Be hopeful, stakeholders urge Nigerians, as Tinubu clocks one year in office

With barely a week to the first anniversary of President Bola Tinubu’s administration, some stakeholders have urged Nigerians to be hopeful.

According to them, the various reform programmes of the government will improve their livelihoods.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Tinubu was sworn-in on May 29, 2023 after campaigning on the ‘Renewed Hope Agenda”.

Shortly after assuming office, the president embarked on economic policy reforms, such as removal of the long, controversial petrol subsidy and unification of the dual foreign exchange rates.

Both policies, which were designed to improve revenue of the Federal Government, have had a ripple effect on the micro economy of the average Nigerian, due to worsening inflationary trend and high cost of basic commodities.

An economist, Prof. Ken Ife, urged Nigerians to be patient with the Tinubu – led government while the various economic reforms come into fruition.

Ife, the Lead Consultant on Private Sector Development to the ECOWAS Commission, sai
d that the reforms though biting were necessary bitter pills to reposition the ailing economy.

‘We should consider where we were one year ago and where we are today.

‘Our economy was in an intensive unit, very sick in crisis. Everything went wrong, N23 trillion Ways and Means, almost N100 trillion debt; debt-to-Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio at almost 40 per cent, debt service to revenue of more than 90 per cent.

‘One year down the line, Nigeria has come out of the intensive unit. We are now in a recovering position,” he said.

According to him, we have to make sacrifices.

‘Inflation has gone up significantly, but that is part of the price we have to pay before we experience economic boom,” he said.

On the appropriate ‘living wage” for Nigerian workers as promised by the president, Ife called for sincere negotiations.

‘Minimum wage is a matter for negotiation because, it is not just the minimum wage, but there are repercussion on the minimum wage that affects the wages of everyone else.

‘What is
agreed on today may be progressively improved over the next year or two.

‘There needs to be a three-year wage increment by percentage, so that as they are increasing it, inflation has to be coming down.

‘Inflation is the biggest challenge, if inflation is within a single digit then the money that people receive can buy much more,” he said.

Dr Chijioke Ekechukwu, an economist, said that the reforms usually ended in hope.

Accordimg to Ekechukwu, a past president of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), reforms usually come with relief if sincerely carried out.

He urged Nigerians to give Tinubu some more time to see his various economic reforms come to fruition.

‘When there are reforms, they bite hard, but the idea is that there should be light at the end of the tunnel.

‘The government has embarked on a lot of reforms to reposition the economy. The removal of fuel subsidy is to make more money available for other sectors.

‘And that has actually ncreased government revenue. Same with floatin
g of the Naira, even though it has also contributed to inflation. Interest rate today is about the highest in Africa.

‘The higher the interest rate, the higher the cost of production and the cost will be passed over to the consumers.

‘Generally, there is a growth in the economy. The GDP is growing to the extent that the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have improved on their projection for Nigeria,”he said.

He, however, said that insecurity was still a major challenge.

‘Unfortunately, not enough has happened to insecurity, and it is a major bane of our economic development,” he said.

He said that while we appraised the Federal Government, we should also consider the performances of states and Local Government Councils.

On minimum wage, Ekechukwu said that when we look at the level of depreciation of the Naira and the level of inflation, even N100,000 as Minimum wage would not be enough.

According to him, the percentage of depreciation and inflation are way above that.

‘What Nigerians
need is not high salary per se. What we need is an economy where prices of goods and services are affordable to all Nigerians.

‘We need inflation to be low, we need amenities to be working at affordable prices.

‘In an economy like the UK, education till the child is eighteen years is free,” he said.

The Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Mathew Kukah, said that 12 months were not enough to ‘pass judgment” on the government.

Kukah said that though government’s economic reforms had created some hardship, there is hope that things would improve.

‘I am sure many people will tell you that one year is not enough to make a judgment. However, from where we all stand, we know that we are all in a very difficult situation.

‘Nigerians are in various levels of pain, and they are pains that are unintended.

‘But they are the results of certain policy decisions that hopefully with time, can be amended to serve the welfare of the people,” he said.

He urged Nigerians to commit themselves to the fact th
at building a good society takes a lot of time.

‘It is not something that is done in one lifetime, and for me, the most important thing is to continue on the building blocks of the things that we think are being done well,’ he said.

However, the President of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Joe Ajaero, decried the current state of the nation’s economy and called for the return of fuel subsidy and reversal of other policies to make life easy and meaningful.

Ajaero described Tinubu’s action ‘as palliative policies” that had kept Nigerians in perpetual poverty.

‘Nigerians are the losers; look at the polices, from devaluation of Naira, removal of fuel subsidy, Value Added Tax, increase in taxes and many others.

‘These are being done without commensurate increase in salaries of the Nigerian workers.

‘Many companies have closed down. A lot of businesses have wind down, youth are leaving the country, the exchange rate of Naira to a dollar hit the ceiling causing increase in prices of goods and services,” Ajae
ro said.

Also,a member of the Northern Elders Forum, (NEF), Prof. Usman Yusuf, said that Nigerians were fast losing hope due to harsh economic conditions.

He urged the economic management team of the government to take steps that could improve the economy as a matter of urgency.

A civil servant, Abbas Ibrahim, described the last 12 months of the Tinubu presidency as very harsh on workers.

‘In the midst of all these reforms, the Nigerian worker is the worst hit.

‘Inflation is at its worst level, yet our salaries remain unchanged. If you ask me, I will tell you clearly that the government has not done well,” he said.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria