Tinubu, So Far…

Invictus Games

When the All Progressives Congress (APC) dislodged then ruling People’s Democratic Party in the 2015 presidential polls and a taciturn, supposedly no-nonsense General Muhammadu Buhari emerged as president, many Nigerians thought the nation was a few steps away from attaining El-dorado. Eight years after Buhari’s tenure, we now know better.

 The Buhari administration couldn’t combat corruption, retool the economy and address insecurity- the three key things he promised Nigerians. Corruption festered, the economy was battered and security was in deplorable shape for a significant part of his eight-year rule.

   In saner climes, victory for the ruling APC would have been a herculean task because it became clear after the Buhari years that the party merely deceived Nigerians. As a matter of fact, most Nigerians believe, and perhaps rightly so, that rather than move the nation forward, the APC set the nation on a reverse gear.

 The fact that the ruling APC still got another opportunity to govern Nigeria has further shredded any iota of doubt that Nigeria is a nation of paradox.


Against all odds

 Against all odds, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu clinched the APC ticket to contest the presidential election after his famous ’emi lokan’ speech. Against all odds, he emerged victorious at last year’s presidential election and as should be expected, his victory, like that of those who occupied the office before, was contested. All that, as they say, is now history.

 In about seven days’ time, PBAT will mark one year in office. As usual, questions are being asked about his stewardship in the last 356 days he has spent in office. Indeed, it is a year of mixed feelings for most Nigerians.

 As PBAT marks one year in office, how has he fared thus far? What did he promise Nigerians? Is he delivering on such promises? If not, do we trust him to deliver?


 Promises galore

 In his inaugural speech, PBAT promised to “defend the nation from terror and all forms of criminality that threaten the peace and stability of our country…” even as he pledged to “remodel our economy to bring about growth and development through job creation, food security and put an end of extreme poverty”

 About one year after these phenomenal pledges, parts of Plateau, Niger, Zamfara, Katsina, Kogi, Ogun, Ekit and Kaduna States, among others, are still experiencing terror attacks by elements that kill, maim, abduct for ransom among other criminal acts that make life brutish for residents. The administration has not done enough in combating insecurity. Pure and simple!

 And poverty? This has never been this rife. In the last one year, seeing Nigerians, especially students, women and children, go through the humiliation of queuing up for rice and other palliative items has become a common occurrence. People died trying to access these so-called palliatives because the government’s policies have thrown more Nigerians into hardship and hunger.

 For a nation with vast agricultural potential in the midst of technology to boost food production, it is disconcerting that Nigerians are still grappling with a challenge as rudimentary as hunger.

 The PBAT administration vowed to secure rural incomes by ensuring that commodity exchange boards guarantee minimal prices for certain crops and animal products.  In fact, the president also promised to undertake a “nationwide programme for storage and other facilities to reduce spoilage and waste.

 “Agricultural hubs will be created throughout the nation to increase production and engage in value-added processing. The livestock sector will be introduced to best modern practices and steps taken to minimize the perennial conflict over land and water resources in this sector. Through these actions, food shall be made more abundant yet less costly. Farmers shall earn more while the average Nigerian pays less” PBAT said in his inaugural speech.

 Because food has yet to be made more abundant and Nigerians continue to pay more for food and other essentials one year after the president’s pledge, like most Nigerians, I ask how far thus far?


Harsh policies

 The last one year of the Tinubu presidency is characterised by unending hardship as exemplified by rise in cost of living, insecurity and unemployment arising from unfriendly policies.

 PBAT removed fuel subsidy without effectively planning for means of cushioning its impacts, devalued the Naira and hiked interest rate despite observing in his inaugural speech that “interest rates need to be reduced to increase investment and consumer purchasing in ways that sustain the economy at a higher level”. All of these, including the electricity tariff hike, among other factors, resulted in galloping inflation of 33%, and food inflation rate of about 40%.

 Not only have these unfriendly policies caused a cost-of-living crisis; they have made the business environment very unfriendly for many, especially small and medium enterprises, resulting in spike in the nation’s unemployment and poverty rates.

 Available statistics indicate that 63% of Nigerians are multidimensionally poor in the midst of over 30% unemployment rate. For an administration that promised to honour its campaign commitment of one million new jobs in the digital economy, the current unemployment rate is indeed sickening. 

 It is true that the government introduced a N35,000 wage award to workers for six months as palliative to cushion the impact of fuel subsidy removal. The implementation of this was however fraught with allegations of irregularities in the midst of concerns that such was not all-inclusive, as most states defaulted.

 It is true that the government introduced a cash transfer of N25, 000 to the poorest and vulnerable households for three months as palliative to cushion the impact of fuel subsidy removal. That too was fraught with irregularities and widespread allegations of sharp practices in the face of a clear lack of social register.

  It is true that the government announced the disbursement of a N50billion conditional grant to traders, food vendors, creatives, artisans among others. But how far thus far?

 It is true that after some repeated postponements, the government finally announced the take-off of the students’ loan scheme to give equal access to higher education to all Nigerians. But this too has been impeded by the declaration “that only students of federal government owned institutions will get it for now”.

 The government claimed it released 42,000 Metric tons of grains for free distribution to the most vulnerable persons. There is nothing to suggest that such a quantity of foodstuff has been distributed. Sad, but that is the reality.


Policy reversal

 And then, the last one year of the Tinubu administration was marked with policy inconsistency arising largely from failure to critically assess policies before their official pronouncement.

 And the list of such policy reversals is long. Is it the expatriate employment levy which was introduced on February 27, 2024 and suspended in March? Or the seeming reintroduction of fuel subsidy after the widely publicized ‘subsidy is gone’ declaration? There is also the introduction of tax and withdrawal of the same almost immediately.

 Abrupt reversal of policy impedes growth and says a lot about how unprepared a government is. Unfortunately, that is one of the defining features of the Tinubu administration thus far. But what do you expect from someone whose greatest incentive to aspire for the number one office in the land is his flawed belief that it is his turn?

Labour’s N615,000 Wage Request

Organised Labour’s demand for N615,000 minimum wage makes the workers look like jesters because it is not realistic, and the labour leadership knows that too well. FG’s offer of N54,000 is disdainful. While the negotiation with the government continues, Labour must be serious for once and make a demand that ‘common sense can comprehend’.

The Nigerian government cannot sustain a N615,000 minimum wage. Not now; not in the near future. The rational thing is for Labour to insist on social welfare policies like subsidies on housing, education, healthcare and transportation. Those are the items that take a large chunk of workers’ pay. Labour should negotiate with the government on subsidizing these sectors. Until that is done, wage increase will continue to be meaningless.


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