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Tinubu presidency@1: As VP Shettima consolidates the gains of Renewed Hope Agenda

Last year, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, was sworn into office on May 29, with a vow to move quickly to deliver results that would…

Last year, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, was sworn into office on May 29, with a vow to move quickly to deliver results that would change the governance narrative in Nigeria. One year after, that is exactly what he has done through the administration’s 8-point Renewed Hope Agenda, adhering fervently to his campaign promises and matching words with actions.

Although one year in office is still relatively infinitesimal to judge a government that inherited a densely battered and collapsing system over the years, it is enough time to assess the foundations and focus of the administration, albeit quick wins. Commonsense in architecture suggest that the height of any skyscraper depends on the integrity of its foundation. 

The Renewed Hope experience of the last one year portrays President Tinubu as an architect who inherited a dilapidated building erected over the years.  In this scenario, it is not architecturally wise to build on an already dilapidated structure. The rational thing for any sound architect to do is to dismantle the dilapidated structure and lay a proper foundation whose integrity is guaranteed.

Governments, the world over, face similar tasks in their first year in office irrespective of differences in climes. First, they must form cabinets, select ministers and other individuals to fill top positions in the executive branch. Second, they must articulate and initiate domestic policy agendas in line with what they told the people they want to accomplish, and they must take first steps toward achieving their goals. 

Third, they must establish their leadership of the foreign-policy apparatus. Since 1960 when it gained independence, Nigeria has played a major role in the affairs of Africa and the world at large. In this regard, the international community scrutinizes new administrations in the most populous nation in Africa to assess how their policies and progammes will be carried out. No less do the Nigerian people examine the foreign-policy drive and aspirations of new presidents.

In the process, it is not uncommon for the nation’s vice presidents to struggle to prove their mettle in a role largely defined by behind-the-scenes work. Contrary to insinuations in certain quarters that he may have been sidelined, even the fiercest critics and detractors alike will acknowledge that Vice President Kashim Shettima has hit the mark in playing the required supporting role. And I make bold to buttress my assertion. 

In areas where his predecessors have laboured hard to make themselves relevant, VP Shettima has taken the lead on several critical contentious matters, while President Tinubu focuses his efforts on other more pressing issues of governance. As an Agricultural Economist, Shettima’s understanding of the foundation of 21st century global economy has helped in the economic recovery of Nigeria and provided hope that the recovery will be all-inclusive.

In the first year in office, President Tinubu and VP Shettima have worked to solidify the Nigerian State, confronting a range of daunting issues, including the economy, security and welfare of the citizens. The 8-point agenda of the Tinubu administration provides a clear framework for its policies and programmes, with areas of concentration such as driving job creation, economic growth, food security, poverty eradication, access to capital, rule of law, anti-corruption efforts and inclusive development. 

No doubt, President Tinubu was fully aware of Kashim Shettima’s leadership abilities when he selected him as his running mate and had no doubt that he would not fail him as a bona fide member of the president’s northern political dynasty. As expected, the vice president, trusted by Mr President, has within the last one year helped to execute the ongoing bold reforms being undertaken by the Renewed Hope administration, complementing his boss and, most times, overseeing engagements and presiding over meetings where critical decisions are taken to salvage the rusty economy they inherited. 

They have often drawn on their leadership experience and political resumes to pioneer a new leadership blueprint. What many keen observers have unanimously agreed about the vice president is the commitment, devotion and diligence with which he has handled his responsibilities. 

Together, the president and his deputy have navigated the ship of the Nigerian State away from the challenges they inherited. Here are just some of the milestones and foundations they have laid so far:

International diplomacy and foreign investments

On assumption of office, President Tinubu and VP Shettima embarked on high-powered international engagements where crucial decisions concerning Nigeria and the African continent were made, with the president, most of the time, demonstrating confidence in Shettima’s capacity to represent the country well at such crucial global and local meetings. In so doing, they have deployed their marketing skills to restore investors’ confidence in the country’s business climate at every international fora. 

In November last year, Vice President Shettima joined about 130 world leaders at the 3rd Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Forum in China where he drew foreign investors’ attention to the ease of doing business in Nigeria, revealing to them that today’s Nigeria is a safe investment destination. 

From China, Shettima traveled to the United States for the African Development Bank (AfDB) World Food Prize-facilitated Norman Borlaug International Dialogue at Iowa State where he wooed investors and sought commitments from them towards achieving President Tinubu’s mandate and programmes for Nigeria’s agro-food sector, as well as the ongoing bid to ensure food security and diversification of the nation’s economy. One of the takeaways from that foreign engagement is the tripling of the Africa Development Bank’s (AfDB) agricultural interventions in Nigeria from $500 million to over $1 billion. 

About two months after assuming office, Vice President Shettima represented President Tinubu at two major international summits in Rome, Italy and St. Petersburg where he joined other global leaders for the first Stocktaking Moment (STM) Summit. He also chaired a high-level session with the theme ‘Innovative Financing for Food System Transformation: the Case of Nigeria’. 

At the instance of the president at the 2nd Russia-Africa Summit, he joined other political and business leaders at the Russia-Africa Economic and Humanitarian Forum which was focused on strategizing to enhance relations between Russia and the African continent, among other benefits. VP Shettima participated in bilateral meetings with representatives of relevant Russian senior government officials and business leaders to discuss relations between Russia and Nigeria. 

Recently, Senator Shettima was in Nairobi, Kenya, where he represented President Tinubu at the International Development Association (IDA21) Heads of State Summit. Some of the successes recorded in these foreign engagements include the decision by an American company, John Deere, to invest in Nigeria’s agricultural sector, first by setting up a tractor assembly plant in Nigeria, and China’s renewed commitment to the completion of the long-awaited Lagos – Ibadan, Abuja-Kano and Port-Harcourt-Maiduguri railway projects as well as the Lagos-Ibadan railway.

There is also the signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) valued at $2 billion, alongside the $4 billion worth of letters of intent, which reflects the substantial inflow of foreign direct investment into key sectors such as technology, automotive and infrastructure. These agreements include partnerships with the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) and various Chinese corporations, as well as the commitments in power generation and digital economy targeted at addressing Nigeria’s energy challenges and advancing technological innovations, crucial for sustaining long-term growth.

The country now boasts of vast opportunities for economic growth by enhancing power generation, security, oil and gas production, transportation, fisheries, tourism and several other international trade and investment. This underscores the growing confidence of international partners in Nigeria’s economic potential. 


NEC interventions 

Back home, Senator Shettima has not disappointed. As chairman of the National Economic Council (NEC), many federal government programmes and projects have been initiated under the office of the vice president. For instance, NEC endorsed implementation of the $617.7 million Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises (i-DICE) programme across Nigeria’s 36 states and the FCT to create jobs in the creative and technology sector by training over 1.2 million youths in ICT skills and generating over 5.6 million indirect jobs nationwide. 

To address food security and economic challenges in the country, NEC embarked on the process of making fertilizer available to farmers, establishing Agro-Rangers to tackle insecurity on farms and insisting on modern agricultural practices. It spearheaded the establishment of federal government’s Specialized Agro-Processing Zones (SAPZ) to revamp Nigeria’s agricultural sector and reducing dependence on food imports. 

The Council also developed a roadmap for flood intervention and relief aid coordinated with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum.  


Pulaku initiative 

The office of the vice president has rigorously driven and supervised the Pulaku initiative, a non-kinetic enterprise set up by the Tinubu administration to address the root causes of farmers-herders clashes, insurgency, banditry, and poverty in the northern region.

Under this initiative, over 1,000 houses, hospitals and shops are being built in each of the North Western states to compensate for the damage done by bandits and other terror groups. 


Lighting up Nigeria 

In February this year, Vice President Shettima launched the Light Up South East Initiative to accelerate power supply to industrial clusters in the South-East region. The programme is a collaboration between the Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited (NDPHC) and its partners. On the same day, the vice president commissioned the 181-megawatt Geometric Power plant in Osisioma Industrial Layout, Aba, Abia State. 

Shettima had earlier flagged off the initiative in the South West at the Agbara Industrial Cluster in Ogun State on October 12, 2023, with stakeholders committing to successful implementation nationwide.


Bridging education divide 

In May this year, the vice president was in Bauchi State where he launched a multi-year Accelerated Senior Secondary Education Programme (ASSEP). With the programme, the administration is set to overhaul school infrastructure, modernising curricula and integrating virtual learning technologies. The initiative is a major policy drive to bridge the gaping educational divide in the country, with the North-East region as the starting point.


Ending internal displacement 

Last Monday, Vice President Shettima launched the State Action Plans on Durable Solution to Internal Displacement at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, with a call for a global partnership to address the problem of internal displacement in Nigeria. The action plan is a United Nations Secretary General’s solution agenda on internal displacement which aims to help internally displaced persons find a durable solution to their displacement, prevent new displacement crises from emerging and ensure those facing displacement receive effective protection and assistance. Unveiling the programme being implemented in four northern states of Adamawa, Benue, Borno and Yobe, the VP said the federal government is seriously committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of displaced citizens.


Resuscitating small businesses 

As part of measures to support small businesses by providing an enabling environment for them to thrive, President Tinubu commenced the process of formalising one million businesses across Niger. 

To this effect, Vice President Shettima, in January this year, launched the Expanded National MSME Clinic in Makurdi, Benue State, marking the first stop on a nationwide journey to empower small and medium-sized businesses. MSME Clinic, the first of its kind, aims to empower micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) by breaking down barriers and providing crucial resources under the Tinubu administration.

The MSMEs Clinics and related activities hold the promise of easing the way for small businesses to transform their empires. This will culminate in the National MSME Awards, a celebration of entrepreneurial spirit coinciding with World MSME Day on 27 June in Abuja.

With Benue’s pioneership of the MSME Clinic, the stage was set for a nationwide rollout scheduled to traverse Ebonyi, Ogun, Delta, Kaduna, Borno, Katsina States and the FCT in a meticulously planned itinerary for the first half of 2024. In March, Senator Shettima launched the second edition of the Expanded National MSME Clinics in Ogun State where 200 newly refurbished stores for use were handed over to 400 entrepreneurs at the popular Asero Adire market in Abeokuta.


Tackling Poverty through financial inclusion 

As part of efforts by the Tinubu administration to wriggle Nigerians out of poverty, Vice President Shettima, on April 25 this year, midwifed the unveiling of federal government’s Aso Accord on Economic and Financial Inclusion, a multi-pronged blueprint designed to achieve universal access to financial services across Nigeria.

The Aso Accord provides a robust framework to democratize access to finance, empower entrepreneurs and catalyse sustainable economic growth from the bottom up. Financial inclusion is a moral calling to unlock opportunities for every Nigerian to achieve their potential. It represents a core pillar of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration’s Renewed Hope Agenda to transform the nation into a $1 trillion economy by 2030, while combating poverty and insecurity through broad-based prosperity.

Leveraging comprehensive policy reforms and strategic investments, the Aso Accord charts a roadmap to bridge the significant gaps that have left millions of Nigerians, particularly underserved segments like women, youth, rural communities, and small businesses, without vital financial services like credit, insurance, pensions, and savings facilities.


Building a nourished nation with improved nutrition 

In line with the Tinubu administration’s inspiration to implement quality, cost-effective nutrition services, Vice President Shettima recently unveiled an ambitious plan to improve nutrition across Nigeria, with a rallying call to faith and traditional leaders to champion the effort in their communities.

At a high-level dialogue on nutrition at the Presidential Villa, Shettima stressed that Nigeria’s future readiness hinges not just on food abundance but on the nourishing quality of its food supply. The one-day dialogue with the theme, “Faith Leaders as Catalysts for Enhanced Human Capital Through Nutrition,” was organized by the National Council on Nutrition and the World Bank-assisted Accelerating Nutrition Results in Nigeria (ANRiN) Project.

The efforts and interventions of the NEC chaired by the vice president and the engagement with faith-based leaders, among other initiatives, are targeted at deploying institutional mechanisms to combat hunger and malnutrition with its associated challenges.


Agricultural revolution 

Apparently wary about the damage caused by years of neglect in this crucial sector, President Tinubu, on assumption of office last year, embarked on rigorous reforms to revamp the agriculture sector. The first appeal he made was for Nigerians to return to land, for therein lies true prosperity. 

President Tinubu set the ball rolling by declaring a state of emergency on food security. As part of efforts by the Renewed Hope administration to tackle food inflation following the removal of fuel subsidy, the president also approved that all matters pertaining to food and water availability as well as affordability, as essential livelihood items, be included within the purview of the National Security Council.

To revitalise the agricultural sector to bolster the nation’s gross domestic product and foster economic development, the president outlined some initiatives, including the expansion of farmlands up to 500,000 hectares, provision of low-interest loans to farmers and investments in irrigation infrastructure. This was followed by immediate release of fertilisers and grains to farmers and households to mitigate the effects of the subsidy removal.

In March this year, Nigerians came face to face with the benefits of Tinubu’s huge investments in agriculture when the president flagged off the Food Security and Agricultural Mechanisation Programme in Minna, the Niger State capital. The project, an initiative of the Niger State government, is targeted at deploying cutting-edge agricultural machinery and technology for large-scale agro-value chain development in the state.

Under the Tinubu-led government, Nigeria is beginning to witness another level of working relationship between the president and his vice president. For instance, while President Tinubu is spurring the subnational governments to key into the agricultural revolution of the federal government, VP Shettima is confirming that the renewed hope administration is leading by example. This year, the vice president flagged off his own personal empowerment scheme to assist farmers in the country to achieve the food security and agriculture mechanisation drive of the Tinubu administration. 

The scheme, Kashim Shettima Foundation’s Agricultural Empowerment Programme, launched in Kaduna State, signaled the commencement of distribution of tractors, seeds, fertilisers, herbicides, and other essential farming inputs to beneficiary farmers for the 2024 farming season. 

In addition, the scheme also provides financial empowerment to the tune of N100,000 per month to each of the 50 beneficiaries for 4 months, covering the planting period. Farmer cooperatives, comprising 50 farmers, will also be given startup funds of up to N30 million to establish full-fledged commercial farms. 

The hallmark of Shettima’s stewardship as number two man is selfless national service, integrity, loyalty and unflinching dedication to the Tinubu administration. He has continuously shown dedication to upholding the vision of his boss, and his leadership qualities have endeared him to many Nigerians who see him as a full complement to the president. Indeed if his attention to details were to be enumerated here, perhaps drums of ink will run dry. 

The connection and the mutual trust they share are indeed inspiring, as both men have shown reliability, selfless service and honesty in leadership in the past one year. And like the vice president, everyone working with him has that same mindset and unity of purpose, working in tandem with the president to make Nigeria better. With the milestones set in the last one year by the Tinubu administration, there is no doubt that Nigeria is on the cusp of joining the league of developed countries.


Nkwocha is Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Communications (Office of the Vice President)


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