Editor’s note: One year ago President Muhammdu Buhari inaugurated 36 ministers to lead 24 federal ministries. While one year may not be enough to judge the performance of the Buhari’s cabinet in this opinion piece for the Daily Trust, the author names two big achievements of the incumbent government.
On Wednesday last week, President Muhammadu Buhari said at a ceremony to mark one year in office of the Federal Executive Council [FEC] that his ministers should work harder in order to earn the trust and confidence of Nigerians. He seemed to be saying that his ministers have not worked hard enough to earn Nigerians’ confidence.
Maybe some of them have worked hard but the overall result of the administration’s performance in key areas fell short of expectations.
The ministers were appointed in November last year, more than five months after the president was sworn in. A lot of time was already lost and Nigerians expected them to hit the ground running. For the most part, however, they have been dragging their feet, though their performance cannot be isolated from that of the Presidency. Few ministries have engaged in striking innovations that could be considered a bastion of hope. Instead, under their collective watch, the economy has sunk into a deep recession and citizens are struggling to keep their heads above water.
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The two big achievements of the Buhari administration in the past year have been the decimation of Boko Haram and the stepped up war against corruption.
However, poor performance of the economy and the feeble policies rolled out to tackle it has beclouded the government’s achievements. The Buhari cabinet’s economic managers have not been successful in coping with the challenge.
Though a raft of policy measures were unrolled, few recorded positive gains and some even backfired.
The cabinet’s monetary policies have accentuated inflation and deepened poverty in the country. Implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) removed a lot of liquidity from the economy, hampering the banking sector and slowing down activities at MDAs. Foreign exchange policy has not delivered forex to the real sector and has permitted unscrupulous bankers to engage in round-tripping.
There was a lot of delay before this year’s federal budget was passed into law. It was a N6.5 trillion budget which was expected to reflate the economy and enable us to spend our way out of the recession. It was disappointing to hear the Finance Minister last month complaining of revenue shortfalls and inability to fund promised projects and programs.
President Buhari in a group photo with his 36 ministers
Why make a N6.5 trillion budget when you have not worked out the source of the funds? Incidentally, the N500bn social intervention fund which government chorused at various forums is yet to be pumped into the economy. The intervention fund is supposed to cushion the effect of the current economic hardship on the weak and vulnerable classes- unemployed youths, women, the aged, artisans, etc. Several promises to begin implementation were made by various officials in the past year, only to be suspended at the last minute. With only six weeks to the end of the financial year, not one of them has taken off. This is very disappointing indeed.
A lot of promises were also made in the agricultural sector but the results fell short. Although the heavy investment in rice has yielded some results, management of the harvest has been problematic. A few days ago the presidency raised an alarm of a possible famine from January 2017 because foreigners are buying our agricultural produce in large quantities. To go from a promise of an agricultural revolution and a promised end to food imports to official warning of an impending famine is a grave disappointment and we urge the government to sort itself out.
If many of Buhari’s ministers have not performed optimally, the presidency itself ought to do a soul searching on whether it has placed square pegs in square holes, whether it has given them proper policy direction and whether it has set the right mechanism for motivation and supervision. Going into the second year, we expect much better performance from both ministers and presidency.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of NAIJ.com.
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