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Tinubu met a bad economy but he’s worsening it

Tinubu met a bad economy but he’s worsening it %Post Title


Recently in an address at the Chief of Defence Intelligence annual conference 2023, National Security Adviser (NSA), Nuhu Ribadu remarked that the six-month-old administration of President Tinubu had inherited a “bankrupt country which had resulted in budgetary constraints”.

He further told the assembled ranks of defence spooks that “…it is important for you to know that we have inherited a very difficult situation, literally a bankrupt country, no money, to a point where we can say that all the money we are getting now, we’re paying back what was taken….’’.

As an insider whose duties are at the nexus of issues of national security, the NSA’s assessment of the economy must be taken seriously. Indeed President Tinubu confirmed as much a few days later in Saudi Arabia during a discussion with the Vice-President (country programmes) of the Islamic Development Bank Dr Mansur Mukhtar. Said the President at the occasion, “We inherited serious liabilities but also assets from our predecessors, but we have no excuses”.

Before the NSA’s and President Tinubu’s statements, some of the president’s men namely Bayo Onanuga Bagudu Atiku, Wale Edun and Yemi Cardoso, had all made similar statements on the state of the economy. From all indications in the coming days and months, more of President Tinubu’s men will repeat the same mantra as the economy continues on its rapid descent and as the government continues to look out for odds.

But it is instructive that while President Tinubu and his men have continued to wax lyrical about the parlous state of the economy they met upon coming to power, Nigerians however observe that ironically by its actions the administration is exacerbating the situation.

It all started with the ill-considered decision by President Tinubu on his inaugural day to endorse the removal of subsidies on petroleum products and a merger of the exchange rates. As this was coming right on the heels of a debilitating ill-thought-out currency reform programme embarked upon by the previous administration of President Buhari in which millions of Nigerians were subjected to untold and undeserving hardships leading to personal and business bankruptcies, it was difficult for Nigerians to believe that the new administration meant well for the people and the country.

We have seen the effect of these policies in the galloping inflation figures rising up to 27% from the latest figures put out by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), and the ever-plummeting value of the naira against major currencies. This has led to continuous hardship on the people.

But what is even more galling for the people is that in the midst of its claims of meeting a “bankrupt” economy, the Tinubu administration is seen embarking on more of the injurious policies the previous administration did to the economy. Instead of prudent management of resources to reflect the lean times the Tinubu administration is on a profligate and reckless spending binge with what is left of the national commonwealth.

The supplementary budget submitted to the national assembly is a pointer to this fact. In all, a large chunk of the about N1.2 trillion budget is proposed for expenditure on luxuries for the president and the vice president.

With the benefit of what we have seen so far most Nigerians are now of the belief that the “renewed hope” slogan of the Tinubu administration promises more hardship than hope. The excuses being bandied about by its functionaries are clearly indicative of the fact that the administration is in the middle of a crisis of ideas, capacity and will. It is struggling to extricate itself from the spaghetti of contradictions it had created on the one hand and the quiet but ominous hostility of the Nigerian people on the other hand.

But the facts and reality cannot be hidden. The minister of finance, Wale Edun, recently admitted in a speech at a conference of the Institute of Chartered Directors recently that despite the assumptions that the economic policies embarked upon by the Tinubu administration will attract the favour of Western governments and institutions, Foreign investors have shown a reluctance in investing in the Nigerian economy. Invariably this means that without investors coming in, the naira will continue to weaken against major currencies leading to yet more inflation and attendant consequences on the economy. In its forecast for the Nigerian economy for 2024 and beyond, the Economist Intelligence Unit reports that “High inflation, low economic growth and unpopular market reforms present substantial political stability risks…”. More and more Nigerians will fall into poverty as they will not be able to afford even the most basic of necessities for a decent existence.

As the majority of Nigerians are left to their own devices under the most punishing economic regime ever enacted in the country, the Tinubu administration is increasingly looking distinctively weak and vulnerable. Metaphorically in this context, the Tinubu administration is looking like a rabbit caught in the headlights of an approaching vehicle square and out of odds. Thus the NSA’s speech which reads like a desperate plea for understanding and assurance to the armed forces can be viewed in this regard.

Let us face it; President Tinubu’s economic policies are lacking in the necessary fundamentals to transform the economy. As a result, Nigeria is really transiting on the way to economic and political perdition. The palliatives which the administration presented to cushion the effects of the harsh economic policies have proven to be largely inconsequential to the target groups. And there are no indications that after the first flurry of activities, the administration will be able to sustain it in the coming months.

Indeed the administration has found in the harsh economic policies a cynical tool for weaponization of poverty and as an enabler for political capture. The logic here is that the poorer people are made to be, the more they make themselves amenable to being manipulated politically.

Nigeria’s economic and political future has never been bleaker. The bandwidth for preventing a social explosion is shrinking by the day. The Tinubu administration must hasten to come to terms with this existential reality before it is too late.


•Written By Ilyasu Gadu
Gadu can be reached via [email protected] or 08035355706 (texts only).

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