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Tinubu’s One Year In Office (Part 2) By Kazeem Akintunde

If there is one leader in Nigeria that actually fought for power, grabbed it, snatched it and ran with it, that individual is President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Long before he completed his eight-year tenure as Governor of Lagos State in 2007, he had set his eyes on the number one job in the land. As a former Senator before he was elected Governor in 1999, the Senate, where most of his Governor colleagues considered as their retirement homes, was of no interest to him. He instead sent his wife there.

In order to realise his presidential ambition, most of his cabinet members while he was Governor of Lagos State but were not Lagosians were sent back to their various states of origin to contest elections on his bill. After that, he began to gradually build and cultivate friendships within the South west states and beyond. He wormed his way into the hearts of most power brokers and Emirs in the North, and it was not a surprise when the chieftaincy title he got from the Emir of Borgu, The Jagaban of Borgu became his most cherished chieftaincy title.

Again, he did not stop at expanding his areas of influence within Nigeria, but extended same to some neigbouring West African Countries where he bankrolled the election of presidential candidates.

In 2014, he saw an opportunity of getting the plum job when he led the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) into a political marriage with the then Congress for Progressive Change (CDC) and other minor groups in the ANPP and APGA. That marriage led to the birth of the All Progressive Congress (APC), with Muhammadu Buhari, who had contested but lost the presidential elections on three occasions.

The political marriage opened the doors of Aso Rock for Buhari, and in the spirit of the Alliance, he reminded those who were bent on truncating his ambition with the famous Emilokan rhetoric in Abeokuta, Ogun State. Fortune smiled on him and he became the President of Nigeria on his first attempt. But one year down the line, he has not been able to replicate the success story recorded in Lagos at the federal level.

In the last few days, his Ministers have been mounting the rostrum, telling Nigerians what they have been able to achieve in the last 12 months. Except for a few, most of the ministers are still in the dark on what their job descriptions entail. They are still ‘laying’ the foundation of what they intend to do in their various Ministries.

The Mayor of Abuja, Nyesom Wike, however, stood tall above others due to what he has been able to achieve in the FCT.  The Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, who is gradually becoming the postal boy of the administration, has succeeded in turning around the sad tale many Nigerians experience when it comes to getting their international passports. Now, he is trying to work his magic in the prison service. Most of our correctional centres across the country are old and overcrowded which makes it easier for the numerous jailbreaks we have recorded of recent. If he can change the narrative in that regard, he would succeed in etching his name in gold.

Dele Alake, in spite of his background as a media and public relations expert now understands the nitty gritty of the Solid Minerals Industry and he is now aware that he is sitting on a gold mine. That is a sector past governments have neglected but which has the potential of turning the fortunes of the country around. The Solid mineral sector alone has the capability of earning over $1 billion dollars annually for the country if it is well managed. What should be of benefit to our people is now illegally being mined by foreigners with the active support of unpatriotic Nigerians. 

Except for the few performing ministers, the other deadwoods in his cabinet should been shown the exit as soon as possible.

Security of lives and property featured prominently in his Renewed Hope Agenda contract that the President signed with Nigerians but one year down the line, nothing much has been achieved in that regard. Data from various sources show that the security situation has not improved under his administration, as over 600 people were killed under him within 45 days between May 29 and July 13, 2023. That data came from SBM Intelligence, an analysis platform. According to the data, the killings happened primarily from activities of non-state actors like bandits, Boko Haram insurgents, ethnic militias, armed robbers and other non-state actors. A report by a civil society organisation, Global Rights Nigeria, revealed that at least 555 people were killed and 267 others abducted six weeks after Tinubu took office. 

In March this year, more than 130 students of LEA Primary and Secondary School, Kuriga, in Kaduna State, were abducted by gunmen but released after intense pressure and negotiation with the terrorists by security agents and the State government. Now, many parents are no longer allowing their wards to attend classes for fear of being kidnapped. Though the problem predated Tinubu’s administration, he came on board with a promise to tackle security challenges facing the country but one year after, not much has been achieved.

The education sector he inherited from the Buhari government has not fared better although he has put in place measures that could stop incessant strikes in our tertiary institutions. The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) embarked on an eight-month strike during the reign of former president Buhari which necessitated the non-payment of their eight months’ salaries but Tinubu magnanimously approved payment of four months’ salaries to the university teachers. Few months after he came on board, the school fees of most federal universities were jerked up beyond the reach of the masses but he has now introduced students loan programme to cushion the effects of the hike.

If there is one sector that seems to defy solutions from past leaders, it is the power sector. The giant of Africa is still battling with power generation, transmission and distribution in the 21th century as power generation hovers around 4,000 megawatts for a population of over 200 million people. The Tinubu administration recognises the importance of the power sector as the springboard for the growth and development of the country but made a fundamental error when it appointed an accountant, Adebayo Adelabu to head the Ministry. Since his appointment, nothing much has been achieved in the sector with the Minister promising Nigerians that 6000 megawatts should be achievable by December this year. Adelabu should be told that Nigeria should be looking at generating a minimum of 40,000 megawatts of electricity and effectively distributing same if we are serious about industrial growth and development. Nigeria at present has 27 electricity generating companies popularly called GenCos and 11 power distribution companies better known as DisCos but they continue to generate and distribute darkness to Nigerians.

There are myriads of challenges facing Nigeria’s electricity sector which include the problem of vandalisation of electricity installations including transmission lines and cables. Between January 2022 and March 2024, 117 transmission towers were reported to have been vandalised by unscrupulous elements. Poor wheeling capacity and grid collapse have kept the transmission of electricity below 4, 500MW. Aside from this, the Federal Government owes gas suppliers and electricity-generating companies huge sums of money. Likewise, customers – government ministries, departments and agencies, hospitals, military institutions and individuals – owe distribution companies billions of Naira. On Monday, February 19, 2024, the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company threatened to disconnect the electricity supply to the Presidential Villa and 86 Federal Government’s MDAs over N47.195bn outstanding debts as of December 2023. Some of the affected MDAs are Chief of Defence Staff – Barracks and military formations owing N12bn, the Federal Capital Territory Administration, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of State Petroleum, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Information, Ministry of Education, and Ministry of Agriculture. Tinubu had to direct immediate payment of what Aso Villa owed the AEDC while urging other MDAs to do the same.

In a bid to attract more funding to the sector, the federal government jerked up the tariff payable by electricity consumers on Band A by more than 300 per cent from N66 per kilowatts of electricity consumed to N225 per kilowatts. Public outcry has however forced the government to reduce the tariff to N206.80k. In spite of the hike in tariff, we are still battling with poor power supply to homes and offices.

In the oil and gas sector however, a giant stride recorded by the Tinubu-led administration was the signing of an Executive Order which should unlock up to $10bn fresh investments in the sector. According to the President, the Executive Order would streamline contracting processes, procedures, and timelines from 36 months to six months. The order also seeks to ensure that local content requirements are implemented without impeding investments or the cost competitiveness of oil and gas projects”.

Again, through collaboration among security agencies and non-kinetic efforts in the Niger Delta area, Nigeria has witnessed increased crude oil production since Tinubu assumed office. Figures from the National Bureau of Statistics show that when Tinubu took office, production was at approximately 1.1 million barrels per day, including condensates, but now, it has increased to approximately 1.7 million barrels per day (inclusive of condensate).

To the average Nigerians, Tinubu’s first year in office has been a nightmarish experience. This explains why to most Nigerians, it is as if he has been in office for over a decade. It must be emphasised that, having subjected the people to the ongoing hardship, Tinubu should understand that his second year must be accompanied by practical solutions to the myriad of economic chaos of his reign. Nigerians can no longer be deceived under the guise of “making sacrifices for the nation,” whilst politicians who should lead by example live in luxury, with the majority of them buying palatial homes in London and elsewhere around the world.

Nigerians desire a decent country where their businesses can thrive under a stable economy, a country where citizens’ purchasing power is not deliberately weakened by government policies, where people get value for their money, a country with stable electricity and world-class infrastructure, a country where the sanctity of human lives is respected, a country where politicians do not embezzle public funds for personal use. These are genuine demands that the government can easily confront and achieve if the political will to do so truly exists. Tinubu’s second year in office should be one when the masses should begin to enjoy the real dividends of democracy. The office he clamoured for is now right on his lap and now is the time for him to write his name in the mind of Nigerians for ever. He should start doing that by re-examining most of his economic policies that have made life difficult for Nigerians.