By Chesa Chesa
Amidst the nervous challenges buffeting the nation and President Muhammadu Buhari’s six-year administration, the presidency has not relented in reminding the public of modest achievements recorded in some key areas of the economy. It believes that these may often be deliberately ignored by nay-sayers for political reasons, whereas “those who are dispassionate and fair-minded, not beclouded by political partisanship and undue cynicism”, according to presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, will easily acknowledge that the administration has done a tidy bit of good work.
In giving a self assessment of its works as highlighted below, Adesina declared that “the past is but a story told. The future may yet be written in gold. When the Administration breasts the tape in another two years, by the grace of God, the applause will be resounding, even from the worst of sceptics”. Hereunder are the milestones recorded in fiscal, trade and monetary reforms as well as investments in human capital development, social security, education and health polices.
FISCAL, TRADE, MONETARY AND INVESTMENT REFORMS
– The Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC) in 2017 completed a long-overdue revision of the list of activities that can benefit from Nigeria’s Pioneer Status Incentive, which grants beneficiary companies a 3 to 5-year tax holiday. The revision, done more than 10 ten years after the last one, has modernized the List, expanding the tax holiday incentives to qualifying companies in E-commerce, Software Development, Animation, Music, Film and TV.
– Restoration of Federal Budget to January-December cycle, with the 2020 Budget, for the first time in 12 years.
– Introduction, since 2020, of annual Finance (Reform) Bills to accompany the annual Federal Appropriation Bill
– Negotiation of the billions of dollars in arrears of Cash Calls we inherited when the administration assumed office, resulting in an agreement for a significant discount of more than a billion dollars. Since 2017 the NNPC has commenced payment of the arrears to the Oil Companies. As at Q4 2020, more than $3 billion of the ~$5 billion arrears had been cleared.
– Launch of a Visa-on-Arrival Policy, as part of Ease of Doing Business Reforms. In addition, a comprehensive reform of the existing Visa Regime, leading to the rollout in 2020 of a new and enhanced Visa Policy for Nigeria (including expansion from 6 visa categories to 79; each tailored to a specific type of traveller – 36 Temporary Residence Visas, 15 Permanent Residence Visas, 24 Short Visit Visas, etc.
SOCIAL INVESTMENT AND POVERTY ALLEVIATION
– In 2016, President Buhari launched the National Social Investment Programme, currently the largest such programme in Africa and one of the largest in the world. Currently, the National Social Register of poor and vulnerable Nigerians (NSR) has 32.6 million persons from more than 7 million poor and vulnerable households, identified across 708 local government areas, 8,723 wards and 86,610 communities across the 36 States of the country and the FCT.
– From this number, 1.6 million poor and vulnerable households (comprising more than 8 million individuals, in 45,744 communities from 5,483 Wards of 557 LGAs in 35 states and the FCT are currently benefiting from the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program, which pays a bimonthly stipend of N10,000 per household.
– In January 2019, President Buhari launched Nigeria’s Micro-Pension Scheme – which allows self-employed persons and persons working in organisations with less than 3 employees to save for the provision of pension at retirement or incapacitation.
– Establishment of Survival Fund, National Youth Investment Fund, and National Special Public Works Program (774,000 beneficiaries across 774 LGAs nationwide), and the Central Bank’s Covid-19 300 billion Naira Targeted Credit Facility (TCF) – more than 150 billion Naira disbursed so far – to support millions of small businesses, households and young people, with federal grants, loans and stipends.
– The Buhari Administration’s Survival Fund has provided its grants (Payroll Support, Artisan and Transport Sector grants, and General MSME grants) to more than 800,000 beneficiaries, since the last quarter of 2020. It has also provided free business registration to more than 200,000 MSMEs across the country.
– Presidential approval for the establishment of the Nigeria Investment and Growth Fund (NIG-Fund), in 2021.
– As at the end of 2020, Development Bank of Nigeria (which commenced operations in 2017) had disbursed 324 billion Naira in loans to more than 136,000 MSMEs, through 40 Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs). (57% of the beneficiaries are women-owned MSMEs while 27% are youth-owned).
– Bank of Industry has disbursed more than 900 billion Naira in loans to over 3 million large, medium, small and micro enterprises, since 2015.
– In January 2019, President Buhari launched Nigeria’s Micro Pension Scheme – which allows self-employed persons and persons working in organisations with less than 3 employees to save for the provision of pension at retirement or incapacitation.
EDUCATION AND HEALTH
– Since assuming office, the Buhari Administration has committed more than N1.7 trillion of capital intervention to Nigeria’s tertiary institutions, through various means, including TETFund – with the universities taking the lion share of the total amount.
– The Federal Government has disbursed more than 170 billion Naira in UBE Matching Grants to States and the FCT since 2015, 8 billion Naira in Special Education Grant to States and private providers of Special Education, and 34 billion Naira from the Teachers Professional Development Fund to States and the FCT.
– Launch of the Alternate School Programme (ASP), designed to ensure that every out-of-school child in Nigeria gains access to quality basic education, irrespective of social, cultural or economic circumstance, in line with the aspirations of Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG-4).
– Presidential approval for a new (extended) Retirement age of 65 and Length of Service of 40 years for Teachers in Public Basic and Secondary Schools in Nigeria (both effective January 1, 2021), as well as a new Special Teachers Salary Scale (effective January 1, 2022), and also a new Special Teachers Pension Scheme.
– Reduction in number of out-of-school children, by 3,247,590, as at 31st December, 2020, achieved through a World-Bank financed program known as ‘Better Education Service Delivery for All’ (BESDA). 1,792,833 of that number achieved through formal schools while 1,454,757 are through non-formal interventions such as Almajiri, Girl-Child, Nomadic/Migrant and IDPs Education).
– Under the World Bank-supported Innovation Development & Effectiveness in the Acquisition of Skills (IDEAS) Project, approved in 2020, US$200m will be invested in 6 participating States (Abia, Benue, Ekiti, Gombe, Kano, Edo) as well as 20 Federal Science and Technical Colleges nationwide. Implementation will be stepped-up in 2021 to afford millions of Nigerian youths the opportunity to acquire hands-on skills to effectively contribute to national development.
– Presidential approval for the establishment of the following:
o Federal Maritime University, in Delta State
o Nigerian Army University, in Borno State
o Six new Colleges of Education (one per geopolitical zone: Odugbo, Benue State; Isu, Ebonyi State; Ekiadolor, Edo State; Gidan Madi, Sokoto State; Jama’are, Bauchi State; and Iwo, Osun State).
o Six new Federal Polytechnics in Kaltungo, Gombe State; Ayede, Oyo State; Daura, Katsina State; Shendam, Plateau State, Ohodo, Enugu State; and Ugep, Cross River State.
o Under the phased implementation of the National Youth Policy, 6 Federal Science & Technical Colleges (FSTC) were established in 2020, as follows: FSTC Ogugu, Kogi State; FSTC Hadeija, Jigawa State; FSTC Umuaka, Imo State; FSTC Igangan, Oyo State; FSTC Ganduje, Kano State; FSTC, Amuzu, Ebonyi State. Five (5) additional Federal Science and Technical Colleges (FSTC) will come on-stream in 2021, and will be located in Bauchi, Plateau, Sokoto, Enugu and Cross River States.
– Grants to State Governments: At least $2.5 million disbursed to each State of the Federation and the FCT, under the Saving One Million Lives (SOML) initiative, to improve health outcomes.
– Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF): For the first time since the National Health Act was passed in 2014, the Federal Government in 2018 began including the 1% minimum portion of the Consolidated Revenue Fund – amounting to 55 billion Naira in 2018 – to fund the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF). The Fund is designed to deliver a guaranteed set health services to all Nigerians, through the national network of Primary Health Care centers.
– Passage of enabling legislation for the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC), for the first time since it was founded in 2011. President Buhari approved a grant of 5 billion Naira for the NCDC in March 2020, as part of the response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
– Tertiary Healthcare Upgrade Programme: A number of key Federal Hospitals across the country are being upgraded to effectively manage cancer and other major health challenges. Cancer Radiotherapy machines and other equipment are being provided to these hospitals. The National Hospital in Abuja has already received two LINAC (cancer treatment) machines.
– Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) in March 2018 invested US$10m to establish a world-class Cancer Treatment Center at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), and US$5m each in the Aminu Kano University Teaching Hospital and the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, to establish modern Diagnostic Centres. These Centers have all been completed and are now operational.
– Launch in 2019 of a Cancer Treatment Support Programme, ‘Chemotherapy Access Partnership’, as a public-private partnership between the Federal Government of Nigeria and a Private Sector coalition, to enable Nigerians access lower-cost, high-quality medications for the treatment of several types of cancer.