ECONOMIC GAINS OF THE MUHAMMADU BUHARI ADMINISTRATION IN THREE YEARS

Timothy Choji, Abuja

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The coming to power of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 was welcomed with a lot of enthusiasm by Nigerians who were yearning for a change from the previous administration.

The optimism of the people was as a result of the track records of the then new President, who as a Military Head of State enshrined the culture of discipline and law and order amongst the citizenry. This led to the overwhelming support he got in the 2015 election.

Little wonder therefore, when President Buhari assumed office on May 29,2015, he made a solemn declaration to fight corruption, revamp the economy and also improve the security of lives and property,  offering himself to be a President for all Nigerians.

The President came to power when the Nigerian Economy was at its lowest ebb. He introduced in 2016 an Economic Recovery and Growth Plan ERGP, to help fix the economy from the downward slide his government found it to be. The  ERGP was followed by the Government’s medium-term Economic Plan,  which was launched by in April 2017.

The programme charted a course for the Nigerian economy for the next four years that is 2017–2020, with a Vision of restoring economic growth; investing in Nigerians, and building a globally competitive economy.

The plan aims to focus on five priority areas namely, stabilizing the macroeconomic environment; Achieving Agriculture and Food Security; Ensuring energy efficiency especially in power and petroleum products; Improving transportation infrastructure; and driving industrialization primarily through Small and Medium Enterprises, SMEs.

To fast-track the implementation of the ERGP, the Nigerian Government launched what it called ERGP Focus Labs, which targeted a six-week intervention from March to April 2018 to unlock medium-scale and large-scale investment projects held back by bureaucratic bottlenecks. Under the Phase one which was concluded in April 2018, projects worth about 10 billion U. S. dollars were identified and are now being implemented.

This effort has brought the economy back on the path of growth, after the recession of 2016 and 2017.

To further boost the economy through Agriculture, the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative; which involves a partnership with the Government of Morocco, for the supply of phosphate was launched with the revitalization of 14 blending plants across the country. The benefits of these initiatives include annual savings of US$200 million in foreign exchange, and ₦60 billion annually in budgetary provisions for fertilizer subsidies. The Scheme has also made it possible for farmers to purchase fertilizer at prices up to 30 percent cheaper than previously available.

Today, the number of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises MSMEs has increased tremendously. The Buhari administration has also launched series of funding and capacity development initiatives designed to support MSMEs across the country through the Development Bank of Nigeria with initial funding of US$1.3 billion provided by the World Bank, German Development Bank, the African Development Bank and Agence Française de Development.

In the area of infrastructural development, the Buhari Administration just last month launched the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF), under the management of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority with seed funding of $650 million.

Similarly, Nigeria’s External Foreign Reserves increased from $24 billion in October 2016, to $48 billion in May 2018. The Sovereign Wealth Fund has seen inflows of US$500m in 2016 and 2017 the first inflows since the original sum of US$1bn with which the Fund kicked off in 2012.

With all these successes in the economic recovery of Nigeria, it can only better with the diversification into non oil areas such as agriculture, solid mineral development as well as improvement in the tourism sector.