Three days ago, the Presidency released a factsheet on what the Muhamamdu Buhari-led administration has done in the last three years. OLUKOREDE YISHAU chronicles the things that have not remained the same since President Buhari mounted the saddle.
It was a period many Nigerians will not forget in a hurry. And not a few are still feeling the hangover. But the statistics are looking good. A fact sheet released at the weekend by the Presidency to mark the third year of the Muhammadu Buhari administration shows that better days lay ahead.
Just before the hardship set in, dynamites were thrown. Grenades caused chaos. Gunshots rented the air. The scenes were in the Niger Delta. The victims were not human-beings but oil facilities – strategic ones for that matter. And the effects on oil production and export were not only huge and scary. They were costly. The economy bled and needed oxygen to be on the path of recovery.
Settling down to business, President Muhammadu Buhari and his team put up their thinking cap. The grievances of those blowing up the pipelines must be addressed. His deputy, Yemi Osinbajo, a professor of Law, went from one creek to the other, preaching peace.
He visited oil-producing communities, listened to the people and spelt out the Federal Government’s commitment as captured in the ‘New Vision for the Niger Delta’. In the vision are answers to the 16-point Demand Agenda submitted to President Buhari by the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF). This vision has berthed the Nigerian Maritime University in Delta State, approval has been granted for the establishment of Modular Refineries in the nine Niger Delta states and work has resumed on abandoned projects in the oil-rich region, including the East-West Road.
The engagements with the Niger Delta and the Organisation of Oil Exporting Countries (OPEC) helped to raise oil revenues and ultimately in growing the external reserves, the Excess Crude Account (ECA) and the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF). The engagement with OPEC involved rallying the organisation and Non-OPEC members to discuss stabilisation of the global oil market in Doha and in Algiers. This led to an exemption from the OPEC production freeze and rise in oil prices.
These steps, according to the government, helped to kick out recession of 2016/2017 and there is a 1.95 per cent growth in the first quarter of this year; inflation has fallen for the fifteenth consecutive month from 18.7 percent in January last year to 12.5 percent as of April; and external reserves has climbed to $47.5 billion, the highest in five years, which also double the size as of October 2016.
The exports in 2017 were 59.47 per cent higher than 2016; agriculture exports grew 180.7 per cent above the value in the previous year; raw material exports grew 154.2 per cent above the value of 2016; solid minerals exports for last year grew 565 per cent above the value the previous year; and last year saw exports of manufactured goods growing by 26.8 per cent above the value the previous year.
Other cheering news included: “The first quarter of 2018 saw the fourth consecutive quarterly increase in capital importation since Q2 2017. The total value of capital imported in the quarter stood at $6.3 billion, which is a year-on-year increase of 594.03 per cent and a 17.11 per cent growth over the figure reported in the previous quarter.
“The new FX Window introduced by the Central Bank Nigeria (CBN) in April 2017 now sees an average of $1 billion in weekly turnover, and has attracted about $25 billion in inflows in its first year (and a total turnover of $47.14 billion) – signaling rising investor confidence in Nigeria.
“Nigeria’s Stock Market ended 2017 as one of the best performing in the world, with returns in excess of 40 per cent.
“Five million new taxpayers added to the Tax Base since 2016, as part of efforts to diversify the government revenues.
“Tax Revenue increased to N1.17 trillion in Q1 2018, a 51 per cent increase on the Q1 2017 figure. N2.7 Trillion spent on Infrastructure in 2016 and 2017 fiscal years, an unprecedented allocation in Nigeria’s recent history.
“Fourteen moribund Blending Plants revitalised so far under the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative (PFI); with a total capacity of 2.3 million metric tonnes (MT) of NPK fertilizer.
“The contribution of solid minerals’ to the Federation Account rose five-fold from N700 million in 2015 to N3.5 billion in 2017.”
To align monetary, fiscal and trade policies, the administration in April last year created a new forex window for investors and exporters, which has helped stabilise the market. The window has attracted more than $45 billion in its first year of operation.
The fact sheet noted: “The Buhari administration has implemented a new debt management strategy which targets a ratio of 60 per cent to 40 per cent between domestic and external debt. The other objectives of the strategy are to moderate growth in debt service costs, free up space in the domestic market so that the private sector can have increased access to loans, and, to shore up external reserves.
“The Renminbi-Naira Swap Agreement between the Peoples Bank of China and the CBN.”
In the area of bond issuance in the international capital market, the Federal Government last year successfully issued $4.5 billion Eurobonds, $4 billion of this was for the part financing of the deficits in the 2017 budget ($1.5 billion) and 2018 ($2.5 billion).
The Eurobonds were highly oversubscribed, and the country was able to issue a tenor of 30 years, the first time in its history.
A Diaspora bond to the tune of $300 million with a tenor of five-years was also issued for the first time to part–finance last year’s budget.
The N100 billion Sukuk issued to finance 25 road projects across the country, N10.69 billion debut Green Bond to fight climate change and the N8.126 billion raised from 11,366 retail investors through the Savings Bond since it was launched in March 2017 are key achievements of the administration in its drive to reflate the economy.
Many states, struggling with payment of salaries, have received more than N1.9 trillion from the Federal Government to meet their salary and pension obligations. This assistance has come in the form of budget support facility (N606.55 billion), Paris Club refunds, infrastructure loans and loan restructuring for facilities with commercial banks.
External reserves have doubled since October 2016, from $24 billion to $48 billion, while the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) has seen the injection of $1.15 billion under the Buhari administration (the first government inflows since the original $1 billion which the fund kicked off with in 2012).
Unlocking the potentials
The administration leveraged on its goodwill to attract multi-billion investments and loans from China and Morocco. Buhari’s April 2016 visit to China unlocked billions of dollars in infrastructure funding and construction has progressed on the 150km/hour rail line between Lagos and Ibadan.
The National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (NERGP), launched in April last year to chart a course for the economy over the next four years.
According to the government, the NERGP is to restore economic growth, invest in Nigerians, and to build a globally competitive economy by giving priority to agriculture, power, macro-economy, energy efficiency, transportation infrastructure and driving industrialisation through Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs).
The administration is supporting MSMEs with $1.3 billion from the Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN). The money was provided by the World Bank, German Development Bank, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Agence Française de Development.
The Bank of Industry (BoI) has disbursed more than N160 billion in loans since 2016. It has also established a N5 billion Fund for artisanal miners, as part of the Federal Ministry of Mines & Solid Minerals Development’s Programme to boost activities in the mining sector.
A power reform led to the launch of the N701 billion Payment Assurance Programme to guarantee payments to generating companies and gas suppliers. This programme, known as the Power Sector Recovery Programme, was endorsed by the World Bank.
The Anchor Borrowers Programme
The Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) of the CBN has raised local production of grains. It has produced a model agricultural collaboration between Lagos and Kebbi states. The country’s rice imports fell from 580,000 MT in 2015 to 58,000MT last year. The programme has seen the disbursement of N82 billion to 350,000 farmers of rice, wheat, maize, cotton, cassava, poultry, soy beans and groundnut. It has aided the farmers to cultivate about 400,000 hectares of land. Rice yields have doubled from two to three tonnes per hectare.
According to the fact sheet, “between 2016 and 2018, eight new rice mills have come on stream. More than a billion dollar of private sector investments in the production of rice, wheat, sugar, poultry, animal feed, fertilisers, etc, since 2015.
“Nigeria’s milled rice production has increased by about 60 percent, from 2.5 million MT in 2015, to 4 million MT in 2017.
“The Presidential Fertiliser Initiative (which involves a partnership with the Government of Morocco, for the supply of phosphate), has resulted in the revitalisation of 14 blending plants across the country, with a total installed capacity in excess of 2 million MT.
The benefits include annual savings of $200 million in foreign exchange, and ¦ 60 billion annually in budgetary provisions for Fertiliser subsidies.”
“The scheme has also made it possible for farmers to purchase fertiliser at prices up to 30 per cent cheaper than previously available.”
Ease of Doing Business
The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council implemented its 60 National Action Plan between February and April. The plan has given willing investors the platform to search for company names on the website of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). Such investors can upload their registration documents directly to the CAC website without hiring lawyers to prepare registration documents. A single form has been created for company incorporation to save time and reduce cost. The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) e-payment solution has been integrated with the CAC portal to facilitate e-stamping. The country now has a simplified Visa on Arrival (VoA) Process.
To also ease business, a joint physical examination of cargo has been directed to ensure one-point contact between importers and officials. The CBN, Customs and commercial banks have been compelled to process Net Export Proceeds forms within 72 hours and pre-Shipment Inspection Agencies (PIAs) must issue Certificate of Clean Inspection (CCI) within three days.
The number of documents required for imports has been reduced from 14 to eight. The ones for exports have come down from 10 to seven. Now, terminal operators are mandated to finish container’s examination in 12 hours.
Pro Osinbajo, as Acting President, sealed the National Action Plan by signing three Executive Orders to improve efficiency in the business environment and promote local procurement by government agencies. Since 2017, three Executive Orders, Executive Order on Improving Efficiency in the Business Environment, Executive Order on Promoting Local Procurement by Government Agencies and the Executive Order on planning and execution of projects, promotion of Nigerian content in contracts and science, engineering and technology have been issued. The Senate also passed the Companies and Allied Matters (Repeal & Re-enactment) Bill 2018 last month to give legal backing to some of the reforms already launched and being implemented.
The Presidency said: “The new law allows the use of electronic signatures for company registration documents; provides for the submission of applications for reservation of names through electronic means; allows for a new form of legal entity known as Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs), and makes it possible for a single person to form a private company in Nigeria; among other reforms.
The success of the Ease of Doing Business Reform Programme resulted in Nigeria moving up 24 places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings in 2017, and earning a slot on the List of 10 Most Improved Economies.”
The administration is revitalising the country’s 3,500 kilometre network of Narrow-Gauge railway. A consortium, led by General Electric (GE) and comprising Transnet of South Africa, APM Terminals of the Netherlands and Sinohydro Consortium of China, is working on the Lagos-Kano Railway Narrow-Gauge Line.
The reconstruction of the Abuja Airport runway was done within the scheduled six-week period (March to April 2017).
Last month, the government launched the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF), under the management of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA). The PIDF has a seed funding of $1.3 billion. (NSIA) in March invested $10 million to establish a world-class Cancer Treatment Center at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), and $5 million each in the Aminu Kano University Teaching Hospital and the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia to establish modern diagnostic centres. These centers are billed for completion this year.
The Abuja Light Rail system has been completed and will go into operation this year. The first line will connect the city centre with the airport, with a link to the Abuja-Kaduna Railway Line.
Other projects done by the administration, according to the document, are the following Water Supply Projects and Dam/Irrigation Projects have been completed by the Buhari administration; Central Ogbia Regional Water project in Bayelsa, Sabke/Dutsi/Mashi Water Supply project in Katsina, Northern Ishan Regional Water Supply project, Kashimbila Dam, Taraba State, Ogwashi-Uku Dam, Delta State, Shagari Dam Irrigation Project, Sokoto State and the rehabilitation of Ojirami Dam Water Supply Project, Edo State.
On ecological projects, the document shows that more than 70 projects were awarded and completed across the six geopolitical zones. Some of the 25 road projects being funded by the N100 billion Sukuk Bond are: the construction of Oju/Loko–Oweto bridge over River Benue to link Loko (Nasarawa State) and Oweto (Benue State) along route F2384, dualisation of Abuja–Abaji–Lokoja Road Section I, dualisation of Suleja–Minna Road in Niger State Phase, dualisation of Abuja–Abaji–Lokoja Road, rehabilitation of Enugu–Port Harcourt dual-carriage, rehabilitation of Enugu–Port Harcourt dual-carriage, dualisation of Yenegwe Road Junction–Kolo–Otuoke–Bayelsa Palm in Bayelsa and others.
Social Investment Programme
The Social Investment Programme (SIP) has over nine million beneficiaries drawing from its N140 billion purse. The 200,000 N-Power beneficiaries draw N30, 000 stipends monthly. Another batch of 300, 000 are being processed.
Significantly, no less than 3,162,451 people in 26, 924 cooperative societies have been registered for the Government Enterprise and Empowerment (GEEP) Scheme. N15.183 billion interest-free loans have been issued across the country to 300,000 market women, traders, artisans and farmers. 349,000 new bank accounts/wallets for beneficiaries and intending beneficiaries have been opened to promote banking inclusion.
In November last year, the GEEP was chosen as the pilot programme for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Policy Innovation Unit in Nigeria.
The administration is catering for 8.2 million primary school pupils through its Homegrown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP) in 45,394 public primary schools across 24 states. The benefiting states are: Abia, Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi and Imo in the Southeast; Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Delta in the Southsouth); Osun, Oyo, Ondo and Ogun in the Southwest); Benue, Niger and Plateau in Northcentral; Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, and Zamfara (North West); Bauchi, Taraba, Borno, Gombe and Jigawa in the Northeast). Over 87,261 cooks have been engaged under the scheme.
“The Health aspect of the programme has seen over three million pupils dewormed in six states. The deworming programme is a bi-annual programme aimed at eradicating and reducing the burden of worms,” the Presidency said.
Through its Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) scheme, 297,973 beneficiaries now get N5, 000 monthly stipend nationwide.
Aside the activities of the anti-graft agencies, the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA) is to strengthen controls over government finances through a continuous internal audit of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). Through the initiative, more than 50,000 ghost workers have been identified and N198 billion was saved in 2016.
The anti-corruption war has generated budget reforms, which made the President to direct all government agencies to prepare their budgets in line with International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). A budget template was developed for this purpose.
For the first time, this year’s budget was collated, using a web-based application developed by the Budget Office of the Federation (BOF). MDAs were compelled to upload their proposals on a portal.
The Bank Verification Number (BVN) has also saved the government a lot of money. All payments are done only into accounts with verifiable BVN. This helped to detect the 50,000 ghost workers using the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) platform.
The creation of Efficiency Unit (EU) has promoted efficient use of government resources. It has resulted in saving N15 billion that would have gone into travel, sitting allowances and souvenirs.
Partnership and whistleblowing
On August 7, 2015, the President compelled the MDAs to close their accounts with commercial banks and transfer their balances to the CBN on or before September 15 of that year. By this action, he gave life to a policy launched in 2012 but left unimplemented. This has resulted in the consolidation of over 20,000 bank accounts. An average of N4.7 billion is saved monthly in banking charges. The era of some MDAs having idle cash in banks and still borrowed exorbitantly from banks is gone for good.
The government has not relented in shutting corruption doors once discovered. One of such led to its signing on to the Open Government Partnership (OGP). In 2016, President Buhari was at the International Anti-Corruption Summit organised by the United Kingdom (UK) Government, where he pledged that Nigeria would join the international transparency, accountability and citizen engagement initiative.
He fulfilled the promise in 2016 when the country became the 70th country to join the OGP. This has led to an OGP National Steering Committee (NSC), which has developed a National Action Plan (2017–2019) to mainstream transparency in the management of public resources. The plan was submitted at the OGP Global Summit in Paris, France, in December 2016.
The anti-corruption drive brought about the Whistleblowing Policy, which within its first two months of operation, yielded over $160 million and over N8 billion in recoveries of stolen government funds. The figures have since grown. N13.8 billion was recovered from tax evaders. In May, the government paid N439.2 million to 14 whistleblowers who gave specific tips on tax evasion. There have also been N7.8 billion, $378 million and £27, 800 in recoveries from public officials targeted by whistleblowers.
The National Economic Council (NEC), under the Osinbajo chairmanship, carried out an audit of key federal revenue generating agencies and discovered that N526 billion and $21 billion was underpaid to the Federation Account between 2010 and 2015. The audit to cover the period until June 2017 is ongoing.
The PICA said it uncovered 54,000 fraudulent payroll entries thus saving N200 billion.
A more transparent NNPC
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was indicted by the independent global reports for being opaque. One of the first steps the administration took was to reconstruct the corporation’s opaque accounting structure. This led to the closure of more than 40 accounts. Now, NNPC publishes its financial reports monthly and the operational deficits have been reduced by not less than 50 per cent. NNPC outstanding annual audits from 2011 to 2014 have been conducted.
The administration has also resolved the shadowy oil swap deals that had cost the country billions of dollars and left it at the mercy of a few rich Nigerians. The government has also introduced third party financing to eliminate direct funding of cash calls.
It has eliminated the Offshore Processing Agreement (OPA) through the introduction of the Direct Sales and Direct Purchase (DSDP) scheme with reputable off-shore refineries. This has yielded annual savings of $1 billion.
The Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) put together by the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, has now been passed into law by the Senate, after 17 years of failed efforts.
In 2016, the Federal Government exited the Cash Call arrangement with Joint Ventures (JVs) with International Oil Companies (IOCs), which put pressure on government’s finances. The failure to fully fund them resulted in more than N6 billion arrears as at December 2015. The reforms have led to the negotiation of the debt arrears owed the IOCs from $6.8 billion to $5.1 billion and a long-term repayment plan has been agreed on.
International hugs and kisses
The international community has warmed up to the Buhari administration in the last three months. The President has enlisted the support of multilateral institutions, such as the World Bank and IMF, security agencies, Western countries and other friendly nations to source, locate and repatriate stolen assets. He has met key world leaders, including President Donald Trump. The United States (U.S.) government is supplying 12 Super Tucano Aircraft to Nigeria.
At one of his international engagements, specifically the London summit on anti-corruption, Buhari announced that Nigeria would begin the full implementation of the principles of the OPEN contracting data standards.
It was in furtherance of the President’s trips to the Middle-East, where he sensitised the governments on the need to repatriate stolen assets and repatriate the suspects for trial at home. In January last year, Nigeria and UAE signed Judicial Agreements on Extradition, Transfer of Sentenced Persons, Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters.
The Federal Government and the Swiss Government in March last year signed a Letter of Intent on the Restitution of Illegally-Acquired Assets forfeited in Switzerland. Under the agreement, the Swiss government has repatriated $322 million in Abacha Loot. The cash is being warehoused in a Special Account in the CBN and it will be deployed towards the SIP.
Insurgency lost its steam
Although there are still pockets of attacks, but gone were the days when insurgents reigned supreme. One of the first things Buhari changed was the military structure, which led to the relocation of the Nigerian Military Command Centre to Maiduguri in May 2015. The results are glaring: Over 13,000 persons have been rescued by the troops, including 106 of the Chibok schoolgirls 105 of the Dapchi Girls abducted in February. Since December 2015, all territories previously under the Boko Haram control have been regained; by June 2015, Nigeria provided $21 million to the Task Force; and in June 2015, the United States (U.S.) announced a $5 million support for the fight against terrorism in the sub-region.
The seriousness with which the administration has pursued the anti-terror war has also led to the U.S. government further announcing an additional $40 million for humanitarian assistance in the sub-region. It is in the process of selling war planes to the country.
Boko Haram’s operational and spiritual headquarters, “Camp Zero”, in Sambisa Forest, has been captured. The army has arrested Usman Mohammed, (a.k.a. Khalid Al Barnawi), leader of the Ansaru Terrorist group and one of the most wanted terrorists in the world, on whose head the U.S. placed a $6 million bounty.
Also arrested and being prosecuted is Amodu Omale Salifu, leader of an ISIS affiliate group active in Northcentral.
As the campaigns for the next general elections gather steam, Nigerians will sure be looking for more actions.
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