In a nation of over 200 million people, the chances of a person becoming President are already slim. The chances of one person from that 200 million becoming President twice, with many decades between his first and second coming, are even slimmer. Then imagine that such a person’s first opportunity to lead the great nation of Nigeria came when he was a military officer and then during the dispensation of democracy, that person is given a second opportunity to lead Nigeria. If you weren’t familiar with Nigeria, you would think that such a scenario was only possible in a work of fiction, the kinds for which Fredrick Forsyth and Robert Ludlum were renowned for.
It takes an incredible intervention by Destiny to make a man so privileged. Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s current President is such a man and if you consider his path to the highest office in the land, it becomes even more evident. Despite being in the forefront of the Nigerian civil war when it began and in the thick of it while it lasted, he emerged unscathed. Any student of history will tell you, and correctly too, that the business and execution of military coups is often a bloody one. Having participated in a few himself, he survived. After he was ousted from being Head of State in a military coup in 1985, he could have been killed as some of his predecessors were, but he wasn’t. Fast forward a few decades, he contested in the presidential elections of 2003, 2007 and 2011 but lost on each of those occasions. In fact, he is reported to have decided not to contest again after losing the 2011 presidential elections. Somehow the pull of Destiny was strong and it galvanized men and women all over Nigeria to pull Muhammadu Buhari into what had been divinely preordained for him. He didn’t even have the money with which to purchase his party’s Expression of Interest and nomination form yet people who believed in him paid for it. In 2015 and after three unsuccessful attempts, he emerged victorious in the presidential election and made history as the first person to defeat an incumbent.
Since he became President in 2015, Muhammadu Buhari has faced many challenges including a drawn-out insurgency in the North East of Nigeria, a challenge he inherited from a previous administration. Despite the challenges, he has achieved many good things albeit understated. For instance, shortly after he was sworn in, Nigeria suffered a debilitating economic recession. Eventually, he was able to course correct, pulling the nation out of her economic woes. The naira stabilized against the dollar and with increased investment flows, Nigeria’s stock market emerged one of the best performing in the world, delivering well over 40% returns. Through the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Internally Generated Revenue reached record highs. With a focus on agriculture, the number of Nigerians facing food insecurity in the North East dropped by half. Importation of staple foods like rice and beans into the country reduced by almost 90%.
Among other brilliant initiatives taken to spur economic growth, President Buhari initiated a Sugar Backward Integration Program which has spurred massive investments and yield in that area. There is also the National Automotive Industry Development Plan, and and a focus on priority production and manufacturing in areas like cotton and textiles, cassava, dairy, oil palm, leather and leather products, and construction. These initiatives have also been backed up by the provision of access to credit for 10 million Micro Small and Medium scale Enterprises (MSMEs) at single-digit rates, as well as the facilitation of tax and regulatory incentives for these MSMEs. The Central Bank of Nigeria started an Anchor Borrowers Programme, making N82 billion in funding available to over 350,000 farmers who cultivate rice, wheat, maize, cotton, cassava, soybeans, groundnut and poultry. Commercial banks have been greatly encouraged to give out more loans to businesses that hitherto may not have been able to access credit. These facts are very much in the public domain and history will eventually prove their mettle.
One of the lesser known facts about the present iteration of Muhammadu Buhari as President of Nigeria is that his administration supports nearly 300,000 Nigerians with a monthly cash transfer of N5,000 to lift them out of absolute poverty. The Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) scheme provides targeted monthly Base Cash Transfer of N5,000 to the poorest and most vulnerable households in the country, to lift them out of absolute poverty. The scheme runs across 26 states with N12.8 billion so far disbursed to beneficiaries. This social security or safety net for the indigent is the first of its kind in Nigerian history and testament to the man’s heart for people.
Sometimes progress is not immediately evident, and it is after a long period of time that people can generally agree that the efforts of leaders were pivotal, defining moments for good in the course of a nation’s history. He is notably the first President who refused to manipulate his Party’s governorship primaries to impose his preferred candidates and he openly reprimanded members of his party who were being undemocratic in their leanings and actions. Seeing how Providence brought him this far, it seems very likely that Muhammadu Buhari’s efforts at bettering Nigeria ultimately not be in vain.
Culled From Inaugural Edition Of TEJ @theelitejournal.com