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Mixed Grill as Buhari marks one year in office

By Mohammed Abubakar Abuja
28 May 2016   |   3:50 am
In his inaugural address to the nation at his swearing-in-ceremony on Friday, May 29, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari identified four key areas which his administration would tackle in..
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari speaks during a joint press conference with his French counterpart following their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Abuja on May 14, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari speaks during a joint press conference with his French counterpart following their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Abuja on May 14, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN

In his inaugural address to the nation at his swearing-in-ceremony on Friday, May 29, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari identified four key areas which his administration would tackle in the immediate future. They included insecurity, power supply, fight against corruption and youth unemployment.

Thus, as the President marks the first year anniversary in office, the question on the lips of many Nigerians remain, has he kept faith with the promises he made to Nigerians during his swearing-in, which many saw as a new dawn in the political history of the country?

This is even more so, not only because it was the first time an opposition political party was taking over the reins of governance from a ruling party, a feat seen as rare in this part of Africa, but also when taken into account the towering father figure nature of the President and his acclaimed reputation.

However as the present administration clocks one year in office, opinions are still divided on whether the President Buhari’s government has lived up to the expectations of many Nigerians who trooped to the polling stations to elect him.

While those in the administration might believe that the government has recorded some achievements, his critics do not believe so, especially, given the slow pace of activities that characterize governance under him.

There is no doubt that the Buhari’s administration recorded a remarkable achievement in tackling the menace of the dreaded Boko Haram insurgents. Prior to his election, the terrorists were on the verge of over running almost all the Northeastern part of the country. But today, with the support and co-operation of sister African countries, coupled with the support from the international community, the terrorists have been fought to a stand-still.

To come to this stage, the President took some far-reaching steps including the relocation of the command structure of the Nigerian Army to Maiduguri, the epicenter   of the insurgency, the removal and replacement of the top military high command.

The government as part of its strategy formed synergy between the Nigerian military establishment which has resulted in a strategic defeat of the common enemy. Review of the counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency (CTCOIN) operations in the North-East for optimal result. The continuous monitoring of activities in the region of war through the use of satellite images and geographical information system is helping in fighting insurgency and strategizing against the enemy.

The trips to the neighbouring countries showed the resolve of the President to push Boko Haram elements out of existence by going for the jugular of the group, cutting their arms and food supply routes. Support has thus been mobilised through the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF).

Another major stride is the Trans National Organized Crime (TNOC) where the President got partnership with regional allies in the fight against the proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons.

As part of the refigured military partnership the United States Donation of 24 mine-resistant armoured vehicles (MRAP) which protected the Nigerian troops, especially against the menace of improvised explosives devices and resulted in having less causalities.

The President in the early days of his administration reached out to the G7 countries and achieved the following: Intelligence sharing, technical military training and arms deals/donations, all of which were denied the country under the previous administration of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.

The government has also renewed its fight against oil bunkering mostly on the account of the deployment of sophisticated weapons to ensure vandalism is contained. The Navy has made tremendous success lately in apprehending vessels used by oil thieves. This operation has improved security on the country’s waterways and it has also helped improve the revenue of government.

But while Nigerians were heaving a sigh of relief that activities of Boko Haram have been effectively contained, the emergence of the militant activities in the oil- rich Niger Delta, under the guise of the Niger Delta Avengers, (NDA); the Independent People of Biafra, (IPOB) and the murderous suspected Fulani herdsmen currently ravaging most part of the country, appear to cast a serious shadow on the achievements recorded in that line.

So far, the government appears not have answers to these myriads of resurgences, which many Nigerians believe are potential source of fresh uprising in the country. But the government claims that it had reversed the policy of the past, where national infrastructural assets were given to militia leaders to guard instead of established bodies like the Nigerian Navy.

The government has drafted the army to partner with other security agencies in ensuring the security of the national infrastructure and this is already yielding the desired results. But indications have shown however, that the use of brutal force against separatists does not seem to be yielding results, therefore, constructive dialogue with genuine representatives of the people is seen as the only way out of the present logjam.

Fight Against Corruption
With several high profile Nigerians currently facing criminal charges at various courts across the country, the Buhari administration’s determination to fight corruption has remained unquestionable.

But allegations of selective and political prosecution has remained a question mark on the efforts, as most of the suspects were personalities who played prominent roles in the past administration.

Besides, the President has maintained a dignified silence of the similar allegations made against some of his allies who have held strategic political offices in the past. Also the fact the administration has reportedly turned deaf ears to court pronouncements regarding the fate of some of the suspects facing trial lend credence to the allegation of political victimization, which has created negative impressions on the President’s fight against corruption.

Since coming into office, Buhari has maintained a clear stance and policy on the rule of law and separation of powers. He has maintained that the rule of law will be followed to the letter throughout his administration. And to consolidate a sustainable infrastructure that will stand the test of time, he has beamed his search-light on strengthening institutions that will continue with the mandate of ensuring law and order in our society.

Having met an almost decaying and inert EFCC, Police Force, and other justice sector institutions, Buhari has made it a mandate to revive them to standard by improving their welfare packages, increasing their strength, giving more powers to them, and change their leadership.

In the judiciary specifically, Buhari has insisted that he cannot fight corruption without an arm-in-arm collaboration of the executive with this sector. He has thus sought the help and partnership of the Chief Justice of Nigeria in reforming the sector that will evidently play a prominent role in his fight against corruption and the strengthening of the principles of the rule of law.

On political front, the President appeared to have encountered some problems as his administration, nay his political party, the All Progressives Congress, (APC) which seemed not to have got its acts together.

On assumption of office, Buhari pledged not to interfere with the workings of other arms of government, especially the legislature. This has proved to be counter- productive, especially when taken into consideration the leadership crisis that rocked the Senate as a fall-out of the emergence of Bukola Saraki as Senate President.

Under his watch, the integrity of the upper legislative chambers appears to be questioned given that almost one year after his election, the President of the Senate, who is also the Chairman of the National Assembly, has been going in and out of the Code of Conduct Tribunal to answer charges of perjury.

Power Sector
Under Buhari, the Federal Government agreed to a 50 million Euro (about (N11.15 billion) loan agreement with the French government for capacity-building and upgrade of power training facilities in Nigeria. Nigeria signed a $237 million agreement with World Bank to improve power.

He discussed initiatives to bring solar power price down to five US cents per kilowatt hour, (approximately N10) as against the price of 17 US cents (N34) per KW/h tariff in Nigeria fixed at privatisation by the last government with a solar deployment agreement soon to be signed.

Chinese Solar power manufacturers agreed with the Federal Government to set up solar panel manufacturing business in Nigeria. Buhari signed agreement with Chinese president to improve Nigeria’s power infrastructure. Power supply in February peaked at over 5000mw for the first time in the history of the country.

However, despite the acclaimed efforts of the government, the country had continuously been experiencing sharp drop on power supply in the country, especially in the last three months, where darkness appears to have been ruling the country, amidst hike in electricity tariff, leaving the consumers helpless. Government has, however, blamed the Niger-Delta militants who have been blowing up oil and gas pipelines of late, for this situation.

The Buhari government, on assumption of office chose to enforce the (Treasury Single Account) aimed at plugging identified leakages, though not an original idea of his administration, having been introduced by the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, was made a cornerstone of this administration. Over N3 trillion has been saved already and that is huge.

Besides, the administration introduced the Bank Verification Number, (BVN), which has ensured that the menace of “ghost workers” are being identified and dealt with, while looters with multiple accounts can no longer hide their loot undetected.

The administration ‘s claims that its reforms in the oil and gas sector has brought a lot of relief is neither here nor there given that the reforms have brought untold hardship on Nigerians.

As one of the spokesmen of the President said recently, “While we have been faced with severe shortage of PMS and at times, aviation fuel, it is undeniable that progress is being made in the downstream sector of oil and gas. Just recently the Kaduna Refinery finally began production while the one in Port Harcourt had begun production after several years of zero production, but for saboteurs and vandals, most of the refineries would have been at over 90% production as at today.”

But analysts believe that the recent increase in the price of petrol appeared to have taken the shine off any benefits that should have been derived from the oil sector reform embarked upon by the government.

Social Protection
Social Protection is another cornerstone of the administration’s populist policy. Although it hasn’t been fully implemented, due to some delay in signing the budget, the groundwork is fully in place as data is being collated by the economic planning office of the Vice President in conjunction with the World Bank.

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