One Year After…

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One year ago, Citizen Bola Ahmed Tinubu became Nigeria’s president. In the run-up to the elections, a lot of hate was brewed on all sides of the political divide. That, I dare say, is the nature of politics all over the world. Contestation for the minds and votes of the people is revved up to trigger the basest of instincts. Just like in the First Republic, every election cycle shears the fragile fabric of national cohesion to such an extent that we are much more divided today than we were at the onset of the current democratic relay race in 1999.

Take a trip on the superhighway of social media and see how we advertise our mutual hatred and call other ethnic nationalities by names that our dogs— even the common Bingos used for dog meat pepper-soup— would find discourteous. 

One year into the Tinubu administration, we are yet to start the healing process of pulling ourselves together so that our forward march can be as one people, even as we have— and jealously guard— our different political perspectives. There is nothing wrong with political disagreements. There is everything disagreeable with establishing a dynasty of implacable warriors in the name of political followers whose sole duty is sustaining the E-wars on the internet or the thinly veiled TV diatribes where we de-market each other.

This retrogression shall not be televised. We shall keep it hushed in whispers among our various clusters. What we had hoped would be a centripetal pull has rent us asunder and made us, not just perpetual opponents, but infernal foes to each other. The simple matter of electing our leaders has morphed into an unprecedented political chasm destined to consume the atavistic forces it has unleashed. 

Yet, this was the same country in which, nine years after the civil war, Dr. Alex Ekwueme from Anambra State in Southeastern Nigeria was voted as Vice President to Alhaji Shehu Shagari. Augustus Meredith Akinloye (Always Mentally Alert) was the all powerful chairman of the ruling party. The president deferred to him at all party functions. The calibre of the opposition was high: the redoubtable Chief Obafemi Awolowo of the UPN; Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe of the NPP; Alhaji Aminu Kano of the PRP; and Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim of the GNPP.  

Even with all the warts of Second Republic politics, we still look back at those days as comparatively glorious. The urgent task before us all is to reset to brotherhood mode. Waziri Ibrahim called it “Politics without bitterness”. Could that be the dream that fired Senator Opeyemi Bamidele to sponsor the bill seeking to restore our former national anthem (Though tribe and tongue may differ in brotherhood we stand…)? I would rather we use our magic wand to return the Naira to its value in 1980 (98 kobo=$1) instead of re-echoing the colonialists’ colourful words such as ‘native’ and ‘tribe’.

I think the more desirable thing for us right now is to look ahead and change gear. It is one year of the Tinubu administration. Last week, the ministers rendered an account of their stewardship on national television. If I was the president, I would by now have done my own assessment to compare with the lies that some of them openly told. But, thank God for little mercies, the Tinubu administration’s perform-or-be-fired mantra is several miles better than Buhari’s style of leaving appointees in office even when they start becoming rancid.

So, let the president rejig his cabinet. There’s no point allowing passengers to continue occupying the driver’s seat. And let’s have a closure on the suspended Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Dr. Edu. 

I am rather interested in deliverables for the next one year. What should we expect the Tinubu administration to have achieved (wholly or partially) by this time next year?

 

Food Inflation

The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics has disclosed that the average annual rate of food inflation for the twelve months ending February 2024 over the previous twelve-month average was 30.07 percent. For the year ending in April 2024, the average annual rate of food inflation stood at 32.74%, representing an increase of 9.52 percentage points over the 23.22% average annual rate recorded in April 2023. The Tinubu administration will be judged by how far its policies encourage a downward trend of these distressing figures in the coming year.

 

State Police

There appears to be a consensus now that the existing federal police structure is inadequate to handle the current security challenges in the country. President Tinubu ought to trigger an expeditious constitutional amendment and legal framework for the setting up of a new state police structure to run side by side with the existing federal force. 

 

Value Of Naira

I have heard top government officials boast that the goal of the current policies rolled out by the government in the financial sector is to eventually achieve a fair exchange rate of about N700 to the USD. Amen! It will be interesting to see where we are in the next 12 months.

 

Tax Harmonisation

Nigerians expect that the next one year will not witness any kind of tax ambush as was attempted many times in the last one year. There is a limit to which a pauperised person can be taxed even as everyone knows that the immediate past administration had mismanaged the economy. You can’t restore a malnourished child to normal body weight in one day.

 

Alternative Sources

Nigerians are expecting that in the next one year, the other sources of revenue touted as potential money spinners would at least come to their own. The club of potential champions include: Steel Development, Marine and Blue Economy, Solid Minerals Development, Tourism and Digital Economy, 

 

Electricity

After the failure of the attempt by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission in conspiracy with the discos and the Minister of Power to increase electricity tariff arbitrarily, there is need to restore confidence in consumers through a more predictable supply without which all the expectations of increased productivity will come to nought.

 

Transition To CNG

By this time next year, most Nigerian cities ought to have benefitted from the presidential CNG initiative to reduce the dependence on petrol in favour of Compressed Natural Gas. If that does not happen, the government would be judged to have failed.

 

Federal Roads

All over the country, federal roads have become death traps. The poor state of most roads make commuters sitting ducks for armed robbers and kidnappers who have been having a field day all over the country. In the next one year, this is one area where Nigerians will definitely assess the government and judge it harshly if it defaults.

 

Political Solution

In line with my persistent call for national healing and reconciliation, I think we should take advantage of President Tinubu’s political experience and pan-Nigerian outreach to request him to find a political solution to the ongoing trial of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB).

It is within the powers of the president to constitute a team to advise him on possible details and conditions for achieving a political solution to the case. If that is achieved in the next one year, the political temperature in the Southeast will drop as the ground will be swept from the feet of pretenders to the IPOB cause who have constituted themselves to terror gangs in the forests of that region. I can visualise a collective sigh of relief being heaved by his kinsmen and other goodwill ambassadors of other ethnic nationalities who have been calling for a political solution to get this matter behind us once and for all.

As Shakespeare says, The quality of mercy is not strain’d. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

 

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