Looking beyond Buhari: The imperative for modulated continuity in Tinubu administration
From the benefit of hindsight, almost all new administrations that come on board tend to abandon the projects of the preceding administration to start their own from scratch.
The new administration not only abandons or terminates the projects no matter the cost implication or the burden of the opportunity cost of the termination, but they also abandon personnel of the previous government to bring in theirs no matter the experience associated with the former.
Of course, not all projects are advised to be continued by a succeeding administration, especially where such projects are white elephants whose end is to satisfy the underhand dealings of a few shady characters in and out of government. It is the same for personnel without demonstrable competence or loyalty to the system.
Be that as it may, in most cases, the virus of project abandonment is most prevalent where the new administration has political differences with the outgone one or where the personalities share different and divergent ideologies and philosophies about governance.
This serial abandonment of projects or discontinuity in the deployment of personnel to achieve set goals and objectives of government has become a malaise that impacts governance at national and subnational levels over the years.
Luckily, the new President, Bola Tinubu, has promised to continue with some of the laudable projects of the Muhammadu Buhari administration, especially in the area of infrastructural development. President Tinubu, coming from his background, understands that sustainability and modulated continuity are key drivers of growth.
The Lagos governance and development model he pioneered in 1999/2000 during his first term is a typical example of his foresight in this regard. Since then till now, all state governors have continued to build and retool the model to solve old and emerging existential challenges of the state while not deviating from the cornerstone of the model: people-centred development.
Without a whiff of doubt, the Buhari administration had some stars in his government who discharged the responsibilities of their respective portfolios admirably and even surpassed expectations in some cases. It is the same way some agencies, departments and commissions of the government stood out despite the slew of inadequacies and shortcomings of the outgone administration.
One such agency that did excellently well based on the assessment of industry experts and connoisseurs is the Rural Electrification Agency(REA), established in 2005 but largely opaque and non-responsive to its mandate until former President Buhari appointed a renewable energy expert, Engineer Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad, to head the agency in 2019.
REA, founded to help expand electricity access to rural areas and hitherto unclustered areas by using off-grid technologies, has been so visible, proactive, innovative and alive to its responsibilities for the past years since Engineer Ahmad became its helmsman to the extent that the immediate past minister of state for power, Goddy Jerry Agba, in a somewhat atypical manner, rated the agency as the star agency in the power ministry being that it was under his supervisory purview in the Buhari administration.
Agba described the agency as a high performing one that has satisfactorily met its statutory mandate and, therefore, deserves commendation, having impacted several communities in the country’s six geopolitical zones with several solar power projects and mini-grids. I said it’s atypical for a supervising minister to praise an agency under his control in this clime. For the Agba to have done so, it can only mean Engineer Ahmad has done excellently well.
Well, taking into cognisance the well-known penchant of President Tinubu for recognising exceptional hands and befriending them with the sole intention of engaging them with state responsibilities, it is expected that the new administration will retain Engineer Ahmad to continue with his lofty revolutionary project of electrifying rural communities which were hitherto strangers to electricity -renewable or nonrenewable.
Of all the admirable projects the Engineer Ahmad-led REA has embarked upon, completed and is about to complete in the last few years, especially under the auspices of the Nigerian Electrification Project(NEP), there is one that is more than pertinent to have and sustained because of the huge contributions it will make to the country’s efforts at food sufficiency: Energising Agriculture Programme(EAP).
The EAP, according to those familiar with the issue, is meant to stimulate GDP, accelerate renewable energy use and unlock agricultural productivity in the country. This is quite in tandem with the policy direction of the new administration wherein President Tinubu said categorically in his inaugural speech that his government will pursue a nationwide programme for the storage of produce to reduce spoilage because electricity is needed for storage facilities to work optimally.
As currently designed, the EAP under Engineer Ahmad’s supervision is a three-year initiative that started in 2022. Supported by the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), the Global Energy Alliance on People and Planet(GEAPP) and the Rockefeller Foundation, the project is designed to enable market-led solutions while breaking the silos separating electrification and agricultural development.
To get millions of Nigerians out of multidimensional poverty, the new administration must prioritise agriculture to deliver food security. One major contributor to ensuring food availability and access to a preponderance of Nigerians is a steady electricity supply to agric hubs and other allies working in the entire agricultural value chain. The REA, under the leadership of Engineer Ahmad, is working assiduously in this regard. There’s the need to allow continue to deliver on the task.
Wisdom Ndukwe is a public affairs analyst based in Lagos.