Today is Democracy. Last year (2016) yours sincerely in an anniversary reflection urged Buhari administration to hit the ground governing having assuming notoriety as a Go-slow government which spent over 365 days forming a cabinet. I bear witness that Buhari administration in the last one year had raised the tempo of implementing the triple agenda of security, anti-corruption and economic recovery. As I once pointed out, “2017 is better declared as the year of Liberated Sambisa Forest. Since 2013, (or well before then!) the Boko Haram insurgents forcefully occupied the great Forest – Sambisa Game Reserve – which hitherto, hosted as many as “17 species of mammals” that include, baboon, patas monkey, tantalus monkey, Grimm’s duiker, red-fronted gazelle, African bush elephant, roan antelope, hartebeest, African leopard and spotted hyenas. The insurgent group transformed a legacy game reserve into a base of serial terror attacks against the Federal Republic.
The Sambisa Forest, the mountainous region of Gwoza near the Cameroon border, under the heel of the insurgents also became a “shelter”, where they kept hundreds of hostages that included the celebrated Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped in April 2014.” At two year anniversary today, yours truly joins all Nigerians to salute President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigerian Army for the historic feet in liberating and capturing Sambisa Forest from the clutches of the terrorist Boko Haram. With the singular globally acknowledged gallantry of the Nigerian army, President Muhammadu Buhari has commendably restored the territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the pride of all Nigerians in line with the spirit and content of 1999 constitution. Nigerians at home and in Diaspora are proud of the enormous sacrifices and patriotism of the Army high command and the troops of the Operation Lafiya Dole on the successful capture of the Boko Haram enclave in Sambisa Forest.” This achievement was a fall out of the remarkable unity of purpose among all the security agencies namely the Nigerian army, Air force, DSS, DIA and the police as well as members of Civilian Joint Task Force, in the combat against Boko Haram which has just led to the sacking of Sambisa forest enclave. The liberation of Sambisa Forest further confirms Buhari’s political will, to deliver on security promise.
President Buhari as commander in chief at onset commendably called the insurgents what they are: criminals and terrorists. He relocated the commands headquarters to the North East with a deadline that has largely been met and finally dammed the insurgents who are now on the run. I agree that the eventual liberation of Sambisa forest further underscores the fact that the Nigerian army well-funded and motivated remains one of the best armies in the world. All said, after the military defeat of terrorism, in the coming years, the federal government must address the ideological and material underpinnings of Boko Haram menace. The asymmetrical wars of attrition through desperate serial suicide bombings must also be curtailed. Remarkably Buhari administration has kept its promise to return the Chibok girls criminally kidnapped in 2014. There has not been dull moment, thanks also to the civil pressure by Bring-Back-Our-Girls campaigners. The high point of the rescue mission was on May 6, 2017 when 82 Chibok schoolgirls were freed.
On the economy, better late than never that the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP; has been launched. The bane of the economy has been lack of implementable road plan. A nation without a vision will definitely be operating blindly. A smaller country like Tanzania is operating on Vision 2025. China is implementing its tenth 5th development plan. ERGP is commendably enthusiastic about diversification, but few remaining industries are still closing down on account of mass smuggling of cheaper and fake goods undermine domestic industries. It is commendable that the ERGP sets to reduce petroleum products imports by 80 per cent in 2018. That’s the way to create jobs, decent and sustainable jobs in the petroleum sector. But beyound that the path to recovery is manufacturing and industrialization. It is gratifying that ERGP endorses the 2014 National Industrial Revolution Plan, NIRP. There are 10 industrial critical sectors the NIRP has long identified. One of them is textile and garment sector. But there cannot be industrialization without electrification. There should be uninterrupted electricity. The DISCOs and GENCOs must deliver power to the industry. Our current budget is N7.3 trillion. The question is, are we to link this relatively high budget to patronize made in Nigeria or refuel Chinese or Indian economies as we have been unacceptably doing? The high point of this administration is its anti-corruption campaign. With serial cash seizures from a number of public suspects, gradually Nigeria is restoring the age old dignity of Labour which once built Nigeria as opposed to the existing obscene corruption. Two years to go, Buhari administration must consolidate on the exiting gains and record more successes especially in the area of the economy through revival of industries, creation of mass decent jobs and reduction of mass poverty. Happy Democracy to all.
Issa Aremu, mni