Failed Government Policies in 2017
style="text-align:justify">By Our Correspondents
No doubt, 2017 was full of fulfilled and failed promises by government at all levels. In this special report, our correspondents examine some of the failed policies of government and how such policies have impacted on the socio-economic life of Nigerians.
Over two years into President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, many Nigerians are yet to appreciate the economic policies of his government. The self-styled ‘Government of Change’ seems to be finding it difficult to sell some of its economic policies to Nigerians.
President Buhari had after taking over promised to diversify the economy away from oil, with more focus on agriculture and solid mineral, yet two years on, the economy is still largely a mono-economy.
About 70 percent of government resources still comes from crude oil, raising some concerns on the diversification plans of the government.
In fact, the non-oil sector declined by 0.76 percent in the third quarter of this year, thereby heightening worries over the diversification plan of this administration. Inflation figures still remains at double digit, standing at 15.9 percent away from the 8.7 percent it was when President Buhari took over in May 2015.
The increase was attributed to the global drop in oil prices at the time. However, contributions to the GDP rose by 1.4 percent (year on year) in the third quarter of 2017 mostly due to increased crude oil production and improvement recorded in the agricultural sector which recorded a 3.06 growth.
In May 2016, the administration came up with some social investment programmes like N-Power graduate job scheme, the home grown feeding programme, the government enterprise and empowerment scheme and the conditional cash transfer. The President while unveiling the N-Power programme, described it as ambitious, saying it will engage 500,000 Nigerians.
However critics of the President have accused him of handing out tokens to the masses through the N-Power while children of the rich are employed into choice government agencies like the FIRS, CBN.
Unemployment rate has risen gradually since President Buhari took over the reins of leadership.
For instance, data from the National Bureau of Statistics shows a steady increase in unemployment figure since the third quarter of 2015, with unemployment rate being over 14 percent in the last quarter of 2016.
Despite the criticisms that trailed some of the policies, the administration made some improvement in the economy.
For one, the economy advanced for the first time in the second quarter of 2017 after it slid into recession in the third quarter of 2015. It has since then recorded gradual expansion of 0.55 percent and 1.4 percent, in two consecutive quarters of this year. The success of this recovery is largely hinged on increase in oil production due to the relative peace in the Niger-Delta region and the appreciable increase in global oil prices.
However, the introduction of the National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (2017-2020) can also be said to be responsible for the economic growth.
Abuja Light Rail Project
Despite promises and efforts made by the present FCT Administration to ease transportation challenges through the completion of the Abuja Rail Project, the project appears to be one of the failed policies in 2017.
Precisely on November 12, 2017, when the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello, was presenting his scorecard to mark his second anniversary in office, he said; "In the Area of transpiration, you are already aware that we met the Light Rail projects at between 50 to 70 percent stages of execution.
“Today we have achieved 98 percent completion. Relief is on sight for city commuters. The Federal Executive Council has also given approval for the contract for award of Phase 2 of Abuja Rail Mass Transit (Lot 1B)".
Before the minister made this revelation, the FCT Permanent Secretary, Mr. Christian Ohaa, has told the world that December deadline for Abuja railway completion is sacrosanct.
The Permanent Secretary also expressed optimism that the rail project would drastically ease transportation challenges in Abuja when operational.
“I am very much impressed with the way the project has been going. So far, the project has hit 98 percent completion rate. This to me, is very encouraging and impressive. As we all know, this project will address immensely our nagging transportation issues in and out of the city," he disclosed.
Sadly, residents of the city are still waiting patiently for the rail project to be functional as the promised December deadline has come and gone and there is no hope of a functional rail in the nation's capital.
In 2017, it emerged that the deregulation of the downstream oil sector in Nigeria was only a farce, as crippling scarcity of petrol in December forced government authorities to admit that the Nigerian National petroleum Corporation had been subsidising the product.
Government had in 2016 announced the removal of petrol subsidy triggering a full deregulation of the oil sector.
But at the twilight of 2017, the landing cost of petrol was N171 per litre while the official retail price remained at N145, forcing government to explain the differential. NNPC’s secret payment of subsidy, which was only exposed by the petrol crisis in December is also a violation of its self-confessed policy of transparency, much to the disappointment of Nigerians who had believed a transformation was ongoing in the hitherto shady state oil corporation.
Despite launching a Ministerial Strategic Plan on Education 2016-2019, integration of the out-of-school children into the formal school system remained an elusive policy in 2017 as the population continued to soar.
Nigeria’s illiterate population also remained stagnant with over 60 million still without formal education, confirming the failure of literacy campaign policies during the year.
Teachers’ welfare, a fundamental issue aptly addressed in the Ministerial Strategic Plan on Education 2016-2019 had no implementation in sight as all tiers of government owed salaries and made no efforts towards a review of their wages, even as working conditions remained abysmal.
Federal Capital Territory Administration
To bring the issue of personal hygiene and environmental nuisances to the fore, the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello, introduced the FCT Household and Community Based Sanitation Exercise in the Area Councils and Satellite Towns of the Territory.
The minister who flagged off the exercise in Abaji alongside with then Minister of Environment, Hajiya Amina Mohammed, blamed the poor sanitary condition and environmental degradation in communities on indiscipline and the failure of the society to the do the needful.
In every area council he visited, Bello used the occasion to assure residents that the FCT clean-up exercise is not only a sanitation exercise, but a re-orientation effort in line with the change agenda of the present administration.
Bello observed that if the society including the institutions carries out their statutory duties professionally and diligently, the issue of dirty environment wouldn’t have arisen.
The minister emphasized that if the town planners and other professionals involved in city planning have done the planning well by providing spaces to dump refuse, the people would have not been dumping refuse by the road side or road dividers.
He pointed out that our daily dirty habits and lack of effective enforcement has also contributed immensely to the poor sanitary condition.
Bello remarked that every aspect of the society have a role to play in order to keep the entire environment clean as well as green; and therefore called for holistic change of attitude as the government cannot come to clean individual households.
“Unless we tackle all these and change our attitude, we would continue to flounder in dirty which of course is unacceptable to my Administration," he stressed.
Bello noted that the community based approach to environmental sanitation will lead to a more realistic and sustainable effort in maintaining the environment and thus enjoined the area council chairmen, traditional rulers and leaders of the various communities to organize their communities to tackle the issues of refuse littering all over the territory to ensure a clean and healthy environment.
The minister promised as a matter of policy to reward the cleanest area council, while threatening to sanction any council that defaults.
However, in view of the present poor sanitary condition in 2017, it is safe to conclude that the introduction of the Household and Community Based Sanitation Exercise in the nation's capital has not helped in sanitizing the territory, particularly the area councils and satellite towns as heaps of refuse are seen littering in most area councils.
The Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, and Aminu Goronyo, national president, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, had enthusiastically said in October 2017, that a 50kg bag of rice will be sold at the rate of N6,000.
The announcement was made at a meeting between rice farmers, processors and Audu Ogbeh, minister of agriculture, at the ministry’s headquarters in Abuja.
The anticipated crash in prices was hinged on wet season bumper harvest by rice farmers.
“This is just the beginning. The actual price will still come down because we are expecting a bumper harvest this year; we have sat down with the millers and agreed that we will work together for the interest of Nigerians,” Goronyo had said.
However, 2017 had come and gone with Nigerians still unable to buy a bag of rice at N6, 000 with the cheapest sold at N13, 000.