Lillian Gordy Carter, mother of Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States, scolded his son after he declared at the beginning of his campaign for the US presidential election of 1976 that “I will never lie to you.” Rebuking Jimmy Carter for making such a promise to American voters, his mother, “No one can stand up to the complete scrutiny of his character”.
President Carter chose to start this way because in governance trust is a currency that can purchase the conscience and votes of the electorate. In like manner, when President Muhammadu Buhari promised Nigerians during his campaign in 2014 that he will not fail them, only a few took him seriously because of the depth of decadence and despair the country had suffered in the hands of previous administrations.
Today, like Carter, President Buhari is gradually actualising his lofty promises to Nigerians. Heartwarming among his recent initiatives is the Trans-Nigeria Gas Pipeline from Ajaokuta to Kano through Kaduna, which is expected to be completed within four months. The Gas Pipeline (TNGP) with the capacity to transport 2.2 billion cubic feet of gas per day has been described by experts as a lifeline for the Nigerian economy and, which will at once tackle the incidence of unemployment and youth restiveness.
The pipeline will start from Ajaokuta, Kogi state, traversing Abuja (FCT), Niger and Kaduna, and terminating in Kano state. One interesting aspect of this initiative is that it will translate to a new lease of life for the governments and people of the affected states. For one, the initiative will improve power supply, considering that the project, when completed, will unlock 2.2billion cubic feet of gas to the domestic market and support the addition of 3,600 megawatts of power to the national grid.
The pipeline is also said to have the potential of generating employment as it would support the development of petrochemicals, fertiliser, methanol and other gas-based industries. Additionally, it is expected that the project will boost domestic utilisation of natural gas, thereby bringing about social-economic development.
As a result of the improved power supply, following the increased gas supply, textile industries will be revitalised to create jobs in the country. The project which was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in 2008 got awarded for engineering, procurement and construction in 2017 by the present administration.
Another area President Buhari has kept his promise to Nigerians is poverty alleviation. No nation is ever secure if citizens are not productively engaged. As the time-tested saying goes, it is injustice to ask a hungry man to refuse a bribe. To empower Nigerians, especially the youths, the federal government under Buhari unveiled an N-Power programme, which he inaugurated in 2016 under the National Social investment Programme (NSIP).
The programme has the mandate of lifting citizens out of poverty through capacity building, investment, and direct support.
Skills and knowledge are the driving forces of economic growth and social development. Despite the current high level of unemployment, harnessing Nigeria’s young demography through appropriate skill development efforts provides an opportunity to achieve inclusion and productivity within the country. Large-scale skill development is the main policy thrust of the N-Power.
N-Power is also a platform for diversifying the economy. N-Power is preparing young Nigerians for a knowledge economy where, equipped with world-class skills and certification, they become innovators and movers in the domestic and global markets. Nigeria will have a pool of software developers, hardware service professionals, animators, graphic artists, building services professionals, artisans and others.
N-Power also focuses on providing our non-graduates with relevant technical and business skills that enhance their work outlook and livelihood.
In order to ensure government programmes have direct bearing on the lives of the people, President Buhari has also come up with an employment initiative that will see one thousand persons employed directly by government in each of the 774 local government areas spread across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). His chief of staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, is said to be working assiduously in the background to ensure that the president delivers the dividends of democracy to Nigerians in this last leg of his administration.
In the petroleum sector, the government has taken many initiatives, amongst which is reduction of subsidy to free up capital for infrastructural development. One punch point about the corrupt subsidy regime is that it benefits the rich the more while the real poor for whom subsidy is meant are left out.
But shortly after he assumed office, the group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, declared that subsidy payments on refined petroleum products are now a thing of the past. The GMD has reiterated this position severally. According to Kyari, “As at today, subsidy/under-recovery is zero.”
“Going forward, there’ll be no resort to either subsidy or under recovery of any nature. NNPC will just be another player in the market space. But we’ll be there for the country to sustain security of supply at the cost of the market,” he added.
Under recovery is the cost incurred by the NNPC on behalf of the federal government to keep the pump price of petrol at the previous benchmark price of N145 per litre. With this landmark initiative, the petroleum price will only respond to market forces. The federal government approved a reduction in the pump price of petrol from N145 to 125 per litre.
In line with the pro-people policies of President Buhari government, the Abuja-Kaduna rail line, which is one of the first standard gauge railway modernisation projects (SGRMP), is completed and up and running. It is the safest, most cost effective and pleasurable mode of transportation.
The standard gauge line connects federal capital city, Abuja, with its commercial capital, Kaduna, enabling faster movement of goods and people between the two cities. Buhari officially inaugurated the line for commercial services in July 2016.
China Civil and Engineering Construction Company (CCECC), which is also constructing the Lagos Rail Mass Transit System in Nigeria, built the line for the Nigerian government. The project employed approximately 4,000 people and is expected to create more than 5,000 additional jobs during operation.
With the milestones so far achieved by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government, it is only natural that if we give the administration more support, a lot more dividend of democracy will be delivered to the people.
Ibrahim is director of communication and strategic planning of the Presidential Support Committee (PSC).