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Tinubu’s first anniversary and inconvenient truths, by Zainab Suleiman Okino

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Tinubu’s first anniversary and inconvenient truths, by Zainab Suleiman Okino

As part of activities to mark (not celebrate) the one-year anniversary of the Bola Tinubu administration, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris initiated ministerial sectoral briefings to update Nigerians on the activities of the government in the last one year. He also used the opportunity to launch the Nigerian National information Portal, the “official digital gateway to comprehensive information about Nigeria”. The portal, he said, would serve, as “centralised source for both local and international audiences providing reliable and up-to-date information on various aspects of the nation, including the government, the people of Nigeria, their cultural heritage and many more”.

As of early last week, about 17 ministers had appeared at the National Press Centre to give accounts of their stewardship. The sectoral updates were high on media glitz, scorecards, efforts, agenda setting and plans in the offing. Unfortunately, the lamentations and complaints of hardship almost dwarfed their modest efforts. The preponderance of opinions is that the massive goodwill and hope that ushered in President Bola Ahmed Tinubu appear to have waned.

It must be noted that this flurry of events marked a departure from the past, when past presidents would read out drab speeches to indifferent viewers (for those that tuned in anyway) and readers who considered such speeches as inconsequential and lacking in substance. I wouldn’t know why President Tinubu chose a different way to mark his first-year anniversary, but it is just as well that he did not roll out the drums, for it would have been the height of insensitivity to do so in the face of anger and agony in the country.

President Tinubu also threatened to sack unperforming ministers. This to me smacks of outsourcing responsibilities, as he won’t to do even as a candidate then. In any case, a minister is as good as the administration he is serving in. Therefore, the president cannot scapegoat his ministers and remain blameless even when those ministers are not empowered or enabled to deliver on the President’s mandate.

And despite having the biggest cabinet ever, their inability to transform the system and translate their number into fortunes for the people, even as the country is still crawling and the citizens groaning and reeling from economic woes imposed by floating of the Naira and fuel price hike, make people question the direction of Tinubu’s government.

So, whether it is the ministers’ rhetoric or the president’s pronouncements, such as his baby steps metaphor, it is perceived as perpetuating their prosperity against promised utopia for the people, as long as the basic needs of man especially food, housing and healthcare are beyond reach.

Notwithstanding the unfelt hope, there have been shining examples of good governance as reeled out by the ministers during the briefing to, at least, validate the Tinubu Presidency. Examples are FCT, Nyesom Wike’s palpable impact in Abuja; Minister of state for Petroleum, Heineken Lokpobiri who disclosed increase in oil output at 1.7 bpd while also announcing $16.6bn investments in the sector.

Minister of Industry, Trade and investment, Doris Aniete announced that government would cut vehicle parts import by 40% (from78.8%) through the manufacturing and supply of tyres, batteries, brake pads and other automobile components. Ministers of Health, Mohammed Ali Pate and Marines and Blue Economy also had a lot going on in their ministries. There is also talk of renewed hope cities by the Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Arc Ahmed Musa Dangiwa who disclosed his plans to build 50,000 houses every year.

READ ALSO: Tinubu’s cabinet of controversy, by Zainab Suleiman Okino

Despite the best efforts of government appointees, there are concerns that government’s plans no matter how laudable, have not been matched with concomitant concrete actions that could impact on the welfare of the people. The closest reference point is the CNG vehicle conversion initiative which the president himself announced, would mitigate the high cost of petroleum after he removed subsidy on fuel. CNG has lower emission impact according to reports. Sadly, the Daily Trust report of the non-existence of CNG conversion centres in 27 out of 38 states does not indicate government’s sincerity and commitment to walk its talk one year after.

The prohibitive conversion cost of about N1.5 million for a Sedan car may make it nearly impossible for the average Nigerian to want to convert his vehicle. With “less than 25 conversion centres nation in nine states to cater for over 15.5 million vehicles in the country”, the CNG idea may become elusive.

So elusive is the president’s renewed hope agenda that companies are closing shops. According to Africa Polling Institute (API), Tinubu’s one year in office is characterised by hunger, poverty and discontent. And the average Nigerian can relate to this, because his purchasing power has since been eroded after it plummeted to its lowest and inflationary rate of almost 500%. According to API, 78% of Nigerians rated Tinubu’s government abysmally. The rampaging misery, poverty, hunger are testaments to this assertion. Poverty is a threat to posterity, no one is insulated from government-imposed economic policies that have plunged the country downhill.

It is therefore not surprising that, 63% of people polled in the North-west, 75% in the South-west, 81% in the North-central, 87% in the North-east, 98 % in the South-south and 100% in the South-east all believe that the country under Tinubu is heading toward the wrong direction. Even if this damning verdict is subjective, you cannot discountenance worries about survival. And in contrast with the “growth trajectory and progress”, we were regaled with at the sectoral briefing, Nigerians are yet to feel any form of “growth” in their personal lives.

Talking about markers of growth and progress, look at AI ChatGPT’s summation, which is contrast with government’s voodoo statistics:

“A steadily increasing GDP indicates a growing economy, which is often a sign of progress; HDI measures a nation’s well-being by considering factors like life expectancy, education, and income. A high HDI score indicates a high level of human development and progress. A nation’s infrastructure, including roads, bridges, airports, and public transportation, is a key indicator of progress. Modern and efficient infrastructure is essential for economic growth and development. A decrease in poverty rates indicates progress in a nation. This can be measured by the percentage of the population living below the poverty line. Universal access to quality education and healthcare is a significant marker of progress. This indicates that a nation is investing in its citizens’ well-being and future”

It is not likely that the Tinubu government can score up to 50% in all these indices of progress. Instead, the government prioritised the National Anthem over the welfare of the people and replaced a National Anthem of over 44 years in preference for the one in use for just 18 years of our independence. In New Zealand and Australia, one or two lines which did not properly capture their aspiration were replaced in their national anthem, but here we had to discard everything and start anew with an old derogatory anthem that diminishes our humanity as a people once colonised.

The National Anthem distraction was concluded in one week—no committee was set up; no haggling and no criticisms were condoned. On the other hand, it has taken over a year for any of the president’s promises to come to fruition. No matter how one tries to condone the current hard time and endure the situation with hope for a better tomorrow, we must tell ourselves the inconvenient truth: the reforms and policies of this government are not working.

Zainab Suleiman Okino is a syndicated columnist. She chairs Blueprint Editorial board and can be reached via: zainabokino@gmail.com

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The opinions and views expressed in this article belong solely to the original author and other contributors. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or opinions of Neptune Prime.

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