Buhari Administration’s Progress Report in Quick Takes

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Hereunder is a detailed but condensed achievements and high points of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration as compiled by the Presidency.With campaign season in full bloom — the next general elections are scheduled to hold February 2019 – Nigeria’s political atmosphere is agog with rhetoric, as contending parties sell manifestoes to an expectant electorate.

Incumbent President Buhari is as good as nominated to carry the ruling party APC’s flag once again.

President Muhammadu Buhari (middle) with Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu (1st left) during the official flagoff of the rice and wheat farming dry season in Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State

President Muhammadu Buhari (middle) with Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu (1st left) during the official flagoff of the rice and wheat farming dry season in Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State

The Economy: Highlights
The Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), launched in April 2017, has stabilised the macroeconomic environment; achieved agricultural and food security and has also ensured energy efficiency especially in power and petroleum products.

The ERGP has improved transportation infrastructure and industrialisation primarily through the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
By “doing more with less” resources, government has released N1.219 trillion for capital expenditure in the 2016 budget, and N1.476 trillion so far in the 2017 budget, (which still runs) making a total of N2.7 trillion (about $9 billion) in two years. With this, there has been resumption of work on several stalled projects — road, rail and power projects — across the country.

Inflation has fallen for the 15th consecutive month while the nation’s external reserves are at their highest levels in five years, at $47.5 billion as of May, 2018. The new FX Window introduced by the CBN in April 2017 now sees an average of $1 billion in weekly turnover, and has attracted about $45 billion in inflows in its first year, signalling rising investor confidence in Nigeria. Nigeria’s Stock Market ended 2017 as one of the best-performing in the world, with returns of about 40 percent.

Five million new taxpayers were added to the tax base since 2016, as part of efforts to diversify government revenue.
Tax revenue increased to N1.17 trillion in the first quarter 2018, a 51 per cent increase on the first quarter 2017 figure.
In the area of debt management, government adopted a strategy that seeks to achieve its goal by replacing Treasury Bills borrowing with lower-cost, longer-term external financing (via Eurobonds and Concessional Loans from China). From inherited debt of N12.1 trillion, with N5.4 trillion annual servicing cost, debt service has dropped to N3.9 trillion by 2016.

Under the Bond Issuance programme, $7.3 billion was issued in Eurobond in 2017/18, to fund the 2017 Budget as well as to refinance maturing treasury bills and lower the cost of borrowing for the government. Debt refinancing strategy is paying off as treasury bill rates have dropped from 16-18% to 10-12% over the last year.

The oversubscription of the recent Eurobond (the first issuance in 2017 saw orders in excess of $7.8 billion compared to a pre-issuance target of $1billion) demonstrates strong market appetite for Nigeria, and shows confidence by the international investment community in Nigeria’s economic reform agenda.

Nigeria’s first Sovereign Sukuk Bond raised N100 billion used to fund 25 major road projects across the country.
The country’s first-ever Diaspora-targeted Eurobond raised $300 million used to fund part of the 2017 Budget. Similarly, Africa’s first Sovereign Green Bond Programme raised N10.69 billion used to fund infrastructure projects that tackle climate change.

Assistance to sub-sovereign entities (states)
The more than N1.9 trillion was extended to state governments for their salary and pension obligations, when many could not raise funds elsewhere. Some of the assistance enabled the states to meet obligations on infrastructure loans as well as loan restructuring for facilities with commercial banks.

The Anchor Borrowers’ Scheme of the Central Bank of Nigeria has helped to raise local production of rice since 2016. Yields from rice farming improved from 2-3 tonnes per hectare to as high as 5 – 6 tonnes per hectare.

The programme is reflected in the model agricultural collaboration between Lagos and Kebbi states. Between 2016 and 2018, over N300 billion investments have been made in the rice value chain. Eight new rice mills have been commissioned, while paddy rice production and productivity are two-fold of what was recorded in 2014.

Milled rice production has increased from 2.5MT to about 4MT, and rice exports from Thailand to Nigeria dropped from 1.23 million MT in 2014 to 23,192 MT as of November 2017.

On the whole, 14 moribund fertilizer plants have been resuscitated under the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative.

Supporting the Private Sector
The new Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) has finally taken off, with initial funding of $1.3billion (provided by the World Bank, German Development Bank, the African Development Bank and Agence Française de Development) to provide medium and long-term loans to MSMEs. The DBN has already disbursed N5billion to 20,000 MSMEs, through three microfinance banks.

Following the Ease of Doing Business reform programme powered by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council and the Enabling Business Environment Secretariat, Nigeria has moved up 24 places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings in 2017, earning a place on the List of 10 Most Improved Economies.

Since 2017, the Buhari administration has issued three Executive Orders that positively impact Nigeria’s small business environment. They include the Executive Order on Improving Efficiency in the Business Environment; Executive Order on Promoting Local Procurement by Government Agencies and Executive Order on Planning and Execution of Projects, promotion of Nigerian content in contracts in science, engineering and technology.

The Buhari administration has demonstrated a “single-minded commitment to upgrading and developing Nigeria’s transport, power and health infrastructure.” It has devoted N12.7 trillion on infrastructure in 2016 and 2017 budgets: unprecedented in Nigeria’s history.
In May 2018, the Federal Government launched the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF), under the management of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority. The PIDF is kicking off with seed funding of $650 million.

The Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) in March 2018 invested $10 million to establish a “world-class” cancer treatment centre 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. The centres would be completed this year.

Abuja’s Light Rail system has been completed and will go into operation in this year. The first line to be launched will connect the city centre with the airport, with a link to the Abuja-Kaduna Railway Line. The Lagos – Kano standard guage rail line as one of the 10 proposed new lines is ongoing while agreements for others are in the final phases.

The Buhari administration successfully completed the reconstruction of the Abuja airport runway within the scheduled six-week period (March – April 2017).”

Power Sector
The government launched a N701 billion Payment Assurance Programme, designed to resolve the liquidity challenges in the power sector by guaranteeing payments to generating companies and gas suppliers.

A transmission expansion and rehabilitation programme has resulted in a 50 per cent expansion in grid capacity since 2015, from 5,000MW to 7,125MW as at December 2017. The long-term plan is to have such renewed projects as the Mambila dam deliver enough power in the coming years.
In the interim, government launched the Distribution Expansion Programme (DEP) in February 2018 to deliver 2,000MW of unused power capacity.

Human capital development
All four components of the Social Investment Programme (SIP) are fully operational.
The SIP is the largest and most ambitious social safety net programme in the history of Nigeria, with N140 billion released and more than 9 million direct beneficiaries so far. Under the SIP, 200,000 N-Power beneficiaries are currently participating and receiving N30,000 in monthly stipends. Another 300,000 new enrolments are on cue to take the number to 500,000 this year.

Under the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), N15.183 billion has been disbursed in interest-free loans ranging from N50,000 to N350,000 to 303,420 market women, traders, artisans, farmers across all 36 states of the country and the FCT. 56 per cent of the loans have gone to women. A boon to the financial inclusion lobby, GEEP has led to the opening of 349,000 new bank accounts/wallets for beneficiaries and intending beneficiaries. In November 2017, GEEP was chosen as the pilot programme for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Policy Innovation Unit in Nigeria.

The Home Grown School Feeding Programme currently feeds a total of 8.2 million pupils in 45,394 public primary schools across 24 states. The states include Abia, Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi and Imo (South East); Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Delta (South South); Osun, Oyo, Ondo and Ogun (South West); Benue, Niger and Plateau (North Central); Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, and Zamfara (North West); Bauchi, Taraba, Borno, Gombe and Jigawa (North East).

Over 80,000 direct jobs have since been created from the School Feeding Programme; with 87,261 cooks currently engaged in the 24 participating states. All 36 states of the Federation and the FCT will eventually benefit from the Programme.

The health aspect of the programme has seen over 3 million pupils dewormed in six states, the deworming programme is a bi-annual programme aimed at eradicating and reducing the burden of worms. Under the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), the administration says 297,973 families are benefiting from the CCT Scheme.

By Francis Onomovo


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July 2018