Buhari’s Scorecard: Stakeholders, Experts Rate President Very Low
As President Muhammadu Buhari clocks a year, today, May 29, 2016, as the supreme ruler of Nigeria, experts and stakeholders in different sectors of the economy have given their different views of the President’s performance in a scorecard.
Read below as published by The PUNCH Newspaper:
Manufacturing — Poor
Stakeholders in the manufacturing sector rated the President poor. Commenting on the sector, the President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Dr. Frank Jacobs, said, “The past one year has been the worst period in the history of manufacturing because of the fact that government policies made it difficult for manufacturers to plan.
“The issue of foreign exchange affected manufacturers to the extent that many of our members had to close shop while others operated at very low capacity because they did not have enough forex to buy their raw materials.”
The Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Muda Yusuf, also said, “The economic policy space remains unclear. Policy conception is faulty; hence, policy coordination and implementation suffer serious setback. There is, therefore, an urgent need for central policy strategy with detailed and well-designed policy direction. This is critical for effective and efficient coordination and implementation of policies.”
Aviation — Poor
The administration was not rated better in the aviation sector either as stakeholders were unequivocal in submitting that his performance was poor.
A former Military Commandant of the Murtala Muhammed Airport Lagos, Group Capt John Ojikutu, said the Federal Government had done nothing in the aviation sector in the last one year.
According to him, the impact of the Buhari-led government had not been seen both at the public and private sectors.
He said, “When you look at FAAN, NAMA, NCAA, AIB and other agencies under the Ministry of Aviation, nothing has happened in the last one year. The process of commercialising FAAN and NAMA ought to have started while the NCAA and the AIB as regulatory agencies should have been strengthened. In terms of critical safety infrastructure, nothing has happened. The same thing applies to the private sector.”
Ojikutu noted that there was a long way to go in the aviation sector.
The Chairman, Airline Operators of Nigeria, Capt Nogie Meggison, also rated the aviation sector as poorly managed in the last one year.
Energy (Power, oil and gas) – Poor
The President, Nigerian Association of Energy Economics, Prof. Wumi Iledare, said, “Certainly, that the current minister (Ibe Kachikwu) is brilliant is an understatement. That he is energetic is not in doubt. But to think he has sole answers to Nigeria’s oil and gas sector challenges is foolhardy. Thus, I have no hesitance to give the current government a low grade with respect to the governance of the sector.
“That the current minister is the (NNPC’s) GMD cannot in my opinion be justified for the ineffective governance of the industry. It has made the governance of the sector more amorphous, confusing, regressive and perhaps dictatorial than in the last administration.
“There is no gainsaying that for nearly 20 years, the industry has been waiting for petroleum industry reform. I expected something on the PIB almost immediately the government was sworn in by the then National Assembly.”
The immediate past Chief Executive Officer, Midwestern Oil & Gas Company Limited, Mr. Adams Okoene, also said, “I don’t see a blueprint with clearly defined milestones towards achieving the energy sufficiency that this country needs; a thing like that must be visible to everyone.”
Construction/Housing — Poor
In the construction and housing sector, the verdict is poor.
A professor of housing and urban regeneration and the Dean, Daculty of Environmental Sciences, University of Lagos, Gbenga Nubi, said, “Like most sectors, we haven’t done anything in housing. Although there are programmes to build houses in the six geo-political zones of the country, the truth is that these programmes cannot really drive the country. The unfortunate thing also is that when housing comes after power and works as a portfolio, then we know that as a country, we are in trouble.
“It should have been reversed; housing should drive other sectors. It’s a big ministry and we know that attention will not be given to housing, which is key to our national survival.
“So, subsuming it under power and works ministry goes a long way to tell us the position and place of housing in the heart of this present administration. The scoreboard in the last one year is actually poor.”
The Second Vice-President, Nigerian Institute of Building, Mr. Kunle Awobodu, said since the inception of this government, construction activities had been at low ebb.
Awobodu, who is also President, Building Collapse Prevention Guild, said, “Several companies in the sector have retrenched more than 50 per cent of their workers while others have closed down completely to venture into other things after selling their equipment.
“Government is the major client to professionals in the construction industry; so, if the government is not engaging in construction activities, the sector will be down. Overall, we can say the performance has been a bit fair not completely poor but it can get better. We are hoping that now that the budget has been passed, activities will pick up again.”
Money market/Finance — Poor
The submission of technocrats in the finance sector is that the Federal Government has performed poorly in the last one year.
The Chief Executive Officer, Renaissance Capital, a London-based investment bank and research firm, Mr. Temi Popoola, said although the new administration had a good economic team, the policy response to the challenges facing the economy was initially not effective.
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He said, “In our view, the initial response to the global events, which impacted Nigeria could have been done differently. It has taken much time. The decisions on electricity tariff, currency regime and subsidy could have been taken earlier. I think we are now on the path of recovery.”
Similarly, the Managing Director, Cowry Assets Management Limited, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, rated the economy as poorly managed.
But, a professor of economics at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Sherrifdden Tella, scored the management of the economy under Buhari fair.
Capital market — Poor
In the capital market of the sector, the result is poor.
The President, Constance Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Mr. Shehu Mikail, said the happenings in the stock market in the past one year were a reflection of the country’s economic stance, which had been very hostile in terms of policy direction.
He said the country was currently plagued by serious economic and financial challenges, which had resulted in activities being slowed down, especially in the financial sphere, which included the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
Mikail, said, “The prices can be better if things turn around economically. The 2016 budget had been passed and the implication of the passage would start filtering into the economy in due course. With the recent forex flexibility, we expect the game to change.”
An analyst at WSTC Financial Services Limited, Mr. Tola Oni, also said in the last one year, the efficiency of the country’s economy had been constrained by policies – monetary and fiscal.
He noted that the country had not been able to chart the right path in the past one year, saying some actions by the government in recent times had shown a rethink especially in the partial deregulation of the petroleum downstream sub-sector and the flexible foreign exchange market.
“Our concern is that this flexibility must mean flexibility in the whole sense of it. We’ve seen the capital market make progress recently owing to this. Any attempt by the government to interfere again could drag us back significantly,” he added.
Telecommunication — Poor
The outgoing President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, Mr. Lanre Ajayi, said there were unmet expectations in the sector.
He specifically said the broadband penetration remained low; investor confidence weak, judging by the response to the recent spectrum auction that produced only one bidder. “Operators are still facing huge challenges,” he said.
Also, the President, National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers of Nigeria, Mr. Adeolu Ogunbanjo, said, “President Muhammadu Buhari’s Minister of Communications, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, has done well by coming out with a policy that mandates operators to roll over data for subscribers. So, the case of wiping out subscribers data completely at expiry date is no more, as such data can be rolled over when the subscriber recharges.
“However, the operators have failed, or refused, to implement this policy. The minister’s inability to ensure implementation is a very big challenge and something must be done about it.
“Secondly, the June 30, 2016 deadline given to operators by the Nigerian Communications Commission to stop unsolicited calls and text messages is a big plus for this administration. The NATCOMS has written to concerned committees in the National Assembly to ensure that there is maximum implementation by July 1.”
Maritime — Fair
The President was, however, given a fair rating in his performance in the maritime sector.
Spokesperson for the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria, Mr. Bolaji Akinola, said the sector had recorded some progress in the area of indigenous shipping.
He lauded the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, for engaging and interacting meaningfully with indigenous shipowners.
Akinola, “This line of communication with indigenous shipowners was not happening in the past. It is from this interaction that the government will understand the challenges of the indigenous ship owners and address them.
“Already, he is trying to work with the industry to fashion out policies and programmes that will support the operation of indigenous ship owners.”
He, however, added that the Buhari-led administration inherited obnoxious policies such as the increased duty on rice, the fish import quota system and the national automotive policy. “These policies supported the diversion of cargo to other neighbouring countries. We are hopeful that these policies will be reversed in the second year as the first year of this administration might be too early to give the desired attention to every sphere of the Nigerian economy,” Akinola said.
The Secretary-General, Nigeria Ship owners Association, Tunji Brown, also gave the Buhari administration a pass mark in its efforts to turn around the maritime sector.
He said, “They are just at the first phase of putting policies together and drawing up a road map. So far, they have been transparent. We now know what is happening with the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund and the plans they have to develop the shipping sector.”
Health — Poor
Under health, the administration has been rated poor for its performance in the last one year.
Associate professor of medicine at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Akoka, Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, said that the health sector suffered major setbacks under the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
Ashiru noted that the Federal Government had yet to come up with any concrete policy on primary, secondary and tertiary health care while it had failed to act on those implemented by the previous administration.
He said, “The health sector has not fared well at all. There is nothing going on so far apart from the few appointments they had made. Nothing really has been done. No policy has come out to say that the administration is focusing on primary, secondary or tertiary health care. They have continued with the status quo.”
Ashiru added, “The teaching hospitals are at their lowest helm in terms of support. They are not able to deliver cutting- edge medical services because of lack of funds. They cannot embark on major research because they are still struggling to keep the hospital together.”
He also noted that Nigerians had had to pay more for health services in the last one year as the prices of drugs had increased astronomically.
Ashiru stated, “Most of the pharmaceutical companies have passed on their overheads to consumers because they cannot get dollar to import drugs.
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