New Telegraph

First Three Months as Foretaste of the Future?

The emergence of Mr. Bola Tinubu as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on May 29, 2023 came with a heightened expectation by citizens, of a departure from the pains and disappointment- ment felt during the eight inglorious years of former President Muhammadu Buhari; whose rule from 2015-2023 has been classified as one of the most troubled periods in Nigeria’s history since 1999.

Prior to his assumption of office, President Bola Tinubu had promised to reform government and bring the ‘famed’ magic of transformation allegedly witnessed in Lagos during his term from 1999-2007, to bear on governance at the national level. In a campaign promise, he had specifically spoken about his intended plan to bring down the cost of fuel and other energy sources and to bring succor to citizens on the high cost of goods and services.

Unfortunately, the immediate announcement of subsidy removal without clearcut plans on how to provide alternatives to the citizenry, has brought untold hardship and pains and has further worsened the economic woes witnessed during the Buhari era.

The electoral promises, which have however been preceded by some very tough and drastic policies that have seen a devaluation of the Naira, increased cost of energy and food, and an overall increase in the poverty level of citizens, due to the indirect devaluation of the local currency (the Naira), have failed to achieve the expectations of many citizens. His policies have largely been criticised as knee-jerk responses to the issues without a careful understanding of how to go about dealing with those economic challenges.

I, for one, would have expected the President to show good examples at this time, by reducing the number of Ministers appointed and to put specific policies in place for the reform of the public service. By and large, the past three months have largely been in tandem with the policies of the former President and has seen a huge drop in the support base of the President.

It would also be expected that the government will be implementing some stiffer revenue generation policies targeted at expanding the tax net and increasing revenue for taxes and levies locally. This (if done properly), might see more citizens being brought into the tax pool, making more revenue available to the country.

However, it becomes a bit concerning when one considers that within the last eight years, the buying power of the Naira has lost about 450 percent of its strength in this import-dependent environment. Suf- fice it to say, that the Naira has become far weaker than it was prior to 2015 and has largely made it more difficult for citizens to survive and thrive. This has brought inflation levels to over 22 percent and average cost of living at well over 200 percent of the 2015 values.

One therefore wonders the moral basis upon which the FGN would request citizens to pay more taxes and lev- ies going forward. I think that the President might be required to review the timeline on implementation of some policies, to enable citizens to adapt to the imminent further rise in living costs. Some citizens will argue why the new administration has decided to go with an enlarged cabinet while at the same time complaining about the rising cost of governance.

In fact, the unprecedented size of this administration’s cabinet has given validation to the allegations that the President was being less than sincere in his campaign promises to citizens. The questions to ask this current President includes how he intends to handle the issues of corruption when some of the new Ministers have been alleged to have corruption allegations that are yet to be answered.

Also, the large size and the almost default action of using former Governors and close associates of the President as Ministers calls for some concern. Consider- ing also that the dwindling resources of the country has further exacerbated concerns of citizens on the ability of the President to deliver on his campaign promises. It remains to be seen whether this President would truly renew the hope of Nigerians for a better country.

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