Politics

May 26, 2024

Tinubu: One year after and the wrong signal, by Akin Osuntokun

Tinubu

Akin Osuntokun

Chief Akin Osuntokun was Director-General of the Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Council during the 2023 presidential election. In this interview, Osuntokun speaks on the first anniversary of the Tinubu presidency and how it has performed below expectations.

President Tinubu has spent one year in office, what does the one year mean to you?

Before the one-year in office, there has been constant appraisal of the Bola Tinubu presidency. In essence, there is nothing that can be said now in terms of the assessment of the government that has not been said before. People are saying that he met a very bad situation, that is the legacy he inherited from the Buhari government and it was bound to affect the Tinubu presidency.

The way Buhari conducted his presidency showed that it would affect whoever was going to succeed him. It was during his (Buhari) time that people said Nigeria had never been so divided and he overtly allowed the Fulani insurrection in Nigeria. So, I am not excusing Tinubu from what Nigeria has turned out to be today. I am sure you must have seen a video in circulation where Tinubu said his government would address the power situation in Nigeria.

Well, it’s over a year now and I don’t think the power situation is any better. So anybody who seeking political office should know what he is getting into. Talking to specifics, I have not seen any competence and capability of the Tinubu government in solving the problems of Nigeria.

There are two areas of significant crisis that he (Tinubu) has tried to break even with the Buhari presidency and they are petrol subsidy and the economy. As of today, it has been confirmed that the government is still subsidising petrol and that it probably pays more than what was paid before.

Like I said, you don’t run a country in a wheel and like I keep saying, his inaugural speech statement that “subsidy is gone” created a problem for Nigeria and it loomed large.

Again, one of the things he did to date that I still cannot understand is the reappointment of the Managing Director of the NNPC who is at the centre of the fuel subsidy issues. What message are you communicating to the public? Does that also mean there is a cover-up? He is distancing himself from the Buhari legacy.

But if Tinubu wanted to make a difference and respond positively to the crisis he inherited, then the reappointment of the NNPC GMD makes a mockery of that. The same applies to the currency situation. President Olusegun Obasanjo said something at a time that if the IMF and the World Bank are asking you to deregulate and do other things, don’t say no them but do what they are asking you to do. Nigeria is suffering from a systemic crisis and you have to think of a comprehensive approach to the problems and not isolate what to solve.

Economy

The economy of Nigeria will not go anywhere and it has become a systemic crisis. The old structure of the economy is the problem and the response to that kind of problem has to be holistic. I don’t know to what extent you can really go into the management and politics of Nigeria’s economy today without restructuring. Unfortunately, not many people are comfortable with restructuring but Nigeria needs a short therapy. But on the whole, I will say the President has performed below expectations.

Would you say his ministers are the problem because that is the suggestion in some quarters?

From what I have said, there is little anybody can say about Nigeria’s culture. The policies that have been announced have nothing to do with the capacity or incapacity of his team. So these are his choices and we are living with the consequences. I don’t believe in apportioning blame to members of his team.

You made mention of the mess the President inherited but his supporters claim that the magnitude of the mess is not the kind that leads to a quick turnaround. Do you agree?

This is what I have been saying that it is easy to destroy but very difficult to build. Solving a problem also relates to the signal you are sending.

When you are faced with that kind of situation, you live by example; if you are asking Nigerians to tighten their belts to the extent that they are choking themselves, then you should live by example. But they are sending the wrong signal that rather than mobilize people, you are demobilizing them.

People will be willing to queue behind your policies if they see you adjust to what you are asking them to do.