Envisioning Buhari’s next four years
Without making a lot of fuss, President Muhammadu Buhari is gradually worming his way to the heart of Nigerians by presenting his second term agenda to them through subtle but effective campaigns. Curious observers would have known already that Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) might have chosen to embrace a relatively new approach to their campaigns ahead of general election this February.
The President had stylishly kick-started his campaigns with the launch of the national unity wristband, with a call on Nigerians to promote peace and unity for national development.
The wristband tagged, Buhari Unity Band (BUB), was an initiative of the Good Governance Ambassadors of Nigeria (GOGAN) and the presidency. By that move, Buhari set the tone for a peaceful election by urging all Nigerians of goodwill to sign up to the initiative by obtaining and wearing the unity wristband.
On that occasion he said: “There is no doubt that we still have pockets of issues that question our unity but we are convinced that, with the determination of all Nigerians, we shall remain strong and united.
“The Buhari Unity Band is a visual and token symbol of our resolve to live in unity as one and to preach the message of unity wherever we live. Those who subscribe to the unity wristband will be known as Nigerian Unity Ambassadors.”Going by the guidelines of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), campaigns for the 2019 presidential and National Assembly elections officially started on Sunday, November 18 and Buhari did let that day pass without any action. He kick-started his own in a grand style by presenting what he called the ‘Next level” document.
It was the real beginning of Buhari’s 2019 re-election campaign, so, notable APC members, including governors, ministers, National Assembly members, captains of industry converged on the Aso Rock Presidential Villa Conference for the official presentation of the ‘Next Level,’ which is a presentation of the achievements and projection of his administration.
The 17-page document, which the leadership presented as “some of the ideas and priorities that will shape how we govern,” is a blow-by-blow account of what the administration is set out to achieve if elected for a second term.On job creation for instance, what will be the next level is to engage 1,000,000 N-Power graduates, skill up 10 million Nigerians under a voucher system by partnering the private sector, anchor borrowers scheme to support input and jobs to one million farmers, livestock transformation plan to create 1.5 million jobs along dairy, beef, hide and skin, blood meal, crops, agricultural mechanisation policy with tractors and processors to create five million jobs.
The government also promised to provide $500m innovation fund to tech and creative sector to create 500,000 jobs, train 200,000 youth for outsource market in technology services and entertainment.In the area of industrialisation targeted at creating jobs, the agenda is to create six regional industrial parks and special economic zones while the next level would be 109 Special Production and Processing Centres (SPPCs) to spur production and value additive processing, the provision of tractors and processors plants in each senatorial district to create extra jobs and there is also the plan to continue to create more jobs through the school feeding programme.
By increasing the number of children fed from 9.3 million to next level of 15 million, the government hopes that 300,000 extra jobs would be created for vendors and farmers alike.
In the area of road and rail infrastructure, Buhari promised to complete the Ibadan-Kano phase of the Lagos-Ibadan-Kano rail, complete Eastern rail (Port Harcourt-Maiduguri) taking the network through Abia, all South-east states capitals, Maude, Jos, Bauchi and Gombe, complete the coastal rail project (Lagos-Calabar) as well as the link on Itakpe-Warri rail to Abuja through Lokoja and make it operational.
Others listed is the completion of the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria to Kano, completion of the works on federal roads using Sukuk Bonds in each states of the federation, complete the Second Niger Bridge connecting Anambra and Delta states and to complete the East-West road connecting Warri, Delta to Oron, Akwa-Ibom, through Kaiama and Port Harcourt in Bayelsa and Rivers states.
Still on infrastructure, the government which said it would treat broadband facility as critical infrastructure added: “We have addressed uniform right of way charges. Next level is to move broadband coverage to 120, 000km on fibre network across Nigeria. After partnering Google for free Internet access to key locations, next level will prioritise access to Internet to education, primary health care centres, market and business clusters.”
Part of the plan for the next four years is also to create a vibrant economy around business process, outsourcing, technology, creative sector etc, with flexibility, e-lancing and freelancing as key features, to drive procurement to start up service by promoting quota for tech startups and to support private sector-led technology hubs – support technology startups by providing grants, equity and loans.
In power generation, government is inclined to add a minimum of 1,000 MW new generation incremental power capacity per annum on the grid to bring to a total of a minimum of 11, 000 MW and distribution is to get to 7, 000 under distribution expansion programme.
Using off grid power to energise education, “nine universities will have uninterrupted power next when we complete the first phase of 37, in energising economies, next level moves from 16 markets such as Sura, Ariaria to lighting up 300 markets and clusters with clean, uninterrupted off-grid power.”
In rural electrification, the next phase is to execute the Nigeria Electrification Project (NEP), a $550m Rural Electrification Programme, supported by the World Bank/AfDB to create a pipeline to private local investments and financial incentives to catalyse the Nigerian off-grid market for standalone solar solutions.
On Peoples Moni, the agenda is to expand the scope of the soft loan from its current 2.3 beneficiaries to 10 million, to provide financial support of up to N1 million to small traders, artisans (carpenters, tailors, mechanics, hairdressers, barbers, plumbers, vulcanisers, commercial drivers, taxi, keke and motorcycles operators).
Government will also help beneficiaries to remove restraints such as skills, government bureaucracy and others. The government also plans to launch an Entrepreneur Bank to support young entrepreneur with loans to support business ideas across different business value chains.The bank, which will be technologically driven, will among others, carry out profiling and tailored advisory services for entrepreneurs and help with capacity-building where needed.
Concerning policy direction for ease of doing business, the administration, which noted that “In spite of the crash in oil prices, diminished oil production, and reduced revenues, we kept most of our promises,” added that, “We are set for the next level.”
According to the document by the Nigerians leader, what will be done is to legislate and enforce deadlines for issuance of government licenses and permits and simplify investment, customs, and immigration, trade and production procedures.For MSME, 109 one stop shops of all regulatory agencies (CAC, NAFDAC, SON (MSME Clinic) etc under one roof will be located in each senatorial district.
To guarantee health for all, using co-payments to share the cost between individuals, the private sector and government, the poorest 40 per cent will be exempted from such co-payment and to secure the country and make the anti-corruption war more effective, Buhari said his next administration will decentralise funding of police operations and foster true community policing by implementing direct transfer of funding to police division all across.He also vowed to execute the second phase of the farmer-herder and National Livestock Policy to end the decade-long conflict between farmers-herders. “To eliminate the scope of systemic corruption, we will emphasis technology enabled e-governance,” he maintained.
Conclusively, Buhari promises more inclusive government by actualising 35 per cent female appointments, more youth appointment for boards and implementation of special mentoring programme in governance with young graduates working with ministers and other senior government appointee. From all indications, gradually but steadily, Buhari is taking his second term agenda to Nigerians and from the look of things – he is getting deserving attention from those who consider him as best for the country on the ground of his integrity and renewed capacity to foster unity.
Akinnusi wrote from Abuja.
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