By Ayobami Ismail Akanji
The Buhari administration was inaugurated on the 29th of May 2015, a period when the world economy experienced challenges of considerable magnitude. He took over the affairs of Nigeria at a time the price of crude oil was at its lowest ebb, when the rate of insecurity was alarmingly high and at a point national political tension was at its peak.
It is unarguable that in the past one year President Muhammadu Buhari’s government has been surrounded by grim challenges that needed immediate attention, whereas, the resources to address them are not available. Nevertheless, the government took the bull by the horn and continued to forge ahead in the business of politics and economic development.
Predictably, but not surprisingly, the first sharp and prompt move that still generates tension, controversy and criticism is the fight against corruption. Nigerians perceived it differently: some argue that it is one sided, Nigerian masses applauded it, the opposition sees it as witch-hunt policy.
Everyone is free to hold to a position at will, but one thing is clear: since the advent of President Buhari, corruption has been attacked from different angles. For instance, the audacity and impunity for corruption has been bruised, its eyes have become blurred, and it is presently limping and having constant stomach ache and back pain. It is believed that if Nigerians support the anti-corruption crusade, the government will be able to lay a solid structure for a corrupt free Nigeria.
Those criticising the fight against corruption of the government may be right in their own opinion, but the truth is that the anti-corruption crusade must prevail; it is a right step in the right direction. All Nigerians must support it.
The EFCC has recovered over three billion U.S dollars in stolen funds, seizure of assets derived from criminal proceeds and pursuing other convicted looters. While complementing the agency’s efforts, government has introduced various transparent mechanisms in blocking leakages; the Treasury Single Account, TSA a mop up of all funds accrued for government into a single account presently has over three trillion naira, Efficiency Unit E-Unit which monitors the expenditure of all Ministries Departments and Agencies MDA’s.
However, to underscore his commitment towards eradicating the malaise of corruption which has been the bane of Nigeria’s development and progress, President Buhari has reinforced public trust in government through transparency and leadership by example: He has demonstrated a more robust response to terrorist threats and improved the state’s ability to raise revenue by blocking leakages for corruption and fraud.
President Buhari attended the Anti–Corruption Summit in London to galvanise global support in the fight against corruption, a clear path to recovering stolen funds and repatriation of monies hidden in safe havens and tied to properties in the United Kingdom. With all these commitment and the political will to tackle corruption, his resolve to restore a new order of governance in Nigeria is right on course.
Security is another area where the Buhari Presidency has shown its deft military capability and strategic effectiveness by virtually decimating the hitherto Boko Haram elements within the last 12 months. They once held fort, seizing and occupying Nigerian sovereign territories unchallenged. The good news is that today our military has the upper hand over the terrorists. The wanton destruction by the insurgents on the economy, education, health sectors including the corresponding impact on humanitarian activity in the North East region was really incalculable; it is established that 910 schools have been destroyed, 1500 forced to close down, 9 billion dollars’ worth of infrastructure has been destroyed.
The advent of this administration is charting a new course for the country. Within 12 months of a strategic leadership of the Commander in Chief and his lieutenants, the dreaded terrorists are fast becoming an annihilated group, who have lost top commanders (Amirs) to the superior fire power of the Nigerian Army.
The army’s continued Operation Crackdown on the dreaded Sambisa forest has militarily weakened the armed group and dealt a big blow to their morale, a result which is the freedom of the Chibok abductee which signals a ray of hope in securing the remaining 218 students.
President Buhari has overhauled the military hierarchy which resulted in improved morale of the security forces. The first policy statement of the President a year ago was the deployment of the military command to the theatre of war, followed by a holistic reset with our regional partners who constitute the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) headed by a Nigerian. The trip to our regional allies to strengthen frosty relationship where necessary and cannot be over emphasised. The second Regional Security Summit hosted by the president underlines how Nigeria is consolidating her position within the continent and the world by large.
With a new Sheriff in town, comes forth a brand new-nation full of hope and aspiration for excellence. President Buhari’s first year has tremendously improved the economic diplomacy of Nigeria, the desirable result are the bilateral and multilateral agreements been signed with industrial powers, a game changer for the economy.
In the last one year, we have witnessed a deliberate economic policy, the diversification of the economy from a mono-economy to one which includes all natural resources abounded in the country, from agriculture, to mining, industrialisation etc.
Another incontrovertible benefit of the goodwill that Nigeria currently enjoys today thanks to the travels of the President, is the generous offer of collaboration in various fields particularly, those centred on the three pillars that undergird the priorities of the present administration namely: to tackle insecurity, grow the economy and fight corruption in the country. Collaboration must be seen in its proper context, in essence, to work jointly or together to achieve desired goals. Those who have offered and are offering to collaborate with Nigeria under the leadership of President Buhari are saying that they will join hands and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with him in his efforts to tackle the country’s challenges. This benefit is inestimable; it does not come easily neither should it be taken for granted. The countries that have offered to collaborate with Nigeria are coming with a wealth of expertise and in some cases, material to complement the country’s effort. In so doing, they will help to meet the immediate needs, while building capacities for long time use. Nigeria owes a great deal of gratitude to President Buhari for achieving these results through his travels.
Distinct from collaboration, albeit complementary nevertheless, is the additional benefit of cooperation. Cooperation in this sense is the offer countries are making to facilitate Nigeria’s efforts, but not necessarily to go into the trenches as it were, to join hands and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our country. That President Buhari has been able to achieve commitment of collaboration and cooperation from key international partners is a measure of his acceptance, integrity and credibility. These are personal qualities to him that are being put to serve the needs of the country.
Critics of President Buhari’s handling of his foreign policy have failed to recognise the great opportunity he has given to Nigerian businesses to explore and partner with their foreign counterparts. During his trips abroad, he is often accompanied by businessmen and women, who travel at their own expense, taking advantage of the President’s visits, to build new networks and undertake match-making. The President’s visits to the United States in July 2015, France in September 2015, India in October 2015, Qatar in 2016, and only recently, China, had these elements. The business fora that were organised in these countries were very successful in every sense of the word.
One is yet to see any acknowledgement or admission by the critics of the President’s foreign trips that Nigeria’s domestic policy is indeed, intricately linked to her foreign policy. In this connection, it is a well-known fact that a united, strong, vibrant and confident country, will project the same qualities abroad. Conversely, a country that is weak cannot project strength, vitality and confidence abroad. How much of this has Nigeria attained and what is the responsibility of citizens, critics and supporters inclusive in attaining this lofty objective?
One of the declared primary aims of this article as stated at the beginning is to place in proper perspective, the task of bringing Nigeria to the level commensurate with her natural endowment. This task entails national development, reinvigoration and renewal in pursuit of which, President Buhari was elected in 2015 to lead Nigeria. It is also a consequence of this task that the President exerts himself in ceaseless foreign travels.
*Akanji, a political strategist, writes from Abuja