President Tinubu’s First Year In Office: Propelling Nigeria Towards Renewal

President Tinubu's First Year In Office: Propelling Nigeria Towards Renewal

Three weeks from now, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu will mark his first year in office. As we approach that first anniversary, it is only natural that the entire nation will be looking back and reflecting on the journey so far. In this piece, I would like to highlight some of the foundational elements of the thinking underpinning the work that President Tinubu is doing to reset and remake Nigeria. I believe that the more Nigerians are able to understand the ‘whys’ behind the ‘whats’, the easier it will be to connect the dots between the vision and its outcomes. 

I will start by reiterating known facts: that President Tinubu came to the Presidency with eight years of experience as the Governor of the largest subnational economy in Africa, during which he mastered the art of implementing enduring institutional and process reforms. The President also showed up with an unparalleled understanding of the private sector, honed by his high-flying career as a corporate executive in the oil and gas industry. These have no doubt shaped his approach to the task of leading Nigeria. It is with these in mind that I will now turn to highlight five core principles or ideas that underpin the President’s leadership vision.

Firstly, President Tinubu is resolutely focused on policies and actions that will attract long-term local and foreign investments to Nigeria, knowing that every naira and dollar of new investment in the country means new jobs, increased productivity for local consumption and for export, and much-needed economic growth. For these investments to happen, the business environment must be conducive. This is what is fueling the painstaking rebuilding of the credibility and capacity of the Central Bank. It is also why we have extensive tax and fiscal reforms ongoing, to reduce the burden on businesses. 

It is why Mr. President has established the Renewed Hope Infrastructure Development Fund (RHIDF), which is mobilizing billions of dollars for infrastructure projects that will reshape the country’s landscape – our roads and highways, airports and seaports, power plants, and so on. It is equally what explains the constant engagement with local and foreign investors, in which the President plays the role of Chief Marketing Officer with great energy and enthusiasm — and with remarkable success. In the last one year, we have seen investment commitments in excess of 30 billion USD, across various sectors.

Secondly, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is focused on policies and programs that provide direct and targeted economic relief and benefits to the pockets and livelihoods of Nigerians, by way of grants, education loans, food and fertilizer distribution, cash transfers, health insurance, and consumer credit. As we speak, disbursement has since commenced of the nano-grants of fifty thousand Naira each intended for one million Nigerians, part of a larger 200 billion Naira MSMEs credit program. 

The National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) is currently being repositioned to ensure that it delivers maximum value to the intended beneficiaries, without the distortion of middlemen. This vision of targeted economic relief has also led to the launch, in recent weeks, of the Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELFUND) and the Nigerian Consumer Credit Corporation (CrediCorp), as well as the work going on to negotiate a new minimum wage that will touch the lives of millions of Nigerians. A Presidential Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) initiative to provide a cheaper alternative to petrol and diesel for transporters and commuters is also being finalized.

Thirdly, the President understands that desirable developmental outcomes often require a temporary period of pain and adjustment. He seizes every opportunity to be seen and heard asking for the understanding of the Nigerian people. Speaking recently at the World Economic Forum meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, he said, “Concerning the question of subsidy removal, there is no doubt that it was a necessary action for my country not to go bankrupt and to reset the economy and the pathway to growth. It was going to be difficult, but the hallmark of leadership is making difficult decisions when they need to be made.” 

On the foreign exchange regime reforms, he said, “The currency management was necessary, equally to remove the artificial element of value in our currency. Hence, our local currency finds its level and competes with the rest of the world’s currencies as we remove corrupt arbitrage and opaqueness.” 

President Tinubu wants to build a Nigeria that is confident and competitive on the global stage. Because of this, we can no longer afford certain ways of doing things. We must push past the false comfort of certain ingrained habits and practices, and endure inevitable but temporary discomfort, because we are certain that ahead of us lies lasting reward.

Fourthly, we have a President who listens very actively to the opinions of Nigerians, who does not allow ego to get in the way of doing what is best, and does not shy away from implementing adjustments in the policy-making process, where necessary. When the Students Loan Act required some more work, he wasted no time in getting this done. He sent the Act back to the National Assembly, where it was revised in record time, and returned for presidential assent. Today we have a much-improved Act that will deliver even greater value to the young Nigerians for whom it is intended.

Fifthly, President Tinubu is an adept communicator who leads by example, and wants Nigerians to always be in the know regarding the decisions being taken on their behalf. As the Minister of Information and National Orientation, I can attest to the enthusiasm that I have always seen in him, which has helped greatly in my work. I have personally enjoyed the President’s support to inaugurate a pioneering National Communications Team (NCT) that brings together key communications experts in the Presidency and the Federal Government, alongside the heads of our public information agencies. Our goal is to ensure that Nigerians are carried in a timely and transparent manner, as the President intensifies his determination to deliver on the Renewed Hope agenda. Nigerians will in the months ahead see even more effort from us to communicate this journey of transformation.

Let me now also add this: We were well aware, from the very start, that the task we signed up for as a party and a government — to renew the hope of Nigerians, and to convert that hope into genuine satisfaction, under the inspired leadership of President Tinubu — was never going to be an easy one. That is in fact why we put ourselves forward; because we knew that at this critical juncture in our history, Nigeria requires thinking that is fresh, audacious, and pragmatic; and we are confident that we can deliver this, against the backdrop of a world assailed by myriad fiscal, geopolitical, and technological challenges. Under President Tinubu’s watch, we will rebuild and restore the faith of Nigerians in their country. 

As the implementation of our administration’s first full-year budget gathers momentum, Nigerians will increasingly see, across all sectors of the economy, concrete manifestations of the renewed hope they ushered in a year ago. This is where I will again ask for the continued understanding and support of all Nigerians, and for the media to strive to become fully alive to its democracy-nurturing obligations. 

As a government, we must be held accountable for all that we have promised the people of Nigeria. At the same time, we also deserve to have Nigeria’s budding success narratives reported and amplified with enthusiasm, and without distortion. With a committed President and team, as we move into the second year of the administration, there is no doubt in my mind that things can only get better for this blessed and beautiful country of ours. 

 

– Idris, fnipr, is the  Minister of Information and National Orientation of Nigeria

 

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