Deconstructing Buhari’s ‘Next Level’ Agenda
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.