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Tinubu’s silent and unreported achievements

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But for the ministerial presentations on the achievements of the President Bola Tinubu administration in its first year, christened Ministerial Sectoral Update, which began on Tuesday, May 21 at the National Press Centre in Abuja, many may not have known or appreciated the quantum of work that has been done by the government within such a short period of one year in office. This piece is not really about the re-engineering work that is being done on the economy, which is now recording a gradual growth. For instance, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, the nation recorded a 2.98 per cent growth in the first quarter of this year, higher than the 2.31 per cent recorded in the same period in 2023.

The article is also not about the improving security in the land, especially in the oil-producing Niger Delta region, which has engendered increased oil production. Daily oil production has jumped up from barely one million to 1.7 million barrels per day including condensate, overshooting Nigeria’s OPEC quota, following the statistics provided by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), Senator Heineken Lokpobiri. The focus is also not on the increasing flow of investments into the economy, like the $30 billion Foreign Direct Investment commitments already secured during the year to grow the economy.

My focus is on those silent, quiet achievements recorded thus far by the administration, which are largely unreported and unsung until now. These achievements are by no means insignificant. They are so concrete and substantial that in some instances, they are ground-breaking, either laying or re-laying the foundation for growth and development in the country or resetting the sectors where they have occurred. It must be admitted, however, that some ministers have little to showcase in one year. This is evident enough in their presentations, which were drab and lacklustre in a number of cases. The ministerial presentations and inauguration of projects executed by the administration were the only approved activities organised to mark President Tinubu’s first anniversary. The president had ordered a low-key celebration.

One defining feature of most of the achievements recorded in the various ministries is that they emerged from the vision or ideas Tinubu espoused and developed over time, and embodied in his Renewed Hope Agenda as eight priority areas. The President is reform-minded and, like Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, he is the guardian angel of those reforms and the achievements recorded thus far. It is pertinent to highlight some of these reforms and initiatives across the various sectors. Take, for instance, the laudable projects executed by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mr Nyesom Wike, the catalyst for those monumental achievements in just one year is the full autonomy granted the FCT by Tinubu over the resources accruing to the territory. By removing the FCT from the Treasury Single Account, the FCT administration’s resources were unlocked for Wike to deploy in addressing the developmental challenges of the city. Yet that singular action of the President remains unsung and perhaps unappreciated by many. Of course, there are more things done to recalibrate the governance structure of the FCT by the president, including approval for more mandate secretaries and its own Civil Service Commission.

As a result of these presidential approvals, Wike, away from the political turmoil in his native Rivers State where he has been fingered as a central figure, unleashed infrastructure on the FCT, opening up new districts with a network of roads and bridges, and resurfacing arterial roads. The minister has completed the construction of many bridges, refurbished the moribund metro line in Abuja and created access roads to the train stations, which had earlier rendered the stations inaccessible even when it was briefly operational. About $15 million was expended on building the access roads to the various stations.

The minister also restructured and completed the official residence of the Vice President, which had been abandoned since 2010. Some cynics may ask: how important is that residential project at this point in time? This question would be of no significance when it is realised that the project, valued at N7 billion in 2010, could not be left to waste and to scoundrels at a time when the FCT authorities are working hard to ward off kidnappers and other criminal elements.

The Ministry of Power also has a remarkable story to share, though many would insist the sector has left much to be desired given its importance as an enabler of the economy. But believe it, a silent retooling, which promises to change the disastrous electricity situation in the country, is ongoing. Indeed, unbeknownst to many, power generation is gradually increasing. For instance, 5000MW of power was achieved this month for the first time in three years. “Precisely on May 3, 2024, we generated, transmitted, and distributed 5,003.45MW of power. This is expected to further rise to 6000MW by the end of this year,” the Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, said in his presentation.

Tinubu did three important things, among others, to tackle the issues in the electricity supply value chain and set the sector on the path to recovery and optimal performance. Number one, in June 2023, Tinubu signed the 2023 Electricity Act into law, marking a significant milestone in the sector. The new law focuses on enhancing the regulation and management of the electricity value chain with the active participation of the sub-national governments. This, thus far, has resulted in the process of devolution of regulatory powers to three states – Enugu, Ekiti, and Ondo – to set up their electricity markets.

Two, the President gave approval to defray legacy debts owed gas companies to allow efficient gas supply for the sector going forward and payment mechanism to address electricity generating companies’ debts. This, according to Adelabu, will ensure necessary maintenance and evacuation capacity optimisation.

Third, there has also been a series of infrastructure upgrades in the last one year. The ongoing Siemens Power project under the Presidential Power Initiative was one of the programmes that ensured the improvement of power assets in Nigeria. In December 2023, Tinubu and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz witnessed the signing of an accelerated performance agreement aimed at expediting the implementation of the PPI to improve electricity supply in Nigeria. The Minister of Power also disclosed that the government had put in place the required framework to achieve an injection of 3.5 million meters into the power sector – 1.5 million meters through the World Bank Distribution Support Recovery Programme and two million meters through the Presidential Metering Initiative.

In aviation, some developments are worthy of note, including the construction of the second Abuja runway, which had been stalled for many years as a result of lawsuits while a second runway in Lagos has been reactivated. Among other things, the Minister of Aviation, Festus Keyamo, has facilitated the acquisition of aircraft by local operators under the dry lease agreement to support and empower the indigenous airlines to compete with international airlines on more lucrative international routes like the case of Air Peace on the Lagos-London route. Additionally, discussions have also reached an advanced stage with foreign investors to establish a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Centre in Nigeria through PPP. Ibom Air is almost through in its negotiations with Airbus.

With respect to the food situation in the country, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development launched dry season farming involving 118, 651 hectares in 15 states, with Jigawa State alone getting 40,000 hectares. This intervention injected an estimated N309 billion into the economy, according to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Abubakar Kyari. The ministry also supported a total of 107, 429 wheat farmers with inputs resulting in the output of 474, 628 metric tonnes. It has also created about 60,000 jobs across the agricultural value chain within the first year. As the administration’s substantial investments in enhancing security across the country begin to post concrete yields, this will positively impact agricultural productivity going into the President’s second year in office.

Importantly, the nation’s budgeting system has also been rejuvenated to give proper attention to the government’s priorities. The Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Senator Atiku Bagudu, who incidentally is also the Chairman of the Ministerial Sectoral Update Committee, said the 2024 budget has two remarkable features. “One is the determination, despite our challenges, to restore budget discipline by lowering the fiscal deficit. So, the 2024 budget targeted a reduction in deficits from 6.11 per cent in 2023 to less than four per cent in 2024 and an increase in capital expenditure relative to recurrent spending, which is 39 per cent expenditure, the highest in the country’s history,” he said.

In addition to innovative budgeting, the N100 billion fund has been earmarked for Consumer Credit designed to mobilise the manufacturing sector to produce again, which would occur when people can fund their purchases. There is also a mortgage fund to support the creation of mortgages. “So with consumer credit mobilising the manufacturing sector, mortgages re-energising the housing sector, and national agricultural development fund mobilising the agricultural sector, our youth and our productive economy will be mobilised. The N130 billion we provided for conversion, for transition to CNG, which is a cheaper form of energy than petroleum, is designed to restore energy competitiveness so that our manufacturing sector, our transport sector, and our economy will benefit from a cheaper form of energy that will support the economic reform,” Bagudu said.

Under the Tinubu government, the projects and initiatives undertaken thus far did not emerge by happenstance or by luck. They are well-thought-out and emerged from a vision to reengineer the country and put it on the path of economic recovery and prosperity. One of these landmark initiatives is the Renewed Hope Infrastructure Development Fund, aimed at revitalising Nigeria’s crumbling infrastructure. This fund has earmarked substantial investments for constructing and rehabilitating roads, bridges, and public amenities. The construction of the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Road connecting nine littoral states has already taken off.

There is also the Students Loan Fund for indigent students in tertiary institutions, which the registration portal opened about two weeks ago.

The country may not be where it should be at present. There are still challenges; notable among them is the cost of living, which is still high. Food prices surged last month, with inflation rising to 33.69 per cent, according to the NBS. The naira is also struggling to find its level against the greenback, hovering around N1,400 to N1,500/1$ at the parallel market for a couple of weeks. However, on Wednesday, May 29, it recorded its biggest appreciation in four months to close at N1,173. 88/1$.

The country is gradually turning the corner. Looking back at how far he has gone since he mounted the saddle, Tinubu said the journey had been challenging and fulfilling. He promised that his administration would do all it takes for the average Nigerian to feel the impact of governance, stating that governance must be transformative and must address the critical needs of citizens. Speaking when he received a delegation of the Yoruba Leaders of Thought at the State House, Abuja on Friday, May 24, Tinubu added that the country is no longer “bleeding”, but moving gradually into prosperity.

Tinubu said, “It has been challenging. It has been fulfilling as well. We took over, and we have stopped the bleeding. I can say categorically now that Nigeria is no longer bleeding. And it will not bleed to death, but rather will now move to prosperity.

“That is the promise that I made to you all, and it is also the charge that you gave to me. We are managing to swim through the pond. The current is not a good one. We will turn the tide. We are turning the bend. This I assure you. I am being very careful. The worst is over for Nigeria. We will prevail.

“I thank the team who has been working really hard. All I can promise is that we will do whatever it takes. We are determined, and we will work so that all Nigerians can feel the impact of good governance.”

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