This much is plain truth: Every government in power is judged by the success or failure of the promises it made prior to, and on assumption of office. During the presidential campaigns last year, Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the All Progressives Congress candidate made scores of  promises to Nigerians that were later compressed into what his handlers called his 8-point agenda. They include: food security, poverty eradication, economic growth, 50 million jobs, access to capital inclusion, rule of law, and fight against corruption. As his administration marks one year in office tomorrow, it’s not unkind to say that his government in one year has compiled a more dismal record, perhaps worse than his predecessor in that office. In one year, this much is also very obvious: there has been so much impulsiveness, driven by lack of planning and insincerity of purpose.                                                         

It  has been a hard slog for Tinubu in this troubled one year, with little to show for as real accomplishments for a man who wanted to be President and Commander-in-Chief by all means. What he has given Nigerians  in one year include pain, sorrow, horror, hunger and poverty as prices of everything in the country have soared beyond the reach of ordinary citizens. There’s perhaps nothing to compare what most Nigerians are going through right now. It’s all tales of woe and disillusionment. The evidence is everywhere, and verifiable. In just one year, Nigeria is in a worse shape than Tinubu made it. At 33.69 percent, inflation rate has reached a 28-year high for the month of April on the twin triggers of petrol subsidy removal and the consequent high pump price and the unification of the official and parallel market that has failed to yield the intended results because of lack of adequate planning and consultation. With the latest hike in monetary policy rate by the Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank at 26.25 percent, the interest rate charged by banks is gradually exceeding the threshold of 30 percent.                                                             

This is bad for businesses and even worse for investment. Food inflation now is at all-time high of 41 percent, with prices of food items never seen before in decades. The naira, as of last week, exchanged for N1,500/$1.

Tinubu inherited an exchange rate of N460/$1. Besides, Nigerians and Industries  are facing high energy costs, foreign exchange (FX) liquidity challenges and multiple taxation as well as raw materials’ scarcity. This is in addition to electricity hike even when power supply is constantly erratic. Journalists have  been abducted at will from their homes. This is an assault on freedom of the press. It is the worse we have seen in a democratic dispensation. In all of these miseries, you ask, where is the agenda for ‘Renewed Hope’? Where’s the economic reboot that Tinubu promised?  You may also recall that at his inauguration speech on May 29, 2023, President Tinubu promised to expand the economy by at least 6 percent annually.                                                             

Do you know what Nigerians in my part of the country are saying as they bear the brunt of Tinubu’s callous policies? Chimka-tinubu, meaning my God is greater than Tinubu. Today, one year has come full circle. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund’s reports show that Nigeria’s economy is still tottering at less than 2.5 percent.  No doubt, this President inherited a struggling economy, with record debt profile and huge debt servicing, shortages of FX, skeletal power supply, a weak naira and falling oil production due to crude theft and underinvestment, all from the man he helped put in power. However, in just one year,  Tinubu has surpassed the abysmal failure of Muhammadu Buhari in many key areas. His administration has borrowed over N7trn in one year after initial promise to tack back on borrowing spree. That has ballooned the national debt to almost N90 trn.                                     

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In his inaugural address,  he promised local and foreign investors that his administration would review all their complaints about multiple taxation and various anti-investment inhibitions. He has done exactly the opposite. He has become a ‘tax master’ in less than one year, forcing many multinational companies to exit the country because of lack of enabling business environment. If Tinubu inherited a divided Nigeria, he has polarised the country even more. The fault lines that divide us have also widened. As one cleric, Rev. Blessing Enyindah  told him at the funeral service of late Governor of Ondo state, Rotimi Akeredolu in February, “you said it’s your turn, now, save Nigerians from hunger”. Never in this democratic dispensation has hunger squeezed Nigerians this hard. Only few can guarantee where their next meal will come from. Many parents have withdrawn their children from school because they no longer can afford school fees.                                                       

Staple foods such as rice, beans and yam are now luxury for average Nigerians. This is the wrong time to be sick in Nigeria as the cost of medicines is not beyond the means of an average citizen. At N750 per day for meal, prison inmates are even faring better because the pain of living in Tinubu country has become hellish. This question remains valid: Is your life better now than it was before Tinubu came to power? Any hope that the present  situation of extreme hardship in the country will ease soon is hard to foretell. It’s not unkind to say that the bar that President Tinubu will reach to be deemed a successful leader will be so high and hard to attain. He has himself to blame for taking dreadful, thoughtless decisions in such a short time. His policies have resulted in more far-reaching negative consequences, with more harrowing multiplier effect on every sector of our national life. Across the country, despair has supplanted hope. This is not a good track record of how to govern a country.                                 

The sorry state of where Nigeria is today under this administration is essentially because, this President sees the office as a prize to be won, not a duty to be done. That duty carries enormous responsibilities. The starting point for this government, this President, ought to have been a deep reflection and self-discovery. These critical factors are in short supply at this moment. One is not unaware that the argument from the government side, especially the legion of sychophants that surround the presidency is that one year out of 4 years, is a short time to adequately assess a government. But the lose the argument, the logic, because one year is good enough to see a silver lining in the horizon. And, there’s none to show for it right now. Where is the experience that we were told he had? Where are that self-acclaimed intellectual, political and idealistic gifts, and extraordinary capacity for hard work, for serving the public that his handlers said he has? Have these become hubris that have melted under intense public scrutiny.         

 Let’s make this point very clear: if Tinubu succeeds, Nigeria succeeds. The plain truth is that the acquisition of power means more to him than anything else. And that’s very unfortunate. You don’t run a government by trial and error as this administration has done in the last one year.  An inexcusable pattern of bad policies have run through most of its policy reforms. The trouble with this government is its failure to admit that terrible mistakes have been made and ready to make amends going forward. After all, there’s always the holiness  of second chances. God says so in the scriptures. These are opportunities given to individuals to rectify their mistakes and rise above their previous circumstances. But the individual must, of necessity, recognise that errors have been made.  After all, as former U.S. President Bill Clinton once said, the presidency is about learning what one didn’t know before he assumed office. Clinton, in his memoir, “My Life”, acknowledged that he made awful mistakes in his first term as Governor of Arkansas  as  well as during his first term as President. He learned from those mistakes, rectified them and got re-elected to a second term as President in a resounding victory over George H. Bush.                                                                   

But Nigerian leaders are a different specie of humankind. They are know-it-all. It’s part of the present source of despair in the land . It has become the occupational disease and servile nature of the present crop of our politicians, especially at the National Assembly. They are always, without shame, ready and pliable to dance to whatever tune the presidency decides to whistle.  The grim and bizarre, or rather, amusing aspect of  the trouble with this government is the adaptive lies, empty bragging and self-glorification by the President himself and his aides. We saw that  during the 10th German-Nigerian Business Forum last year in Berlin, when President Tinubu claimed that he “deserves to be in the Guinness World Records”. And you may ask, for what? On this page, November 28, 2023,  I did say, figuratively, that  “Tinubu deserves to be on the Guinness book of Records”, because of the wrenching pain his policies have inflicted on Nigerians in such a short time.                                             

Yes, his reforms have broken hearts and destroyed many lives. A young banker in Lagos who committed suicide in her office early this year dropped a sad note for her colleagues, in the bank’s toilet, saying she took the  decision because she could no longer bear the hardship in the country. As experts  often caution, when a policy sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That’s what happened to the subsidy removal and the unification of the exchange rates. They were done without any serious thoughts. They have failed to achieve the intended results. Nobody has accounted for the trillions of naira said to have been saved. Perhaps they are keeping it for the 2027 Presidential election.                       

For President Tinubu and his cabinet,  the lesson of this one year in office mirrors the mind and soul of a leader for whom power simply means being able to bend people to his will. It’s a sorrowful reminder of that timely warning by historians that power reveals. It means that when a leader gets enough power, when he feels he doesn’t need anybody anymore, then we can see how he has always wanted to treat people all along. In one year,  it’s fair to say that the acquisition of power to accomplish personal goals, not power to achieve great purposes,  is lacking in this government. In all of this, my unsolicited advice to Tinubu is: don’t be a footnote in the pages of history. The trappings of an ‘imperial’ President may give you a short-term advantage, but it has long-term, incalculable damage to democracy. It’s not too late to make amends.

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