Politics

Policies That Defined Tinubu’s One Year In Office

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President Bola Tinubu has introduced some policies in the past 12 months of his administration, which have either impacted positively or negatively on the lives of Nigerians. ONYEKACHI EZE chronicles some of them

The last one year of Bola Tinubu's administration as president of Nigeria has been dogged by controversies, unpopular decisions and inconsistent policies that have inflicted pains on Nigerians, pauperised them and left them hopeless and helpless. Below are some of the unpopular policies.

Fuel subsidy removal

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Tinubu started his presidency by removing subsidy on fuel, otherwise known as Premium Motor Spirit (PMS). This he announced on May 29, 2023, the day he was inaugurated as president. Although it was not in his inaugural speech, Tinubu said he was “possessed by courage” when he told Nigerians, “Fuel subsidy is gone.”

The announcement was done without plan to ameliorate the pains it would cause Nigerians or how to cushion the effect it would have on Nigerians. The president only commended the decision of his predecessor “in phasing out the petrol subsidy regime which has increasingly favoured the rich more than the poor,” adding: “Subsidy can no longer justify its ever-increasing costs in the wake of drying resources.” The effect of the removal was instantaneous.

Pump price of fuel rose from N195 to N615 per litre, so also the cost of goods and services. At the moment, a litre of fuel is between N650 and N1,000, while inflation has climbed up to over 30 per cent. When later on July 31, 2023, he addressed Nigerians, the president claimed that his administration has saved over N1 trillion from subsidy removal in two months.

This money was only on paper as Nigerians were yet to feel the impact. As part of measures to cushion the hardship inflicted on Nigerians by the sudden subsidy removal, Tinubu signed an Executive Orders to address unfriendly fiscal policies and multiple taxes that stifle the business environment.

Among these were the creation of “nonpaying jobs by injecting N75 billion into the sub-sector,” which he said would take place between July 2023 and March 2024. This he hoped to achieve by government “funding 75 enterprises which have the potential to kick-start sustainable economic growth, accelerate structural transformation and improve productivity.”

The administration equally promised that each of the 75 manufacturing enterprises would access N1 billion credit at nine per cent per annum with a maximum of 60 months of repayment for long-term loans and 12 months for working capital. It also promised to reinvigorate micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and the informal sector with N125 billion.

Out of the sum, it would spend N50 billion on conditional grants to one million nano businesses between July 2023 and March 2024. “Our target is to give N50,000 each to 1,300 nano business owners in each of the 774 local governments across the country.”

He further promised that his government would fund 100,000 MSMEs and start-ups with N75 billion, with each enterprise promoter getting between N500,000 to N1 million at nine per cent interest per annum and a repayment period of 36 months,” he said.

Ten months after these promises were made, and one year after the removal of fuel subsidy, Nigerians are still waiting for Tinubu to implement any of these policies aimed at cushioning the effect of the removal. So also the 3,000 units of 20-seater CNG-fuelled buses, which Tinubu said would roll out across the states and local government areas between July 2023 and March 2024, for mass transit at a much more affordable rate.

Also one year after fuel subsidy removal, Nigerians still await the government promise to re-channel the funds that he claimed would accrue therefrom, to other socio-economic projects. The president had told Nigerians that the funds would be channeled “into better investment in public infrastructure, education, health care and jobs that will materially improve the lives of millions.”

48 ministers

At a time Nigerians were told to make sacrifice following the removal of fuel subsidy, Tinubu decided to increase cost of governance, by appointing 48 ministers, six more than his predecessors in office.

He also appointed over 20 special advisers, and created new ministries, thus disregarding the Steve Oronsanya committee recommendation, which he later tried to implement haphazardly. Tinubu's ministers is costing the nation a whopping sum of N555.84 billion a year, in salaries and allowances, and N291.84 billion for furniture allowance.

Each minister is expected to collect salary and allowance in the neighborhood of N11.85 million annually plus the furniture allowance of N6.08 million, which is paid once in four years.

This is aside salaries and allowances of aides to be appointed by each of them. Each of the 20 special advisers Tinubu appointed, is expected to be paid a monthly salary of N590,957,81 (N7,091,493.75 annually), based on the recommendation of Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission (RMFAC), aside accommodation and furniture allowances. In other words, the fuel subsidy removal was not meant for the benefit of Nigerians after all but to fund the lifestyle of the president and his appointees.

Concrete road construction

Tinubu's Minister of Works Dave Umahi, shortly after his appointment last year, said his ministry would embark on construction of concrete road projects, which he said, would require the sum of $35 billion (about 217 billion) to kick-start.

The construction, Umahi said, would involve 269 road projects across the country. Concrete construction, the minister explained, is maintenance free, and could last 50 years. He claimed that he did 3,500 kilometres of concrete road in Ebonyi State, when he was governor of the state. Experts however disagreed with him.

Apart from the expensive nature of such project, it is not easy to be maintained, unlike asphalt roads. An engineer Habibu Mudi, was quoted to have said that concrete is not used on a large stretch of highways that are several kilometers long. According to him, compared to bitumen roads that melt and become more infused and strong with other elements used in road construction, concrete roads have rigid pavement.

“Rigid pavement is mostly used at airports and other places because of their nature and for specific purposes. It is also used at places where trailers and other heavy-duty vehicles are concentrated like the ports,” he said, adding that concrete roads are not used on roads running up to like 50 or hundreds of kilometers.

Even the concrete roads Umahi said he constructed in Ebonyi State, Mudi said have started collapsing, because in laying concrete, one need to put expansion joints, just as in bridge construction, adding, “Concrete starts failing from those expansion joints due to pressure or damage. It is very expensive, far more expensive than bitumen.

The thickness of the concrete to be used because of the iron rods, cement and other elements makes it very expensive. Iron rod is also very expensive. You cannot compare it with bitumen.The cost of cement, iron rods and other building materials, have risen even before the statement could dry in Umahi mouth.

Floating of the Naira

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in June 2023, directed naira, the national currency be floated. What this meant was that the exchange rate of naira against dollar and other world currencies would no longer be determined by government. It means that the national currency is strong enough to compete with other international currencies.

Therefore, banks and customers were allowed to trade freely at any rate. Again, the effect of this was instantaneous, as there was free fall of naira. Within a day after the announcement, naira depreciated steadily, exchanging nearly N2,000/dollar, before the same government reversed its decision. Up till then the currency has not recovered from the shock.

The policy not only dollarised the economy, it shot up the inflation rate, particularly food stuff. While inflation rate is over 31 per cent, food inflation is over 40 per cent.

Increase in electricity tariff

Tinubu government in April this year, increased electricity tariff for Band A customers from N66 to N225 kilowatts per hour. This is the category of customers government claimed that enjoy electricity supply for 20 hours a day. Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) Musiliu Oseni, who announced the increase, said customers involved represent 15 per cent of the nation's 12 million electricity users.

The increase tariff was described as untimely, coming at a time when Nigerians are going through excruciating difficulties occasioned by the withdrawal of fuel subsidy and floating of naira. The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), which is still threatening to embark on strike if the increase was not reversed, described it as wicked and unpopular.

The policy which is believed to by World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) induced, is considered to affect business environment, particularly the manufacturing sector. Though other electricity consumers are not directly affected, but the ripple effect is high cost of manufactured goods, which the masses will bear.

Coastal highway

The 700 km Lagos-Calabar highway project contract was initiated in November 2014 by President Goodluck Jonathan's administration at the cost of $11.97 billion. It was awarded to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), and it is to cut across 10 states.

In 2016, former President Muhammadu Buhari said he renegotiated the contract sum downward by $800 million, and would be executed at $11.1 billion with a six-year completion period. Again, it was stalled, even after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had ratified the contract in August 2021. Now Tinubu wants to execute the project. His Minister of Works, Umahi, has contradicted himself several times.

First, Umahi told Nigerians that the project would be executed at zero cost to nation. He later took memo to the Federal Executive Council (FEC), seeking an approval of N1.06 trillion to be paid to Hitech Construction Company Limited, a firm owned by President Tinubu's alleged business partner, Gilbert Chagoury. The amount is only for Lagos section of the road project. T

his project has attracted criticisms of Nigerians, including non-political and socio-cultural organisations. Not only about the cost but its desirability at a time many Nigerian roads are in sorry state of disrepair. In spite of the hues and cries, the Tinubu government is going ahead with it, even when the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) certificate is still being expected.

Already, over $200 million worth of investments and 100,000 jobs are said to have been lost in the ongoing demolition of structures to create right of the way for the ambitious coastal highway. Cybersecurity levy The Cybersecurity Levy which was introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on May 6, imposes a 0.5 per cent tax on every electronic transaction done by individual, government or corporate organisations.

The money is to be remitted to the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA). The levy, the circular stated, is in compliance with 2024 Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc.) Amendment Act. As expected, reactions have trailed the announcement, which many see as double or even multiple taxation.

The House of Representatives however, said it is misinterpretation of the spirit and letters of section 44(2a) of the Cybercrime Act, which specify those who are expected to pay the levy. These are GSM and telecom companies, Internet providers, banks and other financial institutions, insurance companies and Stocks Exchange.

It directed the CBN to withdraw the circular. Nigerians are yet to experience any positive effect of Tinubu's administration in the past one year. The economy is still on doldrum, if not in the worse state, while security situation in the country has not improved. There is also fear that the nation is returning to the dark days of military with the arrest and detention of journalists for many weeks without trial.


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