De­con­struct­ing Buhari’s ‘Next Level’ Agenda

THISDAY - - RING TRUE -

Ihave spent qual­ity time read­ing Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari’s “Next level” doc­u­ment launched to her­ald his 2019 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cam­paign. The pa­per ex­plains where he in­tends to take Nige­ri­ans to if he gets a sec­ond term. I am not sorry to say that those who pre­pared this doc­u­ment for Buhari are sim­ply out to bam­boo­zle Nige­ri­ans. Con­sid­er­ing the abysmal per­for­mance of this gov­ern­ment in the last three and half years, Buhari’s “Next level” ideas and pri­or­i­ties are clearly unattain­able. It is just cheap talk.

The doc­u­ment talks about cre­at­ing five mil­lion jobs through N-Power and agri­cul­ture. This gov­ern­ment failed woe­fully in this area in its first term and will fail again in job cre­ation if it gets a sec­ond term. The trend in de­vel­oped climes is for gov­ern­ment to cre­ate an en­abling en­vi­ron­ment for the pri­vate sec­tor to gen­er­ate jobs. Buhari and his men still don’t un­der­stand this. The op­er­at­ing en­vi­ron­ment is sti­fling for busi­nesses. This is what should be ad­dressed in­stead of talk­ing about us­ing pub­lic funds to cre­ate phony jobs. A man gets N30,000 gov­ern­ment money for a max­i­mum of two years, work­ing where he is not re­ally needed and you call that job cre­ation?

Ex­ist­ing in­dus­trial es­tates across the coun­try are in tat­ters and un­der-utilised due to in­fras­truc­tural chal­lenges and in­clement op­er­at­ing en­vi­ron­ment. Buhari should visit the likes of Kakuri, Sher­ada, Bom­pai, Ogba and Ikeja in­dus­trial es­tates to un­der­stand what I am talk­ing about. Man­u­fac­tur­ers are gasp­ing for sur­vival, while pro­vid­ing their own elec­tric­ity, wa­ter, road, se­cu­rity, in ad­di­tion to sti­fling mul­ti­ple tax­a­tions by all lev­els of gov­ern­ments. These are the chal­lenges a for­ward-look­ing gov­ern­ment should ad­dress, in­stead of talk­ing about cre­at­ing six re­gional in­dus­trial parks and spe­cial eco­nomic zones. The “next level” also talks about build­ing “109 Spe­cial Pro­duc­tion and Pro­cess­ing Cen­tres (SPPCs) to spur pro­duc­tion and value ad­di­tive pro­cess­ing, and the pro­vi­sion of trac­tors and pro­ces­sors plants in each sen­a­to­rial dis­trict to cre­ate ex­tra jobs.” This is pre­pos­ter­ous. In mod­ern economies, these are pri­vate-sec­tor driven ac­tiv­i­ties.

There is also the plan to cre­ate 300, 000 ex­tra jobs for ven­dors and farm­ers by “in­creas­ing the school feed­ing from 9.3 mil­lion pupils to next level of 15 mil­lion pupils.” Hon­estly, I don’t know where the 9.3 mil­lion pupils they claim to have been feed­ing for al­most four years are. Now, they are talk­ing about in­creas­ing this to 15 mil­lion pupils in the next four years and cre­at­ing 300, 000 ex­tra jobs. The truth about this voodoo school feed­ing pro­gramme will emerge very soon.

In the area of in­fra­struc­ture, Buhari’s “Next Level” prom­ises to de­liver so many rail­way projects. A gov­ern­ment that failed to de­liver just one rail­way pro­ject in four years is promis­ing “to com­plete the IbadanKano phase of the La­gos-Ibadan-Kano rail, com­plete East­ern rail (Port Har­court-Maiduguri) tak­ing the net­work through Abia, all South-east states cap­i­tals, Makurdi, Jos, Bauchi and Gombe; com­plete the coastal rail pro­ject (La­gos-Cal­abar) and com­plete the link on Itakpe-Warri rail to Abuja through Lokoja and make it op­er­a­tional.”

In the area of roads, it promised to “com­plete the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria to Kano; com­plete works on fed­eral roads us­ing Sukuk Bonds in each states of the fed­er­a­tion; com­plete the Sec­ond Niger Bridge con­nect­ing Anam­bra and Delta States and to com­plete the East-West road con­nect­ing Warri, Delta to Oron, Akwa-Ibom, through Ka­iama and Port Har­court in Bayelsa and Rivers States.”

Haba! These listed projects run into sev­eral bil­lions of USD. They did not even do due fi­nan­cial dili­gence be­fore rolling out these projects for com­ple­tion in an­other four years. Port Har­court-Maiduguri rail line alone will cost $9.2 bil­lion. This is ac­cord­ing to the Trans­port Minister, Amaechi. They are still ne­go­ti­at­ing for the loan with the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment. Even if Buhari re­mains in power for 20 years, he won’t be able to com­plete all the roads and rail­way projects listed. Those who com­piled Buhari’s “Next Level” de­serve to be caned.

In the area of power, Buhari’s “Next Level” drafters for­got that they promised to in­crease gen­er­a­tion to 10,000MW within their first term, which they have ob­vi­ously failed to ac­tu­al­ize. Nige­ria re­mains in per­pet­ual dark­ness. Now, they are promis­ing to “add a min­i­mum of 1,000 MW new gen­er­a­tion in­cre­men­tal power ca­pac­ity per an­num on the grid, to bring it to a to­tal of a min­i­mum of 11, 000MW and dis­tri­bu­tion is to get to 7,000MW un­der dis­tri­bu­tion ex­pan­sion pro­gramme.” There is so much con­fu­sion here. These peo­ple are clearly jesters.

Buhari

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