Redemption song for Tinubu’s chaotic Presidency

The Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration that will clock one on Wednesday this week has been both historic and chaotic. And so for the love of our country, as some will be praying for the administration
President Bola Tinubu appoints governing councils members for tertiary institutions
President Bola Tinubu

President Bola Tinubu appoints governing councils members for tertiary institutions
President Bola Tinubu

The Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration that will clock one on Wednesday this week has been both historic and chaotic. And so for the love of our country, as some will be praying for the administration, others will be speaking in tongues about management of expectations and strategies, some of us on the beat of public affairs commentary should do what the chief executive of the federation needs most at this time: writing on truth some of the reputation managers would like to hide in a grave. The trouble with hiding truth in a grave is that it won’t stay there (grave) the morning after.
And so what I leant from my parish pastor at a time in Abuja is that your best friend at a time you are in power/office or when you are being transferred is the one who tells you some bitter truth you need for your next level. Pastor Omotosho (first name withheld) told us at the time he was transferred out of RCCG, central parish, Wuse Two in Abuja in the early 2020’s that the only take-away from a send-forth party for him was a private discussion he had with a female parishioner who told him all the things he didn’t do well in the parish. The cleric who didn’t give details of the discussion points promised to correct all the leadership and management pitfalls the woman boldly told him in his office. He therefore enjoined managers and leaders generally to always look for good friends who would always discuss even institutional weaknesses and failings that sycophants would always hide from them before troubles loom. This lesson from the clergyman is quite instructive today.

And so this is a time to tell our president some inconvenient truth so that as he marks one year in office, he can juxtapose his promises through the eight-point agenda he advertised and the performances so far. Yes, we can understand the president’s self-appraisal that “the first year has been both challenging and fulfilling”. That is sweet to hear. But Mr, President that isn’t the whole truth.

Doubtless, your election marked a critical moment in Nigeria’s political history, evoking great expectations. This is often the case. So many of your admirers have written to the extent that “…it is on record that President Tinubu inherited a sluggish economic growth, record debt and shrinking oil output. He also had zero budget for fuel subsidy. These challenges have made life tough for Nigerians. Nigeria’s debt ballooned by nearly 60% since 2015, hitting $103 billion in early 2023, according to the Debt Management Office. When we add off-book loans from the Central Bank of Nigeria, we are looking at N77 trillion ($167 billion). It is this situation that led finance experts to assert that the portion of revenue needed to service the debt is alarming at over 90%…”

Other supporters have added that, “in January 2023, ratings agency Moody’s downgraded Nigeria, citing those figures. According to some calculations, debt-servicing costs surpassed revenue last year. Nigeria’s shockingly low levels of government revenue also raised questions around its ability to spend to boost growth. The debt pressures are symptomatic of that lack of government revenue.”

Some of the revenue troubles stem from rampant, industrial-scale theft that in 2023 pressed oil output to its lowest in more than 30 years. Oil and gas typically fund half of Nigeria’s budget and 90% of our foreign exchange.
Continued theft, underinvestment and industrial disputes, hinder output. On top of this, crippling fuel subsidies drain what is left from oil sales. Fitch Ratings estimated that the implicit petrol subsidy has cost the government approximately 2.4% of GDP in foregone revenue.”

But let’s see some of the promises that we can deconstruct here at this time of reckoning:
Mr. President, in the beginning, you were so worried by the prevailing despondency and misery that plagued the country under the Muhammadu Buhari that you promised to rescue the most populous African country from the claws of economic backwardness, multi-dimensional hardship and worsening insecurity.

Premising your roadmap on key national issues such as security, economy, agriculture, power, oil and gas, transportation, and education, your campaign train, in the build-up to the 2023 elections, issued an 80-page policy document, which highlighted an eight-point blueprint for its Renewed Hope Agenda.

What is more, in the manifesto published in October 2022, you proclaimed that your fundamental objective would foster a new society based on shared prosperity, tolerance, compassion, and the unwavering commitment to treating each citizen with equal respect and due regard. Among your glowing pledges contained in the campaign document, Mr President, you said if given the mandate, you promised to, “build a Nigeria, especially for our youth, where sufficient jobs with decent wages create a better life.”

It is also on record that you also claimed that government would “manufacture, create, and invent more of the goods and services we require. Nigeria shall be known as a nation of creators, not just of consumers.” You added on your watch, Nigeria would “export more and import less, strengthening both the naira and our way of life.”

Besides, you promised to continue assisting the country’s ever-toiling farmers through enlightened agricultural policy that would promote productivity and assure decent incomes, so that farmers could support their families and feed the nation. Mr President, you also promised that your government would “modernise and expand public infrastructure so that the rest of the economy can grow at an optimal rate, embolden and support our young people and women by harnessing emerging sectors such as the digital economy, entertainment and culture, tourism and others to build the Nigeria of tomorrow, today.”
In the same vein your campaign promises also include “training and giving economic opportunity to the poorest and most vulnerable among us. We seek a Nigeria where no parent is compelled to send a child to bed hungry, worried whether tomorrow shall bring food.”

More important, on the economic front, you said your administration would “generate, transmit and distribute sufficient, affordable electricity to give our people the requisite power to enlighten their lives, their homes, and their very dreams.”

Meanwhile, you also promised to “make basic healthcare, education, and housing accessible and affordable for all and most importantly, establish a bold and assertive policy that will create a strong yet adaptive national security architecture and action to obliterate terror, kidnapping, banditry, and all other forms of violent extremism from the face of our nation.”

What is more attractive, during your inauguration in May, a few months after your victory in the 2023 presidential election, your also harped on your messianic policy to replace the despair on the faces of many Nigerians with joy and revive our fading hope in the ever-failing governance of the country.
It is worth recalling that while delivering your inaugural speech with pride without prejudice at the Eagles Square, Abuja on that Monday afternoon, you noted that, “Our administration shall govern on your behalf but never rule over you. We shall consult and dialogue but never dictate. We shall reach out to all but never put down a single person for holding views contrary to our own. We are here to further mend and heal this nation, not tear and injure it…”

Facts are sacred. Let’s there fore look at the file below as compiled by a very reliable ICIR so that we can see the administration’s self appraisal:
Inflation Rate: When Tinubu assumed office in May 2023, Nigeria’s inflation rate, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) was 22.41 per cent. However, consecutively, the figures rose every month to become the highest surpassing the 2005 and 1996 figures. The latest figure shows that the inflation rate is 33.2 per cent as of April 2024.

Food inflation: In one year, the food inflation rate increased by 15.17 per cent from 24.82 per cent recorded in May 2023 to 40.01 per cent as of March 2024.

Eating healthy: Also, the cost of eating a healthy diet rose from N503 in May 2023 to N982 in March 2024. This is an increase of 95.23 per cent in one year.
Transportation: The aftermath of the petrol subsidy’s removal increased the transportation cost. Before the removal, the average cost of a single journey on a motorcycle was N464.55. When compared after one year, the price increased by 1.6 per cent to N472.16. Also, the cost of a bus journey within a city increased by 46.2 per cent from N649.59 to N969.32. The cost of a bus journey within two states increased by 78.7 per cent from N4002.16 to N7152.97. For air transportation, the cost of a single-route journey increased by 18.7 per cent from N74,948.78 to N88,964.86. Meanwhile, for a single journey on water, the cost from N1,045.15 to N1,384.32, an increase of 32.5 per cent.
Exchange Rate: When Tinubu assumed office, the naira was exchanged at N461 to 1 dollar ($) but the president took steps to abolish the multiple exchange rate system. This increased the rate by 226.80 per cent to N1510/$1, after consequently rising until February 2024. As of April 204, the average rate was N1215/$1.

Crude oil products: In one year, there was also an increase in the price of petrol, diesel, kerosene and gas at pump stations. The average price of a litre of petrol rose by 192.63 per cent in one year from N238.11 to N696.79. Also, a litre of diesel rose by 58.85 per cent from N844.28 to N1,341.16. While the price of a litre of kerosene rose from N1,206.05, by 12.30 per cent, to N1,354.40. For 1kg of gas, the price increased by 41.99 per cent from N928.45 to N1,318.32.

Other data indicators:
• Budget: Tinubu presented his first budget of N27.5 trillion to the National Assembly in November 2023. The budget was however increased by 4.36 per cent when it was passed in January 2024 to N28.7 trillion. The ICIR reported several stories on frivolous items contained in the budget.
• Federal Allocation: Between June 2023 and February 2024, according to data gathered from NBS, the Federal Allocation Account Committee (FAAC) approved a total of N14.6 trillion to be shared between the three tiers of government.
• Travel: Reports monitored by The ICIR also showed that in one year, the president visited 13 countries within one year. Guinea Bissau and Saudi Arabia were visited twice.
• Insecurity: According to data filtered from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data, (ACLED), between June 2023 to the end of April 2024, a total of 7,828 people were killed in various insecurity attacks.
What all these mean is that in three days time, the president will be expected to overhaul his chaotic presidency in the areas of presidential bureaucracy that has been error-prone, institutional reforms to deliver affordable services to the people. What is more, some philosopher-kings have curiously quoted Winston Churchill to describe Tinubu’s first cabinet as a “cabinet of mediocrities” that can’t make any difference at this critical time of extreme hunger and hyper-inflation.

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