Tinubu’s renewed hope and the burden of expectations

“Nigerians are the losers; look at the polices, from devaluation of the Naira, removal of fuel subsidy, Value Added Tax, increase in taxes and many others."

Tinubu’s renewed hope and the burden of expectations

Tinubu’s renewed hope and the burden of expectationsBy Kadiri Abdulrahman

On May 29, 2023, President Bola Tinubu took oath of office as Nigeria’s president, after an intensive campaign.

Considering his “Renewed Hope” mantra and what it entails, expectations were high, especially in Tinubu’s capacity to provide adequate security and a working economy that had been part of the country’s challenges before his inauguration.

The idea was that the president would “hit the ground running” immediately and  improve living condition of ordinary  Nigerians through creative and innovative policies.

Twelve months down the line,  some Nigerians believe that the president has done well considering the myriad of challenges he met, while others are of the  opinion that not much has been achieved under his stewardship.

Renewed Hope Agenda is yielding fruits – Tinubu

Right from the day of his inauguration, Tinubu announced to Nigerians that “subsidy is gone”, effectively ending the regime of the Federal Government subsidising and regulating the price of petrol.

Shortly after, the President also embarked on foreign exchange market reforms by unifying the then existing dual exchange rate and adopting a free float of the Naira through the willing buyer/willing seller model.

These two policies, bothering on the fiscal and monetary segments of the economy, were adopted by the president, even before appointing Mr Wale Edun as Finance Minister and Yemi Cardoso as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The two policies led to unexpected hardship, while government officials kept encouraging Nigerians to remain hopeful as they were bitter pills necessary to cure the ailing economy.

The adoption of the Naira float resulted in a free fall of the value of the currency, depreciating from N700 to the dollar black market rate before May 29, 2023 to an all-time low of N1,900 to the dollar by March.

The policies also created a challenge of spiralling inflation,  with headline inflation peaking at 33.1 per cent in May.

This led to prices of basic commodities going out of reach of the common man.

An economist, Prof. Ken Ife urged Nigerians to be patient with the Tinubu – led government while the various economic reforms come into fruition.

Ife, the Lead Consutant on Private Sector Development to the ECOWAS Commission, said that the economic reforms, though biting, were necessary bitter pills to reposition the ailing economy.

“We should consider where we were one year ago and where we are today.

“Our economy was in an intensive unit, very sick in crisis. Everything went wrong, N23 trillion Ways and Means, almost N100 trillion debt; debt-to-Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio at almost 40 per cent, debt service to revenue of more than 90 per cent.

“One year down the line, Nigeria has come out of the intensive unit. We are now in a recovering position,’’ he said.

According to him, we have to make sacrifices.

“Inflation has gone up significantly, but that is part of the price we have to pay before we experience economic boom,’’ he said.

On the appropriate “living wage’’ for Nigerian workers as promised by the president, Ife called for sincere negotiations.

“Minimum wage is a matter for negotiation because, it is not just the minimum wage, but there are repercussion on the minimum wage that affects the wages of everyone else.

“What is agreed on today may be progressively improved over the next year or two.

“There needs to be a three-year wage increment by percentage so that as they are increasing it, inflation has to be coming down.

“Inflation is the biggest challenge, if inflation is within a single digit then the money that people receive can buy much more,’’ he said.

Dr Chijioke Ekechukwu, an economist, said that the idea of reforms is that there is “light at the end of the tunnel”.

According to Ekechukwu, a past president of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), reforms usually come with relief if sincerely carried out.

He urged Nigerians to give Tinubu some more time to see his various economic reforms come to fruition.

“When there are reforms, they bite hard, but the idea is that there should be light at the end of the tunnel.

“The government has embarked on a lot of reforms to reposition the economy. The removal of fuel subsidy is to make more money available for other sectors.

“And that has actually increased government revenue. Same with floating of the Naira, even though it has also contributed to inflation. Interest rate today is about the highest in Africa.

“The higher the interest rate, the higher the cost of production, and the cost will be passed over to the consumers.

“Generally, there is a growth in the economy. The GDP is growing to the extent that the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have improved on their projection for Nigeria,’’he said.

He, however, said that insecurity was still a major challenge.

“Unfortunately, not enough has happened to insecurity, and it is a major bane of our economic development,’’ he said.

He said that while we appraised the Federal Government, we should also consider the performances of states and Local Government Councils.

On minimum wage, Ekechukwu said that when we look at the level of depreciation of the Naira and the level of inflation, even N100,000 as Minimum wage would not be enough.

According to him, the percentage of depreciation, and inflation are way above that.

“What Nigerians need is not high salary per se. What we need is an economy where prices of goods and services are affordable to all Nigerians.

“We need inflation to be low, we need amenities to be working at affordable prices,” he said.

The Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Rev. Father Mathew Kukah, said that one year was not enough to “pass judgment’’ on the government.

Kukah said that though government’s economic reforms had created some hardship, there is hope that things would improve.

“I am sure many people will tell you that one year is not enough to make a judgment. However, from where we all stand, we know that we are all in a very difficult situation.

“Nigerians are in various levels of pain, and they are pains that are unintended.

“But they are the results of certain policy decisions that hopefully with time, can be amended to serve the welfare of the people,’’ he said.

He urged Nigerians to commit themselves to the fact that building a good society takes a lot of time.

“It is not something that is done in one lifetime, and for me, the most important thing is to continue on the building blocks of the things that we think are being done well,” he said.

However, the President of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Joe Ajaero, decried the current state of the nation’s economy and called for the return of fuel subsidy and reversal of other policies to make life easy and meaningful.

Ajaero described Tinubu’s action as “palliative policies’’ that had kept Nigerians in perpetual poverty.

“Nigerians are the losers; look at the polices, from devaluation of the Naira, removal of fuel subsidy, Value Added Tax, increase in taxes and many others.

“These are being done without commensurate increase in salaries of the Nigerian workers.

“Many companies have closed down. A lot of businesses have wind down, youth are leaving the country, the exchange rate of the Naira to a dollar hit the ceiling causing increase in prices of goods and services,’’ Ajaero said.

Also, a member of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Prof. Usman Yusuf said that Nigerians were fast losing hope due to harsh economic conditions.

According to Yusuf, rather than inject the Nigerian people with some hope capsules, the Tinubu administration has made Nigerians more hopeless in the last one year.

He urged the economic management team of the government to take steps that could improve the economy as a matter of urgency.

A civil servant, Abbas Ibrahim, described the last 12 months of the Tinubu presidency as very harsh on workers.

“In the midst of all these reforms, the Nigerian worker is the worst hit.

“Inflation is at its worst level, yet our salaries remain unchanged. If you ask me, I will tell you clearly that the government has not done well, it has rendered the workers hopeless, ’’ he said.

As the government led by Tinubu rolls out the drums to celebrate its one year in office, most Nigerians are suggesting that the president should take stock and reevaluate his renewed hope mantras in comparison with what Nigerians are experiencing presently.

They urge the government to adopt realistic policies that would ease their pain in the shortest possible time.


News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)