THE CHALLENGES AND PENDING KEY DECISIONS TINUBU WILL TACKLE IN HIS PRESIDENCY
Fuel Subsidy Removal
In Nigeria’s closely fought presidential election, Bola Tinubu, who belongs to the same political party as the former President Muhammadu Buhari, emerged as the winner on March 1st. Despite facing stiff competition from two other candidates, Tinubu secured 37% of the votes, which proved to be sufficient to clinch the presidency.
As Tinubu leads Africa’s largest economy, several critical issues need immediate attention, with the fuel subsidy removal already in place.
Due to the energy crisis, the president’s top priority would be to address the contentious issue of fuel subsidy, which is often described as the elephant in the room. The Federal Government’s expenditure of N2.91 trillion ($7 billion) on fuel subsidy between January and September 2022 had caused dissatisfaction, and the president-elect had promised to eliminate the subsidy during his campaign.
The fuel subsidy has been a contentious issue in Nigeria for years, with many arguing that it drains the country’s resources and benefits only a few elites. In 2020, the government attempted to remove the subsidy, leading to widespread protests, and the decision was eventually reversed. However, with the nation in the throes of a severe economic crisis.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL) has confirmed an upward review of pump price of petrol.
Garba Deen Muhammad, Chief Corporate Communications Officer, NNPC Ltd, confirmed this in a statement on Wednesday the 31st of may 2023 saying “NNPC Limited wishes to inform our esteemed customers that we have adjusted our pump prices of PMS across our retail outlets, in line with current market realities. As we strive to provide you with the quality service for which we are known, it is pertinent to note that prices will continue to fluctuate to reflect market dynamics. We assure you that NNPC Limited is committed to ensuring a ceaseless supply of products. The company sincerely regrets any inconvenience this development may have caused. We greatly appreciate your continued patronage, support, and understanding during this time of change and growth.”
One major consequence is that the removal of the fuel subsidy could significantly impact the Nigerian economy. On the one hand, it could free up resources that could be utilized to fund important infrastructure projects and social programs. But, on the other hand, it has cause fuel prices to rise, causing a ripple effect on the cost of goods and services across the country. The price of fuel now ranges between 500 and 1000 naira. This could cause inflation and further erode living standards for many Nigerians.
Furthermore, Tinubu will need to address the country’s security challenges, increase economic growth, and combat corruption. These multifaceted issues require courageous leadership and a willingness to make difficult decisions.
Also, the President will have the additional responsibility of addressing the persistent and worsening insecurity issues in Nigeria and bringing the country together as a peaceful nation. As outlined in his manifesto, he has promised to prioritize security and take various steps, including forming an anti-terrorism battalion, to combat insecurity.
Before he was sworn in as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, these are some of the factors that have caused an increase in Insecurity over the years:
• The Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast.
• The Fulani herdsmen crisis in the central and southern parts of the country.
• The Niger Delta Avengers’ insurgency in the oil-producing Niger Delta region.
• The rise of armed banditry in the northwest.
Some trends the people of Nigeria would expect the President to tackle are:
• In 2022, there were over 40,000 violent incidents in Nigeria, up from over 30,000 in 2021.
• The most common types of violence in Nigeria are kidnapping, armed robbery, and communal violence.
• The Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast is still the deadliest conflict in Nigeria, with over 40,000 people killed since 2009.
• The Fulani herdsmen crisis in the central and southern parts of the country has displaced over 400,000 people since 2015. (it has been an upward trend)
• The Niger Delta Avengers’ insurgency in the oil-producing Niger Delta region has caused billions of dollars in damage to the Nigerian economy.
• IPOB clashes in the South East.
• The rise of armed banditry in the northwest has led to a wave of kidnappings and killings.
• There has also been a wave of robbery and kidnapping in other regions of the country.
Another task, more like a moral burden, will be Tinubu’s obligation to fulfill his commitment to providing Nigerians with an uninterrupted power supply. He has pledged to take swift and decisive measures to address the current issues in power generation plants, gas procurement, pricing, transmission, and distribution, and focus his efforts on achieving progress in the area of electricity.
On corruption, despite the uncertainty surrounding the origin of his riches, Tinubu has pledged to combat the rampant corruption plaguing the country, which seems to be a significant challenge.
In contrast to previous presidents, he has committed to prioritizing preventive measures in the fight against corruption, despite Nigeria’s current ranking of 154th out of 180 countries evaluated in the 2022 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) by Transparency International with a score of 28.
There are several factors that contribute to corruption in Nigeria. These include:
- A weak legal system that is unable to effectively prosecute corrupt officials.
- A culture of impunity, where corrupt officials are not held accountable for their actions.
- A lack of transparency and accountability in government.
- A high level of poverty, which can make people more susceptible to bribery.
“Part of our strategy would be to put a system for effective wealth redistribution in place that will greatly reduce the temptation to commit corruption. It is a consensus among our citizens that the socio-economic challenges we are faced with as a country are deeply rooted in the menace of corruption.” Tinubu said.
On education, in addition to guaranteeing that strikes at any level of education will no longer occur, he also pledged to assess the curriculum at all levels “to align with emerging global best practices and current socio-economic conditions.”
Furthermore, he acknowledged that the education sector in the country is underfunded and committed to providing the necessary leadership and mobilizing investment to improve the sector’s development.
The administration’s success may be measured by its ability to fulfill other pledges, such as safeguarding Igbo businesses, establishing the South-East geopolitical zone as the “Taiwan of Africa,” and, most importantly, improving development in the Niger Delta region.
As Tinubu continues in office, he must be mindful of the challenges ahead and build a strong team that can assist him in navigating Nigeria’s complex political and economic landscape.
Asiwaju’s most significant challenge would be to avoid the common behaviour of Nigerian politicians who often fail to fulfill their campaign promises after gaining power. Despite having made promises during his campaign, Tinubu must not follow in the footsteps of his party, the APC, which failed to deliver on most of its promises to Nigerians after assuming power eight years ago. It is crucial that he keeps his manifesto and campaign pledges in mind and works towards fulfilling them.
Here are some more statistics on education trends in Nigeria that Tinubu will need to deal with:
- The number of out-of-school children in Nigeria is estimated to be 18.5 million.
- The gender gap in education in Nigeria is significant, with girls being more likely to be out of school than boys.
- The quality of education in Nigeria is often poor, with many schools lacking basic resources such as textbooks and teachers.
- Persistent strikes by Federal institutions (ASUU).
The President would also have to face the challenge of generating revenue to tackle the country’s debt stock which has risen to over 41.69bn in the eight years of the Buhari Administration. And for Nigeria to tackle its debt and revenue challenges, there will be a need to operate an efficient tax system, create room for transparency and efficiently curb leakages to ensure resources are going into the allocated establishments.
To demonstrate his leadership abilities in a somewhat divided nation and address the controversies surrounding the elections and his inauguration, another approach would be for the President to consider Nigeria as a unified entity. This entails examining the frameworks that have been established over time to maintain the country’s unity.
Various individuals, including opinion leaders, party leaders, and other stakeholders, believe that the divisions in voting patterns and election results of the 2023 polls can be rectified if the president-elect adopts a holistic perspective of the nation.
The focus should be on managing Nigeria’s diversity and serving the people by delivering the benefits of democracy and helping them understand why it is essential to remain united. It is crucial not to engage in actions that violate the principle of togetherness.
Professor Pate, the Vice Principal of Federal University of Kashere in Gombe state, advised that alongside addressing security challenges, infrastructure development, and distrust among Nigerians, the new administration must tackle corruption, which he identified as a significant factor undermining national unity.
He emphasized that once every individual feels a sense of responsibility and belonging, Nigerians will extend maximum support to the government.
In addition, it will be of utmost importance for him to exercise caution in the selection of experienced individuals for his cabinet.
The era of engaging in political games is a thing of the past. Instead, he should gather capable individuals, including men, women, and young people from all parts of Nigeria, in order to construct a Nigeria that is safer, more prosperous, and fairer.
The inclusion of young people should be prioritized, and women should be given prominent roles. One’s place in government should not be determined by whether they pray in a church or mosque; rather, it should be based on their character and competence.