Wed. Jun 19th, 2024

Security, Economy, Restructuring, South-East Peace Top Lists Of Demand From Tinubu

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Ahead of the inauguration of the President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, next week Monday, Nigerians have expressed what they expect the incoming government to do to hit the ground running immediately after the handover.

According to a report by Guardian, topmost in their expectations is the security challenges, which they hoped Tinubu will address without fear or sentiment, if he must get other sectors in the country fixed.

Ranking second in their list of demands from the incoming government is how to quickly fix what they described as the ‘comatose economy’ it is inheriting from President Muhammadu Buhari.

Third on the demand list is addressing the issue of restructuring and the governance system in the country, which many observers said would require the former Lagos State governor and his team to treat, not only with caution, but also with utmost sense of urgency.

They stressed: “Without taking a critical look into the fundamentals of the 1999 Constitution to rearrange some things, Nigeria will continue to wallow in a constitutional crisis without solution.”

Also on the list of expectations is the need for the next president to address the Southeast or Igbo question, as according to them, Nigeria cannot continue to ‘ignore’ a quarter of its population and an entire region and expect to experience peace.

They doubt Tinubu’s ability to fight corruption, noting that if someone like President Buhari, despite his charisma, perceived uprightness and promises to stop corruption, could not achieve much, there is scepticism that the President-elect would be able to curb corruption.

Essentially, the outgoing administration is considered to have failed Nigerians in three critical areas of security, economy and restructuring.

In security, an estimated 63,111 people were said to have been killed since Buhari assumed office on May 29, 2015. According to data obtained from the Nigeria Security Tracker (NST), a project of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Africa programme, the deaths arose from terrorism, banditry, herders/farmers clashes, communal crises, cult clashes, and extra-judicial killings among others.

The economy is also said to have performed terribly on seven key economic parameters under the outgoing administration, with an unprecedented debt profile.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the yearly inflation rate in Nigeria accelerated for the fifth consecutive month to 22.22 per cent in April 2023, reaching a nearly 18-year high.

In his manifesto during the campaigns, Tinubu promised to give security and economy topmost priorities if elected. How the promise of ‘renewed hope’ will be actualised is what Nigerians are expecting to see as from May 29.

A stalwart of National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), an apex pro-democracy group, Fred Agbeyegbe, said: “Whatever anyone says about Tinubu, you won’t hear that Tinubu will not perform or deliver. What we have had in Nigeria so far is a government that never delivers.
“In terms of expectations, we are going to have a change in the presidential administration under him, which will be for the better.”

Agbeyegbe, an advocate of restructuring and change of the 1999 Constitution, said: “The record of Tinubu goes along with the restructuring and referendum that NADECO wanted. He was there with us in NADECO when the issue of restructuring was raging. It is nothing new to him and I believe he is not one of those who will be looking for how to redefine restructuring so that he can use it as political maneuvering. I doubt that his politics will go in that direction.”

A former lawmaker from Rivers State, Bernard Mikko, said to expect that Tinubu will hit the ground running is like raising a false hope. “Things have gone wrong beyond normal.”

According to him, “we are not going to set an agenda for Tinubu, but we will diligently monitor and follow how he is implementing what he promised to achieve.

“As an astute politician with experience in the corporate world, oil industry for that matter, we don’t expect Tinubu to fail.

“He has shown the standard, so we don’t expect him to fumble. My advice to Nigerians is we should not expect anything but to monitor what Tinubu promised to do and point it out to him if he is veering off.”

Also doubting the possibility that Tinubu can quickly achieve much as Nigerians expect of him in the area of security, a former Chief of Army Staff, later Chief of Defence Staff and Minister of Agriculture and Industry, Gen. Alani Akinrinade (rtd), said the issue of security is not what any Nigerian, who understands the magnitude of the challenge should expect Tinubu to tackle in the shortest period of time.

He said: “As far as I am concerned, it is not a very simple problem because the country has allowed it to fester for too long. I agree that Tinubu will put his own team together, which will understand the magnitude of the problem, but as a military man, I can tell you that the insecurity challenges facing the country have taken too many dimensions.”

Akinrinade said there are too many interests “which I don’t think all of us understand very clearly. I don’t know if the various interests really want the security matter resolved because of what they are benefiting from it and I don’t know what we should expect from Tinubu to achieve in that area within the very short time.

“We need to really understand the issue very clearly before we begin to give some advice. The last administration promised so much before it took over in 2015 but here we are eight years after, the country is still talking about insecurity. If we start expecting too much now, I wouldn’t want a situation where we get disappointed and people will start complaining. It is good to be hopeful but we must also understand the magnitude and depth of what we want to address.”

Accepting the fact that there are mountain of economic woes Tinubu is going to inherit, the Director General, Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission, Seye Oyeleye, said the enormity and intensity of the economic challenges the President-elect will face may not give him any breathing space for honeymoon period, and it is expected of him to hit the ground running.

“The good news in my opinion, however, is that if ever a person can be described as most prepared for a job, I believe that person is Tinubu and I suspect he will not be afraid to take very tough economic decisions, which will set us on the road to full recovery and we can as a country start experiencing sustainable growth.”

Oyeleye said some of the immediate challenges in his in-tray include the issue of fuel subsidy, which the outgoing government has deftly passed on to the next administration.

“There are no two ways for us if we want to avoid bankruptcy as a country, subsidy must go immediately, the manner of removal I believe must have been decided now by the in-coming President and as soon as he is sworn in, he must activate the plans.”

The DAWN DG suggested a 25 per cent removal of subsidy every six months starting from July, “meaning it has to kick in once the budgeted amount for subsidy runs out at the end of June. That we have to wait for our refineries to work is neither here nor there.”

He also urged the President-elect to immediately scrap the multiple exchange rate policy, which he described as a gross disincentive to foreign investment.

“Thirdly, our revenue base is way too low, he must be prepared to shore up our revenue, which in turn will make our debt to revenue ratio sustainable; expanding the tax net is what I am advocating here and not necessarily increasing taxes. If everyone who is eligible to pay tax is contributing, I believe we will not worry too much at the current level of our indebtedness which the budget is now warning that it is now bordering on the unsustainable,” he said.

He also said Tinubu must be prepared to devolve more powers to the state to make them economically viable.

A retired military intelligence officer, Captain David Mbamara, said it is expected of the President-elect to appropriately look into the issues affecting the Southeast region with determination to correct the injustice to the region.

According to him, “we cannot have a quarter of the country completely locked out. The truth is that the Southeast region as it is today has been technically locked out. I make bold to say that Lagos can never be decongested for example without a deliberate and vigorous effort to develop the Southeast.

“Security cannot be addressed in the Southeast and in Nigeria where a quarter of the population are not made to get jobs. And it is either we are in Nigeria or we are not. The time has come for us to grow above ethnic sentiment and face the Nigerian project.”

He urged Tinubu to address the Igbo question in Nigeria. “The incoming government cannot afford to wish the Igbo force away like previous administrations.”

Read Also: President Buhari To Commission Second Niger Bridge Via Zoom Tomorrow

A human rights activist, Achuke Chude, on his part, warned Nigerians not to jump into expecting anything from Tinubu without examining the cardinal points of those promises made by the outgoing president to Nigerians in 2015, of which the President-elect is a major stakeholder.

According to him, “Since the Buhari administration didn’t achieve any of those promises of 2015. We look at what is going on in the country today at the economic level, the security level and the corruption level, the truth is Nigeria has a reversal on all these fronts. These are three basic things President Buhari promised us but today things are worse on all these fronts. This is why I don’t want to be expectant.

“The next president also needs to work on the level of unity in the country. We hope that the people that played divisive politics working on behalf of the President-elect would realise that the elections are over and that governance needs a different kind of temperament and that propaganda is over.

“I hope responsible people who understand what it means to be responsible to the electorate would be appointed to his government, especially his spokesmen.

“The worst mistake Tinubu will do is to bring people with the mindsets of vengeance around himself.”

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