May 26, 2024

Tinubu has been honest, sincere with Nigerians —Duru, APC Deputy National Organizing Secretary

Tinubu lauds Obazee, Special Investigator on conclusion of assignment at CBN

By Omeiza Ajayi, Abuja

Nze Chidi Duru, a former member of the House of Representatives, is a member of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.

In this interview, Duru, who is the Deputy National Organizing Secretary of the party, speaks on the first anniversary of President Bola Tinubu’s administration and says the government has been honest with Nigerians. He says though things might be difficult in the interim, the fruits of the unavoidable tough decisions taken by Tinubu in the last one year will soon manifest.

What’s your honest assessment of President Bola Tinubu’s one year in office?

My assessment I believe is that Mr President has been very upfront and sincere with the people of Nigeria and he has always informed Nigeria about each step he is taking. More importantly, he has always been honest about what Nigerians should expect of him to the extent that he also made the point that it is an office that he wanted, and contested for and that he would do his honest best for the people of this country and that people should not pity him, that he knows what to do. So, on that front, he has shown resolve and determination to be the President of Nigeria and do the best for the people.
The notion out there is that the last one year has been the most difficult for Nigerians in recent history…

Nothing good comes easy. I mean, it is appreciated, it is understood. We are not ostriches. We do not live in a different community from the rest of Nigerians. These are tough times and we have to acknowledge that and we also believe that, after tough times, the silver lining will now be found and it is with that hope that we believe that it will signpost an improvement of the country in the manner that Nigerians will be happy with.

We do not – and we have communicated that sufficiently – that, unlike others, we are not denying that things are tough but we are working very seriously.

Government has said that it is working very hard to address the issues on a timely basis and Nigerians should give them a bit more time to see the harvesting of all the policies that are being put in place for the benefit of Nigerians.

Your party has been accused of inflicting misery on Nigerians since it came to power on May 29, 2023. The “subsidy is gone” remark of the President is believed to be responsible for the current hardship in the land. How do you react to that?

I think the removal of the subsidy, and not just the subsidy, but harmonizing the parallel and official market was the major policy thrust of the administration when it came in on May 29 last year. It was well intended and meant to address some of the economic challenges that Nigeria is faced with. For the government to have the boldness and the heart to make that go away in itself was commendable. It could also have been seen that these major policies, heartwarming as they are, and in textbooks, meeting some economic theories that are not handled with hard gloves could represent a possible abuse and will aggravate the economic challenge that was already in the land. But having recognized that, you can see that efforts are now being made to address the fallouts of these two major policies. And I am hopeful that the tools and measures being put in place by the reactive MDAs will enable Nigerians to see the benefits and also appreciate why we have to have a free market with free entry and free exit and managed in a convenient manner that we don’t close down businesses in Nigeria.
The economy is one sector the administration is believed to have handled wrongly, leading to 33 percent inflation rate. Would you say that a government that inherited 22 per cent inflation and saw it skyrocket to 33 per cent in one year has done well?

We will continue to make the point and appeal to our people to exercise a bit of restraint and hope that, very soon, the economic policies of government will begin to mature and will, in a holistic manner, address some of the issues that happened as a result of the decisions that have been taken.

Yes, we recognize the fact that inflation is at the rate it is currently and, of course, the interest rate at the height it is makes it very difficult for businessmen to do their business. It makes it very difficult for manufacturers to go about their businesses without thinking of whether they will be open to open their shops the next day.

We hope, as we have been told by managers of the economy, that sooner than later, we will begin to see a turnaround of the economy, and we will begin to see declining inflation and the easing of the high-interest rate that was recently increased by the CBN.

Security is still a challenge across the country. Has Tinubu succeeded in curbing that in the last one year?

Security poses a potential challenge but the challenge has been with us and I believe that with the efforts that the government is now putting in place one has to commend the municipal actors across the board. The fact that the Council of Speakers of State Assemblies has aligned with the clamour for state police in Nigeria, I hope that this will come to reality.

I am confident that if that happens, local intelligence, local enforcement of law and order will help to accelerate security around the nooks and crannies of Nigeria. It will improve security and ensure that one of the cardinal principles of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which is the security of lives and property will be achieved.

Human rights is emerging as an issue of grave concern, with security agencies abducting people, especially journalists for doing their job. What does that make of the President’s pledge to safeguard the rights of citizens?

I do not think that this is a reflection of the quality of the standard of the government of His Excellency, President Bola Tinubu. I believe that if there is any arm or agency of government that is seen to act outside the remit and confines of the law, it is important that the press which you represent, and the Nigerian people call out that agency for what it is what and not attribute the action or inaction of that agency to the executive arm of government under the leadership of President Tinubu.

I think that this is how it should be and I believe that appropriate measures should be put in place to ensure that those who go against the law are brought to justice and made to face the full wrath of the law. We live in a democracy, we live within the confines of the law and no one or institution can be seen to be against the law, and if there are reasons to enforce the law, it is important that those agencies also act within the confines of the law and not go beyond the law to enforce it.

Your party has been accused of leading without empathy, especially as it relates to the economic policies of government. How do you explain that?

I will say straight away that if it was the case, the party and government will not continue to address Nigerians and continue to plead for understanding and assurances that very soon, the economic policies of government will begin to reflect in a way that Nigerians will see some benefits in such policies.

There is always an active engagement between the party and the government in power which incidentally is an APC government. So, it addresses several issues that have arisen as a result of some of the policies that are currently in place, one of which you mentioned which is the removal of fuel subsidy – beautiful idea, good concept but, again, we can see the impact and the harmonization of foreign exchange rates, the increase in electricity tariff (which on a personal level I have written against and I will continue to champion that this should not be the case); and. of course, other engagements that are not even in the public domain.

The party is very much aware that unless and until we address in a conclusive manner, in a way that Nigerians are happy with what we are doing as a party and as a government, there is a risk of losing the support of Nigerians at the elections.

So, all hands are on deck to address a number of these issues. Taxation is a critical ingredient of how to raise funding for the government.

It must, therefore, be done in such a way that when taxes are raised, people can see that the taxes are used for their benefit. Once people can see the benefits, it becomes easy for them to give their support and trust to the government.

At the time Tinubu came into office in 2023, Nigeria was rated as the poverty capital of the world. Would you say he has been able to change the situation for the better in one year?

The jury is out there and we recognize what is currently going on in the country. We do not know if there has been a current rating to determine whether we remain the poverty capital of Nigeria or otherwise. But what we can tell you is that the government is doing its utmost and committed to addressing most of the issues facing the country to attenuate the concerns of Nigerians.

It was expected that the Tinubu administration would reduce the cost of governance. Sadly, the cost of governance remains high. This administration has more ministers than the Jonathan and Yar ‘Adua governments.

I believe we need to give them an opportunity and, as you can see, the ministers are currently addressing Nigerians in their scorecards and there are strong expectations that as the President did confirm, in every interval, efforts will be made to assess the performances of the persons who are occupying the government.

That being said, there may be a review and that review again as I said, will be a recognition of the fact that our government will be a government of the people by the people and for the people, working for the people to ensure that they deliver dividends of democracy to Nigerians – put food on the table, guarantee security and roof on their heads. It could also help us to address the issues around the cost of governance.

One thing you must give this government credit for is that it is a listening government. If there are outcries about policies out there in the public space, immediately the government responds to them in a holistic manner that assures Nigerians that we listen, feel your pulse and want to know how you are doing and find out how they can be addressed.