Since the return of democracy in 1999, Nigeria has had five presidents. Each of the past four presidents led the country in the way they deemed fit, some not deferring to public pressure. In other words, while the people had their say, the presidents had their way.
For instance, one of the issues critics raised with ex-President Muhammadu Buhari was his stance on going ahead with several issues despite opposition from different quarters.
In the 100 days of incumbent (and 5th) President Bola Tinubu, there seems to be a slight difference in this regard. In this report, Daily Trust highlights five instances when Tinubu made U-turns after outcry.
EXCLUSION OF NIGER DELTA MINISTRY
There were strong indications that the Niger Delta Affairs Ministry had been scrapped as no minister was deployed to the ministry in the portfolios released ahead of the inauguration of the cabinet members.
Daily Trust had reported how Tinubu allotted portfolios to the 45 minister-designates screened and confirmed by the Senate.
However, no minister-designate was assigned to the Niger Delta Affairs Ministry which was created by the former President Umaru Yar’Adua in September 2008. Reacting, the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) warned President Tinubu against scrapping the ministry.
The forum said since the ministry was created, successive administrations of President Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari had sustained it. The forum asked Tinubu to nominate a minister for Niger Delta Affairs, threatening that scrapping the ministry would be met with “adverse consequences.”
Following the outcry over the omission of the ministry in the recently published ministries and their respective ministers, the President approved the redeployment of Engr. Abubakar Momoh from the Federal Ministry of Youth to the Federal Ministry of Niger Delta Development.
The President also made a minor amendment to the ministry’s nomenclature from Niger Delta Affairs to Niger Delta Development.
ASO DRIVE TRAFFIC
Two months after his inauguration, President Tinubu was shuttling between his private residence in Asokoro and the Presidential Villa. However, this had an effect on the public. Many on their way to work experience manhour loss as a result of security measures put in place for a smooth ride for the nation’s number one citizen. The security measures included road closures and restrictions, which caused traffic gridlock and made it difficult for people to move freely.
However, things took a new turn after a video of the traffic scenario went viral. While Daily Trust could not independently establish that the video influenced the president’s relocation, the coincidence was striking.
In the viral video, a man was heard saying, “This is artificial traffic caused by President Tinubu. He lives in Asokoro. He has not moved to the Villa yet and every morning while he comes to work they block the road for like 30 minutes. When he’s going back in the evening, they also block the road for like 30 minutes. So, people going to the office get to stay on the road for like an hour just to wait for President Tinubu to go to work. It happens every day… you can see the line. How do we continue with this because one man wants to go to work?”
Maryam Shetty’s name appeared among the 19 ministerial nominees forwarded to the senate, after the screening of the first batch of 28 nominees had commenced. Her nomination elicited mixed reactions on social media. While some questioned her experience, others called her a “TikTok influencer”.
Two days after her nomination, she was replaced with Mariya Mahmoud, former commissioner for higher education in Kano in the administration of Abdullahi Ganduje. Many had said Ganduje influenced her removal, but the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) admitted that social media played a role in the saga.
In an interview, Ganduje had said, “Maryam Shetty’s name emerged from the top, and since Mr President has the right to do as he wishes and we are his followers, one has to be patient; we did not object to it. As well, she was not well-known to us. We could not appraise her.
“But suddenly she (Maryam Shetty) came under attack on social media. People questioned her integrity and experience, with many of them doubting her credentials to represent Kano at the national level. There were growing disaffections. The dissatisfaction is not from Ganduje, but the people of Kano.
“President Bola Tinubu’s attention was drawn to the torrent of criticisms greeting Shetty’s nomination. The president asked whether I had nominated Mary Shetty. I said no. He asked how then her name appeared on the list. I told him I had no idea whatsoever.”
NATIONWIDE BROADCAST ON HARDSHIP
The removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit, otherwise known as petrol, tripled pump price, resulting in widespread hardship. Anger was rife as some supporters of Tinubu expressed regrets voting for him. Presidential spokespersons deployed different strategies to calm Nigerians but lamentations poured in. The government was accused of losing touch with reality and deliberately worsening the plight of the masses.
Amid the tension, the presidency announced that President Tinubu would address the nation. During the broadcast aired on television, radio stations and other electronic media outlets Tinubu said he was aware of the hardship Nigerians were facing due to the various policy decisions of his administration.
“Our economy is going through a tough patch, and you are being hurt by it. The cost of fuel has gone up. Food and other prices have followed it. Households and businesses struggle,” Tinubu had said.
“Things seem anxious and uncertain. I understand the hardship you face. I wish there were other ways. But there is not. If there were, I would have taken that route as I came here to help, not hurt the people and nation that I love.”
He noted that the government was working on reducing the burden to make life easier for Nigerians. Although some persons dismissed the address, saying it could not put food on their tables, and some also disagreed with some of the plans reeled out by the president, majority agreed that empathy at such a critical period was a good step in the right direction.
REPLACEMENT OF NDDC NOMINEES
President Tinubu last Friday approved the immediate replacement of the Ondo State Representative at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) board, Mr. Victor Akinjo, and that of Cross River State Representative, Mr. Asi Oku Okang.
After Chief Ajuri Ngelale, Presidential spokesman, announced the appointment of new board members of the commission, protests erupted in those two states.
In Ondo, the APC chairman, Mr Ade Adetimehin, described the appointment of Akinjo as a case of “Monkey dey work, Baboon dey chop.”
In Cross River, protesters hit the streets, saying they would not accept a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) member taking a position that should have ordinarily gone to an APC member. Governor Bassey Otu had assured them that the president would act on their complaints.
Three days later, Tinubu announced changes of the nominees from both states.