ICYMI

May 25, 2024

Nigerians slam minister over comments on Tinubu’s reforms, say govt economic policies created more hunger

Stable power

By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South; Dayo Johnson, Regional Editor, South-West; Sam Oyadongha; Egufe Yafugborhi; Chioma Onuegbu; Ochuko Akuopha; James Ogunnaike; Ozioruva Aliu & Dan Abia

As President Ahmed Bola Tinubu is set to mark one year in office, the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Senator Abubakar Bagudu, few days ago, in an interview on the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, declared that the President’s economic reforms have started bearing fruits, asserting that the measures have restored faith in the country’s economy.

According to him, “the reforms have restored confidence in the economy and the foreign investors have renewed interest in Nigeria”.

He said though the removal of the petrol subsidy had caused some pain, the policy had increased the quantum of funds available to the three tiers of government to invest in critical infrastructure that will regenerate the economy.
Nigerians have however taken the minister to task, asking him to disclose where those fruits of the economic reforms are located.

They knocked President Bola Tinubu’s administration, saying its economic policies have produced more hungry Nigerians instead of alleviating their sufferings. The populace also demanded an apology from the minister for his presentation to Nigerians that the economic policies were yielding fruits.

Nigerians starve more now than previously — Fyneface

A human rights activist and Executive Director of Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC-Nigeria), Rivers State, Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface, said, “Mr. President and his team, especially the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, would agree with Nigerians that the current situation is worse than what President Tinubu inherited. It is still far from what Nigerians, who are now hungrier, expected from this administration.

What are the economic reforms that the Minister is talking about? The reforms are yet to manifest on the tables of Nigerians battling with hardship, shortages of energy, lower electricity supply with higher costs, an all-time crash of the Naira against the dollar, and its resultant effect on the prices of goods and services with hyperinflation and associated job losses in the private sector unable to continue in business because of the higher cost of operations.”

The activist maintained that the minister’s claims were not in line with the realities on the ground in the country as investors were leaving in droves, and shedding jobs while an average Nigerian is not happy with the present administration of President Tinubu because of prevailing economic challenges crippling the economy and multiplying hunger and hardship.

No renewed hope but absolute hopelessness — Hon Ayo Fadaka, Public analyst

A Public analyst, Hon Ayo Fadaka, said that “since May 29th 2023, Nigeria has transformed to a nation of intense hardship for its nationals. Quality of life has dropped to almost zero, inflation keeps rising and has disposed the people of whatever savings they hitherto had.

Food prizes have astronomically attained unimaginable heights, yet people must find a way to feed, therefore the disadvantaged class devises any strategy to put body and soul together. Nigerians are resigned and await anything, there is no renewed hope but absolute hopelessness, yet the Tinubu administration remains insensitive as it continues to tighten the noose around our necks with a determined desire to completely asphyxiate us, we wait helplessly, may God have mercy on us.

Let Bagudu see the “fruits” and also harvest them, that is his business, but I know the people will always remain the indices of thriving economic policies. I just hope that Tinubu will prove his mettle soon, as posterity waits earnestly to record his deeds and misdeeds.

Bagudu should resign for his remarks – Akpan, activist

A civil society activist from Akwa Ibom State and Executive Director of COMPPART Foundation for Justice and Peace-building, Mr. Saviour Akpan called on the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning to resign his appointment for not telling the truth about the economy of the country.

According to him, “The minister, to be very candid, is speaking from the standpoint of where he finds himself. He needs to explain further to us what he meant by the reforms have restored confidence in the economy. Does he even know what he is talking about? How many villagers can afford four cups of garri for N1,000, and how many Nigerians can pay their children’s school fees today? We buy petrol at N900 or N1000 per liter at the filling station.

When we talk about the economy, are we talking about a consumer or producer economy? When Tinubu came into office the flight ticket was N70,000; today, a one-way flight ticket is N155,000.

The minister is lucky because Nigerians are used to the situations and people think all is well; all is not well in this country. I am calling on that Minister to resign immediately for his comments.

No reforms carried out —Iniruo Wills, ex-Bayelsa commissioner

A legal practitioner and President of the Ijaw Professionals Association (Homeland chapter, comprising Bayelsa Rivers and Delta), Iniruo Wills, said, “There have been no reforms. Reforms are products of earnest assessments, wide, credible consultations and well-thought-through responses to existing challenges. A handful of supposed experts huddling together, divining up data, and belching out their caprices cannot translate to reforms. The headline official changes on fuel economics, foreign exchange rates, and electricity tariffs have been mostly impulsive.

Comment is misleading innocent people – Clarkson, ex-MOSIEND spokesperson

A lawyer and former Spokesman of Movement for the Survival of Ijaw Ethnic Nationality in the Niger Delta, MOSIEND, Amaebi Clarkson, asserted that, “This APC government came into power through propaganda, so it is not surprising that they are still festering in propaganda to deceive gullible Nigerians. Foreign investors have left in droves. One needs to visit the hitherto industrial hubs to appreciate the impact of how depressed our economy is. The Trans-Amadi Industrial layout is a clear reality of the economic follies of this government.

The so-called economic reforms of this government are anchored on ridiculous taxes, emasculating the masses. The minister may not understand the economic policies of this government because he does not go to the market to see the havoc of his policies on food prices.

How did Bagudu come to such an assumption? — Morrison, environmentalist

An environmentalist, Alagoa Morris said, “Sincerely speaking, politicians are always politicians and will not accept the real situation, as they consider doing so is an acceptance of defeat or non-performance. Otherwise, how can the minister make such statements when hunger in the land has become the most threatening after the unacceptable security situation? The cost of living is at an all-time high, whether you view prices of food items, transportation, housing, education, health, etc.

What indices made the minister run to that conclusion? If not for assistance from extended family members, colleagues, fellow community folks, former schoolmates, etc, the rate of suicide would have been too high. The governments at all levels should work harder to ensure life becomes much easier for the masses”.

Apologize –Adima, activist

A political activist in Delta State, Mr. Blessing Adima described the minister’s assertion as wrong, wicked, and dubious. According to him, “The Tinubu administration says things contrary to what is evident on the ground. What policy is Tinubu running that is yielding fruit? Today, inflation rate is 34 percent, and the cost of commodities in the market is still very high. Many companies are folding up, even in the oil sector, they are winding down and leaving Nigeria in droves, and somebody is saying Tinubu’s economic reforms are yielding fruits.

Is it sour fruits or what? If the government has concern for the people, the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning cannot come out and make that kind of assertion. They should apologize to Nigerians and beg for time for Nigerians to endure with them until their policies begin to yield fruits.

Govt painting a picture different from reality – Rev Ugolor, ANEEJ

The Executive Director, African Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), Rev David Ugolor said “It is easy to make such propositions but the reality is that we do not see the possibility of that happening with the huge external debt that this government is faced with. The reality is that if you look at the governance outlook, there is no real indication to show that the government is serious about this.

The IMF has just released its Article 4 Consultative Report and you can see that the economy is not healthy. The outlook is not encouraging. What is on ground is different from what the government is saying.”

Hoping against hope — Dr Ekhareafo, varsity don

The Head of Department of Mass Communication, University of Benin, Dr Dan Ekhareafo,on his part said, “The position of the minister was bogus in a way because he was not specific in terms of areas of the economy that Nigerians will begin to feel the impact of Tinubu’s administration. As Nigerians, we are asking for security, we are asking for cheaper foodstuffs and our buying power should be good enough. So if the minister says things will soon get better, we will wait to see the manifestation of the reforms. But as it is now, it is a case of Nigerians hoping against hope.”

Govt officials spreading misleading economic statistics — Stephen Adewale

Former Ondo State chairman of the Social Democratic Party, Stephen Adewale, said, “Even though the administration keeps touting a strong economic outlook, we haven’t noticed the said improvement in the economy in our daily lives. The price of petrol is rising daily even with the purported recovery in the economy.

The value of the Naira is constantly depreciating on the global market, and the price of food and other necessities is rising every day. The government claims to be spending an alarming N1.8 trillion naira a year on power sector subsidies, but the power is more unstable than ever. Millions of citizens lack access to prepaid metres, and receive outrageous monthly bills from PHCN for electricity that is not supplied to them.

Businesses are closing down on a daily basis due to lack of electricity, the high cost of transportation, and other basic utilities. It’s unfortunate that government officials can be so callous that they keep making matters worse for people by ignoring their suffering and acting as though everything is okay in the nation by spreading misleading economic statistics.

Bagudu’s assessment unfounded, inaccurate —Moruff Balogun, Vice Chairman, NBA, Ijebu-Ode branch

Moruff Balogun, Vice Chairman, Nigeria Bar Association, Ijebu-Ode branch, said the assessment of the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Senator Abubakar Bagudu, that President Tinubu’s economic reforms have started bearing fruits is unfounded and inaccurate. He said, “Any economic policy that does not positively affect the lives of the people and improve their standard of living is nothing but a mere lip service. When President Tinubu took over the government, he openly announced the removal of fuel subsidy, and promised that the money recovered from it would be properly used to improve the welfare of the people of Nigeria. I doubt if the President and his cabinet are still being mindful of the said promise, because it clearly appears that the sufferings of Nigerians are being multiplied geometrically. One would expect stable electricity, affordable goods, including controlled commodities as stated under the Provisions of Price Control Act, maximum security, among others. I urge the President to engage sincere Nigerians who will tell him the whole truth of the state of the economy.

Mixed bag – Ambakederimo, S-South leader

Convener of the South-South Reawakening Group, Elder Joseph Ambakederimo stated that, “It is a mixed bag in terms of governance and policies of the government. In assessing any government, we must accept that government and governance are a work in progress; governance is never a hundred-meter dash; therefore, what has happened in the last year is what I have described as a mixed bag. We have lost some and we have made gains on some fronts.

The most important thing to look out for is that the president is focused and not distracted by unnecessary mundane things. He should continue to fine-tune his economic policies to enhance the living standards of the people.

There are gains made in the area of foreign investors’ renewed appetite in investing in Nigeria. However, there is much the government can do in terms of opening up critical sectors of the economy such as the oil, technological and power sectors. These are the areas that will spur economic growth.”

Tinubu is positioning our economy to be competitive globally — Olugbenga Oke- Samuel, University don

Olugbenga Oke- Samuel, Dean Faculty of Law, Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba Akoko, Ondo state, said, “I think Tinubu’s government should be commended for the courage to frontally take up the challenge of refocusing the economy of the nation. It’s indeed a bitter pill.

“Previous leaders for fear of becoming unpopular avoided some of these challenges. Tinubu for me is deploying the right tools towards positioning our economy to be competitive globally.”