By John Idumange
On May 29, 2023, the inauguration of Tinubu as President was greeted with fanfare and optimism. Most Nigerians believed the 8 years of the Buhari Administration were the years of the locust. The general perception was that the JAGABAN OF AFRICA, who purportedly turned Lagos State into an el-dorado, will wave the magic wand to turn things around. They were mistaken. The sordid reality is that for the past eight months, Tinubu and his poorly constituted cabinet, riddled with scandals are leading Nigeria to a cul-de sac of aggravated anomie. What is now obvious is that Nigerians are being fried slowly. Nigerian are now in a frying pan and our only prayer is that we should not be dumbed in the inferno.
Now let’s turn attention to statistics. Inflation has reached 26%. The forex regime is even harsher. In the second quarter of 2023, the exchange rate per dollar hovered around N650.000 to N700.00. Now in January 2024, N1. 500.000 exchanges for a USD. A bag of rice which was sold for N35,000.00 under Buhari is now N60,000.00. The population of the poor has also increased from 133 million Nigerians is now 148 million people. Do many manufacturing companies are living the shores of Nigeria, as banditry and kidnapping has once more being intensified.
The goal of every government is to maximize the welfare of the citizens. This is achieved through the formulation and implementation of people-oriented policies to engineer growth and development. Of priority to any administration is to make policies and implement programmes that can ease hunger, reduce poverty and provide social amenities such as quality education and good health for the welfare of citizens. Emphasis on modernity now focuses on the provision of clean water: improved capital development.
Economic analysts have berated the Tinubu administration for the hasty removable of subsidy without putting palliative measures in place. While they hail the aggressive Anti-Corruption drive of the administration, they bemoan the internal contradictions in the cabinet, especially the corruption allegations leveled against few members of his cabinet.
President Bola Tinubu took office when Nigeria was harassed by high unemployment rate, malignant corruption, low foreign direct investment and a moribund industrial sector. The Buhari administration operated a laissez faire macro-economic system such that the CBN deliberately devalued the currency and pumped in N22 trillion without putting in place any rational economic paradigms of development. The social Investment programmes embarked upon by the Buhari administration also helped to increase the sense of anomie in the country.
More than N50 billion was lavished on the N-Power programme with no visible progress of lifting the recipients out of poverty. The National Home Grown School Feeding Programme was turned into a chimney of corruption, no thanks to the Humanitarian and Poverty Alleviation Ministry. The conditional cash transfer programme only succeeded in enriching the operators of the programme and the corrupt network in Aso-Rock. The disbursement of Tradermoni, farmermoni and marketmoni was hijacked by the bureaucratic mafia to the detriment of the target beneficiaries.
With the failure of the Social Investment Programmes, it is saddening that the Tinubu administration has not scrapped the Social Investment that had served as a conduct-pipe to drain the coffers. Tinubu is not Herkle. He took office to face daunting economic challenges.
In 2023, the poverty rate was 46%, which implies that the statistics of the poor population has exceeded 133 million Nigerians. Unemployment has surpassed the 41% threshold declared at the close of 2023. In September 2023, inflation was 26.72% but since October, 2023, inflation has jumped to 31.56% – the highest in Nigeria’s 63 years of independence. Infant mortality rate still stands at 54.740 deaths per 1000 live birth. Life expectancy in Nigeria as at the end of 2023 stood at 55.7 years.This has not improved since then.
The 2024 Appropriation Bill is another talking point. Nigeria’s national budget of N28.77trillion is largely based on the sales of crude oil. Funding the budget will led to more borrowings Nigeria is already caught in a labyrinth of debt crisis and only the collective wisdom of professionals and technocrats will save Nigeria from total collapse.
Most economists are acutely in doubt if the Tinubu administration can conjure the wisdom to turn the economy around. Already, Tinubu has failed in his promise of reducing the cost of governance. Nigeria’s Federal Cabinet of 48 Ministers has cancelled out earlier promise of cutting the cost of governance.With the removal of subsidy on petroleum products, the means of transporting goods and services has quadruped. Job creation has not happened and nothing has been done in this direction.
The trillions of naira generated from the excesses of crude oil sales have not been ploughed back to the economy. The issue of minimum wage has not been addressed. The economic hardship has increased the incidence of suicide and depression.Tinubu must save Nigerian youths from the pervasive morass of despair and absolute poverty.
The expectation of the youths is for Tinubu to attract Foreign Direct Investment and rejuvenant the moribund corporations to create job opportunities. Creating a conducive atmosphere for investment is key, but this cannot happen until there is stable power supply, security of lives and property, and the provision of other essential infrastructure. Apart from the ideas flowing from regular cabinet, President Tinubu should put in place a vibrant Economic Team, to drive the process of accelerated growth.
A critical segment of the population is losing their patience. President Tinubu promised to embark on pro-poor economic policies that will lift Nigerians out of Poverty. The political establishment should realize that only technocrats and innovators can push the frontiers of the economy.
With the prepotence of bad statistics in the economy of the country, the time for this administration to alleviate the plight of the down trodden hoi polloi. For now, Tinubunomics is a short hand for roasting people alive under excruciating pains. We are indeed beginning from the ludicrous to the absurd. Tinubu should not be a lackey of Eurocentric economic. Orthodoxy, which has facilitated the economic enslavement of African nations. Tinubu should walk the talk.
*Idumange, a media guru that works for the gubernatorial candidate of the APC in Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva, is the Director-General of the Human & Environmental Rights Dynamic Development Advocacy Initiative.