By Gidado Ibrahim
General Montgomery defined authentic leadership as ‘the capacity and the will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence’. Throughout human history, leaders who have left imprints on the sands of time do so by subscribing to strong ideology, which serves to fuel their energy to achieve results.
Few persons had given tiny Singapore much chance of survival when independence was thrust upon it in 1965. Today, the former British trading post is a thriving Asian metropolis with one of the world’s highest per capita income. The transformational history of that country cannot be complete without giving credit to Lee Kuan Yew, a statesman and first Prime Minister of who was famously quoted to have said, “The task of the leaders must be to provide or create for them a strong framework within which they can learn, work hard, be productive and be rewarded accordingly. And this is not easy to achieve.”
In pre and post independent Africa, leaders like Kwameh Nkrumah of Ghana, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe championed the course of freedom and development for their nations. Though these statesmen have all joined the ages, their imprints remain indelible with us today.
Alexander the Great said long ago that ‘an army of sheep led by a lion is better than an army of lions led by a sheep.’ What this implies is that a lot depends on leadership. About seven years ago, we knew where we were, as a nation. Nigeria was on the brink. The whole of North East was not safe. Same with North Central and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), with bombs flying around.
But the purposeful leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has restored sanity back to Nigeria. Like his predecessors in the class of Kwameh Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere and the rest, Buhari has toiled day and night to restore the dignity of Nigeria.
About three years I was in London for a security summit. A few minutes after reciting my night prayers, a friend, associate and Ambassador in the United Nations called and asked me to watch the cable network television, CNN. I quickly turned to the station, and what I saw and listened to surprised me.
The Archbishop of Canterbridg, Queen Elizabeth and a host of other senior citizens in the world were paying glowing tribute to President Buhari on his stern anti-corruption stance. They described him as an incorruptible leader who despite attempts by political hawks propagandist to shade and and disdain his excellent performance in the war against corruption has remained bloody bold and resolute.
As a charismatic and exemplary leader, Buhari is leaving imprints for others to learn from in their pursuit to create impact. To better understand these imprints, one must make recourse to some of the landmark projects and policies.
The Second Niger bridge, which is one of President Buhari’s signature legacies will go down in history as a leader’s deliberate step to neutralise the thick notion of marginalisation of Southeastern Nigeria. It would be recalled that the project has been on the drawing board for over five decades after the First Niger Bridge was commissioned by then Prime Minister, the late Tafawa Balewa, and opened for traffic in December 1965.
The Second Niger Bridge is a key national infrastructure, with immense socio-economic benefits for the contiguous states and indeed the entire nation. Upon completion, the bridge will ease traffic flow, improve road safety, and create greater opportunities for local residents by advancing the commercial viability of the immediate area and regenerating economic life. The scope of work include the construction of 1.6 km long bridge, 10.3 km Highway, Owerri interchange and a toll station.
Under the Buhari-led administration, Nigeria has benefitted from 13.1billion Euros honeybee project.
The Buhari administration commenced steps improving the standards of Nigeria’s agricultural exports to align with global standards due to the rejection of our produce at the EU Border Controls. The Buhari-led administration has made provision of agricultural credit for financing the production of rice, wheat, ginger, maize and soybeans in Kebbi, Niger, Kaduna, Kano, Enugu, Benue, Zamfara, Anambra and Kwara States.
The Anchor Borrower’s Programme (ABP) under Buhari’s administration has provided quantum of money for dry season farming since 2015, wet season rice and wheat farming and is currently supporting the dry season farming in many states.
In active collaboration with the National Assembly, President Buhari signed the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), bringing to a close a 20-year effort to reform Nigeria’s oil and gas sector, with the aim of creating an environment more conducive for growth of the sector and addressing legitimate grievances of communities most impacted by extractive industries. Experts say if properly and vigorously implemented, the PIA can represent the gold standard of natural resource management.
Grappling with insecurity, Buhari took the bull by the horn to modernise the Nigerian Military and fighting capacity. He acquired a number of platforms to raise the level of their operational readiness and efficiency, in addition to boosting their capacities. The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) took delivery of 12 Super Tucanos and 3 JF-17 Thunder Fighter Aircraft and other platforms with which it has conducted several Air interdictions, provided close air support to ground troops and destroyed several illegal structures and equipment belonging to terrorists, bandits and other criminal elements.
The Nigerian Army procured 160 MRAPS, 150 trucks and 60 APCs to improve its equipment holding. This is in addition to the provision of accommodation for troops and the recruitment of over 10,000 personnel into the Army. The Nigerian Navy (NN), for its part, commissioned the FALCON EYE Maritime Domain Awareness Capability, the third locally-built Seaward Defense Boat, one helicopter, 4 inshore patrol boats and 90 Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats. Over 1,500 personnel have been recruited into the Navy.
The Nigerian Police has never had it so good like under the Buhari administration. The Police Trust Fund procured 200 Buffalo branded vehicles, bulletproof vest, protective helmets, drugs, and medical equipment as well as arms and ammunition, riot control equipment, and combat equipment for the Police Special Weapon and Tactical Squad (SWAT).
The Ministry of Police Affairs also entered into a contract agreement for the supply of police anti-riot equipment with Poly Technology of China through a Government-to-Government arrangement at a cost of $44million.
Fiscal stability has returned, unlike in times past. Under Buhari, the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning has maintained the January-December Budget cycle with the support of members of the National Assembly.
It is on record that the Buhari administration initiated and implemented the most ambitious pro poor empowerment package. The N-Power Programme was expanded from 500,000 to 1 million beneficiaries. Also, the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) to GEEP 2.0. was restructured to support entrepreneurship.The revamped GEEP 2.0 was officially launched on August 24, 2021 and has successfully registered over 600,000 potential beneficiaries in all the 774 local government areas nationwide
Until now, it was regrettable that little attention was paid to the education sector, as crucial as it is, by current and successive governments in Nigeria and other developing nations. Yet, education is a human right. To encourage school enrollment, the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP) under Buhari is now providing meals to nearly 10,000,000 school children nationwide. The programme has further empowered over 100,000 cooks and over 100,000 small holder farmers in the local areas where the schools are located while creating employment opportunities across sectors such as transportation and manufacturing.
The Household Uplifting Programme (HUP), which has as its flagship the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), has covered all the 36 States and FCT. A total of 1,676,799 eligible households across the country are enrolled into the CCT intervention and are benefiting from the monthly N5,000 grant.
Final Investment Decision on $3.6billion methanol plant in Bayelsa has led to an integrated methanol and gas project in Odioma, Brass Island, Bayelsa State, which is scheduled to come into operation in 2024. It is expected to produce 10,000tons of methanol daily.
US$260million Funding Agreement for ANOH Gas Processing Company Limited (AGPC) is another project that will deliver 300 million standard cubic feet of gas per day and 1,200 megawatts of electricity to the domestic market.
President Buhari was able to achieve these landmarks because he loves Nigeria. Unlike some other members of the political class, who will first service their private bank accounts, friends and cronies.
He has demonstrated what is possible if a leader shuns pedestal and narrow interest for the interest of Nigeria. Buhari has fought a good fight. He has kept his oath of office to develop, defend and protect Nigeria and Nigerians. He has unequivocally set a good governance standard for future leaders. By May 29th, 2023, he will retire to his country home in Daura and join the side of history that has the likes of Lee Kuan Yew, Kwameh Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere etc. But the question for Nigerians and the political class is: how do they intend to pay this great leader back? The answer is simple: allow his legacy to live on by electing another credible and trustworthy president in 2023.
– Ibrahim is director, Communications and Strategic Planning, of the Presidential Support Committee (PSC)