Tinubu’s One Year In Office (Part 1), By Kazeem Akintunde

“Our administration shall govern on your behalf but never rule over you. We shall consult and dialogue but never dictate. We shall reach out to all but never put down a single person for holding views contrary to our own. We are here to further mend and heal this nation, not tear and injure it’- Bola Tinubu, May 29th, 2023.


Above is a quote from the inaugural address of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on May 29, 2023, when he assumed office as the 16th President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.


In two-days’ time, his administration would clock one year. In the next two editions of The Discourse, we shall take a look at what he promised Nigerians when he assumed power last year, x-ray how Nigerians have fared under his government and offer suggestions on how we can all contribute our quota to the growth and development of our country.


When Tinubu was seeking the votes of Nigerians, he came up with an eight-point action plan with a catchy phrase – ‘Renewed Hope Agenda’, which listed food security, poverty eradication, growth, job creation, access to capital, inclusion, rule of law and fighting corruption.


With one year spent out of the four-year mandate given to him, many Nigerians have started doubting whether they did the right thing by giving him their mandate. This is because majority of them are passing through a difficult time unimaginable in the history of the country. The standard of living of many Nigerians have deteriorated as inflation has pushed the prices of basic food items beyond their reach. Yet, food security tops the list in his eight-point agenda.


During one of his visits to Lagos and while on his way to the Lagos Central Mosque for Jumat Service, President Tinubu was told openly in Yoruba dialect that ‘ebi n’pawa’ (We are hungry). The two phrases epitomise the current situation for millions of Nigerians who are simply hungry. And we know what is said about a hungry man. Even the federal government-owned Agency, The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has consistently churned out figures of the high cost of foodstuffs and other essential consumer goods in the country.


In its review of food prices in the last 12 months, the NBS noted that the average annual rate of food inflation for the 12-month period reviewed ending April 2024 over the previous 12-month average was 32.74 per cent, which was “a 9.52 per cent points increase from the average annual rate of change recorded in April 2023 (23.22 per cent)”.


Selected Food Price Watch for January 2024 shows that the average price of 1kg of local rice stood at N1,021.79. This indicates a rise of 98.47% in price on a year-on-year basis from N514.83 recorded in January 2023 and 11.31% rise in price on a month-on-month basis from N917.93 in December 2023.


The average price of 1kg of boneless beef increased by 37.08% on a year-on-year basis from N2,418.91 in January of last year (2023) to N3,315.78 in January 2024.


On a month-on-month basis, the average price of this item increased by 5.37% from N3,146.94 in December 2023. The average price of 1kg of brown beans rose by 64.42% on a year-on-year basis from N593.96 in January 2023 to N976.58 in January 2024. On a month-on-month basis, it increased by 12.16% from N870.67 in December 2023.


Similarly, the average price of 1kg of onion bulb rose by 97.38% on a year-on-year basis from N446.44 in January 2023 to N881.20 in January 2024, while there was a decline of 9.33% on a month-on-month basis. In addition, the average price of 1kg of Tomato rose by 80.98% on a year-on-year basis from N467.04 in January 2023 to N845.26 in January 2024. On a month-on-month basis, it increased by 3.82% from N814.16 in December 2023 to N845.26 in January 2024.


The state profile analysis in January 2024 reveals that the highest average price of 1kg of local rice was recorded in Abuja at N1,350 while the lowest was recorded in Benue State at N800.64. The highest average price of 1kg of boneless beef was recorded in Abuja at N4,000, while the lowest was recorded in Gombe State at N2,639. In terms of the average price of 1kg of brown beans (sold loose), Akwa-Ibom state recorded the highest price at N 1,466.67, while Adamawa recorded the least price at N677.23.


Rivers State recorded the highest average price of 1kg of Onion bulb at N 1,454.09, while the lowest was reported in Zamfara State at N435.71. The highest average price of 1kg of Tomato was recorded in Delta State at N1,474.79, while the least average price was recorded in Kano State at N422.7.


These are figures put together by the NBS. It simply translates to the fact that prices of foodstuffs are on the rise and many Nigerians can no longer afford to feed themselves adequately. A man that is unable to feed well will soon start paying visits to the hospital as he will not be too far from several illnesses. But even to treat ‘ordinary’ malaria now in Nigeria is beyond the means of most, as anti-malaria drugs and several others are beyond what average Nigerians can afford, leaving them to patronize the once neglected herbal medicines that are unregulated, not to mention that there are quacks in the trade, compounding the problems of the masses. Patients on admission are now being discharged from hospitals by relatives for lack of adequate funds and taken to religious houses in the hope of ‘miracle healing’.


On poverty eradication, another point on President Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda, not much has been recorded going by the analysis of the cost of foodstuffs and living. In the last one year, more Nigerians have fallen into what has now been termed multi-dimensional poverty. The World Bank poverty clock, a tool used to track poverty progress worldwide, says 71 million Nigerians are extremely poor. Our NBS has however classified 133 million Nigerians as multidimensionally poor. Many Nigerians wake up daily without knowing where their next meal will come from. Parents can no longer afford to send their wards to school due to extreme poverty. Where they are forced to send such wards to school, the children don’t stay in classrooms, and where they do, they can’t assimilate what is being taught due to rumblings from their empty stomachs.


The federal government introduced a meal per day for school children to encourage them to attend school and enable them concentrate on their education. But again, the usual Nigerian factor of corruption is messing up the programme as a large chunk of the funds end up in the private pockets of those in charge of the programme. Now, we have been told that the federal government is in a dilemma as it would now cost N540 billion in a year to feed school children due to inflation whereas only N100billion was allocated for the programme in the 2024 budget.


It’s not as if the federal government does not know that most of her citizens are facing excruciating poverty. A special Ministry was created by the last administration to address the multidimensional poverty plaguing the nation. Named the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, a huge chunk of money was allocated to the Ministry with the mandate of lifting Nigerians out of the poverty quagmire. Those at the helm of affairs in the Ministry, however, preferred to banish poverty in their own life and their generations yet unborn than do what is right by their mandate. The two Heads of that Ministry who are women are now enmeshed in corruption allegations. Sadiya Farouq, the pioneer Minister is currently having discussions with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), while Betta Edu, who took over from her, is currently under suspension.


Things were not that bad one year ago when Tinubu came on board, but the twin policies of fuel subsidy removal and unification of the dual exchange rate of the naira has been attributed as the cause of the pain most Nigerians are currently going through.


The Federal Government has also admitted that Nigerians are going through hardship and is pleading for understanding. But any policy that would snuff life out of the masses should be re-examined if it is not producing desired results. Government exists worldwide to better the lot of their people.


We started getting it wrong the day we started importing fuel into this country. For crying out loud, Nigeria is an oil producing country. God loves us so much by giving the nation abundant crude oil. We had four refineries working perfectly in the country in the 80s, but greed and corruption by those in power ‘killed’ those refineries. Many who knew next to nothing about the workings of a refinery were employed to manage them which led to the death of those refineries. We resorted to importation of petroleum products into the country at huge cost, fretting away our huge foreign exchange.


The Tinubu government, with the help of Alhaji Aliko Dangote, is trying to change the sad story. Port Harcourt refinery we have been told will soon be back on stream, while Dangote refinery, by next month, should start producing fuel. If we cannot refine our crude oil in-country, can’t we also make it available to Dangote Refinery to refine for us so that we can buy affordable petrol from him? His company had to also import crude oil from the United States of America. Whenever he is ready to sell his petrol, Nigerians should not be shocked if he asks us to pay international price for it.


Without stability in the petroleum sector, I do not envisage any relief for Nigerians in the nearest future. The high cost of fuel contributed significantly to the increase in the prices of goods and services. Farmers will have to transport farm produce from the hinterland to cities and this would impact on the prices of foodstuffs at the market.


To make a bad situation worse, with vast farmlands under the control of bandits and terrorists, many farmers can no longer go to farm and when they do, they have to pay protection fees to non-state actors to guarantee their safety. There is no way prices of foodstuffs will come down without the government tackling insecurity in the country.


Tinubu in his inaugural address, promised Nigerians to create one million jobs especially for the youths. I am not sure if anything has been done in that regard. Rather, more Nigerians are out of jobs as several blue-chip companies have been forced to close shop due to harsh operating environment. Companies such as GlaxoSmithKline, GSK, Procter and Gamble, Sanofi, Equinor and Binance, have had dialogue with their legs, moving their businesses to other climes. Tinubu promised to work with the National Assembly to fashion out an omnibus Jobs and Prosperity Bill on job creation. But one year down the line, nothing has been done in that regard. Youth unemployment is still high in Nigeria. You only need to visit any major city in Nigeria to see Nigerian youths languishing.


The International Labour Organisation (ILO), in 2022, estimated that 12.6 per cent of youths in the global workforce would be unemployed amounting to about 74.6 million youths. In Nigeria, about 53.40 per cent of youths are unemployed according to youth unemployment figures released by the NBS in 2022. Now, many of our young ones are not even interested in getting daily paid jobs but now enroll in schools where they learn yahoo business and other criminal activities. The females among them are into prostitution and ‘hook-up’ business.


To be concluded next week.






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