Focus  

The scorecard, according to Aso Rock

Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the President, Mr. Femi Adesina

President Muhammadu Buhari administration is celebrating its second year in office. No doubt, the momentum of citizens’ appreciation of the administration from day one to the first year, and now, the second year, has not been in a progressive geometry. If the arithmetic line is to be drawn, it is going to be a wobbled line.

A report from the Presidency, which was made available to The Guardian by the Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the President, Mr. Femi Adesina, however, painted an encouraging picture of the achievements in the last two years. Excerpts from the report:

Growth in Agriculture and Solid Minerals:
The number of sub-sectors of the economy experiencing negative growth has almost halved; falling from 29 sub-sectors for the whole of 2016 to 16 in Q1 2017. Growth in manufacturing has returned to positive territory after five quarters of negative growth. It grew by 1.36 per cent in Q1 2017 after falling to -7.0 per cent in Q1 2016.

The priority sectors of Agriculture and Solid Minerals have seen improved performance, in spite of the recession. Agriculture grew by 4.11 per cent in 2016, while Solid Minerals recorded a 7 per cent increase. The contribution of the Ministry of Solid Minerals to the Federation Account tripled to about N2 billion in 2016, up from N700m in 2015.

Savings:
Nigeria’s External Reserves have grown by US$7 billion since October 2016. The Sovereign Wealth Fund has seen inflows of US$500m in 2016 and 2017 (the first inflows since the original US$1bn with which the Fund kicked off in 2012), and The Excess Crude Account has seen an inflow of US$87m, in 2017.
Phasing out of subsidy regimes for petroleum products and fertilizers.

The Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) of the Central Bank of Nigeria combined with a newly developed soil map designed to aid fertilizer application, substantially raised local production of grains in 2016, yields improved from 2 tonnes per hectare to as much as 7 tonnes per hectare, in some states, and produced a model agricultural collaboration between Lagos and Kebbi states. Nigeria’s rice imports fell from 580,000 MT in 2015 to 58,000 MT in 2016

The Presidential Fertilizer Initiative, which involves a partnership with the Government of Morocco, for the supply of phosphate, has resulted in the revitalisation of 11 blending plants across the country.  The benefits include annual savings of US$200 million in foreign exchange, and ₦60 billion annually in budgetary provisions for fertilizer subsidies. The scheme has also made it possible for farmers to purchase fertilizer at prices up to 30 per cent cheaper than previously available.

Ease of doing business reform successes: The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council implemented a 60 National Action Plan between February and April 2017, with 70 per cent of the targets achieved.

Infrastructure:
The Buhari Administration has demonstrated a single-minded commitment to upgrading and developing Nigeria’s transport infrastructure. The administration is also pushing ahead with the revitalization of Nigeria’s 3,500km network narrow-gauge railway. In March 2017, a consortium led by General Electric, and comprising Transnet of South Africa, APM Terminals of the Netherlands and Sinohydro Consortium of China submitted the sole bid for the concession of the Lagos-Kano Railway narrow-gauge Line. (Transaction Advisers were approved for the project in 2016). In May 2017, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the commencement of negotiations with GE to conclude the concessioning. In addition, Abuja’s Light Rail system will also go into operation in 2017. The first line to be launched will connect the city center with the Airport, with a link to the Abuja-Kaduna Railway Line. The test-run will start in November 2017, ahead of full commencement of operations in Q1 2018. The government successfully completed the reconstruction of the Abuja Airport runway within the scheduled six-week period, March – April 2017. A new Social Housing Programme is kicking off in 2017. The ‘Family Homes Fund’ will take off with a 100 billion Naira provision in the 2017 budget.

All four components of the Social Investment Programme (SIP)
The SIP is the largest and most ambitious social safety net programme in the history of Nigeria, with more than 1 million beneficiaries so far  —  200,000 N-Power beneficiaries out of which160,000 people have had their details validated and are now receiving the monthly N30,000 stipend, while the rest are undergoing verification.

A total of 3,162,451 people belonging to 26, 924 registered cooperatives have been registered for the Government Enterprise and Empowerment (GEEP) Scheme. Also, 57,234 interest-free (except a one-time low administrative fee) loans have been issued, across 28 states and the FCT. 56 per cent of loans, so far disbursed, has gone to female beneficiaries.

A total of 1,051,000 Primary School Pupils are currently benefiting from the Homegrown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP), in 8,587 schools across seven states. More than 11,000 cooks have been employed for the HGSFP.

Under the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Programme, 26,942 beneficiaries are now receiving the monthly N5,000 stipend in nine states and 84 local government councils. The states are Borno, Cross River, Niger, Kwara, Ekiti, Kogi, Oyo, Osun and Bauchi.

Strategic engagements with OPEC and in the Niger Delta
These interactions have played an important part in raising our expected oil revenues. Already, Nigeria’s External Reserves have grown by around $7 billion in the last six months. In the same period, a total of $87m has been added to the Excess Crude Account, and $250m to the Sovereign Wealth Fund.

New vision for the Niger Delta
The New Vision brings together a robust set of promises, solutions, targets and initiatives aimed at ensuring that the people of the Niger Delta benefit maximally from the region’s oil wealth. The initiative offers a detailed response to the 16-point Demand Agenda submitted to President Buhari by the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) in November 2016.

Beneficial Government-to-Government Partnerships with China and Morocco Construction work has commenced on the first major product of that collaboration, a 150km/hour rail line between Lagos and Ibadan.

The National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (NERGP), the Federal Government’s medium-term Economic Plan, launched by President Buhari in April 2017, charts a course for the Nigerian economy over the next four years (2017–2020).

The vision of the NERGP is to restore economic growth, invest in Nigerians, and to build a globally competitive economy, and the plan aims to achieve these by focusing on five execution priorities including stabilizing the macroeconomic environment; achieving agriculture and food security; ensuring energy efficiency (especially in power and petroleum products); improving transportation infrastructure; and driving industrialisation primarily through power sector.

Power Sector Reform is on course with the launch of the 701 billion Naira Payment Assurance Programme designed to resolve the liquidity challenges in the Power Sector by guaranteeing payments to Generating Companies and Gas Suppliers.

Improved Local Refining Capacity: The total amount of Crude refined by the NNPC’s three Refineries (Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna) grew from 8m barrels in 2015 to 24m barrels in 2016, and 10m barrels in the first quarter of 2017.

The Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA):
Through the activities of PICA, more than 50,000 erroneous payroll entries have been identified, with payroll savings of N198 billion achieved in 2016. Also, the Federal Ministry of Finance has set a target to ensure that the Federal Government’s Payroll Platform — the ‘Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System’ (IPPIS) — covers 100 per cent of MDAs by the end of 2017. Currently 60 per cent of MDAs are enrolled on the IPPIS platform.

Budget Reforms:
The 2017 Budget was collated using a web-based application developed by the Budget Office of the Federation (BOF), for the first time ever. Instead of the traditional method of hard copy submissions of budget proposals, Ministries, Departments and Agencies were asked to upload their proposals to the new budget preparation portal. By replacing paper submissions with an auditable and trackable online system, the 2017 budget preparation process was strengthened against manipulation and unauthorised alteration.

Expansion of TSA coverage: 
This decision to fully operationalise the Treasury Single Account (TSA) system — a public accounting system that enables the government to manage its finances (revenues and payments) using a single/unified account, or series of linked accounts domiciled at the Central Bank of Nigeria — has resulted in the consolidation of more than 20,000 bank accounts previously spread across DMBs in the country, and in savings of an average of N4.7 billion monthly in banking charges associated with indiscriminate government borrowing from the DMBs. As at February 10, 2017, a total sum of N5.244 trillion had flowed into the TSA.

Insistence on conditionality of fiscal support to states
The Fiscal Sustainability Plan (FSP) is a reform programme that specifies conditions under which states can access the Federal Government’s N510 billion
Budget Support Facility (BSF).

Creation of Efficiency Unit (EU) to spearhead the efficient use of government resources, and ensure reduction in Recurrent Expenditure:
The Efficiency Unit’s efforts have resulted in more than N15 billion in savings on travel, sitting allowances and souvenirs. There is also potential savings of N7 billion on other expenditure lines where the unit seeks to control spending through circulars.

New Whistleblowing Policy: 
The new Whistleblowing Policy introduced by the Federal Ministry of Finance yielded, within its first two months of operation, yielded $160m and N8 billion in recoveries of stolen Government funds.

Security
Capture of Boko Haram’s operational and spiritual headquarters, “Camp Zero”, in Sambisa Forest has become a major breakthrough in the war against insurgency in the country. Following this, the Nigerian Army conducted its Small Arms Championship from 26th to 31st March, 2017, a measure aimed at enabling the Armed Forces to dominate the area, and avoid regrouping by the terrorists. More than 12,000 Boko Haram hostages have been freed from Boko Haram captivity, including 106 of the Chibok Girls abducted in April 2014.

Diplomacy and international relations
Re-establishment of Nigeria’s position and influence in the regional and global arena. Fragile/broken relations with the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa, and with neighbouring countries (Chad, Niger, Cameroon) have been revived and strengthened since June 2015.



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