By Emmanuel Umohinyang
DEAR fellow Nigerians, I hope this letter meets you in good health, especially as we go to the polls for the presidential election this Saturday. I am compelled to write you in view of our recent experiences, having taken stock of our recent history and the future of our nation.
You will no doubt agree with me that Nigerians and the world had great expectations that we would rediscover ourselves as a nation when the country returned to democratic rule in 1999.
They were right in view of the false steps, we initially made as a nation at infancy and the human and material resources God has bequeathed to us.
It was these that the world saw back then, that they christened our nation, the Giant of Africa.
This hope was buoyed by our riches in cocoa, oil palm, groundnut, rubber, gold and many others, from which Nigeria made a fortune as a young nation.
Though the gains made from the “golden era” were lost to maladministration and corruption by successive administrations, expectations were particularly high globally as we returned to civil rule in 1999.
This may not be unconnected with the feelings that Nigeria had a golden chance for self-discovery; the country also had former President Olusegun Obasanjo, of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP from whom much was expected, going by his governance experience.
But 20 years down the line, the question remains how well have we fared after 20 years, 16 of which was under the PDP?
Indeed, the answer to that was delivered by the outcome of the 2015 general elections, during which PDP’s 16 years came to an end through the ballot.
Curiously, this was a period during which Nigeria made billions of Dollars from crude oil, with the product rising astronomically to over 100 Dollars and remaining at same, especially during ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
The first thing the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari confronted on assumption of office was giving bail out to states. This was particularly in view of the fact that over 24 of the 36 states of the federation could not pay workers even before the administration came in.
So far, the PMB administration has given N1.9 trillion to states for salaries and pensions alone, despite dwindling oil revenue.
This was at a time facts emerged that billions of Dollars set aside to fight insurgency by the Jonathan administration had found their ways into private pockets. Through prudent management of resources’, the current administration’s impact has been felt by Nigerians in critical sectors of the economy in the last four years.
Realising that we have over – depended on oil, whose price has been unstable in the international market in the last few years, the PMB administration came up with workable economic strategies, including agric through diversification of the economy, which has brought about massive employment in the agric sector.
The PMB administration invested over N500 billion in the rice value chain, even as over eight new rice mills have come on stream in Ebonyi, Kebbi, and many other states, while Nigeria’s rice production has doubled compared to 2014 levels.
As a result, Nigeria had since taken a front seat among rice growers in the world with increased funding and capacity development initiatives, just as the new Development Bank of Nigeria, DBN has taken off with an initial fund of $1.2b provided by the World Bank and others.
For the first time, Nigeria is also reaping massively from yam and cassava such that foreign exchange is now being made from yam exportation to Europe.
This is even as the price of garri, rice and yams have fallen significantly in the market due to mass production.
In the power sector, this government generated almost three times of the 2,800 Megawatts it inherited from the Jonathan administration with additional power generation by the end of 2018.
This was partly due to N701 billion payment assurance programme of the current administration which has resulted in a 50 percent expansion in grid capacity which rose to 7,125 as at December, 2017.
Even markets like Ariria Market in Aba and Sura Market in Lagos now enjoy 24 hours power supply through Integrated Power Project, IPP.
In the area of transportation, this government has completed the Abuja – Kaduna light rail, Lagos – Ibadan and Lagos – Abeokuta, among others, for mass movement of goods and people.
It has also successfully completed the Abuja airport runway, facelift and that of Port Harcourt airport.
This is also the same story in the road transportation sector as PMB has done a lot in that sector by completing abandoned roads and initiating new ones, which has turned the country into a huge construction site. This include the Lagos – Ibadan Express way, Second Niger Bridge, Numa – Gombe Road, Enugu – Onitsha, Onitsha – Port Harcourt, Numa – Jalingo, Ilorin – Jeba, etc.
A lot of work is also being done on the economy which is now back on path of growth after the 2016/17 recession.
This is in view of the fact that the Buhari administration has remained constant in growing agriculture and solid minerals, which is now raking in foreign exchange into the nation’s coffers.
This is also helped by the fact that inflation continues to fall, while the nation’s external reserves are at their highest level in recent times.
Recently, Nigeria’s stock market ended as one of the best performing in the world, thanks to the PMB administration.
This administration has also not lost sight of the fact that it needs to focus on the people who are the reason for their being in office.
For effect, it launched all the four components of the Social Investment Programme, SIP, it promised the poor and the vulnerable to ease their economic pains.
The SIP is the largest and most ambitious social safety net Programme in the nation’s history with N140 billion released and more than 9 million beneficiaries.
These include the Trader-Moni, Market-Moni, Farmers-Moni, N-power and Conditional Cash Transfer which have become house hold names due to their acceptance and popularity.
On security, the herdsmen challenge issue has since been addressed by this administration.
The PMB administration also needs to be commended for recovering the 17 local governments taken over by the Boko Haram under the past administration, though more needs to be done.
The current administration must also be given credit for fighting corruption with an uncommon zeal.
Similarly, other feats have been recorded in other critical areas within the same period; just as the footprints of the PMB administration is visible in infrastructural development in several tertiary institutions across the country, including IPP projects to power the schools.
These and many more are reasons why all Nigerians, especially voters, must seize the moment by using their PVCs to ensure that Nigeria remains on track.