during 2017 (February to November).
- Stabilisation of the naira against the dollar, after the Central Bank introduced a new forex window for Investors and Exporters.
- Nigeria’s stock market emerged one of the best-performing in the world, delivering returns in excess of 40 percent.
- Bumper food harvests, especially in rice, which local production continues to rise significantly with states like Ebonyi, Kebbi, Kano leading the pack, and Ogun joining at the end of 2017.
- Launched of 701 billion Naira Intervention Fund (‘Payment Assurance Programme’) aimed at supporting power generation companies to meet their payment obligations to gas and equipment suppliers, banks and other partners.
- Payment of pensions to police officers who were granted Presidential pardon in 2000 after serving in the former Biafran Police during the Nigerian Civil War.
- Nigeria moved 24 places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings, and earned a place on the List of Top 10 Reformers in the world.
- Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves grew by $12 billion, reaching the highest level since 2014 and added an additional $250m to its Sovereign Wealth Fund.
- Nigeria successfully issued two Eurobonds (US$4.5bn), a Sukuk Bond (100 billion Naira), a Diaspora Bond (US$300m), and the first Sovereign Climate Bond in Africa, raising billions of dollars for infrastructure spending.
- The Federal Government launched a Tax Amnesty scheme expected to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in additional revenues when it closes in March 2018.
- Implementation of Whistleblowing Programme that has so far seen recoveries of tens of millions of dollars.
- The Social Investment Programme, which feeds over 5.2 million primary school children across selected states daily in addition to Npower project which has enlisted about 200,000 unemployed graduated.
Other reported achievements, according to the party, were the reorganization of Joint and Admission and Matriculation Board and The Nigeria Customs Service which have remitted more than it used to. It also noted that with the footprints of 2017, the year 2018 will mark a revolution in agriculture and infrastructure.
However, during the week, the Presidency in recognition of the third anniversary, released yet another list of achievements in a statement it tagged The Economy: Facts are Stubborn Things, and signed by the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina. He condemned as many that suggest through their actions and inactions that President Buhari has achieved nothing good on the economy while highlighting the following achievements and quoting the National Bureau of Statistics, which suggests that ‘the economy has recovered from the slow-down and eventual recession, which started in 2014’.
Most of the problems the average Nigerian is facing today may have been there before the present administration, but the difference lies in the fact that Buhari and his co-travellers made us believe that they have the antidote to the good life Nigerians yearn for, but unfortunately, the case is even worse today. The country is not any better three years after the change regime came in with a lot of hope – a lot of dashed hope
Improvement with stronger growth for three successive quarters, where from contracting by 0.91% in Q1 2017, the economy has grown by 0.72 percent in Q2 2017, to 1.17 percent in Q3 2017, and 2.11 percent in Q4 2017.
Again, the Q1 2018 GDP, showed that the economy has recorded a GDP growth of 1.95 percent, compared to a contraction of 0.91 percent in Q1 2017.
The Nigerian economy is on the road to diversification, indicating that the oil sector’s contribution to GDP is 9.61 percent, while non-oil sector’s share is 90.39 percent.
Spending of about N1.5trn on infrastructure projects in 2017 which resulted in the positive performance of the economy in Q1 2018
Consistent decline of inflation in 15 months from 18.72 percent to 12.48 percent
Continuous growth in total capital importation into the country, the fourth consecutive quarterly increase since Q2 2017
Foreign reserves stand at $47.79bn, compared to $29.6bn inherited in May 2015, after about six years boom in oil prices in the international market. The increase came at a time of modest oil prices, showing transparency and accountability by government.
Nigeria’s Stock Market ended 2017 as one of the best-performing in the world, with returns of about 40 percent.
Tax revenue increased to N1.17trn, in Q1 2018, a 51 percent increase on the Q1 2017 figure.
Milled rice production has increased from 2.5MT to 4MT, and rice imports have dropped from 580,000MT in 2015 to 58,000MT in 2016.
It would be recalled that, according to Adesina, that on exiting recession last year, President Muhammadu Buhari had said he would not consider the job done, until the ordinary man feels the impact of the rebounding economy on his life and pocket. The question now is ‘has the ‘ordinary man’ felt the impact…’
Buhari’s administration kicked off in 2015 on a tripod stand of Fight against corruption, Security and the Economy, and even as the Presidency has given itself pass mark on all fronts, the majority of Nigerians think otherwise
A cross section of Nigerians who spoke to The Boss unanimously agreed that the president’s efforts have had little or no effect on the man on the street as every Nigerian continues to power his own home and business concerns with the use of generator and expensive fuel; provide his own water through self-dug borehole, even tackles his own security with recruitment of vigilantes and other security mechanism at his disposal.
“Most of the problems the average Nigerian is facing today may have been there before the present administration, but the difference lies in the fact that Buhari and his co-travellers made us believe that they have the antidote to the good life Nigerians yearn for, but unfortunately, the case is even worse today. The country is not any better three years after the change regime came in with a lot of hope – a lot of dashed hope,” a Lagos resident recounted.
Never in the history of the nation that so pronounced discordant tunes ever experience. It is just 10 months before the next election, and 12 months before the inauguration of a new regime. Will it still be Buhari; will it be someone else?
Time, as usual, will surely tell.