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Buhari at 79: Five things Garba Shehu said about the President

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President Muhammadu Buhari turns 79 today, and as expected, a slew of tributes have been sent out to celebrate the Daura-born retired military general whose tenure officially ends on May 29, 2023.

Highlighting his principal’s achievements, Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, in an article titled ‘President Buhari at 79: A focus on achievements and challenges’ ran through Nigeria’s six-year journey under the Buhari-led administration.

Here are five major things he noted in the article.

1. Battling the pandemic

As the world grapples with Covid-19, Shehu said President Buhari, in the last two years of the pandemic, led a a government “that believes in science and in our doctors that put in place an effective mechanism to check the spread of the pandemic and we are where we are today because this dedicated team has responded in the most capable manner any country could ever do.”

2. Managing the economy

The presidential aide argued that his principal inherited an economy on the verge of recession but have managed to rescue the situation through “careful handling and management”.

“The current and projected economic growth figures are quite encouraging and if government measures being worked out to curb the existing high food inflation work well as they should; unemployment figures which are officially at 34 percent are being forced downwards through growth, especially in agriculture which President Buhari saw as the silver lining from the very beginning, the economy will continue to recover at a faster rate than projected,” he noted.

3. Agriculture

On agriculture, Shehu stated that exports have grown and have remained in an upward trajectory, citing Nigeria’s role in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCTA).

He added, “Agriculture growth could be attributed to bumper harvests in rice and other agricultural communities which have been aggressively promoted by the lending schemes put in place by the Central Bank of Nigeria and other commercial banks, the revival of the fertilizer industry which has seen such production plants grow from only four in 2015 to nearly 40 at the moment, employing thousands directly and indirectly and saving the country USD 200 billion in import bills and more than N60 billion in government subsidies.”

4. Battling insurgency

Shehu acknowledged that Nigeria under the APC government has been faced with security challenges no thanks to the “worrisome activities of bandits, now classified as terrorists”.

He stated that the Buhari-led administration has a two-pronged strategy in dealing with the clashes which are addressing immediate security and then dealing with scarcity of land, while highlighting the efforts of the government.

The presidential aide claimed that “Boko Haram which is now reduced to a shell of its former self now holds no territory and not a single militant incident has been recorded for years in the Niger Delta.”

5. Fighting corruption

The APC government rode into power on the promise that it would tackle corruption, which according to Shehu, has become synonymous with Nigerian politics.

He highlighted several high-profile corruption cases that the present administration has exposed as well as recovered loot and properties which are “part of the success of the war against corruption waged by the government.”

Shehu also noted the institutional measures put in place to “stop such incidents from happening” such as VAIDS, the Integrated Payroll and Personnel  Information System (IPPIS), the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the Open Treasury Portal and the Whistle Blower policy.

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