May 24, 2024

One year under Tinubu…by Adekunle Adekoya

One year under Tinubu…by Adekunle Adekoya

TIME flies. Does time really fly? Whichever, next Wednesday will mark the first anniversary of the Tinubu presidency. May 29, 2023, was a day many Nigerians will not forget in a hurry. It was on that day that flimsy fabrics holding economic strands together was brutally rent asunder by a proclamation that we are all now familiar with: removal of subsidy on petrol. Up till the moment Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was reading his inaugural address to the nation, petrol sold for N187 per litre.

Before he finished reading the address, many petrol marketers shut their stations, and queues began growing at filling stations. By the following day, May 30, reality dawned on Nigerians as they awoke to the reality of higher prices of petrol. The increase was threefold; a litre of petrol was selling for N568, and that was the cheapest, available only at NNPC Retail stations. Other marketers, major or minor sold for prices anywhere between N700 and N650 in the Lagos and Abuja areas.

Immediately, prices of goods and services reacted with an upward flight. Transport fares rose, rent shot up, food became unaffordable, while it became a sin to fall sick as drugs and medicaments became unaffordable. But after one year, you all know all of these, as you and I have gone through it and are thanking God that we are still here, alive and kicking.

A few things bother me. They gnaw at my mind the way a stubborn rodent keeps chipping away at the cupboards in your kitchen. One, President Tinubu and his party, APC, campaigned with a slogan of Renewed Hope. The slogan hit home, given the dismal and abysmal performance of Muhammadu Buhari, Tinubu’s predecessor, the man whose presidential ambition was actualised hugely with Tinubu’s political legerdemain. Nigerians invested a lot in the promises of the Renewed Hope Agenda, but 12 months after, most can now see that their investment has gone down the drain, save for those direct beneficiaries who have been rewarded with appointments into “juicy” positions. Given the suffering in the land now, can President Tinubu himself reiterate that he has renewed hope for Nigerians?

In fact, on Tuesday, former National Vice Chairman, North-West, of  the APC, Salihu Lukman, slammed his party for dashing the hopes of Nigerians in the last nine years. 

Lukman in a statement issued in Abuja said the worst part of the situation was that “we have elected governments, virtually at all levels performing worse than military rulers.” He said 25 years after the advent of democracy in 1999, the condition of Nigerians was unarguably worse, while unemployment and poverty indices had increased.

His words: “Poor management of national resources has continued so much so that crisis of insecurity and threat to human lives is the new normal.

These are fundamental questions which we must interrogate to be able to come to terms with our Nigerian reality and perhaps develop creative initiatives on how to exercise the freedoms that come with democracy, based on which the opportunities it presents can be ‘positively grabbed in order to achieve the desired effect of resolving our national challenges.

“First, while interrogating this issue, I want to affirm my membership of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and recognize that the last nine years disappointingly dashed the expectations of Nigerians.

“I make this admission as someone who is committed to progressive politics, based on the conviction that the first thing that qualifies anyone to be a progressive is the capacity to recognize challenges based on correct assessment of realities. ‘’Correct assessment of reality is about honest criticisms and taking responsibility. It is not about rationalizing choices or denial of challenges and realities.” 

Lukman said it all.

The other thing that continues to bother me was how Tinubu, in all honesty, and as a caring person, could remove petrol subsidy the way he did it, despite the fact that he knew very well what the effects would be. I recall the mass protests ignited by his “progressives army” when former president, Dr. Good luck Jonathan, wanted to remove subsidy on petrol.

In a statement he personally signed, titled: ‘Removal of oil subsidy – President Jonathan breaks social contract with the people’, President Tinubu canvassed phased removal of subsidy, and if it must be removed, how to use the funds liberated from subsidy. His words: “If we are to use the funds for other programmes, these programmes shall be placed on parallel track with the subsidy. As more of these programmes are ready to go on line, then the subsidy can be lifted in phases”. He continued: “In this way, the public is assured government will not lower its total expenditure on their behalf, thus maintaining the spirit central to the social contract.” 

On May 29, 2023, President Tinubu ate all of his words of January 2012. Worse, Nigerians cannot see anything from the funds freed from subsidy spending, except increased allocations to the three tiers of government, which vanish almost as soon as their accounts are credited. Not exactly the way to renew hope, is it? TGIF.