365 Days of Tinubu’s  Triumphs and Challenges


Emmanuel Addeh and James Emejo in Abuja

Today, May 29, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu clocks one year in office. With no pretences as to the economic reforms he needed to quickly execute in his bid to redirect an ailing economy, the president on his inauguration ground, announced his first key reform initiative–the immediate removal of fuel subsidy.

The president followed that major decision with the unification of the foreign exchange rates in the country, two decisions that have triggered a rash of economic and social implications.

Tinubu and his team have in some way likened Nigeria to a woman in labour, with serious birth pains. While there have been flashes of light in some areas, Nigerians continue to  reel under the yoke of skyrocketing inflation, growing unemployment, increasing poverty and a general fall in the standard of living.

Highlighted below are some of Tinubu’s triumphs and the downside of the new administration’s policies in the last one year.

FX Reforms

Part of the Foreign Exchange (FX) reforms implemented by the Tinubu administration included the unification of the exchange rates window, liberalisation of FX market, particularly the floating of the Naira and settling all eligible FX backlogs to banks and airlines among others.

On the upside, the interventions in the FX segment have helped to restore investor confidence as evidenced by recent capital inflows.

On the other hand, the currency float has been fraught with liquidity challenges leading to the weakening of the Naira against the dollar. The local currency had also been devalued multiple times with the attendant implications for the economy.

CNG Initiative

The Presidential Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Initiative (Pi-CNG) is a component of the palliative intervention of the President Bola Tinubu administration directed at providing succour to the masses occasioned by the hardships that resulted from the fuel subsidy removal.

The advantage of the policy is that it is aimed at reducing the country’s dependence on fossil fuel, thereby enhancing energy independence and contributing to a more secure energy future.

Also, CNG is said to be four times cheaper than diesel for transportation. This initiative will drop the cost of carrying goods and reduce cost of production significantly.

But on the downside, the policy is still shrouded in uncertainty. The high cost of conversion for existing vehicles remains a subject of controversy.

Tax Reforms

The key objectives of the tax reforms committee’s work include the harmonisation of multiple taxes and levies at all levels of government to a few that are broad based and easy to administer.

The body is currently working towards the unification of revenue collection functions into single agency per level of government as well as modernising and simplifying the tax system through the use of technology.

While he exercise should provide a huge sigh of relief to businesses that groan under multiple taxes and reduce the cost of doing business, the exercise appears to be taking forever to accomplish. The system is still bedevilled by multiplicity of taxes amid a hostile business environment.

Amendment of Electricity Law

A few weeks after taking over the reins of power, Tinubu assented to the electricity bill, which authorises states, companies and individuals to generate, transmit and distribute electricity.

The new electricity law repealed the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (EPSRA) which was signed by President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2005.

On the upside, the new law now liberalises the power sector for the full participation of sub-national governments in the entire value chain.

But to say that the taking over of major decisions in the power sector by states will be mostly chaotic is an understatement.

The Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, recently hinted that to reduce the issues that may arise from 36 states and the FCT having multiple regulatory agencies, the government was working to ensure a more orderly process.

The  Student Loan Law

After prolonged back and forth, the student loan law, has begun operation, with the recent choice of Zenith Bank founder, Jim Ovia as the chairman of the fund. Since it was first made public, the law has gone through some amendments.

The National Student Loan Programme is an  intervention that seeks to guarantee sustainable higher education and functional skill development for all Nigerian students and youths. The Nigerian Education Loan Fund, the implementing institution of this innovation, demands excellence and Nigerians of the finest professional ilk to guide and manage.

With several amendments since it was first introduced, the law is expected to ensure more access to education.

But the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Calabar Zone, has opposed the policy, describing it as as capable of subjecting beneficiaries to slavery, perpetual debt, depression and suicide.

PH Refinery ‘Completed’, Still Non-functional

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) in 2023 promised that by December of that year, the Port Harcourt refinery will be up and running after rehabilitation with the sum of $1.5 billion.

Six months later, it’s unclear when the facility will come online and there’s no clear communication as to why that is so. Other refineries in Warri, Kaduna as well as the second part of the Port Harcourt refinery still remain non-functional.

Power Tariff Hike Versus Inadequate Supply

Nigeria’s power sector remains in the throes of massive illiquidity. To gradually resolve the issue, the federal government through the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) recently hiked the tariffs for Band ‘A’ customers.

While consumers continue to protest the development, operators say it is one of the many steps needed to be taken to ensure that the power sector does not collapse.

Despite various attempts at bettering the sector, Nigeria’s power supply remains poor and has remained a major factor constraining industrial development and production output.

Big Government, Small Results

The president has variously asked Nigerians to make sacrifices as the ongoing reforms are meant to make sure the economy returns to a strong footing. However, Nigerians have argued that the president and his team are not living by example in this context.

Generally, not much has been done to reduce the cost of governance, with the  appointment of 48 ministers, six more than Tinubu’s predecessors in office.

There are also over 20 special advisers and more new ministries. The recent attempt to implement parts of the Steve Oronsanya committee report also appears to be hanging in the balance.

Lagos-Calabar Coastal highway

It would appear that one development that has marked Tinubu’s one year in office is the controversial 700 km Lagos-Calabar highway project. Interestingly, it seems that aside the president and his Minister of Works, David Umahi, no other person believes the project is borne out of altruism.

Arguably, no other project has raised as much dust as the over N15 trillion road infrastructure which criss-crosses several states in the country. All the signs that daily make Nigerians doubt the sincerity of the promoters seem to be getting more visible by the day.

But the president and his minister say it is the next big deal for Nigeria and are pushing forward with it despite the criticisms.

Insecurity Remains

While there have been some gains in the fight against insecurity, kidnapping, insurgency, and banditry have continued nationwide, especially in Nigeria’s northern areas.

In the last year,  the Council on Foreign Relations estimates that up to 2,500 people have died as a result of violent attacks and other disputes. Also, the public’s trust in the government’s ability to safeguard them is being gradually eroded.

Oil, Gas Industry Executive Bills

To accelerate the ease of doing business in Nigeria’s oil industry, the president moved for the amendment of primary legislation to introduce fiscal incentives for oil & gas projects.

The executive bills are also meant to reduce contracting costs and timelines, and promote cost efficiency in local content requirements, recognising the urgency to accelerate investments.

Tinubu directed the introduction of fiscal incentives for non-associated gas, midstream and deepwater developments, streamlining of contracting process to compress the contracting cycle to six months as well as the application of the local content requirements without hindering investments or the cost competitiveness.

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