The ill-informed editorial in yesterday’s Daily Trust newspaper warrants a response.
The authors are correct that Nigeria like every other country in the world is undergoing a period of hardship. But all and any suggestion that the Buhari administration is not leaving Nigeria in a better place than we found it – especially on the key pillars of the economy, security and corruption – is pure fantasy.
The facts speak for themselves. On security, as recently as 2015 Boko Haram held territory the size of Belgium in Nigeria. Today they hold no Nigerian territory to speak of. In March our military eliminated the leader of ISWAP in an airstrike using U.S. jets and British intelligence – testament to the newfound trust our allies hold in our administration, not enjoyed by previous administrations.
Moreover, our administration is the only in Nigeria’s history to implement a solution to the herder-farmer conflicts through our landmark National Livestock Transformation Plan. Already, where ranches have been established under that initiative, we are seeing a sharp reduction in disputes.
It is therefore incorrect to say nothing has changed, not to talk of getting worse.
Even around the Daily Trust, things have improved. Seven years is a long time and their new managers may be unaware that in 2015, The Daily Trust needed barriers around their premises and heavy security- as did many other sensitive institutions- to be safe from terrorists. Now, they have all that removed, a clear indication that the threats, as they existed at that time have abated.
On corruption, this administration has seen hundreds of millions in stolen funds returned from abroad and used as social and welfare funds distributed directly to the poorest during the Covid-19 pandemic and the provision of long-delayed infrastructure-roads, bridges, rail, and power. This is a direct result of Buhari administration’s initiatives such as our whistleblowing policy which empowers and emboldens Nigerians to report corruption without fear.
Moreover, it again demonstrates the newfound trust our international partners have in Nigeria, thanks to the efforts of our administration. Those same partners refused to return stolen monies to previous administrations for decades, knowing it would simply be stolen again.
More importantly, what the Buhari administration has done is to place mechanisms to stop corruption from happening that include the strengthening of the office of the Auditor General, enhancing the capabilities of the anti-corruption agencies by signing into law several legislations and Executive Orders; the implementation of the Treasury Single Account, TSA, whistleblower; the implementation of public expenditure management and forensic accounting management systems and several others.
As for the economy, the unprecedented and vast infrastructure development driven by our administration has set the country on course for sustainable – and crucially, equitable economic growth – while our policies for boosting domestic production of food and energy will be key to us navigating the global cost of living crisis.
With global supply chains disrupted by the Covid-19 lockdown and the Russia Ukraine war, skyrocketing freight rates and extreme weather events causing inflation to surge all over the world, leaders are getting the beating and we expect that ours will not also be spared.
But fairness demands that we should give credit to whom it is due. President Buhari put in place a food policy, to grow what we eat and eat what we grow, that has averted the growing food security threat that is pushing nations into a conundrum.
The President’s program has given the nation the confidence to ban rice imports, saving a daily amount USD 5 million in Forex. We have seen rice Pyramids in many states including Kebbi, FCT, Niger, Gombe and amazingly, Ekiti State.
The country has witnessed the setting up of 54 integrated rice mills, 1,000 small scale rice mills, and 57 fertilizer plants revived or built anew in a boost to production. Nasarawa State is today competing with Niger in sugar production and Kaduna State is about to commission a steel mill. Only a performing economy can give these.
One of the biggest mistakes that opponents of President Buhari make, is to believe in their own preconceived perceptions and propaganda about the brand of politics they believe in.
For this President, one of the greatest investments a meaningful government can do is to better the lives of those at the lowest rung of the social ladder. This administration has more than 20 million persons benefiting from conditional cash transfers, school feeding and other social investment, SIP programs.
In a time of global hardship, we are faced with enough challenges without inventing them where there are none. Moreover, pretending that achievements do not exist where they do helps no one. Rather, let us focus on what we have achieved so that we may build further upon those achievements to tackle the new challenges that continue to arise.
Finally, it needs to be said that in periods like this, when elections are within view, harsh and unfair criticisms are expected, especially against a leader like President Buhari with an image that is significant, in which the All Progressives Congress, APC invests heavily.
*Malam Garba Shehu is the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity