Connect with us


Tinubu And The Palliative Palava



Can We Have 'No Victor, No Vanquished'?

The Insight by Lateef Adewole

Nigeria is an interesting country and one with peculiar set of citizens. It is an intricate place to govern. Anyone, who is not prepared for leadership, but found themselves in political position of authority to lead, would be overwhelmed in no time with the kind of complexity in the nature of the country and its people. Sometimes ago, when the newly sworn-in President Tinubu was asked how he felt with the challenges facing the country as he took over, his response was epic and depicted someone who knew what he was getting himself into. He simply answered that “nobody should pity him because he asked for the job”.

This might be the first time a democratically elected president of Nigeria is taking responsibility. It is interesting to know that he happens to be the first person who aspired to be president, worked assiduously for it for decades, and got it at the time he gunned for the position. This showed preparedness and it is expected to reflect in his governance style. That has actually been seen with many difficult decisions and actions he took immediately after his inuaguration and since taken over the leadership of the country, particularly with regards to the petrol subsidy removal and the unification of the exchange rates.

These are decisions that have tarried for decades because the past presidents didn’t have the gut to do so or wanted to be politically correct by pleasing the ‘cabals’ who were feeding fat on these subsidy rent and forex arbitrage. Tinubu made it obvious too, when he publicly said he could have decided not to take those decisions and be participateng in the sharing, letting the status quo to remain, but he choose to do otherwise.

Since then, the socioeconomic consequences have been dire. With the upward price adjustment of the petrol, as dictated by the market forces, cost of living has increased drastically with no proportional increase in incomes to the people. This called for immediate supports for the suffering masses and ‘palliatives’ became the buzzword. Ever since, the government has been struggling to determine precisely the forms which these palliatives should take, with everyone having better opinion than whatever government proposed.

While the same citizens are the ones calling for immediate reliefs to support them, which must have prompted the proposal of N8000. per household for 12 million Nigerians in the next six months, making the plan public has let the hell loose. The opposition has latched onto it and made caricature of the plan, even when they did not propose better alternatives as immediate remedies.

For those who follow the activities of government, they would have seen more robust plans being put in place but can only materialise and their positive effects felt in the medium and long terms. Like the the Yorubas would say: “ayangbe aja dun, nkankan la o maa je k’aja to gbe”. Even when there are beautiful plans for medium and long terms, we still have to survive now and be alive, until they become realities. What then is the way forward?

ALSO READ: Professor Dode To Deliver First Inaugural Lecture At Dennis Osadebay University

The barrage of criticism against the N8000. made the president to direct that it be reviewed. Sincerely, I am also against sharing money to the people. I have written many times about that in my previous articles. My reason being that, we don’t have an accurate data which can be used to do this. I criticised the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) of Buhari administration all through because I did not see the effect all around where I lived. In the communities I have lived, despite being actively involved as a community leader, I could not point to the people who were collecting the monthly N5000. which they claimed they were paying for years.

I also criticised the various cash sharing schemes like Tradermoni, Marketmoni, Farmermoni, etc, led by the former Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo. I saw all of that as money down the drain. And that was exactly what they were. Or, where are the people who collected the money now? Have they been lifted out of poverty? So, I am against the sharing of N8000. now, based on the existing so-called national register. I have been vindicated as the National Economic Council (NEC), led by Vice President Kashim Shettima, on Thursday, queried the integrity of that national register, from where the 12 million most vulnerable households will be picked. This was stated in the press briefing after the meeting by the Anambra State governor, Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo.

So, rather than having a centrally controlled money sharing scheme by the federal government that has no indigene, the responsibility has now been given to the state governments, which are closer to the people and are expected to know them better. Moreso, like argued by many who were against the FG’s sharing it, each state has their own peculiarities. What is one man’s food could be another man’s poison. Each state knows what their people need most. We only hope that the sincerity with which the Tinubu administration wants to do it will cascade down to the states and they will not mess it up.

This also gives credence to my constant opinion that Nigerians should put more focus on their state governments. Less attention is being paid to their activities while we all focus on the president and federal government. This has given the governors the latitude to do as they wish, with little or no accountability. Many have become lords in their states. Ordinarily, the local governments should have been the most appropriate level to give the palliatives, but do we still have local governments that function as they should, again in Nigeria? Not sure. The state governors have taken away their constitutionally granted autonomy. Not even the additional Executive Order of Buhari, signed precisely two years ago, could rescue them from the stranglehold of the governors.

In actual sense, readjusting the programmes to take place at states is a positive development. Over the years, there has been clamour for devolution of more power to the states and restructuring. This could be a sign of that. The other electricity bill signed by Tinubu, which allows states to generate and transmit their own power within their state, is another indication. President Tinubu could have started restructuring Nigeria ‘surreptitiously’ without noise, something he championed for years. That will be a good thing.

Will this readjustment of the palliative programmes assuage its critics? Personally, I doubt, but that remains to be seen. I say this because, from all I have listened to, from many critics, many were more driven by bitterness against Tinubu becoming the president and they look for every avenue to run his government down, rather than altruism. It was the hangover from the loss of the presidential election by their preferred candidates. Unfortunately, majority of the masses are low-information citizens. Many simply reecho whatever others say, without giving any or much thought of their own to it.

This week, the price of petrol further went up. These anti-Tinubu forces have gone to town with propaganda that Tinubu has increased the fuel price again. This is what the less informed populace have carried on with. But, is that true? Were they correct? The answers are capital No! The higher adjustment in petrol price to N560. per litre in Lagos and higher in other parts of the country, which are still the lowest within the African subregion, has nothing to do with Tinubu directly. They are consequences of the actions that his administration has taken so far. But, the question is; do we want the actions or not?

However we feel about it, the actions have been taken. Petrol subsidy has been removed. Didn’t we know the implications of that? It means that the petrol price will be determined by market forces henceforth. And what are the factors that influence these market forces? The exchange rate, especially the dollar to naira, and the global price of crude oil, which is also priced in dollar. So, as crude oil price goes up, so are the prices of all refined petroleum products obtained from crude oil, not just petrol. Reverse also happens when the crude oil price goes down. This is something that is beyond our control as a country.

The other critical factor mentioned is the exchange rate. This can be within each sovereignty’s control in the sense that, we could have fixed an amount as the official rate, which is usually less that the realistic rate close to what obtained in the black market, like has been the case for many years. This gives the opportunity for the criminal arbitrage that we have witnessed for the past decades. That ended with the Tinubu administration’s policy that unified the rates.

So, in such circumstance, the naira is expected to find its true value over time. Where it will eventually settle will be determined by the economic activities within the country. Where consumption continues to increase, especially import dependent ones that require huge amount of dollars for importation, the pressure will perpetually be on naira and consequently, higher exchange rate of dollar to naira. However, where production is shored up and consumption is reduced, the pressure on naira will be less, resulting in lower exchange rate.

Unfortunately, all that needed to be done to make this happen are only possible in medium and long terms, as can be seen in the plans rolled out by the government.

The other extreneous factor is the possibility of sabotage. Does anyone think that those feeding fat on the criminal petrol subsidy and forex arbitrtage will go down without a fight? That will be a joke. They will also engage in all ways to circumvent the good intentions of the government. It won’t be surprising if they try to create artificial scarcity of petrol so that the price will be so high beyond the normal cost reflective price, in order to make life hellish for the people to instigate revolt against the government. This has not worked because, NNPCL claimed that they have huge stock that has kept the country wet. Also, more private importers are beginning to bring in petrol.

On the forex side, there is possibility of hoarding of dollars and manipution of the rates through speculation. All these cannot be curbed completely by government in the immediate. It will take some time. That’s why the people should understand and know that there is no baby who will be adored without the stress of carrying pregnancy for nine months and the excruciating pains of childbirth (according to women). That is exactly the point where we are. We must ask ourselves as Nigerians the hard question: do we want an adorable baby that will be born after these pains or we prefer to abort the pregnancy, just because of the temporary pains? We should not allow the enemies of the country to manipulate us to think government is deliberately punishing us.

It is understandable to criticise any action of government that exhibit insensitivity to the plight of the people through profligacy. I have been an advocate of cutting the cost of governance for years. That is another problem foisted on us, largely, by the dysfunctional 1999 Constitution (as amended), because, many expenditures like emoluments and perks given to political office holders, are already enshrined in the constitution. President Tinubu cannot stop it by fiat. That will amount to an impeachable offence. It is now left for all of us to pressurise our different representatives in the senate and the house of representatives to look into amendments to such laws. But, can we or would we? Will they?

We could see the positive result of the hard decisions. The FAAC reported available revenue to the tune of N1.95 trillion in July. That is unprecedented in the history of Nigeria. But what the political office holders do with the money is more important. This is why we have to be eternally vigilant, monitor our state and local governments who will get a big chunk of the money, and hold them accountable, not just the Federal Government.

We could also see a departure from the past. Of this money, the governors voluntarily agreed to saving about 40% of it (N790 billion), while they share N907 billion among the three tiers of government, and settle some statutory obligations with the rest. That is showing responsibility, an indication of the different leadership of the country at this time. Were governors not the people who took FG to court in the past just to force the FG to share all revenues accrued, instead of saving a part? Nigeria is witnessing a great transition to better era.

In all, the immediate difficulties will not suddenly disappear. The actions that will reasonably mitigate them are being put in place like the release of grains from the national grain reserve to control increasing food prices, the procurement of buses to relieve transportation, deployment of CNG powered vehicles, establishment of autogas conversion plants in all states and FCT., release of fertilisers to farmers, proposal for cost-of-living allowance to civil servants, and so on. What of the private sector employees? Governments should give companies tax reliefs that will enable them provide similar palliatives for their staff, like staff buses, hardship allowance, etc.

The medium and long term plans include massive investment in infrastructures; transportation, farm to market roads, Agriculture (including livestock and ranching), basic education, basic healthcare, power and water resources, with the newly established Infrastructure Support Fund (ISF) for all states by the FG. These are projected to improve competitiveness that will create jobs and economic prosperity. They will make life far better in the near future. We pray that God gives our leaders the wisdom to successfully manage the affairs of the country for the benefits of all, and not a few.

May God continue to protect us and guide us aright.

God Bless Nigeria.

You can follow me on:
Twitter: @lateef_adewole
Facebook: Lateef Adewole
Email: [email protected]
Whatsapp: +2348179512401

Share, forward and retweet, as sharing makes love go round!

July 22, 2023.


1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Obi Esther Goodness

    July 23, 2023 at 10:01 am

    Pls how can i register for the fuel subsidy removal palliative pls

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Trending News