Opinion | Reviewing Nigeria under President Tinubu

The much awaited 2024 is finally here. The expectations of many Nigerians, especially the common man on the street is that there should be economic respite from the harrowing experiences of 2023.

To many Nigerians, 2023 was a year when the expected renewed hope turned to reinforced hopelessness. The reinforcement of the hopelessness started from the inauguration of the new regime as the new president unguardedly announced “subsidy is gone”. The cataclysm of that statement spiraled into immediate price noose wound around the necks of Nigerians and till date, the common man is gasping for breath.

The pedestal was further pulled from under the feet with the foreign exchange left at the dictate of market forces. For an economy that rely heavily on imports, spiral inflation was not unexpected.

It is for this reason Nigerians glued to the President’s new year message trying to scratch some hope but the disappointment was monumental. Many elected officials usually celebrate achievements within 100 days in office but it’s disheartening that after 6 months in office, Nigerians can’t look back and pin point concrete achievements. It is still promises like we are still in campaign season. Nigerians wanted to hear “we have done this and that” rather than “we will….”! Even the handlers of the President media lazily uploaded a pre recorded message done before the president went for Christmas break and failed to edit it to accommodate national issues that surfaced after, like the massacre in Plateau State. I can’t agree less with Dr. Reuben Abati’s analysis of the speech on Arise TV on that broadcast.

It is often said that Nigerias are the easiest people to govern. The expectations of Nigerians are so Mundane that it is no rocket science to govern them. In advance societies, citizens measure government impacts with the ease of acquiring government provided houses, how low the exchange rate is and access to funds and credits. Example, if you are a cleaner in London, you can afford a brand new car. On loan of course but the payback has little or no impact on your earnings due to low interest rates and credit accessibility. A tall dream in Nigeria. In Nigeria, the citizens have long perished the idea of government providing houses for them because few houses, where they provided, are for the privileged rich. They have long given up on having good road networks across the country. They are not even thinking of rail network crisscrossing the entire country thus making goods and passengers movement easy as is seen and done in sane societies. The writer just returned to Lagos from the Christmas holiday. The roads were so terrible that I literally was crying for the vehicle been driven. It will cost so much to repair the vehicle from the impact of the bad roads on a single trip.

Nigerians expectations are so simple:

Let the price of fuel be affordable as it affects all facets of our lives. The barber and the Vulcanizer rely on affordable fuel to remain in business. Someone like me could no longer cope with exorbitant cost of haircuts that I now seat by the mirror and give myself the haircut. This does not boost the National income as any economist will attest. It was fun seeing my neighbour using a bicycle press up pump to pump his car tire because according to him, N500 to pump one tire is not sustainable. Closely related to affordable fuel is the proper management of our exchange rate. Finally, create a safe environment for businesses to thrive. So many multinational companies departed Nigeria in the last 6 months like P&G, Unilever etc. The effects of the attendant job losses are better imagined.

It is high wonder how Nigerians coped in the last one year. Unfavourable exchange rate, astronomical fuel price increase, school fees in government institutions increasing by 200 to 300 percent etc. Borrowing the very words of Mr. President, “Let the poor breath”! Please renew our hopes again by addressing these issues. There is still time to disappoint those who believed you will not be different from Buhari’s regime if not worse. The government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu still have the chance to write their name in Gold. Let Nigerians breath favourable exchange rate and fuel prices with human face. Till then, let those who are on the receiving end keep hoping while those who are favoured with appointments keep singing praises.

Anthony Eshemokhai writes from Lagos.

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