By Suleiman Umaru
Between Frida , May 19, 2023, and now, President Muhammadu Buhari,, who has used his over seven years in office to borrow money from the London club, Paris club, World Bank and other Multilateral financial Institutions , including the Asian country of China Development Bank, appears to have shown Nigerians what he had had used the money to do: provision of infrastructural facilities in different parts of the country.
The Debt Management Agency under the close watch of Patience Oniha has put the country’s total debt under the Buhari Administration to the tune of about N80 trillion .This is evident with the recent commission of some completed projects in different parts of the country including Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, ranging from roads, health facilities to the completion of the second Niger bridge neglected , by past Administrations Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Goodluck Jonathan.
One of such completed and commissioned projects by the Katsina state born Nigerian President at the FCT, was the N21 billion specialized intensive care facility for Presidents, Vice Presidents , their immediate families , ministers and other top government functionaries including other VIPs, on Friday, May 19, 202023.
Aisha Buhari, the First Lady, may have given an insight why the Specialist Intensive Care Hospital was built within the proximity of the Presidential Villa. The First Lady who had said that she nurtured the idea of the State House Medical Centre in 2017, following the husband’s lengthy stay for medical treatment in the United ingdom, UK and to eliminate the need for future Nigerian Presidents and their immediate families not to seek medical treatment abroad. She noted that there was a time her husband, President Buhari, spent three months in the UK, consecutively, for 90 days, which medical experts had said was at a heavy cost to the country.
She was emphatic that with the completion and Commissioning of the State House medical centre which has a VIP wing within the Presidential Villa to ensure that the country’s future Presidents and other VIPs need not to travel abroad for treatment but fly down the expert to the country to help the President, Vice President, ministers, top government functionaries and other VIPs and their family members if the need arises to save the huge amount being spent in oversea Treatments.
Note that the Nigerian President was said to have began his tenure in 2015, with a London medical trip to treat an alleged ear infection and ending the tenure with another London trip to treat teeth problem. Penultimate week, Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, had said in a statement that the President would remain in London for another week , at the behest of hisdentist. The media Aide had said that the specialist requires to see the President in another five days for a procedure already commenced .
Medical experts believe that Buhari, whose medical tourism record as well as the costs to the country in medical bills and operating costs of the Nigerian Air Force one, NAF 001 airplane , estimated to be between N1.1 billion to N5.4 billion in sundry operational costs , including fuel, landing and parked at the airport.
On Tuesday, May 23, 2023, barely six days to the end of the Buhari’s Administration, the Nigerian President had commissioned the second Niger Bridge in the south eastern geopolitical region. Given an insider information about the bridge, and why Buhari, deserve accolades for completing themulti-billion dollar project and commissioned it, Adesina , media Assistant to the President, had said that the project which was completed by the Buhari’s Administration was conceptualized by former President Obasanjo’s Administration in 2005.
He revealed that in 2014, erstwhile Preident Jonathan’s Administration was aid to have made an attempt to begin the project through Public –Private partnership, PPP, but that was how far he could go. He disclosed that the actual construction of the multi-billion dollar bridge actually began in 2016 with the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund, PIDF.
Indeed, with the Completion of the second Niger bridge may have encouraged Bashir Ahmad, Special Assistant to the President on Digital Communications too have said that the bridge would be officially be called and known as ‘’ Buhari second Niger bridge’’.
Fashola, a former governor of Lagos state had earlier told the, Federal Executive Council, FEC, chaired by Buhari, on Tuesday, May 17, 2023, that the Federal Government has named the second Niger bridge after Pesident Muhammadu Buhari.
The Nigerian President, who is already counting days in office to handover to siwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state and President-elect on the platform of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, also Commissioned the newly built Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, Corporate Headquarters at the Maitama, Business District, Abuja, same Tuesday, May 23, 2023.
The new Customs Corporate Headquarters was said to have been conceived by the service in 2002, by Aliyu Mustapha, a former Comptroller General of the NCS, during the Administration of former President Obasanjo.
Late Abdullahi Dikko, also a one-time Comptroller General of NCS , as said to have kick-started the execution of the N19 billion, project during the Administration of former President Jonathan but could not complete it before his removal from office by the incumbent pResident in 2015 who had replaced him with Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel.
Ali, the Customs helmsman was said to have given priority to the Customs Corporate Head office project. Until the multi-billion naira, Customs Corporate Head office as completed and commissioned by Buhari on Tuesday, May 23, 23, it was said to have ‘’undergone redesigning and remodeling’’ .
The outgoing Nigerian President, who has been going about in the recent time Commissioning projects in different parts of the country may have taken advantage of the Commissioning of the Customs Corporate Had office to open up why the country’s borders with the neighbouring countries of Benin Republic, Niger, Chad and the Central African country of Cameroun, was closed in August 2019.
He had declared, that he deliberately closed the borders with the neighboring countries ‘’to encourage food production in Nigeria’’. He had said that Nigerians order the importation of rice , , which maritime analysts had said are mostly par boiled rice from the Asian country of Thailand and Agricultural rice from India, through the port of Cotonou, Benin Republic, and give some Niger Republic Address but smuggled the rice into Nigeria market.
He had said that by closing the border 1,600Km, from the Lake Chad Basin to Benin, , may have encouraged Nigerian rice farmers to insist that they have to impress their neighbours and other people that they would no longer eat foreign but locally produced rice. According to him, the government ‘’no foreign rice imports is working out as ‘’we produced what we eat’’, in the country today, nothing that farmer who produce excess rice to eat, sell the excess somewhere else.
The Nigerian Pesident President who could not hide his feelings for banning the importation of foreign rice into the country through the land border and the nation’s seaports on January 1, 2017, had said ‘’it has provided more jobs for the teeming unemployed in the country who were said to have gone back to the land as the country have it in abundance, noting the country’s country’s weather have also been good, which is not the case in some parts of the world.
This is the first time that the Nigerian President had spoken his mind about the closure of the borders with Benin Republic, Niger, Chad and Cameroun, in 2019. All along the Nigerian President has given the impression the closure of the border with the the neighbouring West African country and Cameroun by the Nigerian government was due ‘’massive smuggling activities, particular, , rice , taking place on that corridor.
He was said to have virtually Commissioned Goodluck Jnathan Federal Secretariat , Yenagoa, Capital of Bayelsa state, the Ebele Okeke Federal ecretariat in Awka, Capital of Anambra state and Malam Yahaya Guau Federal Secretariat in Gusau, Zamfara state on the invitation of Fashola, the minister of Works and Housing.
Other projects virtually commissioned by the Nigerian President on the invitation of the former Lagos state governor included the Loko- Oweto bridge linking Nasarawa and Benue states, in the north central geo-political region, the Ikom bridge in Cross river state, while the road project is the completed section of the over 200 Km of the Kano-Kaduna Dual carriage Expressway.
Recall that about five months ago, he had commissioned the N6.4 billion , first flyover to be constructed in Kogi state by the incumbent gover Yahaya Bello and other Legacy projects in the state.
Last Monday , he has commissioned the completed the over $19 billion, 650,000 bpd, Dangote Industries, Completed refinery and petrochemical plant, located at Lekki Free Trade Zone, in Lagos the nation’s Commercial nerve center on the invitation of Aliko Dangote, the Company’s President.
Perhaps, the outgoing President only regret was The delay by Julius Berger Nigeria and Reynolds Construction Company Limited, the contractors handling the N167 billion , equivalent of $838,986,290, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway to complete the project as scheduled which had made it impossible for him to Commissioned it as planned.
Fashola , a one-time governor of Lagos state and minister of Works and Housing had attributed the Contractors to complete the project as scheduled to’’ technical problems and black cutting of soil under the pavement in a critical section in the four-Kilometer last mile to Lagos’’. This may have informed why the outgoing Nigerian President who had planned to commission all the projects started by the Administration over the last seven years has left the Commissioning of the Lagos-Ibadan road project to the incoming Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Administration.
The outgoing minister who had joined 44 other ministers and ministers of State, on Wednesday to attend the valedictory session of the FEC, meeting Chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, , had said that’’ the expected completion date and planned Commissioning of the crucial public asset is June 30th, 2023, a month after Buhari might have left the Villa, to his Daura home town.
Indigenes of the Niger Delta had expected the outgoing Nigerian President to have paid the same attention for the completion of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway on the East Wet road project linking the entire Niger Delta region which has been neglected by past Administrations despite being the honeypot of the nation. The people have seen the non –completion of the project a dent on the Buhari’s Administration. Let us hope that Tinubu’s Administration will complete and commission the project to make the difference.