The hallmark of presidential democracy is stewardship and accountability. President Muhammadu Buhari demonstrated this reality in a fine-line nationwide broadcaat he delivered on 1st January, 2021, to herald the new year.
The presidential broadcast created the platform for President Buhari to talk directly to the people who overwhelmingly elected him. In a deft display of craftsmanship, the president succinctly laid out the scorecard of his stewardship in the outgoing year, as well as vision and expected action steps for the new year.
The broadcast has for once put paid to the debate as to President Buhari’s candour, competence and charisma. It the Buhari led government is leaving no stone unturned in frantic attempts to deliver on key strategic priorities of security, economy and anti-corruption agenda. These key areas were well reemphasised in the president’s broadcast to the soothing relief of well-meaning Nigerians.
Again, the broadcast bears eloquent testimony to why the pan-African body, the African Union (AU), chose President Buhari to champion its anti-corruption fight tagged, “Winning the Fight Against Corruption: Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation.’’ The AU’s choice of President Buhari was in recognition of his administration’s commitment and success in the fight against corruption in Nigeria and globally.
It is on record that under President Buhari, high profile Nigerians have been jailed, in an anti-corruption war he has transformed from just a toothless bulldog to a biting one. The instances are endless but suffice to point out a few. The former governors of Plateau and Taraba States, Joshua Dariye and Jolly Inyame are cooling their heels in prison. Until recently, the former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, and the former national publicity secretary of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh were also in Correctional Centres.
Not done with the humongous progress recorded so far in anti-corruption efforts, the president in the New Year broadcast announced the commitment of his administration to collaborate with the legislature to enact laws that would strengthen the fight, while reviewing some of the laws which would ensure the diligent and timely prosecution of corruption cases.
The revelation by the president that his administration is re-energizing and reorganizing the security apparatus and personnel of the armed forces and the police with a view to enhance their capacity to engage, push back and dismantle the operations of both internal and external extremist and criminal groups waging war against communities in some parts of the country was also a pleasant New Year gift .
The president was right to have raised in his speech the recent Kidnap and rescue of over 300 of boys abducted from Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State. The alacrity with which the students were rescued by the security operatives is a clear demonstration of drastic departure from what it used to be.
Booming economy is the life wire of every nation. Any nation that is not able to feed itself is vulnerable and living in compromised security situation. This explains why the issue of national economic diversification agenda raised in the presidential speech is apt. The measures the Buhari-led government has adopted so far has helped reduced the growing food-related inflationary figures and have in considerable measure positively impacted our food security status during the long months of the pandemic lockdown.
Under the diversification agenda, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) released N16billion for Anchor Borrowers Programme to enable farmers explore the opportunities presented by the restrictions to increase production capacity. The apex bank has also been applauded for its new foreign exchange policy restricting forex access for maize imports.
In the 2020 planting season, the CBN supported the value-chain of maize production, providing the needed input from land preparations to harvesting, aggregation and storage. The apex bank has supported farmers by providing high yielding maize seeds. This economic diversication strides is replicated for the rice, palm oil and cotton farmers as well as in the solid minerals sector.
President Buhari also ordered the CBN not to fund imports of food items. Specifically, the president directed the apex bank not to give funds to importers of foreign food items. With these great steps being taken by the Buhari-led government, the country can be self-sufficient in food production in the next few months if farmers believe in their capacity and put their hands on the plough.
Solid infrastructure is to business what blood is to the human system. Comparatively, between 2015 when President Buhari took over and now, the difference in improved infrastructures is clear. The president has deployed larger chunk of the resources available to his government to building critical national infrastructures.
This is demonstrated by his appointment of former governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Raji Fashola, as the minister of works. It took the Buhari-led government to commence the construction of the Second Niger Bridge after the first and fast deteriorating one was commissioned by Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa in 1965. Since then, successive governments have paid lip service to the construction of the Second Niger Bridge.
All around the country, we are witnessing massive transformation through the rehabilitation, modernization and expansion of the railway system, national roads and bridges, both in rural and urban centres, alongside the airports and seaports.
Like never before, the race to boost business in Nigeria has recieved tremendous leap. The reforms in the power sector has been scaled up to a new hieght. Without an iota of doubt, the renewed vigour would guarantee increased efficiency in Nigeria’s drive to significantly expand the generation and distribution of electricity for use in homes and factories.
As a strategic and purpose-driven government, the Buhari-led government has continued with the trends. When it was necessary to close the borders, he did not hesitate to do so, and now that it is favourable to reopen some of the land borders, he also acted accordingly. This is a mark of responsive and responsible government.
What’s more? President Buhari had, in the speech, told our West African neighbours that Nigeria is once again fully open for those willing to conduct legitimate business.
Nothing is more comforting than the acknowledgment of Nigeria’s difficult journey of nationhood. However, the president, as a father and Captain of the nation, has words of hope for Nigerians. In the speech, the president praised the resilience of Nigeria and Nigerians, who have defiled the dooms day predictions of bookmakers around the world that Nigeria would disintegrate after few years. Despite these dooms predictions, 60 years after, Nigeria is not only standing strong and united but prospering.
In a rare show of magnanimity, President Buhari, in the broadcast, acknowledged the demands of the youths to protest. He reiterated the commitment of his administration to carry out holistic police reforms and other demands of the youths.
Finally, President Buhari assured in the that, as the Commander-in-Chief, he would do everything within the powers of his office to face head-on the challenges facing Nigeria.
– Ibrahim is director, Communications and Strategic Planning, of the Presidential Support Committee (PSC).