PBAT @ ONE: kudos, knocks as President Tinubu clocks 365 days

Today, 29th May 2024, marks exactly one year since Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu took the oath of office as the president of the largest black nation on earth, Nigeria.

Today, 29th May 2024, marks exactly one year since Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu took the oath of office as the president of the largest black nation on earth, Nigeria.

Tinubu was sworn in as the fifth democratically elected president, since the return of democracy in 1999, following his victory in the keenly-contested 2023 presidential election.

Tinubu, 72, who contested on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, emerged victorious against his closest rivals, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and Peter Obi of the Labour Party, LP.

His victory was, however, greeted with mixed reactions, with allegations of electoral malpractice and a heated legal battle that followed.

Despite the controversy, Tinubu’s inauguration on May 29, 2023, marked the beginning of a new chapter in Nigeria’s democratic journey.

The past year has been characterised by significant political dynamics, with Tinubu’s administration navigating a complex landscape of expectations, challenges and diverse opinions on its performance and policies.

The administration’s policies and decisions have triggered a broad spectrum of reactions from different segments of the society, thereby creating a “gbas gbos” across the nation.

Renewed Hope: A journey marred by controversies

Many political observers believe that Tinubu took off on the wrong note with the announcement of the removal of fuel subsidy on the day of his inauguration.

The President himself admitted that the removal of fuel subsidy was not part of his inaugural speech, but he “went out of his way” to announce it in the best interest of Nigerians.

Recall that while Tinubu was yet to finish his inaugural speech, oil marketers quickly adjusted their fuel pump prices to about N500 per litre.

A few weeks later, the fuel pump price was further increased to about N617-N1000 per litre, depending on the area or state.

This singular act, many believe, has inflicted untold hardship on many Nigerians.

The development, according to analysts, contributed to high inflation, with prices of commodities skyrocketing by about 300 per cent.

In less than 12 months, the current government has twice witnessed a total shutdown by the organised labour due to the ongoing suffering in the country resulting from the removal of the fuel subsidy.

Betta Edugate – They never saw this coming

Barely six months into his administration, a major scandal hit the APC-led government.

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu, was at the centre of the storm for alleged corruption.

Edu, 37, who served as the National Women Leader of the ruling APC, came under fire over allegations of financial embezzlement and abuse of power in her ministry.

Edu was accused of transferring N585.189 million meant for vulnerable groups in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ogun and Lagos states into a private account.

This sparked a national outcry and reinforced the notion in some quarters that the APC government would exploit Nigeria for personal gain.

Consequently, President Tinubu suspended Edu and ordered a thorough investigation.

The outcome of the investigation is still being awaited, while Edu remains suspended.

Is subsidy truly gone?

Contrary to the claim that subsidy on fuel has been removed, there are allegations that the federal government is still paying subsidies for the product.

The World Bank and the CEO/Managing Director of Pinnacle Oil and Gas Limited, Mr Robert Dickerman, asserted that the Federal Government continues to subsidise fuel.

Reacting to the debacle, activist and renowned lawyer, Femi Falana, who was vocal against the removal of the subsidy in 2011 under President Goodluck Jonathan, urged the government to review the policy in the public interest.

“Curiously, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited has not deemed it fit to deny the serious allegation that fuel subsidy has been restored.

“Since there is no provision for fuel subsidy in the 2023 and 2024 Appropriation Acts the federal government should, without any further delay, confirm or deny the serious allegation and end the opacity surrounding the importation of fuel from foreign countries,” Falana said.

“If the federal government is spending as much as N1 trillion on fuel subsidy per month, it is high time the policy was reviewed in the interest of the Nigerian people,” he added.

Renewed Hope – The good, the bad and the ugly

The Tinubu/Shettima 2023 campaign mantra was anchored on a policy document titled Renewed Hope.

The policy document has national security, economy, agriculture, power, oil and gas, transportation, education, the digital economy, sport, entertainment and culture, youth empowerment and entrepreneurship, women empowerment, social programs, judicial reforms, federalism and decentralisation of power and foreign policy, among others as thematic areas of priority.

With fuel subsidy gone and prices of things skyrocketing on a daily basis, many Nigerians feel the impact of the Renewed Hope is yet to be felt.

Insecurity – The bloodbaths continue

The administration’s approach to security and governance has also been a major talking point.

Tinubu’s administration prioritised enhancing national security, with increased funding for security agencies and strategic initiatives to combat insurgency and banditry.

Despite these efforts, the persistence of security challenges remains a significant concern for many Nigerians.

In places like Benue and Plateau states, farmers have abandoned their farms due to persistent clashes with herdsmen. Just last week, over 30 people were killed in various villages by suspected herdsmen in Benue alone.

In the northeast, bandits continue to pose a threat, causing citizens sleepless nights.

Although Tinubu inherited this crisis from the previous administration, many believe his approach to addressing this nagging menace is inadequate.

However, the leadership of the renowned pan-African students’ movement, The Progressive Students Movement (PSM), Nigeria chapter, is pleased with the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu government in the area of security.

According to the group, “Information shows that our gallant military troops have succeeded in neutralizing 9,303 terrorists and criminals, including notorious kingpins such as Damina, Dangote, Kachalla Azarailu, and Boderi, among others.”

Knocks, kudos greet Tinubu’s first year in office

Contrasting Obiyan’s views, Okpokwu Ogenyi, a political analyst and Coordinator of the Conference of Minority Tribes in Nigeria and former governorship aspirant in Benue State, argued that the President has made significant strides in his first year.

Ogenyi believes that Tinubu’s efforts in tackling corruption, initiating economic reforms and enhancing infrastructure development across the nation demonstrate a commitment to national progress.

“If you ask me to rate the president on a scale of one to 10, I would tell you 9/10.

“In just less than one year in office, we have seen the monumental projects that he has been able to accomplish.

“From the renovation of the Lagos Third Mainland Bridge to the award of the Makurdi-Otukpo-Enugu road project, the Abuja light rail, the national assembly renovation, Lagos-Calabar Coastal project, and several others.

“Many Nigerians will say he erred by removing the subsidy, but I must say that he did well. It was a bold move that many Nigerians will appreciate later.

“The suffering is temporary, but I assure you that things will be stable very soon.

“Nigerians are asking the wrong person. The people they should hold responsible are the state governors. Before now, monthly allocations were about N2bn, but today, states like Benue are getting N6bn as allocations.

“Oil producing states get as much as N16bn monthly. What are they doing with the money? The masses should ask them. The president cannot be everywhere at the same time

“Tinubu’s administration is on the right track. The foundations he is laying will yield positive results in the long term,” Ogenyi asserted, calling for patience and continued support from the populace.

Echoing Ogenyi’s sentiment, Terence Kuanum, National Coordinator of the National Coalition Against Terrorism, asserted that Tinubu has lived up to expectations by taking tough decisions to neutralise the damage caused by Buhari’s eight-year government.

“Though these decisions come with pain, we are optimistic that we will ultimately benefit from them,” Kuanum stated.

He also alleged that Tinubu’s efforts were being sabotaged by governors.

“Despite the huge finances available to states, there is little to show for the substantial allocations received,” he added.

However, Kuanum is hopeful that amendments granting autonomy to local governments will ensure that the dividends of democracy reach the grassroots.

“Overall, Tinubu has performed well across all sectors,” he said.

A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party and activist, Austin Okai, told DAILY POST that the ruling party has succeeded in buying over some members of the opposition.

He challenged those who were vocal against the government of the PDP to come out and question some of the policies of the current government.

He lamented that what Nigerians were going through is a fallback of what the APC created to discredit the government of the PDP and Jonathan to get power in 2015.

His words, “Today, the issue of kidnapping is a fallout of what the APC created to discredit the government of PDP and Goodluck Jonathan.

“Now, we are witnessing the repercussions, with more citizens being kidnapped. We are reaping the seeds they sowed as the opposition, and you want us to accept that.

“Recall that the current Vice President, Kashim Shettima, was the governor of Borno State when the first abduction happened in Chibok.

“Wike, who is now aligning with the APC government, was the Minister of State for Education then. They all ignored security reports to close down Chibok School until the abduction happened. Today, where are we?

“Today, Nigerians are eager and yearning for the era of the PDP. Tinubu has done nothing. He is employing only his people from Lagos or awarding contracts to a company owned by his son.

“He is increasing VAT and introducing more taxes. As of yesterday, I bought fuel at N750 per litre in Abuja.

“When I questioned the price, they claimed those selling at cheaper rates tampered with their metres, which tells you that the regulatory agencies are not even working.

“A year after the removal of the subsidy, they have not increased salaries and the CNG buses he promised are nowhere to be found.

“The palliatives are being given to APC members, who, in turn, are selling them to the masses.

“So, Tinubu has failed. Nothing is working. He has not done anything remarkable. Now, people cannot fly because of the high cost of aviation fuel and people cannot drive because of the fear of being kidnapped.

“The inflation rate is rising. It is a shame that nobody is speaking out. Where are Wole Soyinkas, the NGOs and CSOs that were vocal against the PDP government? They called us looters and Boko Haram supporters, but now they can’t talk.

“They are expecting the PDP to come and do the job for them. The only way forward is to kick them out in 2027. They have failed woefully.”

For activist and political analyst, Enenche Obonyilo Peter, Tinubu inherited a nation that was systematically destroyed and he needs more time to fix it.

His words, “I will say Tinubu has performed fantastically well. He has been able to manage the country. Every federating unit now has a sense of belonging.

“Abuja is wearing a new look, though the subsidy removal is painful, but there is no better time to remove it than now.

“When the Arabs were using oil money to build Dubai and Kuwait, we were busy burning down Kaduna, Kano and Lagos.

“When Russians were laying pipes that connect their markets to Europe, we were busy bursting and vandalising our pipelines.

“Nigeria was so systematically destroyed over the years that no overnight approach can fix the mess. So far, Tinubu has put us on a path to recovery.”

Opposition parties – Toothless bulldogs

Another major concern about the current government is the belief that the nation is gradually sliding into a one-party state.

At the moment, the major opposition parties resemble toothless bulldogs.

According to political observers, the Tinubu government has effectively silenced opposing voices, particularly with the appointment of Nyesom Wike, a prominent member of the opposition camp, into his cabinet.

The Labour Party, which was seen as the third force, has been embroiled in crisis, with little or no attention given to national discourse.

The Tinubu government has embarked on several reform initiatives aimed at revitalising the economy, including efforts to improve the ease of doing business, attract foreign investment and diversify the economic base away from oil dependency.

However, these initiatives have faced significant challenges, including global economic uncertainties and internal resistance.

In the area of infrastructure, the government is believed to be truly living up to expectations.

For instance, in the nation’s capital, the Minister of FCT, Nyesom Wike, who is a member of the PDP, has been on his toes to make sure the seat of power wears a new look.

The government has ‘face-lifted’ major roads in Abuja city centre and satellite towns.

Prominent among them is the Wuye-Wuse link flyover, Area 11-Asokoro flyover, etc.

Similarly, the government kicked off the construction of Lagos-Calabar Coastal Road, which will open up the economy between West-north and south.

However, public opinion on Tinubu’s first year in office is deeply divided.

While some applaud his proactive approach and long-term vision, others express frustration over the slow pace of tangible improvements in their daily lives.

The social impact of his policies, particularly on the most vulnerable populations, remains a contentious issue.

Light at the end of the tunnel

The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr. Nyesom Wike, says there is hope for Nigerians, considering the achievements of President Bola Tinubu in just one year in office.

According to Wike, Tinubu has done very well in the FCT and the country overall, particularly in physical infrastructure and human capital development.

He said, “I think Mr President has done very well in terms of reassuring Nigerians that he is committed to delivering the dividend of democracy.

“From what we have seen on the ground, there is really hope for Nigerians. So, we are very happy.”

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