By Henry Akubuiro
When President Muhammadu Buhari took the reins of office on May 29, 2015, so much was expected of him and his new government by a vast majority of Nigerians. Six years down the line, not all expectations have been met, however, as Nigeria continues to grapple with security, economic and socio-political challenges. But there are indications that the admiration has fared quite well in many areas. Mr Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President, insists that not many credits have been given to the administration for its achievements in the last six years. Statistics made available by the Presidency shows that the Buhari administration has recorded substantial achievements in infrastructure development, oil and gas, power, diplomacy, youth empowerment and creative industry support, among others.
In infrastructure financing, approval was given in 2020 for the establishment of InfraCo Plc, an infrastructure development vehicle, with combined debt and equity take-off capital of N15 trillion. Also, last year, the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) was established with more than $1bBillion in funding so far. Similarly, the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) has seen total additional inflows from the Government of around US$2 billion under the Buhari Administration. The presidency says under Buhari’s watch, the rail system has witnessed remarkable progress with the 156km Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Rail nearing completion, while the 327km Itakpe-Warri Standard Gauge Rail has been completed and commissioned 33 years after construction began. The completion of Abuja Light Rail was completed in 2018, and ground-breaking done for the construction of Kano-Maradi Standard Gauge Rail, and revamp of Port-Harcourt-Maiduguri Narrow Gauge Rail. Financing negotiations are ongoing for Ibadan-Kano Standard Gauge Rail project, it was gathered.
Just as rail construction has been given a boost, road construction, says the presidency, has witnessed accelerated development. For instance, the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) invested over a billion dollars in three flagship projects: Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Second Niger Bridge, and Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Expressway. The administration has also given Executive Order 7 mobilising private investment into the development of key roads and bridges, like Bodo-Bonny in Rivers and Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki-Ojota in Lagos. In the same vein, Highway Development and Management Initiative (HDMI), a public-private partnership programme, has been initiated 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. Again, more than 360 billion naira worth of Sukuk Bonds has been raised since 2017 for dozens of critical road projects across all six geopolitical zones.
From available statistics, achievements of the Buhari administration in aviation include the completion of New Terminals for International Airports in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt; construction of a New Runway for Abuja and Enugu International Airports; presidential approval for four International Airports as Special Economic Zones: Lagos, Kano, Abuja and Port Harcourt; approval for new private-sector funded deep sea ports: Lekki Deep Sea Port (which is being constructed, with completion slated for next year); Bonny Deep Sea Port (ground-breaking done in March 2021); Ibom Deep Sea Port and Warri Deep Sea Port, and development of capacity at the Eastern Ports, among others. The Presidency says much has also been done in the area of power where it has facilitated the Energising Education Programme, taking clean and reliable energy (Solar and Gas) to Federal Universities and Teaching Hospitals across the country; completing four new solar power plants at BUK (Kano), FUNAI (Ebonyi), ATBU (Bauchi) and FUPRE (Delta), while others are ongoing. Its Energising Economies Programmes has taken clean and reliable energy (Solar and Gas) to markets across the country, with completed projects, including Sabon-Gari Market in Kano, Ariaria Market in Aba, and Sura Shopping Complex in Lagos. Similarly, it’s National Mass Metering Programme has seen a nationwide rollout of 500,000 metres delivered to the Discos, and more than 280,000 installed from the targeted 1 million metres in the first phase. The Solar Power Naija programme, launched in April 2021 to deliver 5 million off-grid solar connections to Nigerian households, is expected to generate an additional N7 billion increase in tax revenues per annum and $10 million in annual import substitution.
Meanwhile, the Buhari Administration has declared this decade the “Decade of Gas,” says the Presidency. To this end, the ground-breaking on the 614km Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano Gas Project has been done, as well as the successful completion of Nigeria’s first Marginal Field Bid Round in almost 20 years, expected to raise in excess of half a billion dollars, and open up a new vista of investment in oil and gas. Also, the National LPG Expansion Programme (including Removal of VAT from the domestic pricing of LPG) has been launched, while Financial close and signing of contract for NLNG Train 7, have been concluded, which will grow Nigeria’s production capacity by about 35%. Nigeria and Morocco have, in 2021, signed an agreement to develop a US$1.4 billion multipurpose industrial platform (Ammonia and Di-Ammonium Phosphate production plants), to be located in Ikot-Abasi, Akwa-Ibom State. The administration also commissioned, in December 2020, of the new NPDC Integrated Gas Handling Facility in Edo State, the largest onshore LPG plant in the country. In agriculture, there are so many initiatives by the Buhari administration geared towards boosting food production. The Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) of the Central Bank of Nigeria, it was gathered, has made more than 300 billion naira available to more than 3.1 million smallholder farmers of 21 different commodities (including rice, wheat, maize, cotton, cassava, poultry, soy beans, groundnut, fish), cultivating over 3.8 million hectares of farmland. The Presidential Fertiliser Initiative produced 12million 50kg bags of NPK 20:10:10 equivalent in 2020, bringing total production, since inception, to over 30 million 50kg bags equivalent; and the number of participating blending plants increased to 44 from three at inception. Another significant initiative here is the Special-Agro Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) Programme, a partnership between FGN, AfDB Group, and other stakeholders, including IFAD and BOI. It’s Green Imperative, a Nigeria-Brazil Agricultural Mechanisation Programme, of which loan has been approved by the National Assembly, will involve the development of 632 privately-operated primary production (mechanisation) Service Centres and 142 Agro processing (value addition) service Centres nationwide. The Presidency has enumerated so many achievements in social investment and poverty alleviation. The National Social Investment Programme is currently the largest of such programmes in Africa and one of the largest in the world. It has assisted 1.6 million poor and vulnerable households. As gathered, more than eight million individuals in 45,744 communities in 557 councils in 35 states and the FCT are currently benefiting from the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programme, which pays a bimonthly stipend of N10,000 per household. In January 2019, President Buhari established the Survival Fund, National Youth Investment Fund, and National Special Public Works Programme (with 774,000 beneficiaries across 774 LGAs nationwide), and the Central Bank’s COVID-19 N300 billion Targeted Credit Facility (TCF), with more than 150 billion naira disbursed so far, to support millions of small businesses, households and young people, with federal grants, loans and stipends. The Buhari Administration’s Survival Fund, says the Presidency, has provided its grants (Payroll Support, Artisan and Transport Sector grants, and General MSME grants) to more than 800,000 beneficiaries, since the last quarter of 2020. At the end of 2020, Development Bank of Nigeria (which commenced operations in 2017) had disbursed 324 billion naira in loans to more than 136,000 MSMEs, through 40 Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs). About 57 per cent of the beneficiaries are women-owned MSMEs, while 27 per cent are youth-owned. Again, the Bank of Industry has disbursed more than 900 billion naira in loans to over three million large, medium, small and micro enterprises, since 2015. Since assuming office, the Buhari administration, the Presidency informs, has committed more than N1.7 trillion of capital intervention to Nigeria’s tertiary institutions, through various means, including TETFund – with the universities taking the lion share of the total amount. It has also disbursed more than 170 billion naira in UBE Matching Grants to States and the FCT since 2015. Available statistics reveal that there has been a reduction in the number of out-of-school children, by 3,247,590, as at 31st December, 2020, achieved through a World-Bank financed programme known as ‘Better Education Service Delivery for All’(BESDA). Under the World Bank-supported Innovation Development & Effectiveness in the Acquisition of Skills (IDEAS) Project, approved in 2020, US$200m will be invested in six participating States of Abia, Benue, Ekiti, Gombe, Kano, and Edo, as well as 20 federal science and technical colleges nationwide. In addition, approval has been given for the establishment of Federal Maritime University in Delta State; Nigerian Army University in Borno State; a new colleges of education in each geopolitical zone – Odugbo, Benue State; Isu, Ebonyi State; Ekiadolor, Edo State; Gidan Madi, Sokoto State; Jama’are, Bauchi State; and Iwo, Osun State); Six new Federal Polytechnics in Kaltungo, Gombe State; Ayede, Oyo State; Daura, Katsina State; Shendam, Plateau State, Ohodo, Enugu State; and Ugep, Cross River State are also being planned, it was gathered.
The Nigerian creative industry is one area that Nigeria’s youths have taken to a new high, mostly on their own, but the Buhari admiration has thrown its weight behind the efforts. In this regard, the Federal Government approved a N75 billion National Youth Investment Fund (NYIF) in 2020. It also established the Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI), by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in collaboration with the Bankers’ Committee, to provide single-digit financing to young Nigerians in the fields of Fashion, Film, Music and Information Technology. In 2019, the Federal Government added Creative Industries to the list of qualifying sectors for ‘Pioneer Status’ Incentives – which grants relief from Corporate Income Tax for a specified period of time. There was also presidential approval for the handover of the National Theatre, Lagos, to the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Bankers Committee, for redevelopment into a world-class Creative Park, serving the theatre, film, fashion, music, and ICT sectors, valued at about 20 billion dollars. In the area of security and justice, the Presidency reports that the Nigerian Air Force has acquired 26 brand new aircraft since President Buhari assumed office in 2015, and is expecting another 12 (the 12 Super Tucanos currently on order from the United States Government, due for delivery starting July 2021).
The Nigerian Navy has acquired close to 400 new platforms since 2015, including 172 Riverine Patrol Boats (RPBs), 114 Rigid- Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs), two Seaward Defence Boats (SDBs), 12 Manta Class/Inshore Patrol Craft (IPC), three Whaler Boats, four Barges / Tug Boats, 22 Fast Attack Boats, 14 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), four Helicopters, 14 River Town Class, 14 House Boats and four Capital Ships. In line with the President’s directive, the Nigerian Navy has established a Naval Base Lake Chad in Baga, Borno State, as well as deployed 14 Naval Security Stations along the nation’s coastline in areas prone to criminal activities. The Community Policing Programme has now been enshrined into the Police Act, 2020.