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APC Manifesto: Questions over Buhari’s key campaign promises

Five years into the eight-year tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari, his administration is yet to deliver on key promises upon which Nigerians overwhelmingly voted him, an analysis by Daily Trust has revealed.

Buhari first defeated a sitting President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, at the March, 2015, presidential poll, after securing 15,424,921 votes against Jonathan’s 12, 853, 62, as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

In the build-up to the poll, Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC), riding on the crest of “change” mantra, unveiled their plans for the country and Nigerians as encapsulated in the party’s manifesto.

It was upon these pledges that Nigerian voters threw their weight behind his candidature and that of his running mate, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, and ushered them into office.

Then in February, 2019, President Buhari was re-elected after defeating a former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the presidential poll.

He garnered 15,191,847 votes against Atiku’s 11,262,978.

However, an analysis of the implementation of the pledges contained in the APC manifesto has revealed that the administration’s key promises have remained largely unfulfilled even with five out of the eight-year tenure of the administration now gone.

Tagged: “Our Vision for a New Nigeria”, the manifesto makes critical promises cutting across many spheres of national life. Our reporters reviewed 16 of the promises and the findings indicate that, although some progress has been recorded, no significant change has been achieved.

READ: Score yourself on your three cardinal promises – PDP tasks Buhari

In the manifesto, the party attributes the abysmal performance of the previous administration to lack of a manifesto to guide and give direction to the government. It said: “When this democratic dispensation commenced in 1999, the Federal Government that emerged did not tell Nigerians what its vision was for the country; because the party that formed the government had none.

“And without a vision, that party at the centre has led Nigeria from one crisis to another, lurching deeper into political anarchy, economic decline and social disillusionment, a decade and a half later, nothing has changed.

“That ruling party has neither concrete plans for the security and advancement of Nigerians, nor the wherewithal to do so even if it had one. Suffice to say that it had thrived on the maxim: ‘promise nothing, do nothing’.”

In trying to convince Nigerians of its resolve to make a difference, the party said: “In the past, political manifestos in Nigeria were hardly different from mere platitudes and general statements to which parties could not be held accountable. The APC manifesto is different.

“We have clearly stated what we will deliver to Nigerians when elected into office. Our focus is on six priority areas: national security, good governance, human capital development, economic development, land and natural resources and foreign policy.”

While the opposition politicians, especially in the PDP, believe Buhari has not lived up to expectations in the last five years considering the lofty promises made by the APC-led administration, those in support of the ruling party say they have achieved a lot considering the rot they found on ground when they took over.

Reforms in oil & gas dangling, await Buhari’s pledge on PIB

As part of the “change” mantra stressed in their 2015 campaigns, President Muhammadu Buhari and his party promised far-reaching reforms in the oil and gas sector.

They particularly pledged speedy passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which had seen a 17-year delay.

The promised PIB is supposed to improve transparency, attract investors, stimulate growth and increase government revenues. Five years on, this has remained a promise.

The bill was split into four parts during the first four-year term of the administration, but none saw the light of day.

Although one part of the PIB – the Petroleum Industry and Governance Bill (PIGB) – went close to being signed into law after it was passed in 2018, it was eventually denied assent by the president.

On the back of the feats recorded in the oil and gas sector 2019 such as the Amendment of the Deep Offshore (and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contact) Act, signing of the Final Investment Decision (FID) on the Nigeria LNG Train 7 project, as well as the discovery of crude oil in the North, President Buhari who doubles as the Minister of Petroleum Resources, set the tone for the development of the industry in 2020 through his Minister of State, Timipre Sylva, announced the government’s plans to pass the PIB by the middle of 2020.

The minister had said the team working on the PIB was at the final stage of the harmonisation of all the existing versions from 2000 to date (2009, 2012, and 2018) with consideration to the concerns raised by the industry players.

Counting on the current harmony between the executive and legislative, Sylva said at a press briefing early February, 2020, that the Federal Government was optimistic that the PIB would be passed within the first anniversary of the administration, but this has not been done so far.

Sylva recently insisted that work had been concluded on the PIB and that the petroleum ministry was on the verge of presenting the bill to the president and the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval before presenting it to the National Assembly.

This followed calls by a consortium of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) seeking the reform of the oil and gas industry. They called on the Federal Government to conclude work on the PIB to mitigate the impact of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant shocks on the global economy and crude oil prices at the international market.

A former Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, said Nigeria lost investments as much as $15bn yearly due to the delay in the passage of the PIB, which also means the losses may rise in the aftermath of COVID-19.

The CSOs: Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), BudgIT, Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa (CSEA), Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC), OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative, Women in Extractives (WIE), Connected Development (CODE), Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) and seven others, in a joint statement after a virtual meeting to appraise the effects of recent events and the implications on the Nigerian petroleum industry, said while the conclusion of work on the PIB was being awaited, the government should  take steps to delineate the roles of policy formulation, regulation and enforcement, as well as operations in the industry.

The CSOs said, “We suggest policy directions should be left under the purview of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, with the presidency and Minister of Petroleum Resources and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources lending their support to the declarations by the GMD of NNPC to give weight and establish trust between the government and the people.”

Cost of governance surges in 5 years

Conflicting decisions appear to characterise the present administration’s plans and actions on the cost of running the government, an analysis has revealed.

Against his campaign pledge to reduce the cost of governance by pruning the number of federal ministries, President Muhammadu Buhari created five new ministries in November, 2019.

But a recent presidential directive to implement the Stephen Oronsaye report on restructuring of federal Ministries, departments and Agencies (MDAs) may be a step towards fulfilling the president’s original pledge.

Under the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan administration, the Oronsaye committee recommended the reduction of statutory agencies from 263 to 161, and now, more agencies have been established.

The five newly created ministries are police affairs, special duties/intergovernmental affairs, aviation, humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development; and power.

Police affairs

The ministry was a stand-alone ministry during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan. However, upon President Muhammadu Buhari’s assumption of office, he merged the ministry with the Ministry for Interior, with a minister in charge. They have now been de-merged.

Special duties/inter-governmental affairs

The ministry was created by President Buhari, and its duties and area of coverage include coordinating multi-agency and inter-ministerial functions and monitoring of constituency and special projects.

Aviation

This was carved out of the Ministry of Transportation. While under aviation, the portfolio was being overseen by a minister of state. However, the president separated it as a stand-alone ministry, with a substantive minister.

Humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development

The new ministry, apart from intervention on natural disasters, is also involved in special projects, emergency management and humanitarian issues, among others.

Power

Under the Jonathan administration, the Ministry of Power was equally a stand-alone ministry. However, President Buhari merged it with works and housing under the supervision of a former Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola.

However, with the numerous power challenges in the country, the president restored it to its former status of a stand-alone ministry.

Speaking on the development, a security and economy expert, who pleaded anonymity, told Daily Trust that the Federal Government must review its budgetary process to include community participation and reduce wastage.

He said the high cost of governance had impeded economic development.

He further said the budget was not making much impact because most of the money was spent on recurrent expenditure like salaries and overheads, especially of political office holders.

According to him, in terms of the content of the budget, the budgetary allocation to the social sectors: education, health and infrastructure, which would directly impact on citizens, was still low and should be acted on.

There are also complaints that the president is not living up to his reputation as a frugal person due to some recent usage of presidential paraphernalia by unauthorised persons.

The expert cited a case of one of the daughters of the president who used a presidential aircraft for a personal visit.

Another expert, Comfort Oseghale, said in a report that since the 70s, total government expenditure in Nigeria had been on a continuous rise with capital expenditure taking the lead, and that recurrent expenditure was at N3.81bn in 1977, capital expenditure was N5bn. In 1980, recurrent expenditure rose to N4.8bn, while capital expenditure was more than double at N10.1bn.

According to her, perhaps the interest in development policies aimed at rapid industrialisation was due to the recently bequeathed legacy of planned development from the British colonialists.

She said government at this time was involved in the speedy growth of infrastructural amenities, social services and even the production of goods, which could not be manufactured by the private sector because of the huge capital costs.

Oseghale further said, “After 1980, capital expenditure lost its significance in Nigeria’s national development while recurrent expenditure assumed a more prominent role. From N36.2bn in 1990, recurrent expenditure rose to N461.6bn in 2000, N1.5tn in 2007 and N2.63tn in 2011. On the other hand, capital expenditure received N24.04bn in 1990, N239.45bn in 2000, N759.3bn in 2007 and N1.9tn in 2011.

State of residence yet to replace state of origin

Analysts have said despite the campaign promises of the Federal Government in 2015, the country is still witnessing discrimination against citizens in different spheres of life.

The ruling APC had pledged to “initiate a policy to ensure that Nigerians are free to live and work in any part of the country by removing state of origin, tribe, ethnic and religious affiliations and replace them with just state of residence.”

But this has not been done.

Discrimination against persons based on their states of origin has remained a recurring issue in Nigeria. For instance, a former acting Chief Judge of Cross River State, Akon Ikpeme, was denied confirmation due to her state of origin. She is from Akwa Ibom State.

Similarly, controversies over the elevation to the Court of Appeal of Justices Ifeoma Jombo-Ofo in 2012 and Patricia Mahmoud in 2015 from Abia and Kano states respectively were attributed to their states of origin.

This shows that Nigeria has not made enforcement of the abolition of state of origin syndrome as provided in Sections 41 and 42 mandatory.

Prof. Yusuf Zoaka, the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Abuja, listed religion, merit versus quota system, resource control and security as some of the several contentious issues limiting national unity.

Prof. Zoaka said the elite in their bid to access national resources manipulated the fault lines, adding that the president’s concentration of most of the heads of security agencies in the North was a major impediment to national unity.

He said, “If there is security of lives and property, nobody will complain about who is the security chief or where they come from. But when you have issues such as herders-farmers clashes, Boko Haram attacks, there will be fear and suspicion in the minds of the people. If there is equity in the system, most Nigerians would not bother about state of origin.”

The Executive Director of Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER), Frank Tietie, said the Federal Government had failed in its duty to ensure fairness for all.

Speaking on the issue, Prof. Ernest Ojukwu (SAN) condemned all forms of discrimination as unconstitutional.

Another lawyer, Hamid Ajibola Jimoh, argued that the country was still practicing discrimination, citing the case of the refusal to confirm a female judge as the Chief Judge of Cross River State.

Jimoh said, “Section 14(3) and the entire Section 14 discourages discrimination in public office, but are not complied with. So, there is no reality of its implementation.”

Prof. Sheriff Ghali-Ibrahim of the Department of Political Science, University of Abuja, said Nigerians were the first category of people who felt the impact of discrimination and wondered why the Federal Government was failing in accommodating the people into governance.

Prof. Ghali-Ibrahim said, “The issue is: have they (FG) fulfilled what they promised to achieve or are there some intervening variables which have actually contributed to a complete fiasco? Nigerians are being discriminated against and things are falling apart.”

FG records success in Social Investment Programme

A key programme in the manifesto of President Muhammadu Buhari’s APC is a special welfare package for the unemployed and less privileged.

Indeed, many people saw this aspect of the APC manifesto as a novel idea which introduction was long overdue.

The Federal Government initiated the N-Power programme under its Social Investment Programme (SIP) in 2015 to engage the teeming youths in productive ventures like teaching and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) programmes to reduce unemployment.

Reports from mediangr.com reveal the monthly stipends of each beneficiary as follows:

N-Power Teaching, N-Power Agro and N-Power Health: N28,000 to N30,000 monthly.

N-Power Community Education, N-Power Creative: N10,000 to N30,000 monthly.

N-Power Tech (Software), N-Power Tech (Hardware): N20,000 to N40,000 monthly, and N-Power Build: N27,000 to N30,000 Monthly.

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar-Farouq, said no fewer than 473,137 Nigerian youths had been enrolled into the SIP.

She added that, “As at February 25, 2020, there were 473,137 Nigerians enrolled into the programme.”

The mandate of the programme is to provide beneficiaries with requisite skills within the designated period of either one or two years, depending on the category, to provide work experience opportunities towards job employment for unemployed youths and to link policies towards enhancing public service.

The N-Power is for young Nigerians between the ages of 18 and 35.

Similarly, the Federal Government said over 300,000 persons benefited from the Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme (CCTS); another welfare programme.

The Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on National Social Welfare Programme, Mrs. Maryam Uwais, said: “So far we have over 11.5 million direct beneficiaries on all our programmes. We also have about nine million indirect beneficiaries.

“Right now, we have over 700,000 people on the National Social Register, but the people we are paying under the CCTS are about 300,000. This is because we select only the poorest of the poor in every community and every payment is done through their bank accounts, so we are able to track every kobo spent.”

On the welfare of people with disability, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs said a National Commission of People with Disability (NCPD) would soon be set up.

She said the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act which the president had given assent to provide for the full integration of persons with disabilities into the society and aimed at establishing NCPD.

The Programme Officer of the Disability Rights Fund (DRF), Mr. Theophilus Odaudu, said the law would be useless without the establishment of the commission.

Mr. Odaudu said, “There is a law, but the commission is the one that has the responsibility to enforce the law. So, without the commission being established, what we have is a law that cannot be fully enforced.”

He further said their expectation as persons with disabilities was that government would take steps to provide the physical environment and make services needed accessible to them.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), there are over 84 million poor Nigerians and that many of them have not benefitted from the SIP.

Analysts said the Federal Government would need to do more in terms of impact and outreach, particularly to the very poor, women and youths.

According to them, unemployment figures may reach 40 per cent by Q4 2020.

APC yet to keep promise on GDP

The APC government in its manifesto had pledged to make Nigeria’s economy one of the emerging fastest growing economies in the world with real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth averaging 10 per cent annually.

The government also promised to gradually increase public spending to 30 per cent of the GDP over its first term in office.

However, findings show that these promises have not been fulfilled.

First, the period under review, Nigeria’s economy had not grown above 2.1 per cent.

Masterclass.com defines real GDP as: “A measure of a country’s output in terms of the value of its goods and services, its investments, its government spending and its exports.”

Data analysed by Daily Trust shows that Nigeria’s real GDP in 2015, when the APC government first came to power, was N69.024tn or 2.653 per cent growth at the time.

However, in the first year of the government (2016), the economy went into a recession and the real GDP declined to N67.931tn (-1.617 per cent).

In 2017, Nigeria exited recession and the real GDP grew slightly to N68.491tn (0.806 per cent).

The growth trajectory was sustained to 2018 where the real GDP closed at 69.799tn (1.937 per cent).

For 2019, the real GDP numbers have not been published, but the figures for the first three quarters showed a real GDP of N51.86tn.

However, based on the nominal GDP growth of about 2.14 per cent as published by NBS for 2019, the real GDP rate will be at least two per cent.

Based on the data above, it is clear that the APC government’s promise that it will make Nigeria’s economy one of the fastest growing economies in the world with real GDP growth averaging 10 per cent annually has not been realised.

During the period under review, Nigeria’s economy did not grow above 2.14 per cent.

On the second promise that it will gradually increase public spending to 30 per cent of the GDP in its first term, the figures also show different results.

The following are the budget figures signed into law during the first term of the Buhari government: 2016 (N6.06tn); 2017 (N7.44tn); 2018 (N9.1tn) and 2019 (N8.92tn).

Based on the real GDP figures above, none of the budgets was up to 15 of the GDP, thus even on that score, it is apparent that the government has failed to meet its target.

Broadband penetration at 39%, but long road ahead

The Federal Government has unveiled its 2020-2025 national broadband plan which is expected to increase the country’s superfast internet rate to 70 per cent in just five years.

However, experts say much needs to be done if the government really wants to connect the unserved people in the rural areas.

In its manifesto, the APC government promised to build a national superhighway by developing a fibre optic network.

Daily Trust checks, however, show that Nigeria’s broadband penetration is currently at 39 per cent, which means about 80 million Nigerians now have access to superfast internet.

The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, said the ministry was committed to a minimum of 70 per cent broadband penetration in Nigeria by 2025.

Dr. Pantami said a digital economy policy and strategy for digital Nigeria would not be achieved without broadband penetration.

He said, “Whatever we do; we rely so much on broadband penetration. That is why any effort to complement what we have been doing to ensure broadband penetration, even for a kilometre, is highly commendable; we do not undermine it, and we really appreciate it.

“The main responsibility of government is to ensure that the environment is favourable and conducive, and if there are any challenges, the government will intervene.

“This is what we will continue to do, and I assure you within the time I am going to spend here, I will give 100 per cent to ensure that all the challenges we encounter are addressed.”

He further said the access gap in Nigeria was worrisome and the need to bridge it could not be overemphasised “because broadband penetration is directly proportional to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of a country.”

An IT expert and CEO of MainOne Technologies, Ms. Funke Opeke, said if there was right infrastructure in place Nigeria would achieve the 70 per cent target before 2025.

Ms. Opeke, who is the Chairperson of the National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 Committee, said Nigeria had been at the forefront of IT and ICT in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Mr. Guy Harrison, an IT expert from the United Kingdom, said Nigeria’s broadband plan would provide an opportunity for countrywide connectivity and also set a framework for all engagements in the public and private sectors.

Mr. Harrison said, “Broadband networks deliver benefits across the whole of society and play a key role in this in achieving the Suitable Development Goals (SDGs) and in catalysing inclusive growth in Nigeria.”

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) has said a total of N65bn would be spent as counterpart fund for the laying of 127,000km of fibre optic across the country in the next four years.

The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, who disclosed this, said the only way Nigeria could make broadband ubiquitous was to lay the cable throughout the country.

But the president of the Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, said the exorbitant cost of Right of Way (RoW) by state governments, vandalism of telecom infrastructure, poor or lack of access to public electricity to run telecom operations, multiple taxation and regulations and lack of national digital policy were all militating against ubiquitous broadband access across the country.

The President of the Association of Telecommunication Companies in Nigeria (ATCON), Mr. Olusola Teniola, called for increased collaboration among telecommunication firms to create an industry that could attract more investors in the country.

However, the Coordinator of the National Association of Telecommunication Subscribers (NATCOMS), Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, believes the Federal Government should have gone beyond 39 per cent.

Chief Ogunbanjo told Daily Trust that there was no doubt that internet speed was now faster in the country than before because of increased broadband penetration, but that a lot more should have been achieved.

He said, “No one should doubt the 39 per cent increase in the broadband pronouncement of the government. Much more should have been achieved with a lot of resources in the country’s disposal.”

Ogunbanjo who said Nigeria should have hit 50 per cent penetration, called on government to put more effort into dispelling the 5G myth and the COVID-19 crisis in order not to jeopardise its broadband achievement.

Similarly, Ajayi Olowoora, a Lagos-based businessman, said he would not doubt the 39 per cent broadband increase claim of the government as he could “feel it on my phone.

Emma Chuks, a phone repairer at the Computer Village, Ikeja, Lagos, also believes internet speed has changed for the better.

Pledge on judicial reforms yet to be implemented

The APC manifesto pledged to effect reforms aimed at enhancing the performance of the judiciary in Nigeria.

It specifically promised to reform and strengthen the justice system for efficient administration and dispensation of justice with the creation of special courts for accelerated hearing of corruption, drug trafficking, terrorism and similar cases.

But several stakeholders in the justice sector spoken to on the performance of the government in this regard believe that not much has been done by the government to keep the promise.

They said although the APC government professed change and had increased the workload of the judiciary through its emphasis on prosecution, particularly of high profile cases, it had not provided adequate resources for the judiciary and had not also paid attention to the challenges facing the sector.

Prof. Yemi Akinseye-George (SAN), said, “You are giving more work and demanding more from the judiciary without paying attention to the resources they need. So, there is an imbalance.”

Prof. Akiseye-George added that this lack of attention was why some of the lofty provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) had not been implemented.

He further said, “We are supposed to have short adjournments, the day-to-day trial of cases and the use of electronic recording and performance monitoring and evaluation – all of these things are not in place. That is why Transparency International does not think the government has done enough. That is one of the reasons because they have not paid adequate attention to the judiciary; which is one of the major partners in the fight against graft.”

A retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Kumai Bayang Akaahs, said it remained difficult to see any improvement as regards enhancing the judiciary.

Justice Akaahs said, “For example, the welfare of the judges, nobody sees anything. Judges retire and have nowhere to move into,” and added that except for the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), other retired justices had nothing to show for all their years of serving the country.

He, therefore, suggested that the Federal Government should take a leaf from what the Lagos State Government was doing as regards the welfare of its judges.

Akaahs further said, “Happily, the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, was the attorney general when that policy was started. That by the time a judge is appointed, particularly at the Supreme Court, he should move into a house where he will retire into, not when you retire you will be thrown out and you will have to start looking for how to fend for yourself.”

Dr. Umar Gwandu, the spokesman of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, said the office of the AGF “is compiling a comprehensive report on the issue.

“Reforms in the Nigerian justice system are multifaceted and multi-dimensional. Improved access to justice, speedy dispensation of justice and reforms in the correctional service are among the areas in the reform.”

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