Tinubu Govt’s One Year of Gains and Pains

By May 29, 2024, President Bola Tinubu would have spent one year in office. So far so good, it has been a year of gains and pains for the Nigerian populace. Adedayo Akinwale writes.

when President Bola Tinubu took over the mantle of leadership of the country, Nigerians were hopeful and optimistic that he was going to reignite the hope that Nigerians have hitherto lost in the country.

Especially, taking over from the chaotic administration of former President Muhammadu, Tinubu’s performance while he was the Governor of Lagos State also made people to believe that come what may, his administration won’t be as terrible as that of Buhari.

Incidentally, right from the word go, Tinubu’s policies, if anything, has caused Nigerians more pain and it has successfully eliminated the middle class in the country.

Checks revealed that on May 29, 2023 as promised in his campaign manifesto and indeed as all the Presidential candidates including Peter Obi of Labour Party and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)also promised, Tinubu announced the removal of petrol subsidy.

The President had during his inaugural speech declared that ‘fuel subsidy is gone’, saying the country could no longer sustain the subsidy regime due to drying resources.

“Subsidy can no longer justify its ever-increasing costs in the wake of drying resources. We shall instead re-channel the funds into better investment in public infrastructure, education, health care and jobs that will materially improve the lives of millions,” he had said.

The decision to remove the subsidy, however, immediately led to a spike in the prices of the products and spiralling inflation across board.

Justifying his decision to remove the subsidy, Tinubu said Nigeria would have gone bankrupt if his administration had not discontinued fuel subsidy payments.

He admitted that though the policy came with economic pains, it was in the best interest of Nigerians.

While Nigerians were still trying to come to terms with the subsidy removal, Tinubu’s administration, also in line with his campaign promise, came with the idea of floating the Naira and the unification of the exchange rates.

The Central Bank of Nigeria’s decision to float the currency was hailed by the organised private sector and economists who said the move would unify the country’s multiple exchange rate and bring sanity to the FX market.

The development means buyers and sellers of foreign currency in the official FX markets are now allowed to quote rates they find comfortable in the FX market, as against the previous practice where rates were dictated by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Though, experts believe that with the unification of the exchange rates, a significant market distortion has been removed. However, the policy has brought both positive and negative implications. The pressure on Naira had since increased as the Dollar now exchanges for above N1,400 in the official FX market.

Without doubt, most of the policies introduced by Tinubu are necessary and long overdue, but the spate at which the policies were being introduced have left Nigerians with bruised faces.

For instance, Tinubu announced the removal subsidy almost a year ago without any corresponding palliatives to cushion the effect on Nigerians. The push back from the organised labour, however, forced the federal government to announce the Presidential Compressed National Gas (CNG) initiative, which has now been rolled out.

The Initiative, according to the Programme Director and Chief Executive Officer, Michael Oluwagbemi, would reduce the pressure on foreign reserves and improve the value of the Naira.

According to him: “For every 1,000,000 vehicles that Nigeria moves from petrol to natural gas, the nation is not just saving between $2.5 billion to $3 billion every year, we are also reducing the pressure on our foreign reserves, increasing the value of our currency, enhancing our export, we are creating jobs, we are enabling technology and innovation for our petroleum and clean energy sectors”.

Nevertheless, one year after the removal of the subsidy which has made life unbearable for Nigerians, the federal government is still negotiating expected increase in minimum wage with the Nigerian workers.

Moreso, while there is hope for government workers to have their salaries increased, those in the private sector have little or no hope of having their salaries increased at all

Based on the current agonising situation in the country,  the All Progressives Congress (APC) Professionals last Tuesday organised a programme tagged “Asiwaju Scorecard Series” to x-ray Tinubu’s one year in office.

Chairman, Board of Trustees of APC Professionals Forum and former Governor of Bauchi state, Isa Yuguda said  Tinubu inherited post-Covid economy, adding that

Ni­geria was not exempted from the price of goods that have risen astronomically globally.

“The president did not create any of the problems people are talking about whether in the economy or in the other sectors. In fact, what he met on ground would have created a worse sit­uation if not properly handled but he is championing reforms that are required to pave way for a better society.

“We all recall how on assum­ing office, President Tinubu announced the removal of fuel subsidy but again for the avoid­ance of doubt he did not remove subsidy on PMS.

It was not in the later part of the 2023 budget but surprisingly the Tinubu adminis­tration has had to bear the brunt for subsidy removal,” he maintained.

Yuguda was of the opinion that the president has today been proved right with the man­ner petrol importation has gone down by 50 per cent since June 2023. He added that it was almost certain to go down more in a few months when the 650,000 barrels per day Dangote Refinery begins to produce PMS locally as well as the impending resumption of production at the Port Harcourt and Warri refin­eries.

The former Governor emphasised that if any Nigerian was still in doubt about how payment of sub­sidy has over the years strained the country’s resources, they must have seen how the subna­tionals now receive more than double what they used to get from Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC).

“At the last FAAC meeting, the total distributable revenue for April 2024 was N1.2 trilllon, the highest ever disbursement in history,” Yuguda noted.

On his part, Vice President Kashim Shettima said on-going high corruption cases were testing the dedication of Tinubu’s administration.

Shettima, who was represented by his Special Adviser on general duties, Aliyu Modibbo, said the solutions Tinubu’s administration has rolled out are designed to deal with the remnants of longstanding issues that have undermined the economy head-on, rather than opting for temporary fixes.

He explained that this was essential for the health and future of the nation, saying these decisions are to guarantee the course of the country for generations to come instead of postponing the setbacks.

The Vice President noted that Tinubu has made the difficult but necessary choices to ensure Nigeria’s long-term stability and prosperity are never in doubt. He said the President has chosen a path that, although demanding, promises to save the nation from economic downfall.

He said: “This began with the calculated removal of the fuel subsidy. This decision was not made for its own sake but to redeem the reality of the nation’s unsustainable debt service-to-revenue ratio, which had grown to alarming levels over the past few years.

“We came at a time that demanded interventions to end untenable practices that threatened our economic survival, a time that required decisive action to redirect resources toward more productive sectors of our economy, and we do not tread this path with malice.

“This is so because we believe that government is a continuum, and our administration had to make choices that are for our collective good.”

Shettima emphasised that in the current administration’s quest for economic recovery, everyone must recognise that they are not out to cut corners. He stressed that the path they have chosen involves necessary sacrifices, saying these are essential for securing a brighter future for Nigeria.

According to him: “Our interventions to save the economy of the nation have been crucial in combating economic sabotage by identifying individuals and groups masterminding these setbacks and profiting from them, whether through currency manipulation or institutionalised corruption.

“The results of our interventions are promising, and we are proud of the progress made in strengthening the Naira. I believe you must have also followed this administration’s drive to ensure transparency and accountability in governance. We are waging a relentless war against corruption, with high profile cases demonstrating our dedication to this cause.

“The ongoing digitisation of revenue collection across all government sectors is expected to yield significant results and enhance the transparency we have promised the people of Nigeria.”

It is the belief of many that the federal government could have introduced those policies one after the other in order not to overburden Nigerians who appear helpless as a result of policies that lack empathy for the common man.

Related Articles