Some government officials, technocrats, the academia, Civil Society Organisations and the media on Tuesday gathered at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, to analyse the legacies of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration “and how to sustain these in the next dispensation”.
The event was the N-PoD Monthly Policy Dialogue (Summit) which was organised by the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Policy Development/Analysis.
The event which was pegged on discussions by the panellists was tagged: ‘Strategies for sustaining the enduring legacies of President Muhammadu Buhari’.
Mr Buhari, a retired General, took over the mantle of leadership as a democratically elected president in 2015 after he defeated an incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan, in a keenly contested election. He is currently rounding off his tenure which will elapse in 2023.
Mr Buhari campaigned vigorously on three areas: improved security, enhanced economy and war on graft.
While many Nigerians have commended his strides in the area of infrastructural development, the nation’s rising debt profile, secessionist agitations, intractable security crises rocking parts of the country and harsh economic realities have given critics a platform to criticise his performance.
Mr Buhari has always pushed back at his critics saying he inherited a weakened economy and ravaging insecurity worsened by the excesses of the opposition PDP which ruled the nation for 16 years.
Some of the invited guests and attendees, who brainstormed on Mr Buhari’s legacies in moderated virtual and physical sessions at the event, itemised some of these achievements, especially in infrastructural development and “how to sustain these”.
The discussants and panelists included Mainasara Umar, a public sector analyst; Ita Enang, special assistant to the president on Niger Delta affairs; Kenneth Okonkwo, a lawyer and Nollywood Veteran and Ron Verreneault, an energy consultant.
Mr Umar, in his submission, said he could mention “2,000 to 5,000 legacy projects of Mr Buhari”, but added that many of these are not appreciated due to poor publicity.
He urged the president’s team to document these in a compendium for the sake of posterity. He said it was during Mr Buhari’s tenure that every state in the country “could now boast of having at least one federal educational institution sited in them”.
Mr Okonkwo argued that the security situation “is much better” under Mr Buhari than in previous administrations despite the current upsurge in crimes and banditry. He said during past governments “terrorists were able to live unchallenged in cities but today they have been pushed to the forests”
He, however, agreed that unless Mr Buhari takes more than a cursory interest in who succeeds him in office, whom he advised should be a younger person, “he would not be able to entrench his successes after his departure”.
Mr Verreneault said although there was relative improvement in the power sector under the Buhari government, the nation is not yet out of the woods. He commended the government for trying to tackle many of the power sector challenges “which could have been addressed earlier by previous administrations”.
Tonto Dikeh, another Nollywood actor, who now leads a youth organisation, urged the president to ensure that he leaves behind a youth-friendly environment as a worthy legacy. She thanked Mr Buhari for his efforts at empowering the youth during his administration.
There was also an interactive session where guests both at the venue and online offered their perspectives on the president’s performance in office and what legacies he should be remembered for.
Meanwhile, Ibrahim Hassan, the SSA to the president on policy development and analysis, who initiated the periodic summits, said the event was organised to allow for “an unbiased assessment of the current administration by the public and how to sustain its legacies”.
“The event was put together to spotlight some of the legacies and achievements of Mr President and how to sustain these and that is why we brought experts to come and offer their perspectives on this,” he said. “That is why we brought someone like Senator Ita Enang, Barrister Okonkwo and others so that Nigerians can ask them questions about the legacies and achievements of Mr President.”
On what he intends to do with the various perspectives and suggestions offered by the participants at the summit, he said: “That is why I rely on the media and journalists who have been covering these summits over the past few months”.
“One, Nigerians will be able to hear those questions raised and two, the solutions proferred by participants both online and from those who attended physically although you know we could not invite a lot of people because of the Covid pandemic.
“These questions that people raised, the panelists will answer them. And then we (will) draft a report, give it to the SGF, give it to Mr President, give it to Nigerians through the media so they will know these are the answers to the questions being raised…”
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