Nigeria Decides 2023: President-elect Tinubu faces challenging responsibilities

From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja

President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, actually braced all odds to emerge winner of the keenly contested February 25 presidential election. He beat his counterparts, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and Peter Obi of Labour Party (LP) in a poll many still consider as anything but free and credible.

Awaiting his swearing-in as President on May 29, Tinubu emerged winner after surmounting several landmines from his ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), hash anti-masses APC government policies and widespread bitterness against his party’s government.

But beyond the razzmatazz of the campaign and eventual victory, the realities before Tinubu would be to forget the bitterness of the campaign, the myriad of the pitfalls and mundane issues of ethnicity, nepotism and influence of the cabal that characterised President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC government in the past eight years….CONTINUE READING

“Asiwaju must look beyond whatever interpretations of his Emilokan mantra now that he has won the election,” an APC chieftain quipped, adding: “He must equally draw lessons from the consequences of what many believe our party did not get right in government for the two tenures under President Buhari.

“He must correct the mundane issues of nepotism, administration hijacked by cabal and resist every temptation to shutout competent Nigerians in other parties while constituting his cabinet,” he advised.

With the reality of the humongous tasks before him gradually eclipsing the bliss of election triumph every passing day, and looking beyond the distracting litigations, Tinubu, an acclaimed grandmaster in political gamesmanship, has his job cut out for him based on the promises he made in his Renewed Hope manifesto during his campaigns across the country.

From the South East, to North West, South-South, North Central to South West and North East, his promises in commerce/industry, energy, education, corruption, insecurity, and unity of the country and the Niger Delta still resonate loudly in the minds of many Nigerians.

Arguably, the harsh economic realities, escalating insecurity across the country, lingering energy crisis and more importantly the disquiet and anger by many Nigerians over the public perception of the conduct of the election that produced him, seem to conspire to make the task before him even more laborious.

Apparently, the country, practically on pause button as a result of the altercations arising from the presidential election, the biting effects of the cash scarcity subjecting Nigerians to untold hardship, and many other debilitating factors actually made Tinubu’s task more tedious.

In view of the energy crisis, the first task before the president-elect would be to take decisive action on the issue of fuel subsidy, a contentious issue many described as the elephant in the room.

Perhaps miffed by the Federal Government’s spending N2.91 trillion ($7 billion) on fuel subsidy between January and September 2022, the president-elect, during his campaigns, had vowed to remove fuel subsidy.

Apart from backing his plan to scrap subsidy paid on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) during the unveiling of his 82-page manifesto tagged “Renewed Hope 2023 –Action Plan for a better Nigeria”, he equally declared during an interactive session with captains of industry tagged: “business forward” in Lagos, that ‘the era when petrol subsidy was fashionable is gone.’

Though he led a protest against the removal of fuel subsidy against Goodluck Janathan-led administration, Tinubu had however argued that subsidy payments were most beneficial to the rich and, therefore, ought to be stopped.

“The Petroleum Act is there for us to take a second look at to meet our obligations and no matter how much or long the protest, we will remove petrol subsidy. We will take tough decisions, but it will be done, and that is the truth. The era when fuel subsidy was fashionable is gone. So, it must be removed.

“I will ensure we end the wastage and re-channel the money to the people who truly need it. We can invest the money wisely, for instance in health. No matter how long you protest, we will remove the subsidy. We can do it. We are educated enough. How can we subsidise the fuel consumption of Cameroon, Niger, Benin Republic, and some others?” Tinubu queried.

But many Nigerians believe that the removal of the subsidy as good as it sounds will have a lot of negative effects and put more burden on the people.

Outside subsidy, another daunting task before the president-elect would be to initiate a viable healing process to pacify many angry Nigerians against his declaration as the winner of the presidential poll.

Already, conscious of the anger and feelings in many quarters, Asiwaju and several party members/supporters never celebrated their victory wildly. They rather opted to appeal constantly to the contestants to sheath their swords.

Little wonder in his acceptance speech after receiving his certificate of return, he admitted that; “I know many did not vote for me. And you are disappointed that your candidate is not where I now stand. I understand you are hurt. To you, I extend the embrace and comfort of one family member to another.

“This great project called Nigeria beckons to us all. It is bigger and more important than any partisan divide. To my supporters, I ask you to continue to have faith in the mission that we have articulated. To those who didn’t support me, I ask that you should not allow the disappointment of this moment to keep you from realising the historic national progress we can make by joining hands and hearts in a common endeavour to pull this nation through.

“In a phrase, I am asking you to work with me. I may be the president-elect, but I need you. More importantly, Nigeria needs you. My heart and my door are open to you. I ask you to come in so that we may begin the task of rebuilding our national home together, day by day, brick by brick. Where there is poverty, let us create prosperity and jobs.

“Where there is hunger, let us feed the people, chasing hunger from their midst. Where there is now scarcity, let us rediscover abundance. Where there is brutality, may we replace it with brotherhood? Where violence stalks the land, may we establish peace. Where others have erected temples of hatred and bias, may we construct permanent monuments to compassion and abiding affection,” he appealed.

Another task before the president-elect would be solving the intractable escalating insecurity and uniting Nigeria into a peaceful country. In his manifesto, he pledged to prioritise security and more importantly create an anti-terrorists battalion among other measures to tackle insecurity.

“We will mobilise the totality of our national security, military and law enforcement assets to protect all Nigerians from danger and from the fear of danger. We will expand and improve upon the use of technology, enhance recruitment of personnel, and bolster existing agencies and systems to achieve this fundamental national security goal,” he rolled out practical measures to tackle insecurity in the policy document.

“I will provide trained and disciplined anti-terrorist battalions, upgrade tactical communication and transportation for security agents, upgrade weapons systems to ensure security agents are capable of addressing security threats and recruit people who possess the technical skills required for today’s military.

“I will also reduce dependence on imported foreign military equipment, exploit aerial technological superiority, improve salaries of security agents, rehabilitate economic systems affected by violent groups, secure national infrastructure, seek international collaboration and reposition the police.” Nigerians await the president-elect to actualise this promise.

Another task, more or less like a moral burden, facing Tinubu will be to deliver his promise of achieving a constant power supply to Nigerians. “On electricity, I will embark on a renewed action-oriented focus and take immediate and urgent action on resolving existing challenges of power generation plants, gas purchasing, pricing, transmission, and distribution.

“My administration’s critical goal is to have 15,000 megawatts distributable to all categories of consumers nationwide to ensure 24/7 sustainable supply within the next four years,” he promised. However, whether just a mere campaign promise or one to be kept, the delivery of 24/7 power supply is another albatross hanging on the neck of the president-elect.

Despite the question mark on the source of his wealth, Tinubu also promised to tackle the menace of corruption ravaging the country in what appeared.

Unlike past presidents, he promised to fight corruption by focusing more on preventive measures despite the current Nigeria ranking of 154th out of 180 nations assessed in the latest Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perception Index (CPI).

“Part of our strategy would be to put a system for effective wealth redistribution in place that will greatly reduce the temptation to commit corruption. It is a consensus among our citizens that the socio-economic challenges we are faced with as a country are deeply rooted in the menace of corruption,” Tinubu said.

“We should not, and we will not give up in the effort to rid our country of this menace. My administration will support the existing anti-corruption institutions and address underlying issues that make corruption thrive.

“We will also, address the underlying issues of corruption in the oil industry. We will strengthen existing transparency mechanisms in the areas of public procurement, fiscal responsibility and whistle-blower policy as preventive strategies against corruption,” Tinubu pledged, without minding public perception of his readiness to live up to the promise.

He also promised to adopt a mild approach in fighting corruption not to scare foreign investors, stressing: “While aiming to eliminate corruption from the Nigerian system, my government will make conscious efforts to adopt strategies that would attract, rather than scare away, investors.

“We don’t want to scare away investors of today and tomorrow, but we promise you, we will eliminate corruption. Part of it is that we look at ourselves, too. Not just enforcement but to reduce the propensity for corruption,” he said without concrete arrangement to reduce cost of governance which many believed is breeding corruption.

On education, apart from his assurances that strike at whatever level of education will now be a thing of the past, he also promised to review the curriculum at all levels “to suit the emerging global best practices and current socio-economic realities.”

He equally acknowledged that the nation’s education sector suffers from funding deficit and promised to provide the required leadership and mobilize investment for the development of the sector.

“This will ensure, our graduates at tertiary level are not only trained for white-collar jobs, but they will also be enterprising and innovative. The funding needs of the country’s tertiary education will be met by working with stakeholders to evolve creative solutions that will bring a terminal end to challenges of funding and the attendant perennial industrial actions.”

While decrying the number of out-of-school children in the country running to ‘millions’ and describing it as unacceptable, Tinubu promised; “we will invest heavily in infrastructure to allow for proper integration of school-age children into the conventional schools.”

Other promises that might be the yardstick to judge his administration would be the protection of the Igbo businesses, making the South-East geopolitical zone the Taiwan of Africa and more importantly enhancing development in the Niger Delta.

“I believe in the entrepreneurial spirit of the Igbo. I encouraged a lot of Igbo businesses and investments in Lagos and will even do more if I become President. If elected, there will be no discrimination. Igbo interests will be respected and protected. I will also encourage policies to aid commerce and support South-East states to reach their full potential.

“I will engage the leaders of the South-East in a heart-to-heart discussion on all issues agitating their minds. If elected, I will address all issues and policies that tend to hinder their commerce and enterprise,” he promised.

For the Niger Delta, Tinubu promised: “The man standing before you will implement whatever he promised. You need honesty, you need the commitment to perform. I embody both. I know the road and I will carry the Niger Delta people along. We will consult your leaders for the development of Gbaramotu Kingdom and other associated communities.”

He promised to explore solid minerals in the North Central, particularly, Nasarawa State, and make Niger State the agricultural hub of the country in addition to other promises.

Above all, the greater task before Asiwaju will be the possibility of eschewing the normal tendencies of an average Nigerian politician reneging on their campaign promises once they assume the mantle of leadership.

With Tinubu’s manifesto and campaign promises safely in the custody of many Nigerian homes, he must refrain from toeing the obnoxious path of his party, the APC, in denying almost all the promises it gave Nigerians when it came to power eight years ago.

And admonishing Tinubu, a member of the APC national leadership, Salihu Moh Lukman, wrote: “Another point that must be highlighted at this point of victory is the need to be faithful to our electoral promises. One of the shortcomings of parties managing governments since 1999 is that everything is left to the discretion of elected representatives.

“Requirements to give life to provisions of the party manifesto are absent. In fact, many elected representatives are ignorant of the provisions of the party manifesto. This needs to change. Related to that is that leaders of the party must have the humility to subordinate themselves to party decisions.

“The next era of APC government under Tinubu must produce the rebirth of the struggle for democracy in Nigeria. It must signal the era of renewed hope for the development of democracy in Nigeria. It should above all be the era for the institutional development of APC as a political party.

“Coming from the trenches, Tinubu has no excuse but to catalyse the development of Nigerian democracy to meet the expectations of Nigerians. Both as Nigerians and as APC members, we will hold Tinubu accountable on these scores,” Lukman warned.

However, for now, the ruling party is sharply divided; Nigerians are equally harshly divided along ethnic and religious fault lines, and fears and apprehension over the far-reaching effects of Muslim-Muslim joint ticket are still palpable in the country.

The manner by which Asiwaju meticulously handles all these mundane issues and fulfils his campaign promises will determine the realignment of Nigerians and by extension the level of legitimacy his administration will enjoy from Nigerians.

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