Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on over the weekend pledged to renovate 10,000 schools each year, across the nation if re-elected for a second term in office.
Buhari made the promise during the public presentation of his campaign manual and a “Next Level” document at the conference centre of State House Presidential Villa Abuja.
Mr Buhari said if re-elected, he will focus on education.
“Perhaps our biggest ambition yet is the overhaul of our education sector. Every child counts – and simply, whatever it takes to prepare our teachers, curriculum and classrooms to attain the right
educational goals that grow our country, will be done.
“We will remodel 10,000 schools every year and retrain our teachers to impart science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics using coding, animation, robotics to re-interpret our curriculum,” he said.
Mr Buhari would have to work with state governments to achieve such target as the federal government does not own up to 10,000 schools. Public primary schools are currently owned by states and local governments while the federal government only owns about a hundred secondary schools. Like primary schools, states, local governments and private organisations and individuals own majority of remainder.
The president’s statement is expected to again throw up the restructuring debate, especially revenue allocation that has made states essentially become appendages of the federal government and virtually unable to survive.
Mr Buhari has not committed to a review of the revenue sharing formula despite calls including by governors of the ruling APC to do so.
On Sunday, the president said for Nigeria to develop, “moral integrity and conscience must continue to form the dominant character of our nation and its leadership”.
He also spoke about the fight against corruption in Nigeria. He said corruption continues to be an existential threat to the country.
“Despite the gains we have made in closing the gates, we know that there is still much ground to cover to stop systemic corruption. We are committed to deepening the work we started this first time such that the nation’s assets and resources continue to be organised and utilised to do good for the majority of our people.
“The next four years will be quite significant for our country. Nigeria is faced with a choice to keep building a new Nigeria- making a break from its tainted past which favoured an opportunistic few.
“Our choices will shape us – our economic
security and our future prosperity. Nigeria, more than ever before, needs a stable and people-focused government to move the agenda for our country forward,” he said.
Mr Buhari also said he has worked hard to fulfill the promises he made before the 2015 election.
“While the road may have been difficult,
over the last three and a half years, we have laid the foundations for a strong, stable and prosperous country for the majority of our people,” he said.
The president said foundational work is not often visible, neither is it glamorous. He said, however, that it is vital to achieving the kind of country Nigerians desire.
He said judging by the “prior depth of decay, deterioration and disrepair” that Nigeria had sunken into, his administration in the last few years put the country in good stead to trudge on to the next level of building an even stronger nation for our people.
“First things had to come first. We were a nation at war – but we delivered on our commitment to secure the territorial integrity of our nation in the face of a raging insurgency that devastated many parts of the North East.
“We liberated 17 Local Government Areas from the grip of insurgency. Brokering and sustaining peace in the Niger Delta has also been crucial to stabilising the polity.
“Despite the difficult circumstances presented by weak oil prices and reduced oil production, we delivered on our commitment to make public investments to spur economic growth, job creation, and broad-based prosperity.
“Agriculture continues to expand our economic base, as do our investments in our deficient infrastructure across the length and breadth of this nation,” he said.
The president said he implemented a responsible and transparent fiscal plan for the challenging economic times that saw the government doing more even with lesser oil revenues.
Mr Buhari again took a swipe on immediate past administration of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for what he called “the grand-scale corruption perpetuated by the highest office in the land” which, he said “has been nipped in the bud just as the Treasury Saving Account has made it more difficult for ministries, departments and agencies to
exercise the unrestrained liberties that helped foster a climate conducive to corruption.”
Listing some of his achievements, Mr Buhari said his administration supported state governments with a bailout that enabled them to pay workers on their payroll.
He said he also took an unprecedented step towards creating a fairer and more equitable society by implementing Africa’s biggest social investment programme.
He said through the National Social Investments Programme, the government is providing direct support to over 12 million Nigerians who need it by giving relief and assistance to unemployed youth, children, the weak and vulnerable as well as small and medium businesses.
“But even as we lay the foundation for a stable and prosperous nation, we acknowledge there is still much work to build on. The next level of effort has an immense focus on job creation.
“From an enlargement of the N-Power programme to investing in technology and creative jobs to agriculture and others, there is scope for 10 million new jobs.
“The march away from a mono-economy must continue with our focus on an industrialisation plan coming to fore.
“With specific plans underway to exploit the comparative advantage of the geo political zones and different states by developing 6 Industrial Parks and 109 Special Production and Processing Centres (SPPCs) across each senatorial district, our incremental move away from oil dependence is assured.
“In addition, our development of the Special Economic Zones will quickly concretise our Made in Nigeria for Export (MINE) plan,” he said.
He also said to sustain food production and value addition, a mechanisation policy for agriculture will make tractors and processors easily accessible and available for farmers across Nigeria.
“We will continue a wide scale skilling policy, prioritising technology to reach the demography of young people within the productive sector on a massive scale even as we create jobs and growth within our economy,” he said.