Nigeria’s budding renaissance through Buharism
Boko Haram’s defeat in 19 months is a major feat of Buharism towards strengthening national security and boosting the GDP when economic activities resume there fully. Also, a possible environmental cause of insurgency there is being tackled partly through a grant of 19 million euros from Germany for an international project for reversing the 90% shrinkage of Lake Chad through diversion of River Congo into it towards restoring aquatic, arable and pastoral agriculture for the benefit of all the lake’s basin commission countries! This deft combination of military enegagement with the management of environmental issues also applies to the Niger-Delta with the phased clean-up of Ogoniland.
Certainly, the over-dusty “dreams” of “Operation Feed the Nation” (1978) and “Green Revolution” (1980) are being realised through the 2016 successful start of the strategy of agriculture-led diversification of the economy with the production of 300,000 tons of wheat, 5 million tons of rice etc and the launch of “Lake rice” by Lagos and Kebbi state governments while the local production of fertilisers to reduce production cost will start in 2017. But, while the outlook for these and other products are bright in 2017, key issues to resolve include: expansion of the value-chain to generate more employment, use of river basins and expansion of irrigation schemes to permit three crop harvests per annum, sensitive management of the cattle-ranch schemes and the farmers-herdsmen debacle, protection of local tomato paste processors, close monitoring of GMO promoters, intelligenge-led surveillance to prevent international sabotage of this strategy through “diffusion” of crop diseases and pests and military-backed land-border controls to support the Customs in preventing smuggling activities.
Oil discovery in Borno, Lagos becoming an oil-producing state and the increase in oil and gas reserves to 37 billion and 192 trillion cubic feet respectively in 2016 were assuring. The removal of oil subsidy reduced recurrent expenditure and ended the regime of humongous fuel subsidy fraud while managing the refineries better through private-public-partnership will obviate the wasteful TAMs and their potentially controversial privatisation towards speeding-up the sector’s downstream deregulation. The on-going deals for about $80 billion in FDIs, including $15 billion pre-payment for oil supply with India and the abolition of the JVCs with the oil majors will ease cash-flow pressures. Also the contract for extending the West African gas project to Europe will expand access to the EU market.
The discovery of coal in Sokoto state and the groundwork for commencing the mining of gold in Kaduna state and bitumen in Ondo state will strengthen the geo-political balance of mineral-producing parts of the country in promoting socio-political peace! This has been boosted with the approval of 13% derivation fund for sold-mineral-producing states as for crude oil. The disentanglement of Ajaokuta and Itakpe from the legal noose of their privatisation was a major breakthrough in freeing these blockbuster-but-dormant assets towards increasing the GDP.
Resolution of the legal impasse between Bicourtney and the goverment has provided the pragmatic way for resuming the protracted rehabilitation of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway along with the resumption of several abandoned federal road projects, including the East-West road just as for the negotiated phased release of several containers of power transmission equipment that were stuck in the ports for many years to boost power supply. Also, work has resumed on some abandoned hydro-electricity projects while contracts for new solar and wind energy projects are on-going within the newly formulated composite energy policy. Moreover, land has been acquired in 27 states for comencement of the mass housing programme, backed with the N500 billion Family Home Fund for take-off this year. Along with the Kano-Lagos and Lagos-Calabar railways, the completion of the second Niger bridge and the repair of some airport facilities will revamp the transportation sector. The launch of the GCC as a technology-enabled multi-channel-cum-lingual communications platform for improving efficiency in government business and accessibility to government services and information by interested parties blends with the scheduled completion of the digital switch-over in June 2017. Also, safety net programmes for alleviating poverty among the most vulnerable citizens: School feeding, MCS, CCT, N-Power jobs and GEEP for economic stimulation through technical and financial empowerment, have commenced.
The take-off of the BVN and TSA have been successful though more work needs to be done to eliminate witholding of revenues by MDAs. N200 billion was saved from 50,000 ghost workers in 2016 through IPPIS. Some looted funds were recovered, two rounds of financial bail-out for 35 states were made and a 22-point module of Fiscal Sustainability plan for states requiring future bail-outs was designed and agreed. The e-efficiency unit was created, Customs software for VIN to combat smuggling will start in 2017 and appropriate platform and modalities for the anti-corruption whistleblower initiative to enhance loot recovery was launched. Also, a 34-point plan for the comprehensive long-term development and growth of the economy was launched while a Development Bank with $1.3 billion take-off grant will take off in 2017.
However, critical challenges remain: re-building foreign reserves (why the ban on the 41 items should remain!), utilising the $15 billion abandoned projects by former administrations for economic stimulation and minimising the risks of excessive exposure to foreign loans by reviewing the DMO’s 60:40 external: domestic loan portfolio strategy because Nigeria’s 2005/6 debt relief will never happen again and the massive Naira devaluation will exarcebate the burden of repaying external loans. Hence other local sources like the idle pension funds need to be well explored.
Therefore, Buharism is the route to Nigeria’s economic renaissance through its strategy for long-term economic re-structuring, growth and socio-political stability. Its derailment, as in 1985, should be prevented because the country may not survive such a second-round 30-year disaster. Hence every Nigerian should ignore its detractors and be patient to allow its buds sprout.
• Okunmuyide, lives in Lagos