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When Buhari opened his books for External Evaluation.

RECENTLY, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration held a mid-term ministerial performance retreat which is the second series.
The retreat was aimed at giving government functionaries an opportunity to re-evaluate their performances, and project into the remaining days of the tenure and beyond.
The event held at the State House Conference Centre, Presidential Villa, Abuja, between October 11 and 12, 2021, had in attendance, President Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Mr. Boss Mustapha; President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adeshina; British High Commissioner, the cabinet ministers, Permanent Secretaries and special guests drawn from all walks of life.
It is interesting to note that the administration has come under heavy fire from his critics who opine that it has performed abysmally.
Opposition political parties and regional groups have not spared the administration as they have buffeted it from all sides.
Perhaps, a major reason the President Buhari administration has not been getting the right accolades it deserves for its achievements, is because the administration does not really blow its trumpet loud enough.
But the mid-term ministerial performance review retreat, held in October, presented an opportunity for the president and his team to present their scorecard.
We’ve made tremendous progress -Buhari
The President, in his opening speech, noted that there were adjustments to policy approaches and methods of working to achieve the objectives of his government in the nine key priority areas.
The listed priority areas are, to stabilise the macro-economy, achieve agriculture and food security, ensure energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products, improve transportation and other infrastructure, drive indsutrialsation focusing on SMEs, enhance social inclusion and reduce poverty, fight corruption and improve governance as well as provide security for all citizens.
Reeling out some of his government’s achievements, which included among other things, he said the establishment of InfraCo Plc in 2020, as a world class infrastructure development vehicle, wholly focused on Nigeria, with combined debt and equity take-off capital of N15 trillion, to be managed by an independent infrastructure fund manager.
He said: “Our administration has made tremendous progress on railway projects in the country. Upgrading of our railway network is being extended with the recent completion of the Lagos – Ibadan line. The Itakpe-Ajaokuta rail line, has finally been completed and commissioned after 30 years of its conception,” he said.
He assured the people that work would soon commence on the Port-Harcourt-Maiduguri line and Calabar-Lagos Coastal Line to connect the southern and eastern states of the country, adding that there was noticeable progress in the upgrade of the country’s airports, with the state-of-the-art facilities in line with world class safety standards.
“On the economy, we witnessed three consecutive quarters of growth, after negative growth rates recorded in the second and third quarters of 2020. The GDP grew from 0.8 per cent in 2017 to 2.2 per cent in 2019, but declined in the first quarter of 2020, as a result of the downward trend in global economic activities triggered by the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“As at Second Quarter 2021, GDP growth rate was at 5.01 per cent, the highest since the inception of this administration. On the power sector, implementation of a ‘Willing Buyer-Willing Seller’ policy has opened opportunities for increased delivery of electricity to underserved homes and industries.
“We are also executing a number of critical projects through the Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme, which will result in achieving the national goal of improved power supply by 2025.”
Besides, he noted that by signing the Petroleum Industry Bill, 2021 into law on August 16, 2021, and directing the implementation committee to complete the processes for the successful operationalisation of the act within 12 months, his government had put in place, a legal, governance, regulatory and fiscal framework for the Nigerian Petroleum Industry, and for the development of host communities.
He said: “As part of the efforts towards strengthening our national security, we have increased investments in arms, weapons and other necessary equipment; expanded the National Command and Control Centre to nineteen states of the Federation; and established a Nigerian Police Trust Fund, which will significantly improve funding for the Nigeria Police Force.
“We have also approved the sum of N13.3 billion for the take-off of the community policing initiative across the country, as part of measures adopted to consolidate efforts aimed at enhancing security nationwide.”
Expressing delight that the country recently received six A-29 Super Tucano aircrafts as part of efforts to boost the nation’s campaign against insecurity, Buhari stated that he has instructed the Defence Ministry to create “a modest military industrial complex for the local production of weapons to meet some of the requirements of the country’s armed forces.”
ON plans to empower the youths and other vulnerable groups through the expansion of the National Social Register, Buhari identified the official database for the implementation of the Conditional Cash Transfer programme, by 1 million additional households and the establishment the N75Billion Nigerian Youth Investment Fund created to boost the Nigerian economy through leverage and access to finance for youths.
His words: “These accomplishments are a testament to the fact that all hands are on deck in establishing a solid foundation for even greater successes in future,” just as he implored ministers to work closely with the Permanent Secretaries to ensure accelerated and effective delivery of the policies, programmes and projects in their respective priority areas.
An important take away from the programme was the content of a slide presentation that showed the performance indexes of corresponding miniseries against the priority areas in the context of the deliverables set for 2023.
The slide tracked performances of government agencies in actaulising set goals. While some of the policy projects are up and running, there were some that were yet to kick start or were not moving at expected speed due to specified conditions.
This provided the opportunity for those saddled with the responsibilities of implementation to identify where they stood, provided the national leadership with insight on situation and gave members of the public opportunity to track and understand development in various sectors of the economy.
It was against this backdrop that the retreat advised ministries to reprioritise and focus more on those deliverables that have the highest impact on respective priority areas that could be delivered by 2023, ensuring capacity, strengthening the PRS department in MDAs, while focusing on target setting, tracking and reporting.
Also speaking, the SGF, Mr. Boss Mustapha, was optimistic that through the bilateral meetings and high-level engagements organised earlier in 2021 to sensitize leadership of all federal ministries on the new results framework and the performance management system, there were reliable evidence that MDAs had a better understanding and appreciation of how their ministerial mandates contributed directly to the priority areas and the possible impact of their activities on the lives of Nigerians
The SGF said: “Over the past 25 months, Ministers have continued to implement the deliverables assigned to them in line with their ministerial mandates jointly signed with the Permanent Secretaries, which serve as a performance bond with Mr. President.”
“I feel quite satisfied that we did a very good job and the president truly appreciates it, and it’s as a result of the quality of leadership he gives. You know, it’s quite risky for a president to say, hey, come and evaluate me; this is what I have been able to do. He had no say in the evaluation and he accepted it. The same document we gave was the same document we transmitted.”
The ADB President, Dr. Adesina, who spoke on the theme ‘Nigeria’s Economic Resurgence: Learning from the African Experience,’ expressed optimism that the GDP growth rate for the continent would recover to 3.4 per cent in 2021 and said Nigeria’s economic growth rate was projected to rebound to 2.4 per cent and could reach 2.9 per cent by 2022.
He said: “Nigeria must revamp its local pharmaceutical industry and launch strategic investments for local vaccine manufacturing. Africa should not be begging for vaccines; Africa should be producing vaccines. The African Development Bank will invest $3 billion in support of local pharmaceutical industries in Africa, including in Nigeria.
“Nigeria must decisively tackle its debt challenges. The issue is not about debt-to-GDP ratio, as Nigeria’s debt-to-GDP ratio at 35 per cent is still moderate. The big issue is how to service the debt and what that means for resources for domestic investments needed to spur faster economic growth.
“Things will improve as oil prices recover, but the situation has revealed the vulnerability of Nigeria’s economy. To have economic resurgence, we need to fix the structure of the economy and address some fundamentals,” Adesina noted.
The event provided an opportunity for both retrospect and introspects as participating ministers were able to evaluate where every government functionary stood in accelerating the actualisation of governmental programmes and the need to work towards meeting the expectations of Nigerians, before exiting in 2023.