Tinubu @ 1: Promises and performance

By Jerome Utomi

On Wednesday May 29, 2024, Nigerians joined President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to celebrate his first anniversary in office as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. More strategically, the celebration provided yet another golden opportunity for me to reflect on the state of the nation and condition of Nigerians in the past one year.

While this article is too short to spread out the socioeconomic voyage the nation underwent in the year under review, it is however spaced enough to remind Mr. President of promises made during the 2023 electioneering season.

Among the basket of promises made to Nigerians, there is an urgent need to remember that you promised to improve security by decentralizing the policing of the country and creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs simultaneously. You promised to transform Nigeria into an enviable country and one where there will be justice, peace and prosperity for all, with a “robust economy”.

You accepted to achieve in the country “a vibrant and thriving democracy and a prosperous nation with a fast-growing industrial base, capable of producing the most basic needs of the people and exporting to other countries of the world a country with a robust economy, where prosperity is broadly shared by all irrespective of class, region, and religion. “A nation where its people enjoy all the basic needs, including a safe and secure environment, abundant food, affordable shelter, health care, and quality primary education for all. “A nation founded on justice, peace, and prosperity for all.”

On the nation’s economy, you agreed to build an economy that will make the nation’s Gross Development Product (GDP) grow quicker annually for the next four years while also providing jobs for millions of youths in the country. You promised Nigerians that your administration would build a new National Industrial Policy focused on special intervention to reinvigorate specific strategic industries.

 “I will focus on stimulating jobs, which will be my top priority as President. I will get Nigeria to work by launching a major public works programme, a significant and heavy investment in infrastructure, and value-adding manufacturing and agriculture”.

You also said that your administration promised to  build an efficient, fast-growing, and well-diversified emerging economy with a real GDP growth averaging 12 per cent annually for the next four years, translating into millions of new jobs during this period, and in a related development promised to create six new Regional Economic Development Agencies, which will establish sub-regional industrial hubs to exploit each zone’s competitive advantage and optimize their potential for industrial growth.

You pledged to formulate a new National Policy on Agriculture to boost food production while promoting the establishment of new commodity exchange boards, strengthening the one in Lagos in order to guarantee minimum pricing for agricultural products such as cotton, cocoa, rice, soya beans, corn, palm kernel, and groundnuts.

On infrastructure, you promised to “Build A New Nigeria (BANN)” by developing a National Infrastructure plan, which will cover strategic roads, bridges, rail, water, power, seaports and airports spanning the length and breadth of the country, noting that your administration would combine government funding, borrowing, public-private partnership, private sector financing and concession to initiate a medium and long-term financial model for the BANN initiative.

You stated that your administration would target an electricity distribution goal of 15,000 megawatts across the country and ensure a sustainable 24/7 supply. “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 added’’.

In the oil and gas sector, you said there would be no need for a subsidy because the market will be open and transparent. That Supply will come from local refineries, and the forces of demand and supply will determine the price of petroleum products. “My administration will establish a National Strategic Reserve for Petroleum Products to stabilize supply during unexpected shortages or surplus periods. This will eliminate any form of product shortages and prevent wild swings in prices.”

You promised to continue the free school feeding programme of the APC, feeding “millions of primary school children across the country, promising to increase the spending on education to 25 per cent of the nation’s budget.

Talking about tertiary education, you said that your administration would eradicate strikes by tertiary institution workers by encouraging the tertiary institutions to source funds through grants and corporate sponsorships, with all the institutions granted financial autonomy.

Just like education, you also assured to increase the funding for health care in the annual budget to 10 per cent. According to him, the National Health Insurance Scheme would be launched to grant health insurance cover to most Nigerians.

There is no doubt that Mr. President together with his team is making a conscious effort to put the country on the right political and socioeconomic pedestal. However, when one juxtaposes these promises with the socioeconomic realities in the country, it tells us that more work needs to be done and more reforms need to  be made.  

Therefore, as the nation celebrates, I believe that building a united and prosperous Nigeria is possible. All that is required, among other things, is the government developing the moral force that is people-focused.

 

• Utomi writes from Lagos

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