……N24 billion disbursed to States, 732 water facilities, 494 health facilities, 616 schools built, yet some people say Buhari is not working.
By FEMI ADESINA
It’s an eternal battle between light and darkness, truth and falsehood. In fact, they are in mortal combat, and at times, there are fears that the forces of evil might prevail. But one is encouraged by the words of the English poet John Milton: “Let her (Truth) and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?”
In Nigeria today, a fierce encounter rages between truth and falsehood. There are many merchants out there whose sole merchandise is to sell the falsehood that Muhammadu Buhari has not achieved anything in over seven years.
They have made themselves deliberately deaf to obvious successes, closed their eyes to achievements that are as conspicuous as a tiger in a tea shop, and want the world to believe that the only thing happening in Nigeria is insecurity.
Yes, security is everything. In fact, it is said that self preservation is the first law of nature. But in the middle of trying to preserve our security and well being, Muhammadu Buhari does not also take his eyes off other things that redound to good lives for the people.
Every week, we hold the State House Press Briefing, in which we bring in top officials of government to speak on what they are doing, and the verifiable achievements. Over 44 of such has held, and Governors, Ministers, director-generals, executive secretaries, have graced the platform. Last week was the turn of Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire.
The former Deputy Governor of Lagos State unfolded what would confound critics, and silence the ‘Buhari is doing nothing’ chorus. The facts were laid bare, though we are not where we are going yet.
During the 70th edition of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) at New York, United States of America, in 2015, world leaders adopted an agenda for sustainable development, which they wanted to see achieved by 2030.
They wanted a world that is economically sustainable, socially inclusive, and environmentally resilient. It was encapsulated in 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 169 Targets, and 230 Key Performance Indicators. Those replaced what used to be known as Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
President Buhari and his team came back home from UNGA70, and began to work in the usual unobtrusive way. Focused, sure-footed. And some of the results were unfolded last week by Princess Orelope-Adefulire, despite the obvious and stiff challenges posed by insecurity and the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the Federal level, the SDGs office works closely with Ministries, Departments and Agencies, and does same too at the sub-national levels, so that the development goals are mainstreamed into their medium and long-term policies and plans.
What are some of the key milestones?
Year 2030 is the target, and between 2016 and now, 16 States are receiving technical and financial support on demand driven basis. They are Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Gombe, Ekiti, Kaduna, Kwara, Kogi, Ondo, Lagos, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Sokoto, Yobe, Niger and Zamfara States.
By 2030, it’s expected that all 36 States would have been supported on SDG-based development planning.
There is what is called the Conditional Grant Schemes (CGS), in which the Federal Government gives 50% matching grant for education, health, water and sanitation projects, aimed at executing pro-poor projects. To date, 23 States and the Federal Capital Territory have benefited to the tune of N24,450,000,000 (Twenty four billion, four hundred and fifty million naira only). The following projects have been executed:
*732 water and sanitation facilities
*494 health facilities (new and renovated/rehabilitated)
*616 educational facilities (new construction, renovation/rehabilitation of classrooms)
*1,150 women and men were empowered/trained in vocational skills, which have turned round their lives and fortunes.
The target is to ensure that no Nigerian is left behind, and it is work in progress. While the ‘Buhari is not doing anything’ chorus continues with its jaded songs, special intervention projects are going on across the geo-political zones of the country. Between 2016 and 2021, despite humongous resources deployed to battling insecurity and COVID-19, a minimum of 8,008 classrooms have been constructed. Total of 4,845 desktop and laptop computers supplied to schools, 195 health centers completed with the supply of ambulances, incubators, and automated hospital beds.
In other sectors, 66 vocational and skills acquisition centers were constructed, 1,294 transformers supplied, 19,266 solar-powered streetlights, 300 housing units for internally displaced persons in Borno State, and many other interventions. Yet, ‘Buhari is not working.’ Issorait.
Will Nigeria attain all the SDG goals by 2030? It may not be 100%, just as it may not happen with other Western countries of the world, which are currently facing economic privations due to COVID-19 and its aftermath. Poverty is still rife, out-of-school children are huge challenge, and we still combat quality health and educational deprivations. But are we where we used to be? By no means. An inkling is given in the 2nd Voluntary National Review 2020, which is in the public domain.
The successes may be modest, but what cannot be denied is the strong commitment of the Buhari administration to sustainable development. No single government solves all the problems of a country. But the first small step must be taken, which can translate to a giant leap for the country and for mankind.
Let the ‘Buhari has not done anything’ choristers be dispassionate. Let them consider what has been done in SDGs within the limits of available resources, and their songs will change. And the dance steps too.
*Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity