In the third part of our score cards series, Johnchuks Onuanyim, Tunde Oyesina, Emnanuel Onani, Caleb Onwe and Deborah Ocheni provide their assessment of the activities in various ministries during President Muhammadu Buhari’s first term in office.
Udoma Udo Udoma (BUDGET AND NATIONAL PLANNING):
Four years of tortuous budget process
The Ministry of Budget and National Planning is entrusted with a distinct mandate of advising the Federal Government on national development and overall management of the national economy. It has provided a realistic budget for the country.
Headed by an astute lawyer and boardroom technocrat, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, the Budget and Planning Ministry in conjunction with the Finance Ministry has played a very significant role in the process of retrieving the economy from the grips of recession.
It initiated the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) designed to restore the economy to the path of sustainable and inclusive growth. The strategic objectives of the ERGP are restoring growth through macroeconomic stability and economic diversification, investing in our people particularly through improved human capital and socially inclusive policies and building a globally competitive economy through investments in infrastructure and by improving the business environment.
A number of strategies were identified to fast track the achievements of the ERGP objectives, namely: stabilizing the macroeconomic environment, achieving agriculture and food security, ensuring energy sufficiency, improving transportation infrastructure and driving industrialization by focusing on Small and Medium Scale enterprises (SMEs).
One of the kernels of ERGP was Focus Labs which identified 164 projects across the six geo-political zones with an investment potential of $22.5 billion and creation of 513,981 jobs by 2020.
Sadly though, as the ministry in charge of planning for the economy, it hasn’t been able to generate the number of jobs needed to reduce employment figures.
The unemployment figures from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) have remained scary and worrisome.
However, Udoma said the increase in the unemployment numbers is not because jobs have not been created by the Buhari Administration but that the rate of new job creations was lagging behind the rate of new entrants into the job market. He said that, as is generally known, employment growth usually slows down during a recession and takes some time to recover.
Fielding questions from journalists and members of the public during the 2019 Budget Proposals breakdown session in Abuja, Senator Udoma stated that an examination of the NBS numbers actually show that the Buhari administration has a positive net job creation record of 1,640,398.
This is exclusive of the 11.1 million persons that the NBS classifies as people who do some form of work but are considered to have worked too few hours to be officially considered as employed, he added. This means that many casual workers in farms might be amongst the 11.1 million workers who the NBS enumerators may have felt did not work for enough hours to be considered as employed; and agriculture is an area in which the Buhari Administration has made massive strides.
The minister was confident that as the economy continues on its upward trajectory, having come out of recession, the unemployment figures will come down.
However, one sore area the minister grappled with, was budgeting.
Hard as Udoma tried, he was unable to break budget jinx. In the past three years, every attempt by Udoma’s Budget and Planning Ministry to experiment with a December to January budget circle met a brick wall.
The budget delay, brickbats between the executive and legislative arms; accusations and counter accusations of budget padding on both sides remain the hallmark of the Budget and Planning Ministry in the last four years.
Udoma, has given another tentative date of 2020, when the Federal Government hopes to revert to the January to December budget cycle.
Everything about the process of budgeting in the past four years have been everything but normal.
From first stage, starting with the submission of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper to the National Assembly is never complied with on schedule.
The National Assembly is also guilty of not attending to the MTEF document on schedule.
Budget submission to the National Assembly by the Executive arm had been perpetually never on time. Budget defence by MDAs at the National Assembly has always been a horrendous exercise exceeding its scheduled time; its passage by the National Assembly and it return to the president for assent takes ages.
And when it does finally arrive at Aso Rock, it begins another journey at the villa, with President Buhari taking time to study the document. This has been the tortuous journey of every budget from 2016 till the current 2019 budget.
Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau (Interior)
Without doubt, the Ministry of Interior remains one of the most critical ministries, considering the fact that the internal security of the nation, rests squarely on its shoulders.
That informs why the ministry bears the burden of the supervision over the Nigeria Police, Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Nigeria Prisons Service (NPS), as well as the Federal Fire Service (FFS).
It suffices to say that all the agencies under the Ministry of Interior are very critical to the sustenance of the country’s democratic experience.
For instance, while the Police remain the lead agency in internal security management, the NIS, on its part, is saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that people, who enter the country, do so with valid documents, even as they continue manning the borders.
It is against the backdrop of these huge responsibilities, that the Minister of Interior, Lt-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd), could be seen as one of “the minister of interest” to the public.
Dambazau was the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) between 2008 and 2010.
Considering his former position, the appointment of the former 3-star general sometime in November, 2015, was seen as one of the well-thought out decisions of President Muhammadu Buhari.
However, over three years down the line, it will be difficult, as many have argued, to say that the former Army chief has substantially deployed his capacity and capability to bear on his position as minister.
Even “incurable optimists” seem to agree that there is a steady rise in crime and criminality across the country.
Rising incidents of kidnapping, armed banditry and robbery, herders-farmers clashes and the like, have continued to leave in their trails deaths, destruction and tears.
Recall that the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Mohammed Adamu had, during a meeting of the Northern Traditional Rulers’ Council, which held in Kaduna on April 30, provided a frightening figure of those killed in the first quarter of the year.
According to the IGP, between January and April 1, 071 people were killed in crime-related cases across the country, while 685 others were kidnapped.
It is, however, hoped that with intensified efforts by the Police and other “sister” security agencies, the tide will be turned against the enemies of the state – suspected kidnappers, armed bandits, armed robbers, and other perpetrators of violence.
Suleiman Adamu Kazaure (Water Resources)
The Ministry of Water Resources under the leadership of Engr. Suleiman Adamu can boast of the following achievements:
*The re-positioning of the 12 River Basin Development Authorities (RBDAs) to enable the agencies carry out their core function of supporting all-year farming to boost food security, create jobs and serve as the key instrument for the diversification of the national economy.
* The launch of a Partnership for Expanded Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (PEWASH) expected to gulp over N150 billion.
He also launched the gazette on water use and license 2016 document, which seeks to address a lot of issues like protection, conservation, control, equitable development and maintenance of environmental integrity of the nation’s freshwater and non-freshwater, including its strategies for achieving set goals in the sector.
The document was later submitted to the National Assembly as the Water Bill and is still pending.
Another key achievement of the minister is the construction of the small water supply schemes in various states, which are expected to boost national access to potable water in Nigeria. The launch of a Partnership for Expanded Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (PEWASH) is expected to gulp over N150 billion and bring states and the federal and local governments together, towards improving access to potable water supply in the near future.
Engr. Adamu has also initiated a bilateral engagement to organise an international conference on Lake Chad, to draw international attention to the drastic drying up of the Lake Chad basin, in order to save the over 47 million people living around the lake who depend solely on it for farming, fishing, livestock production as well as water supply for drinking/sanitation.
The Minister has also audited the on-going water projects in the country. According to the ex-minister the technical audit of 117 abandoned water projects, was to help the ministry complete the viable ones.
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