Without meaning to bore readers with the issue, I wish to lay down the actions taken by the government of Nigeria under Muhammadu Buhari in response to the audit findings of the Global Fund in order to counter false narratives.
This is to achieve two things. First to put on record that those fraudulent practices which predated the Buhari administration, precisely uncovered in the 2014-2015 audit were dealt with to the satisfaction of the administration and our partners, leading to their resumption of their much cherished support to the nation’s health programmes.
Two, so that we can clarify issues for people who may have read Sonala Olumhense’s hateful column thinking some of it to be true and to provide evidence at the same time, that the former President acted in the interest of the nation to rescue the country’s fight against diseases such as HIV Aids and the malaria elimination program.
Following the acceptance of that audit report, the administration enunciated a twelve-point action plan it fully implemented that restored the lost confidence of our partners and these were:
1. The government refunded the US$5.8 million in recoverable amounts identified from the previous Office of the Inspector General (OIG) audit and investigations and there were no outstanding recoverable amounts as at the time President Buhari left.
2. A memorandum of understanding was signed between the Global Fund and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) on account of which all the staff involved in the fraudulent activities were prosecuted, and funds and property recovered from them.
3. Global Fund conducted several capacity assessments of the Government PRs and had given a clean bill of health to conduct business, thus, National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA) and the National Malaria Elimination Program (NMEP) partnerships had been restored.
4. NACA and NMEP Financial Management System capacity have been enhanced and have since July 2017 resumed grant implementation with focus on policy, coordination, and oversight.
5. Institution of Program Management Units within the office of each Government PR with requisite programmatic and financial capacity for sufficient risk assurance.
6. Introduction and scale-up of Fiscal Agents as safeguard measures to minimise risks associated with procurements and financial management.
7. International non-governmental organizations i.e., Family Health International, FHI360 and CRS were engaged to support the implementation of HIV and Malaria treatment respectively, and service delivery at the health facility and community level.
8. Improved governance of Global Fund (GF) grants through the adoption and implementation of Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) reforms and evolution, yielding a reduced yet more inclusive CCM membership with inclusion of Key Populations, gender, and states representation for enhanced CCM resource mobilization, oversight and conflicts of interest management while strengthening the CCM secretariat.
9.Progress with increased domestic resource mobilization through the release of 1 percent of annual budget (National Health ACT) Consolidated Fund Revenue, establishment of the HIV Trust Fund and the National Health Insurance Authority and the development of the HIV, TB, and Malaria financial sustainability plans.
10. Government of Nigeria continued to honour its commitment to place 50,000 PLHIV on ART through annual budgetary allocation and release to the end of the administration.
11.Through an exceptional Presidential waiver of the Nigeria procurement laws, Nigeria undertook procurement of HIV, TB and Malaria health products and technologies through international competitive pooled procurement mechanisms guaranteeing efficiency and value for money.
12. The development and implementation of a national supply chain strategy that institutionalised and strengthened procurement and supply chain capacity at the federal and state levels. The FMOH established the National Procurement and Supply Chain Management Program (NPSCMP) to strengthen coordination across the three tiers of government. State Logistics Management Coordination Units (LMCU) have been established and with the support of PRs are providing logistics support to public health programs. Assessment of the Government PRs’ Procurement and supply chain capacities resulted in the development and implementation of a transition plan with improved inventory management and reconciliation of medicines at the central level. The implementation of Drug Management Agency to facilitate Drug Revolving Funds across the 36 states and FCT also commenced.
On the unproven allegation of a so-called Buhari Estate, about which the columnist revised himself to say it is a “mansion,” Solana seems to think that it is game to take the liberty of making charges and leaving the victim to defend himself, failing which, the accusations are trumpeted to be “true”. Where a little investigation would have given clarity, the door is opened to frivolous and simply malicious charges, not worthy of a response. This is a weak form of journalism.
I give it to him that he did not ride on the Buhari-made Lagos-Ibadan train. So, shall we now rise to applaud his imagination as a writer for that wonderfully descriptive and illustrative column? Cheers.
Finally, to say that anyone ensconced in the American gleaming malls and opulent high rises will be forgiven if they are unable to take notice of the change, even if incremental that is taking place back in Nigeria.
I was with President Buhari in 2016 when he commissioned the Samuel Ogbemudia College and Garrick Memorial School in Benin, the city that nurtured Olumhense -schools that were decrepit- refurbished by the Adams Oshiomwhole led-APC administration, at which occasion the President sat in class along with the Governor and took lessons for the purpose of inspiring the young students.
It is a mistake to say that the President “did not pursue the path of serving the people,” as the writer claimed or that ” anyone outside the circle of Buhari’s cronies knows that he made everything worse…leaving your country worse than you met it.”
The people Olumhense left behind home in his native Edo State are not likely to chorus the same thing.
His much despised Buhari administration took up the abandoned Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri railway project which was begun in 1987 and commissioned it, putting it to use in 2020-a clear 33 years- to the delight of the writer’s people
In Edo state, serving the communities of Idumuesah, Ewossa, Agbor, Ekpon, Igbanke, Isanlu, Ekehen, Uromi, Ubiaja, Aigere, Uzanu and Agenebode.
Perhaps because of the distance, the illustrious columnist did not notice such projects as the National Housing Programme (NHP) Phase 1 along Benin – Auchi Road, Benin City, Edo State commissioned on Thursday, 14th April 2022; the reconstruction and handover of the reclaimed road which was destroyed by erosion at the Site B of the University of Benin, Ugbowo campus; the building and commissioning by the then Vice President, Prof. Osinbajo of the nation’s fifth “Shared Facility Center” for small businesses in Edo, with the this one focused on the furniture manufacturing sector. As the Vice President noted at the commissioning, the “facility is equipped with state-of-the-art machines and equipment, which when used to full capacity, can produce over 250 furniture items daily including doors, dining sets, credenzas and cabinets.”
Since its commissioning, the enterprising people of the state have been taking full advantage of the facility to further improve their production. This scheme was established to support and ensure the growth of MSMEs nationwide.
Surely, this writer will have heard of the Azura Power Plant, a privately-owned greenfield plant near Benin City, Edo State, and Nigeria’s 1st project-financed IPP, which reached financial close under Buhari in December 2015, construction started early 2016, first turbine went live Dec 2017, seven months ahead of schedule! Project completed in 2018, delivering 450MW.
The Buhari Administration licensed and enabled commencement of operations of two Modular Refineries in Edo State: Edo Refinery and Petrochemical Limited (6,000bpd) and DUPORT Modular Refinery (10,000bpd). The list can go on and on.
So my view is that Olumhense is not fair, but just determined to delegitimize Muhammadu Buhari by ignoring his contributions to his native Edo state and the country.
Shehu, is a Spokesman to former President Muhammadu Buhari.