It has been a mixed bag of fortunes since President Bola Tinubu assumed office on May 29, 2023. The President came with many promises encapsulated in his ‘Renewed Hope’ agenda. Though one year is insufficient to assess an administration, it can still throw light on what the rest of the years will look like. It is pertinent to note that this administration has recorded a few successes. In the area of security, for instance, it deserves commendation for the rescue of 137 Kaduna schoolchildren kidnapped from their school in March 2024.   

Also, it is a plus for this administration to have paid some arrears of salaries owed university lecturers. Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) still have an axe to grind with the government though. The government has also made some gains in the diplomatic front. Nigeria is gradually gaining its position back in Africa. The administration has also cleared the backlog of foreign exchange (forex) obligations inherited from the previous administration. The CNG bus initiative aimed at easing transportation deserves commendation as well.

Nevertheless, so many things have gone wrong. For instance, the current level of hardship that has befallen citizens is unparalleled in the peace-time history of Nigeria. During his inauguration as President, Tinubu’s first major pronouncement was the removal of fuel subsidy. This immediately shot the price of fuel up from about N158 per litre to over N600 per litre. It triggered a spiral effect on the prices of other goods and services. Early 2023, the price of a 50kg bag of rice was between N30,000 and N35,000. Today, it is about N80,000. The prices of many other essential commodities are out of the reach of many Nigerians.

Amid these price increases, the level of income of many citizens remains stagnant. The minimum wage is still N30,000  per month. The Federal Government is still at loggerheads with the organised labour over how much the minimum wage should be.

Some multinational companies have either folded up or relocated to other countries. This has led to a spike in the rate of unemployment. The volatility in the forex market helped to heighten the burden of these companies. It is such that the Naira which exchanged for below N700 to a dollar in early 2023, now exchanges for about N1,500 to a dollar. This has created a level of uncertainty and disillusionment in the business world. Many of the remaining companies posted heavy losses in the past one year.

Hunger and poverty now rule the world of many Nigerians. Before this government took over, about 133 million Nigerians were said to be multi-dimensionally poor. Today, the situation has worsened. Many citizens have died of stampede while rushing for food palliatives. The rates of headline and food inflations have continued to rise.

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By the end of 2023, Nigeria’s public debt increased by 10 per cent, as it hit N97.3 trillion. There are plans to borrow more, and contrary to the President’s promise to link external loans to projects that generate cash flows from which the debt could be repaid, most of these loans were tied to expenditure obligations.

Apparently, government hopes to recoup part of its frivolous expenditure from taxation. It has imposed all manner of taxes on Nigerians. Recently, it increased tariff for electricity consumers on Band A. From N68 per kilowatt-hour, the tariff went up to N255 per kWh. The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) reduced it to N206.80 kWh after many protests from Nigerians.

Insecurity remains an intractable problem. SBM Intelligence, a Nigerian risk consultancy firm, estimates that over 4,700 people have been abducted since Tinubu assumed office in May 2023. Statistics from a data bureau, the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), indicate that over 2,300 people were killed within the first quarter of 2024. Within Tinubu’s first seven months in office, over 5,000 Nigerians were reportedly killed.  

Profligacy has remained the order of the day. While our health and education sectors have remained poorly funded, the government finds it more expedient buying luxury vehicles for public office-holders including the National Assembly members and ministers. Billions of scarce funds are wasted by official delegates on some foreign trips that yield little or nothing for the country.

The legislature, which should act as a check on the executive has not been able to stand on its feet. It is still an appendage of the executive. The judiciary is the same, though the three arms of government are supposed to be independent of one another.

This is not yet the Nigeria of our dream. The government should admit that it has made mistakes. There is so much to do and there is still enough time to make amends. All hope is not lost. Government should reflect on its actions in the past one year and think more of what will unite Nigerians and make their lives better. We believe President Tinubu can still do the right things. Our economy needs a complete overhaul. The government should look inwards and expand our revenue base. Beyond oil, we should explore the solid mineral sector and others that will boost the economy.

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