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Tinubu’s first anniversary: Challenge of driving change

In fulfilling a long held tradition by successive governments in the country, the Federal Government under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu marked its first anniversary in…

In fulfilling a long held tradition by successive governments in the country, the Federal Government under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu marked its first anniversary in office with moderate fanfare, even as mixed feelings raged among s across the country. The mixed feelings derive from the anti-climax in expectations by Nigerians that his advent as President would usher in some marked changes and attendant relief, from the down-turn in the socio-economic conditions which confronted the ordinary citizen, under the preceding administration of Muhamadu Buhari. Hence, given his elaborate campaign promises as captured in the Renewed Hope Agenda, Tinubu’s ascent on the saddle of leadership, would usher in changes, that would not break the backs of Nigerians in the process. At least, no reasonable soul had expected President Bola Tinubu to produce an Eldorado from the Nigeria which he inherited from his predecessor Muhamadu Buhari.

The question that remained hanging in the air was, which considerations would be used to launch and drive the various changes which the new administration would execute. This consideration remained relevant as often, leaders hardly appreciate the impact of their proclivities on the followers, as such easily pass on the consequences of their mis-judgments, errors and otherwise on the latter while escaping scot free. That is why with respect to the Nigerian political space, it pays for followers to hold their leaders accountable especially as leadership impunity reigns supreme here.

It is in this context that while the Tinubu administration has ushered in several landmark changes in the polity since its advent, some of the attendant outcomes   that trailed such dispensations hardly vindicate the President’s team as being on top of their game.  That is why all through the run of the President’s first year in office and the commemoration of the anniversary, not a few Nigerians across the country followed its proclivities with mixed feelings and long faces.  The long faces were not unexpected given the ambience of grinding privations that came with the administration which suddenly deepened the grinding anguish of daily living for most Nigerians, courtesy of some changes by it.

Top on the list of these changes remains the stoppage of the fuel subsidy regime, right from the inauguration of Bola Tinubu as President on May 29 2023. The  suddenness with which that dispensation was launched, coupled with the state of unpreparedness by Nigerians for it, left the citizenry most vulnerable to the attendant reverberations such as sky-high escalation of prices of essential goods, basic food stuff as well as transport fares  across the nation. However, of more odious significance was the reality that the administration had no remediation plan to contain the inevitable, strangulating fallouts from the fuel subsidy removal. Hence while it may be argued that the removal of the subsidy was justified, hardly can the same be said for the absence of a remediation plan by the administration and by implication, the abandonment of the citizenry to their wits.

Meanwhile, two dispensations which the administration would latch unto as its response to the fuel subsidy removal, have so far been mismanaged to betray further, its inchoate style of handling crisis, due to poor acquaintance with the issues involved and ineffectual resolution of the challenges. The first is the challenge of rehabilitating the country’s ailing refineries, which organized labour had earlier insisted should be carried out before fuel subsidy removal. For reasons best known to President Bola Tinubu, and for whatever wisdom he would cite, he stopped the subsidy before rehabilitating the refineries. The result is the deepening vortex of economic challenges facing the country today. Meanwhile the rehabilitation of the refineries is still waiting for the coming of the proverbial Godot.

Another relief being exploited by the government as if it was managing a demand by labour for cushioning the consequences of the fuel subsidy removal, is the now vexed issue of a new national minimum wage for the Nigerian worker. After several weeks of negotiations, the tripartite committee set up by administration for the purpose, has only narrowed the discrepancy between government’s and labour’s positions to N60,000.00 and N100,000.00 respectively. The fact that the present situation remains a far-cry from the hitherto outlandish starting points by both the government and labour, testifies to the need for a long learning process by the officials of the administration, with respect to the current realities of daily living for the average Nigerian on the streets.

It needs to be recalled that soon after the inception of the Tinubu administration the minimum wage was N30,000.00 which the President increased to N65,000.00. This development implied that even at inception the President appreciated the inadequacy of N30,000.00 as national minimum wage. Considering that the raise of the minimum wage from N30,000.00 to N65,000.00 by President Bola Tinubu predated a latter welter of taxes that further deepened the grief of the ordinary  Nigerian worker, the ding dong affair that marked the minimum wage negotiations qualified mostly as an academic exercise that should have been shortened.

Meanwhile, still in the context of the series of changes by the administration is the recent return of the country’s old national anthem – ‘Nigeria we hail thee…’   which the country used between 1959 and 1978, in place of the new one – ‘Arise Oh compatriot …’ But for the hushed ambience with which it was launched, many Nigerians, would not have bothered about the return of the old one to replace the new one.

However this is not to say that there are no questions over the dispensation. First question is whether a national symbol that is enshrined in the Constitution can be changed by a simple act of the National Assembly, without an amendment of the same Constitution. Second is whether this development will not serve as a precedent that may justify further whimsical changes such as changing the colours of the Nigerian flag, the reversal of ‘Right hand driving’ to ‘Left hand driving’ on the highway, the change of the nation’s currency ‘Naira’ and perhaps the tinkering with other features of the Constitution such as the political structure of the federation, by a mere act of the National Assembly, ostensibly at the prompting by President Bola Tinubu.

Do the rest of Nigerians not have a say in such landmark changes, one may ask?

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