By Chukwudi Enekwechi
Independence anniversaries all over the world are a period for stock-taking by countries. It is also a period to regale citizens that were born in later years about the various struggles that culminated to their eventual freedom from the colonial masters.
Most countries of the world had at one time or another been under the apron strings of one foreign political leadership or the other. In the case of Nigeria, October 1, 1960 will ever remain indelible in our hearts, as the day the British Union Jack was lowered, and Nigeria’s green white green was raised in recognition, acknowledgement and acceptance by the global community that Nigeria has become a sovereign and independent country.
Therefore, every Independence Day anniversary offers an opportunity to evaluate the milestones the country may have attained in the preceding year or years. Since May 29, 2015 when President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office, his administration has focused attention on three significant areas, namely revitalising the economy, fight against corruption, and combating Boko Haram terrorist activities in the North East part of the country.
Due to his avowed commitment to rid Nigeria of corruption, the administration has used the instrumentality of the law to prosecute corrupt government officials and in the process recovered humongous sums of money. Similarly, the Buhari administration has created a new consciousness among Nigerians about the evil effects of corruption on the nation’s economy.
It is corruption that has created the infrastructural deficit in the country as funds that ordinarily should be used to rehabilitate our roads are usually diverted to private pockets by corrupt government officials.
This financial malpractice had permeated all facets of Nigeria’s public life, and President Muhammadu Buhari had the courage to confront it. Today, it is no longer easy to make money from the public treasury without a commensurate hard work. The introduction of the Treasury Single Account is an innovation that has frustrated the nefarious activities of some corrupt public officials who had devised different methods of stealing public funds.
Before the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari, Boko Haram terrorists had a field day killing and maiming innocent people and wreaking havoc on the country, but today the terrorist sect has been greatly degraded that they no longer occupy local government territories in the Borno-Adamawa-Yobe axis.
Put simply, the country was in the throes of a rampaging deadly terrorist group, but with the leadership President Buhari has provided all that have changed, and Nigerians have a reason to truly celebrate the 57th Independence anniversary.
Another area the Buhari administration has led the country frontally is in the economy, as Nigeria had previously remained an oil-dependent, and consumer economy. Presently, there is a new focus at diversifying the country’s sources of revenue.
The new emphasis on agriculture, textile, mining and exportation of Made in Nigeria products has made Nigerians come to the realisation that oil is an expendable product and the country’s economy can only be sustainable by paying attention to non-oil exports.
Of course, the expendable nature of oil is being realised now with the manufacturing of electric cars in the developed world, and it is projected that there will be less demand for oil by major oil importers like America, China, Great Britain, India over the next twenty years. The implication is a continuous downward slide in the revenue profile of the country.
Therefore, it is visionary on the part of President Muhammadu Buhari to have started redirecting our energies to other sustainable economic sectors like agriculture as this is the only way the country can feed itself.
Since independence anniversaries are used to assess the performance of sitting administration, it is important to note that several road projects, including the long abandoned second Niger Bridge are being undertaken by the Buhari administration in the six geo-political zones of Nigeria. These projects will greatly impact on the citizens as they were deliberately designed for the benefit of the majority.
The administration has proven that it is altruistic, and that the ‘change agenda’ is focused on building a country that will be fair to all sections of the country.
Therefore Nigeria’s 57th Independence anniversary is an occasion for Nigerians to appreciate the sacrifices of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration towards building a virile and equitable society.
Some of the key programmes the administration has rolled out which can directly impact on the citizens include the N-Power programme, school feeding programme, rapid reforms in the power and infrastructural sectors among others.
Specifically, the federal government has in addition to other programmes implemented the establishment of MSMEs Clinics (Small business support programme aimed at supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses in different states of the country).
In the power sector, Nigerians are witnessing an improved power supply which has jumped to about 7000 megawatts under the Buhari administration from the previous 3000 megawatts.
The federal government also has a deliberate policy to encourage the patronage of local content as well as increase the export of agriculture-related products.
Early in the year, the Buhari administration’s strident effort towards the release of 106 Chibok girls from the Boko Haram terrorists was a healing balm for a beleaguered country held by the neck by the rampaging Boko Haram which has now been significantly degraded by the military. The military has also facilitated the release of over 10,000 people abducted by the terrorist group under the PDP administration.
Though this piece is not enough to enumerate the achievements of the Buhari administration within the last two years, suffice it to restate that the 57th independence anniversary provides an opportunity for a second look at the overall progress the country is making in various areas.
*Enekwechi, journalist and politician, wrote from Abuja and can be reached via email@example.com