As President Muhammadu Buhari clocks two years in office, it is pertinent to take an X-ray of the regime in terms of its performance in the critical areas of its campaign promises and in those areas that Nigerians wanted action taken.
The three critical areas where the nation had problems which needed fixing, were in the areas of national security, fight against corruption and revitalising a non-performing economy whose future was hanging in the balance because of the twin problems of dependence on one revenue-earning product, crude oil and the more important fact that the price of that commodity, crude oil, had fallen very low in the world market.
The task before President Buhari was daunting and he even confessed to the media that when he realised the enormity of the problems confronting the nation notably the paucity of revenue to pursue much-needed development programmes, he considered at times to throw in the towel!
Buhari, however, only thought of throwing in the towel. The soldier in him of course made giving up, a non-option and he moved on doggedly, confronting the national problems head-on assisted by a cabinet in which he had confidence and a supportive Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Though Nigeria is still battling economic difficulties, the time for applause is coming slowly but surely as the nation commences the laborious march out of recession.
The administration of PMB has performed fairly well in dealing with the insecurity problem that once loomed large on the national horizon. PMB got the nation’s armed forces to rout the Boko Haram, degrading the latter from a confident and rampaging band of insurgents to a rag-tag nuisance that now seek to ambush and throw bombs at the gallant soldiers of the Nigeria Army. Boko Haram can no longer stand and fight as in the days when they held sway. Today, they have lost the nerve and initiative to stand in battle and life in general is coming back to the troubled North east zone of the country.
The icing on the cake in the area of security, which is a good anniversary package for millions of Nigerians and the people of the troubled North east, is the release into freedom of 82 additional girls hitherto kidnapped from the Government Secondary School, Chibok in Borno State. Freedom for this large number of girls is a source of great joy to anyone who comes from a family or community bearing in mind the long period of their captivity.
Given the fact that there cannot be a hundred per cent situation of security in any human environment, the security situation in the country today, is quite tolerable and is one in which meaningful life can take place. No more is the nation going around cap in hand asking for help from our foreign partners for security assistance and arms. The situation has fairly stabilised and the nation’s military have entered a phase of consolidation of the security situation.
In the area of anti-corruption, it is a boom! Never before have the anti-corruption agencies in the country exposed so much graft, so much greed, so much wickedness and so much lack of compassion among the nation’s elite. It is a sort of bonanza. Everyone, including the ordinary citizen now know those who betrayed them, stole their patrimony, leaving the nation prostrate and incapable of providing them the basic means of existence, jobs, salaries and their meagre pension benefits. The Whistleblower policy activated by the Buhari administration to enable citizen participation in the anti-corruption war, is the single most important catalyst now driving the war against corruption and given it a life of its own.
The issue of concern to many Nigerians are, what kind of sanctions to mete out to the growing list of national robbers and looters so as to discourage others from towing similar path and prevent the poor and desperate citizens including the young, from holding up thieves as role models.
The prevailing position is that forfeiture of stolen assets to the State, is not sufficient punishment for the looters. It is recommended that the government working with the nation’s judiciary, should ensure compulsory jail terms of not less than 20 years for those who contributed to the nation’s adversity, poverty and unemployment of the people through stealing of public funds, as well as banning such dubious persons from seeking for office.
To his credit, the administration of PMB is battling recession and the good news is that the country will come out victorious the time most policies being put in place today, start to germinate.
First, under the Social Investment Programme (SIP) of the PMB government, thousands of indigent Nigerians across the country have been receiving the five thousand naira stipend promised by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) during the campaign for the 2015 elections. While this does not amount to much in view of the high inflation in the economy, at least it gives confidence and promise of better days for these class of Nigerians who were never for once considered by the evil and rapacious former ruling party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Second, thousands of unemployed graduates who would have remained a pain in the neck of their families have been massively employed under the emergency teacher’s programme of the present administration. These class of educated Nigerians would have the self-esteem of earning a salary with the expectation that as the economy improves in the nearest future and the nation exits recession, according to the skills and knowledge of these young and educated, they would be absorbed into other critical areas of the economy. This is the popular N-Power job scheme of PMB which as we are told, would be expanded in 2017, to accommodate a total of 350,000 young and educated persons of different grades.
Perhaps, most revolutionary in the effort to revamp the economy and create employment is the steady and successful diversification of the economy. Agriculture and food production has taken the lead here.
The administration of PMB has put in place the Anchor Borrowers Scheme under which farmers across the country are able to borrow money and improve their activities. So far, millionaires in large numbers have been created in a number of States across the country in the area of rice production. Rice farmers in Nigeria are not only becoming wealthy, they are able to provide employment to willing hands on the farms as they increase the acreage under cultivation. The magic that is happening here is that with the ban on rice imports, national revenue being used in the past to import the commodity are being conserved while steadily Nigerians have started to export the same commodity and earn foreign exchange while millions of Nigerians now eat locally-produced rice, which nutritionists tell us is healthier for the body.
The determination of the government to ensure that Nigerians can feed themselves gives hope. Most States in the country are now going seriously into agricultural production taking cognizance of their comparative advantage in certain areas.
In view of the mess which PMB found in place in May 2015, the government is doing well so far on the economy. As more sectors are brought within the radar of government support, as envisaged under the recently-released economic blueprint, the Economic Reform and Growth Plan (EGRP), the new development agenda for Niger Delta and the new guidelines on ease of doing business, among others, at both the national and state levels, it is certain that by the end of 2017, the present harsh economic climate would to a large degree have run its course, paving way for visible recovery of the economy.
Okoroma is a political Analyst and lives in Abuja.