*Mustapha Scores Buhari High in First Term*
President Muhammadu Buhari is steadily progressing in keeping faith with his promise to tackle insecurity, fight corruption and diversify the economy, in the estimation of Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.
Mustapha, in an interview, reviewed the performance of the Buhari Administration on its three cardinal promises and asserted that the President is on the right track.
Highlighting major areas the administration has performed creditably in its first term, Mustapha applauded the Federal Government for liberating every community formerly in the grips of Boko Haram terrorists in the North East.
“We should not forget that when we came in, a substantial part of the local governments in the northeast were under Boko-Haram insurgents. As a matter of fact, I got a new figure that shocked me when the (former) Governor of Borno State at a meeting, mentioned that 22 out of 27 local governments in Borno State, in 2015, were under Boko Haram. Today, I can tell you, not a single of those 22 local governments is under the Boko Haram”, Mustapha stressed.
He explained that while the region was not totally free from insurgency, the affected communities have been liberated with people returning to their homes and families getting united, however regretting that insurgents still carry out attacks on soft targets.
Although he expressed worry at the rate banditry was becoming commercialized, Mustapha said the Federal Government was trying to deal with the situation.
His words: “There are many aspects of this crisis that are manifesting, but I can tell you that we have tried as much as possible to deal with them. You can see relative calm even in the southern part of the country, and South-South which was a major challenge at the time we came in 2015.
“But because of the interface, mediation, negotiation and extending a hand of fellowship and assuring people that they are part of Nigeria, and they can make claims for which the government is obligated to listen to them, there has been relative peace even with the issues of self-determination as exhibited in South Eastern part of the country,” the SGF said.
In order to guarantee peace in the country, Mustapha explained that his office has consistently engaged traditional rulers as the first respondent in most communities, through the National Council of Traditional Rulers and the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council, to engender sustained peace in the country.
“I had to do a lot of spadework to convince the leadership that we needed to go back to the negotiation table and begin to talk. When the people outside begin to see the leaders of different faith talking, it encourages them to have a sense or feeling that our problems will be sorted out. And that has helped us tremendously and we have had segregated meetings in all the six geo-political zones where NIREC could also meet at different levels,” the SGF explained.
On the fight against corruption, Mustapha described the loot recovery effort of the Buhari Administration as unprecedented with recovered funds being ploughed into capital projects for the good of all Nigerians.
“No government has ever recovered the kind of money that we have recovered, the kind of properties that have been seized. We are now going through the processes of temporary forfeiture and eventually permanent forfeiture. After they are disposed, the funds generated will be ploughed into the treasury. Because of the single treasury account system that has been put in place, so much money can be accumulated and be used to fund a project or provide for social services for the people of this country,” Mustapha said.
Asked to give a clue on the direction of the anti-corruption crusade in the second term, Mustapha hinted that government would strengthen the institutions and put in place mechanism that will help minimise corruption, one of which is the creation of safety nets for the people in the work place.
“Nobody wants to be stigmatized with corruption which is the truth, but I know it is the fear of the unknown that normally propels people into doing that. Going forward, we should strengthen the institutions and build capacities for them; make sure too that we create safety nets so that people can have a bit of comfort,” he explained.
The SGF said government has recorded tremendous success with the economic diversification policies of the Buhari Administration, particularly in infrastructural development. He was optimistic that road and rail development will increase the influx of business and open up opportunities as experienced in other countries.
Mustapha praised the intervention in the agricultural sector where government has invested more than N86billion in the Anchor Borrowers’ scheme which in turn has produced several new millionaire-farmers in the country, especially among rice farmers.
“The Anchor Borrowers’ Programme has provided so much resources. As at the time we went to campaign, it was about N86 billion already expended and from that you know how many millionaires have come out through the scheme, particularly in the area of growing of rice. We grew the rice farmers’ population from four million to 12 million. So, its a mass of people that have benefitted from that scheme.
“Then the National Social Investment Programme has in the last two years done so much in creating wealth for the small and medium scale business people. And the Farmers’ Money or the Trader Money, Market Money, and so many of those programmes have helped generate employment for the people. The School Feeding Programme has created wealth for a lot of people, so much that many have gone back to the farm,” he stressed.
Mustapha expressed satisfaction with the direction of the economy. His verdict: “I believe that to a large extent we have diversified the economy. We realised that we came at a time when there was a major drop in crude oil prices but we were able to navigate the economy despite that to come out of recession. I think we have done so well and therefore we can do better for the people of this country.”