As the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is 100 years old today, our correspondent chronicles major steps it has taken so far.
In his inaugural address at the Eagle Square in Abuja on May 29, President Muhammadu Buhari directed that the nation’s military command and control centres be relocated to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, with a view to fighting the Boko Haram insurgency that had ravaged the North-East since 2009. This led to the establishment of the Military Command and Control Centre MCCC in the state.
The announcement of the first set of Buhari’s appointments came on May 31 with Mr Femi Adesina as Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu as Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity as well as Malam Lawal Abdullahi Kazaure as State House Chief of Protocol (SCOP). On June 3, the president embarked on an official trip to Niger and proceeded to Chad on June 4. During both visits, he held bilateral talks with Presidents Mahamadou Issoufou (Niger) and Idriss Deby (Chad) on how to intensify the operations of the Multi-National Joint Task Force in the fight against Boko Haram. The following, while not exhaustive, list a bevy of items checked by the administration as done.
The president headed for Germany on June 7 for a meeting with leaders of the G-7 industrialised nations of the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom to whom he presented a wish list covering issues of security, economy, anti-corruption fight, among others. Buhari secured the assurances of the G-7 leaders’ support to his government’s counter-terrorism efforts.
Buhari undertook his first continental assignment on June 13 with a trip to Johannesburg in South Africa where he chaired a meeting of the Peace and Security Council Committee of the African Union (AU) Summit. At the meeting, the president directed that within a week, $21 million be released to facilitate the establishment of the headquarters of the Multinational Joint Task Force in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad. This was out of the $100m Nigeria had pledged to the Force.
On June 29, the president inaugurated the National Economic Council (NEC) which has Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as chairman as well as the 36 state governors and the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as members. The council is saddled with the responsibility of advising the president on economic affairs of the the nation.
The resident on July 6 approved a N700bn relief package to states for payment of workers’ salaries. The Presidency had said the intervention was aimed at alleviating the plight of many Nigerians and reducing poverty level.
On July 8, President Buhari granted an audience to the #BringBackOurGirls campaigners who were for the first time allowed access to the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja. The president reassured of his administration’s commitment to doing everything possible to rescue the over 200 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped on April 14, 2015 by Boko Haram insurgents.
On July 9, the president turned down a proposal to purchase five new armoured Mercedes S-600 (V222) cars for his use for N400m. He explained that there was no need for such vehicles since the ones inherited from his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, were good enough for him. The president’s men described this as a demonstration of his commitment to prudent management of national resources.
Also on July 9, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, disclosed that the country’s external reserves had risen from $29.1 billion to $31.89 billion as of July 7. This, he said, was due to efforts of Buhari’s government towards plugging all leakages as well as recent measures adopted by the apex bank to re-position the economy.
President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo directed on July 10 that only 50 percent of their salaries be paid to them, in what the Presidency described as a remarkable step in cutting cost of governance. President Buhari on July 13 restructured the nation’s security architecture with the appointment of a new National Security Adviser, Major-General Babagana Monguno (rtd) and those of Major-General Abayomi Gabriel Olonishakin as Chief of Defence Staff; Major-General T.Y. Buratai, Chief of Army Staff; Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, Chief of Naval Staff; Air Vice Marshal Sadique Abubakar, Chief of Air Staff and Air Vice Marshal Monday Riku Morgan, Chief of Defence Intelligence.
On July 19, the president embarked on a four-day official visit to Washington DC where he got President Barrack Obama’s assurance of the United States government’s support in the fight against terrorism. The United States specifically promised more support to Nigeria in the areas of military, technical and intelligence assistance. The US also promised to help Nigeria recover billions of funds allegedly stolen by past government officials and stashed into banks abroad. Buhari’s visit to Washington DC also attracted N2.7 trillion investments to Nigeria.
Buhari was in Cotonou on August 1 for the 55th Independence National Day anniversary of Benin Republic where he secured the support of additional 800 troops from President Boni Yayi to the Multinational Joint Task Force prosecuting the war against the Boko Haram insurgency. The president, on August 4, appointed Dr Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu as the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), in what the Presidency considered a major stride in the restructuring of the corporation. Buhari also cut the number of the NNPC directors from eight to four.
On August 5, President Buhari approved measures to fast-track the implementation of the United Nationals Environmental Programme (UNEP) report on the environmental restoration of Ogoniland.
Buhari, on August 9, stopped all the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) from operating multiple accounts and directed them to start paying all revenues, incomes and other receipts into a Treasury Single Account (TSA) in order to ensure transparency and compliance with Sections 80 and 162 of the 1999 Constitution.
Buhari, on August 10, inaugurated a Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption headed by Professor Itse Sagay. The committee is to advise the incumbent administration on the prosecution of the war against corruption and the implementation of required reforms in the nation’s criminal justice system.
On August 10,President Buhari announced that there would be no Federal Government delegation for this year’s hajj in Saudi Arabia. This, according to the Presidency, is expected to save about $1 million and N30m in local expenses. He also decorated the new service chiefs on August 13 and gave the a three-month deadline to end Boko Haram insurgency.
On August 17, the president unveiled plans to recruit fresh 10,000 policemen. While speaking at the National Security Summit on Community Partnership Approach to Internal Security and Crime Management, organised by the police in Abuja, Buhari also disclosed plans to establish a well-trained and equipped anti-terrorism and multi-agency based task force aimed at tackling insurgency in a sustainable manner. On August 24, the president ordered an investigation into the procurement of hardware and ammunitions in the Armed Forces from 2007 till now.
Buhari, on August 27, appointed Engr. Babachir David Lawal as Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Abba Kyari as Chief of Staff to the President, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (rtd.) as Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Mr. Kure Martin Abeshi as Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Senator Ita Enang as Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate) and Suleiman A. Kawu as Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives).
On September 1, the president received members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) at the Presidential Villa and demanded that their audit reports on ministries, departments and agencies be thoroughly, professionally and dispassionately done to ensure greater probity in the management of national resources and sustainable development. Within the last 100 days, President Buhari, in the absence of ministers, has made do with permanent secretaries who had separately briefed him on the activities of their respective ministries. As the president forms his cabinet this month, Nigerians look forward to seeing further positive changes.