It is instructive to note that this will be the last time Muhammdu Buhari will, as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, feature in this column.
Naturally, having stayed with and watched the President work for many years, it is difficult to say bye to him and write about what he has done or has not done in the last eight years in one article.
Still, the Buhari-led administration must, like others before it, be assessed, regardless of how difficult it is.
The President, elected as Nigeria’s leader in 2015, has clocked exactly eight years in office. He has served the mandatory two terms of four years each in office having been elected for the second time in 2019.
At the inception of his administration, the President promised to serve Nigeria, faithfully, in all spheres of its national life. He concluded the first four years and Nigerians, in a show of confidence, renewed his term for another four years. The renewed tenure lapses next week.
Of course, after Buhari has spent eight years in office, as Nigerians, we are right to review his performances with a special given to the promises he made to serve Nigeria faithfully.
Thus, looking at some of the high points of the Buhari administration, especially in the areas of legislation, infrastructure, oil and gas, digital economy, mines and steel, agriculture, education, security and health cannot be out of place.
Under Buhari, Nigeria has seen the most ambitious legislative programme in its history. Several landmark bills have been passed or amended in the last eight years, including the following, Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2022, Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Bill, 2022, which repeals the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended, and provides a comprehensive legal and institutional framework for the prevention and prohibition of money laundering in Nigeria, while also conferring on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the legal status of the Special Control Unit Against Money Laundering, Not Too Young to Run Bill (2018) – a Constitution Amendment Bill, to reduce the age of eligibility for running for elective office in Nigeria.
In the area of infrastructure, as with legislative reform, Nigeria has seen the biggest and most ambitious federal infrastructure programme since Nigeria’s Independence. The Infrastructure Corporation of Nigeria (InfraCorp) was established by Buhari in February 2021
InfraCorp’s goal is “to catalyse and accelerate investment into Nigeria’s infrastructure sector by originating, structuring, executing and managing end-to-end bankable projects in that space.”
Consequently, in the area of rail, 156km Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Rail completed and commissioned, within a Nigerian-record-time of 4 years (2017 to 2021), 186km Abuja-Kaduna Standard Gauge Rail Line, completed and commissioned in 2016 and 327km Itakpe-Warri Standard Gauge Rail was completed and commissioned in 2020, 33 years after construction began, among some others. There was also the ground-breaking construction of the 284km Kano-Maradi Standard Gauge Rail (with a branch line to Dutse), preliminary works started in 2021.
On the issue of roads, the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) was established with the government investing over a billion dollars in three flagship projects: Lagos-Ibadan Expressway (for completion in 2022), Second Niger Bridge (for completion in 2022), Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Expressway (first phase for completion in 2023).
So far, more than a trillion Naira has been mobilised through Executive Order 7 for road projects across the six geo-political zones of the country, like Bodo-Bonny in Rivers and Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki-Ojota in Lagos, Highway Development and Management Initiative (HDMI), a public-private partnership programme to mobilise, in its first Phase, over a trillion Naira in private investment into the development and maintenance of 12 roads, amounting to 1,963km in length.
More than 600 billion Naira worth of Sukuk Bonds were raised since 2017 for more than 40 critical road projects across all six geopolitical zones. Between November 25 and December 13, 2021, the Federal Government handed over to benefiting communities 941 km of completed Sukuk road projects connecting 10 states in five geo-political zones of the country.
In the areas of air and sea ports, new terminals for International Airports in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt were completed. Construction was also completed on new runways for the Abuja and Enugu International Airports. The Abuja International Airport Runway was reconstructed in 2017, for the first time since the Airport was built in the early 1980s.
An incremental 4,000MW+ of power-generating assets was completed during the life of the Buhari-led administration, including the Zungeru Hydro, Kashimbila Hydro, Afam III Fast Power, Kudenda Kaduna Power Plant, the Okpai Phase 2 Plant, the Dangote Refinery Power Plant, and others.
There is also the Energizing Education Programme that provides clean and reliable energy (solar and gas) to federal universities and teaching hospitals across the country.
In the field of oil and gas, Buhari’s assent to the Petroleum Industry Act on August 16, 2021, broke a two-decades-old jinx and set the stage for the unprecedented transformation of Nigeria’s oil and gas sector.
Under the new Act, the NNPC has transformed into a limited liability company that was formally unveiled by the President in July 2022.
The regulatory framework for the sector has also changed with the establishment of (a) the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), and (b) the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), which merged the hitherto-existing Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Petroleum Equalization Fund (Management) Board (PEFMB), and the Midstream and Downstream Divisions of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).
The administration commissioned, in 2020, the NPDC Integrated Gas Handling Facility in Edo State, the largest onshore LPG plant in the country, with a processing capacity of 100 million standard cubic feet of gas daily, producing 330 tonnes of LPG, 345 tonnes of propane and 2,600 barrels of condensate, daily.
Agriculturally, the Anchor Borrowers Program (ABP), spearheaded by the Central Bank of Nigeria, launched by President Muhammadu Buhari on November 17, 2015, has disbursed more than 800 billion Naira to more than 4 million smallholder farmers of 23 different commodities (including rice, wheat, maize, cotton, cassava, poultry, soybeans, groundnut, fish, cultivating over 5 million hectares of farmland.
The Presidential Fertiliser Initiative (PFI) launched as a government-to-government partnership between the Nigerian and Moroccan Governments, in December 2016, Presidential Fertiliser Initiative (PFI) produced 30 million 50kg bags of NPK 20:10:10 equivalent in 2020, bringing the total production since inception to over 60 million 50kg bags equivalent; and the number of participating blending plants increased to 62 from the four that were operational in Nigeria at the inception of the initiative.
The Agriculture for Food and Jobs Programme (AFAJ) is a component of the Economic Sustainability Plan (a stimulus response to the Covid-19 pandemic), whereby the Federal Government trained and deployed about 34,000 young graduates, across the 774 LGAs of the country. Each person was given a locally-developed app on smartphones and e-tablet, to digitally register farmers and map out their farm GIS coordinates.
Nigerians appear to be sharply divided on the performance of the Buhari administration in the last eight years. Some believe that the President has not done much to address the country’s security and economic challenges and the fight against corruption which formed the basis of his campaign in 2015 while others are of the view that he is the best thing that has happened to the country as far as good governance is concerned. Analyses and documentaries in the coming days, weeks and months would largely be based on this division.
The President in the eyes of Abu Ibrahim, Antony Goldman
Two books, titled “State of Repair: How Muhammadu Buhari Tried to Change Nigeria for Good,” written by Antony Goldman, and “The Legacy of Muhammadu Buhari,” written by Abu Ibrahim, were presented to the public on Friday last week.
The books were presented at a ceremony that took place at the State House Conference Centre of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The authors of the two books said the publications will serve as crucial references and provide an accurate account of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure.
The Chairman of BUA Group, Abdulsamad Rabiu, led other launchers to get some copies of the books for the sum of N200 million and was followed by Aliko Dangote, who doled out N100 million to obtain copies of both books just as Muhammed Idimi also bought copies of the books for N100 million.
The President-elect and the Vice President-elect, Bola Tinubu and Kashim Shettima obtained copies for a combined amount of N40 million.
The books were reviewed by former Governor of Ekiti State Dr Kayode Fayemi and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Abuja, Professor Abubakar Abba, respectively.
The President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, who unveiled the books, said Africa and the ECOWAS sub-region and the world at large will miss Buhari’s leadership qualities in stabilising the region.
The Ghanaian President said: “As leaders, we all have our high and low moments, but I have no doubt that posterity will be kind to Muhammadu Buhari. President Buhari, we will miss you. West Africa, Africa, and indeed, the world will miss your leadership, the leadership of a military ruler, turned consummate democrat, who was extremely solicitous of Nigeria and Africa, interests and who sought principles in all decisions which he took,” he said. “I’m yet to have a book written about me, let alone author one myself. I have some 19 months to leave office, and I guess I have to take a cue from my senior and hope the books will give about me.”
Akufo-Addo, who likened his political experience to that of Buhari, said the Nigerian leader has made efforts to change Nigeria for good, from the beginning of his mandate as a democratically elected president, to his last days in office. “From what I have read and know, the life of Muhammadu Buhari has been truly an amazing story,” he said.
And, truly, the President has done a lot for the country and its people, diversifying the economy and enhancing the nation’s agricultural productivity and ensuring fast rates of growth in all areas of the economy.
In the area of security, the efforts of the President have led to the defeat of the scourge of Boko Haram and the restoration of normalcy in many parts of the hitherto troubled country.
As his tentacles extended beyond Nigeria having served as the Chairperson of the Authority of Heads of States and Government of ECOWAS; Chairperson of the Gulf of Guinea Commission; ECOWAS Chairman in the coordination of the fight against COVID-19, amongst many others, Buhari has spared no effort to ensure the success of his tasks.