President Muhammadu Buhari made history in 2015 when he, as the candidate of the opposition party at that time, defeated the incumbent (President Goodluck Jonathan) at the polls. With that victory, Buhari’s party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) became the first opposition party to achieve such a feat in the history of Nigeria. He took the oath of office on May 29, 2015 and will be completing his first term of four years as well as stepping into the second and final term in office by May 29, 2019. In this report, our correspondents – Onyekachi Eze, Regina Otokpa, Chukwu David and Abdulwahab Isa – assess the performance of the men and women Buhari chose to oversee the ministries over the last four years.
Prof. Isaac Adewole (HEALTH): Universal Health Care Coverage – still a mirage
When the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole and the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, came on board as members of President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet, they promised to among other things, revitalise the 10,000 primary healthcare facilities in the 774 local government areas across the country; provide antenatal care for pregnant women; free health care for babies and persons infected with infectious diseases; rehabilitation of cancer machines across the country; reducing the rate of maternal mortality and mother to child HIV transmission as well as placing more people on free anti-retroviral drugs. Although faced with low budgetary allocations, the Federal Ministry of Health within the last four years was able to put a lot of policy reforms and initiatives in place.
The Tobacco Act and Campaign was launched, N550 million was committed towards the revitalisation of 110 primary health care centres, an increased number of radiotherapy machines, a re-launch of family planning programmes nationwide, a successful implementation of routine immunisation which brought about an increase in the number of children covered including those in the hard to reach areas.
Through the successful implementation of the Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS), Nigeria discovered its ranking had dropped on the global HIV ratings from 3.2 million persons living with the virus, to 1.9 million.
This could not be divorced from the various interventions put in place, collaborations with foreign and development partners in an increased awareness and access to preventive measures. In the same vein, new HIV test kits were developed to address the fear of stigmatisation and increase the number of Nigerians who now know their HIV status. For the first time, N55 billion has been committed to the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF), a fundamental funding provision under the National Health Act.
The first six states benefitting from the initial roll out included Osun, Abia, Niger, Yobe, Borno and Edo. With help from development partners, the malaria prevalence rate reduced from 42 to 27 percent, in addition, lot was done to mitigate disease burdens, increase birth registration, and curb the high rate of malnutrition and meeting up with universal health care projections and targets. Also, within the period under review, a health facility registry was launched to grant public access to up to date information about all health facilities in the country electronically, a maternal perinatal death and surveillance response was launched to ensure proper capturing of data of mothers and babies around pregnancies and deliveries.
One of the best news of all, is the proposed declaration of Nigeria as a polio free country by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the approval of a new National Health Policy aimed at promoting the health of Nigerians and the passage of the National Health Insurance Amendment Bill by the National Assembly still awaiting assent by the President. However, on the downside, Prof. Adewole’s tenure as minister witnessed a prolonged leadership crisis at the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS); while there is still poor national coverage of the NHIS scheme, Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs), lack basic amenities, equipment, and drugs thereby severely undermining healthcare service delivery and health outcomes.
Also, Nigeria still accounts for a significant percentage of the global malaria burden placed at 25 percent, and 19 percent of malaria related deaths according to the World Malaria Report. According to the 2017 Global TB Report, Nigeria is among the 14 high burden countries for TB, TB/HIV and MDR-TB, and ranked 7th among the 30 high TB burden countries and 1st in Africa. The country is presently among the 10 countries that account for 64 percent of the global gap in TB case finding in 2017.
The last four years witnessed various outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases such as meningitis, cholera, yellow fever due to inadequate vaccines in the country. Although a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with May and Baker towards a commencement of vaccine production in the country, there are no signs of notable progress as the country still depends on international donors for vaccine supplies.
Universal Health Care Coverage is still a mirage as majority of Nigerians still pay out of their pockets to access health services, Nigeria loses $1 billion to medical tourism on an annual basis, and about 12 doctors leave the country to practice abroad on a weekly basis. In addition, the health sector witnessed a lot of industrial unrest by members of the Medical and Health Workers Union (MHWUN), Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), and the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) who were often engaged in a battle for supremacy.
Mallam Adamu Adamu (EDUCATION): Illiteracy levels have risen to 60m
The tenure of Mallam Adamu Adamu and Prof. Anthony Anwukah as Minister of Education and Minister of State for Education respectively, witnessed quite a number of achievements.
When the duo assumed office, they promised to reduce the number of out of school children, ensure 30 million Nigerians become literate, strengthen basic and secondary school education, boost capacity building and professional development of teachers, re-negotiate the 2009 Agreement with unions in tertiary sector, reduce the percentage counterpart fund paid by states to ease their accessing of funds and provision of e-learning, technical and vocational education and training, education data and planning and adult literacy including special needs education. Though criticised for being slow in their style of administration in a sector considered vibrant, they kicked off with the presentation of a road map for radical change within their tenure.
They effected the separation of CRK/IRK in the basic education curriculum, implemented open distance and flexible learning for 25 polytechnics, conducted efficiency test for pupils and teachers, approved 15 university online learning centres, introduced teachers professional examination and modified the United Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) for candidates seeking admission into the higher institutions of learning by introducing Central Admission Processing (CAP) System.
Only recently the number of out of school children was said to have reduced to 10.1 million. Figures peddled by the Federal Government and development partners in 2015 were hovering around 10.5 million and 13.2 million out of school children.
Education Minister, Mallam Adamu Adamu, who lamented the constraints of adequate data limiting the ministry’s ability to plan and report on the out-school children phenomenon, revealed that the new figure was arrived at due to the collaborative efforts of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), National Population Commission and the National Bureau of statistics, the World Bank (WB), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other development partners.
Also, several private and state tertiary institutions were approved, the data collection system was revamped an assessment was conducted for all basic schools and N1.9 billion intervention fund was approved for each university. Also N728 billion was spent in critical areas of tertiary education in the last four years, addressing physical infrastructure, project maintenance, information and communication technology, entrepreneurNgigeial skills, library development, academic staff training and development, as well as research. Out of the Paris Club Fund, the sum of N71.3 billion was given to the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), to further boost basic education.
Out of this amount N14.6 billion was disbursed to states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to ensure the provision of needed facilities in public primary and junior secondary schools nationwide. After series of strikes, which were often very prolonged, the sum of N163 billion was coughed out to “settle” the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). However, the lack of faith in the quality of education has recorded a tremendous increase in the number of students seeking to study abroad.
Rather than reduce, the illiteracy level in the country has increased to 60 million, the rate of proliferation of unregulated private schools is still on the increase, over 40 percent of Nigerian teachers still lack the minimum qualifications for teaching, about 50 per cent of Nigerians with post -secondary school qualification are underemployed or unemployed.
The immediate past administration established the almajiri school system to address the high number of out of school children in the north, rather than sustain the programme, the multi-billion naira project has been left to ruin. Within the last four years, almost unions in the education sector including ASUU, COEASU, ASUP & JAC (Comprising NASU, SSANU & NAAT), embarked on labour disputes one time or the other, over Federal Government’s insincerity to honour previous agreements, and its nonchalant attitude towards the welfare of its members. These various strikes hit the sector hard.
Sen. Chris Ngige (LABOUR AND EMPLOYMENT): 20.9m Nigerians still unemployed
Sen. Chris Ngige believed that before leaving office as minister in 2019, he would crash the high rate of unemployment, ensure an improved wage and working capacity for Nigerian workers, implement the Local Content Act to boost job creation, enforce the 1990 Factories Act concerned with occupational health and safety and in addition, an online portal to register unemployed Nigerians. Formally known as Ministry of Labour and Employment, President Buhari redesigned and named it Ministry of Employment.
Four years down the line, the notable achievements of the one-time Senator was his ability to settle the numerous labour disputes that ensued under the administration’s first term of four years in office.
After a long-drawn battle resulting in several negotiations and renegotiations, strikes, protests and threats by labour movements in the country, the New Minimum Wage was finally approved for Nigerian workers after it was assented to by President Buhari on April 18. The nation’s upper legislative house (Senate) had earlier passed the bill in March.
The Labour Ministry equally saw to the training and empowerment of internally displaced persons, young men and women on skills and acquisition through the National Directorate of Employment.
Sadly, current data shows that about 20.9 million Nigerians were unemployed as at third quarter of 2018. The unemployment rate in Nigeria increased to 23.10 percent in the third quarter of 2018 from 22.70 percent in the second quarter of 2018.
Unemployment Rate in Nigeria averaged 12.31 percent from 2006 until 2018, reaching an all-time high of 23.10 percent in the third quarter of 2018 and a record low of 5.10 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010. Till date, the online portal which was expected to create a data base for unemployed youths to help the govt plan properly is still a mirage. Incessant strike actions from various unions and non-fulfilment of agreements between labour unions and the Federal Government were constantly resurfacing.
Rotimi Amaechi (TRANSPORT): Massive rail, road infrastructure development
After much intrigues, lobbying, horse trading and some times, bitter altercations among some members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the Executive arm of the Federal Government and the Eighth Senate, the apex legislative chamber, in October 2015, confirmed Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, for appointment as a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. At the point of his confirmation, it was not obvious to Nigerians, which sector of the economy he was going to be assigned to handle. However, it was obvious that he was going to be given what some Nigerians prefer to call a “Grade A or juicy” ministry.
The reason for this speculation and eventual manifestation of the grade of ministry to be assigned to him was due to the pivotal role Amaechi played in the election of President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC in 2015. Consequently, he was appointed the Minister of Transportation, with Aviation under it as a sub-sector. Amaechi, who served in Rivers State as Speaker of the State House of Assembly for eight years, and another eight years as the governor of the state, has manned the Transportation Ministry for three and half years, with a number of achievements to show.
Within this period, the ministry under Amaechi has made tremendous impact especially with respect to improving the nation’s transport sector. It is stating the obvious that the bulk of the achievements of the Ministry of Transportation are recorded mainly in the railway sub-sector of the economy.
Some of the achievements are as follows: The Rail Sub-Sector:
The Nigerian Railway Modernization Project Segment 1: Abuja-Kaduna Project which is a segment of the Lagos-Kano Rail (Western) Corridor was actually started under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, was completed by Amaechi, and commercial operations also commenced on the line after President Muhammadu Buhari, commissioned the project in July, 2016. Nigerians of all classes are now using it, and in fact, it is being overstretched currently as a result of the deteriorating state of security along Abuja-Kaduna Expressway, where armed bandits hold sway and subject the road users to kidnapping, robbery and sometimes outright killing of their victims.
The menacing security situation along the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway has put the less privileged (poor) Nigerians, whose interest in the construction of the rail line was paramount, are now being almost displaced by the rich, high and mighty in the society, who now see the rail transport channel as safe heaven to escape from the terror of the dare devil bandits.
There were reports that Abuja-Kaduna rail line is now conveying about 2000 passengers per day, thereby putting so much pressure on the available coaches. In order to tackle this problem, the Federal Government is expected to take delivery of the first batch of 10 coaches, out of the 64 coaches expected from China in June to augment the available ones.
Amaechi, disclosed this recently, when he led a delegation to China to inspect the pace of work on the construction of the coaches at the Chinese Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) Tangshan Co., Ltd, China. He also noted that the coaches, when delivered, would be deployment to the Standard Gauge Rail lines in the country, particularly, Abuja-Kaduna rail line to reduce the current congestion.
Another major achievement by Amaechi in the sector is the implementation of the Nigerian Railway Modernization Project, Phase 1 – Lagos-Kano Project; Lagos-Ibadan Segment with extension from Its Terminal Point at Ebute-Metta to Lagos Port Complex at Apapa which is on-going. The Lagos-Ibadan rail line, according to Amaechi last weekend, has reached 70% completion.
He was also optimistic that the railway stations from Lagos to Ibadan, Abeokuta and Apapa would all be completed by December. It is pertinent to note that the Lagos-Ibadan rail project, which is being executed by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), was signed to be completed in three years but due to Amaechi’s pressure on the contractor, the project is likely to be completed six months ahead of the initial duration period.
Other areas of the Nigeria Railway Central line are Itakpe- Warri line to Aladja – South ward line to Warri town, Refinery and Port (started by government in 1987). Work is very much in progress for completion by President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration under strict supervision by Amaechi.
In line with the Federal Government’s reform policy to involve Private Sector Investment to participate in the Railway Transport Sub-sector, concession of various rail corridors for construction, rehabilitation and operation are on-going. This is being carried out majorly with relevant agencies on the Concession of the Nigerian Narrow Gauge Rail lines of Lagos – Kano (Western Lines) and Port Harcourt – Maiduguri (Eastern Lines).
This is to be done with General Electric (GE) of which millions of Nigerians will benefit. The Federal Government also has as priority for the connection through branch line of Port Harcourt–Maiduguri line to Damaturu and Yola, capitals of Yobe and Adamawa states respectively.
The Federal Government is also in negotiation with Chinese investors for the development of vital connection with neighbouring countries in the West African sub-region through new lines in the Kano-Katsina-Jibriya Line connecting Maradi Niger Republic and Benin and hope to reach Port of Marrakech in Morocco, when adequate protocol is established between the intervening countries within the context of ECOWAS Rail Interconnectivity policy.
In April, 2017 the maintenance dredging of the River Niger from Ajaokuta to Onitsha was flagged off. The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) undertook the project with their in-house developed manpower and equipment.
The Nigerian Maritime Administration & Safety Agency (NIMASA) got a FEC approval for the award of contract for the lease of six units of Fast Intervention Security Vessels for prompt safety and security manning of the Nigerian Maritime Domain in line with IMO Protocol and Conventions. The Agency has renewed its Memorandum of Understanding with the Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Air Force for the same purpose of safety and security.
The Steering Committees for the actualization of the Deep Sea Ports at Ibaka, Akwa Ibom State and Lekki, Lagos State have been inaugurated and they are making impactful progress.
Safe And Secure Air Transport System
In the bid to achieve a safe and secure air transport system, FAAN has undertaken the following activities some of which are at the verge of completion: *Reconstruction of Abuja runway and isolated repair of the taxiway and apron, including complete remarking of the entire pavement and associated airfield lighting system.
*Completion of remodelling of Kaduna Airport; procurement and installation of fire alarm system in various airports, runway repairs at Benin Airport; construction of Control Towers with technical building at Ilorin and Benin, provision of bomb containment vessel at MAKIA & PH.C, among others.
*Only last week the ministry announced the closer of the runway at the Enugu Airport for repairs and plans to demolish the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos in order to build a more modern structure.
Setbacks: The major setback faced by Amaechi in the ministry, which has limited his exploits in the railway sub-sector is paucity of funds, which made it impossible for him to simultaneously extend the on-going rail projects to the Eastern corridor, with linkage of the Eastern to Western Geo-political zones as with the North. This has attracted a lot of criticism to him because the people of the South East and the South South have been accusing him of excluding them from the railway development Programme of the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government.
Meanwhile, Amaechi has continued to assure the aggrieved sections of the country, that as soon as there are adequate funds, their own axes of the rail project would be commenced.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed
(INFORMATION AND CULTURE): We’ve transited from analogue to digital
The launch of Digital Switch Over (DSO) is one of the major achievements of the Ministry of Information and Culture in the last four years. This landmark achievement has seen Nigeria transiting from analogue to digital broadcasting.
At the launch of the programme in 2016 at Mpape, Abuja, the Minister in charge of the ministry, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, described the launch as revolutionary in the Nigerian broadcasting ecosystem. Alhaji Mohammed said 30 free channels would be available for Abuja residents upon the switch over while over 450,000 Set-Top Boxes (decoders) have been provided for the commencement. “Our objective is not just to move Nigerians from analogue to digital in a simple technical sense, but to ensure a total overhaul of the whole TV watching experience and the economy around it,” he said.
The programme was later launched in other parts of the country. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) had given Nigeria up to June, 2017 as deadline to switch from analogue broadcasting to digital across the country. As a ministry charged with the responsibility of projecting government image and promoting its activities, the Ministry of Information, sometime in October 2016, launched the ‘Change Begins with Me’ campaign. Alhaji Mohammed, at the launch of the campaign in Lagos, said Nigeria needs a national rebirth.
“We need to change the way we do things and imbibe in our people the culture of integrity, honesty and good morals in every facet of life,” he explained. In June 2018, the ministry, which also oversees culture, hosted the 61st United Nation World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Commission for Africa (CAF). It offered Nigeria the opportunity to showcase her culture and music to the world.
However, despite his best efforts at trying to project the positive sides of government the rising insecurity situation across the land has meant that government has suffered a lot of knocks over its perceived inability to decisively tackle the situation.
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