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Tinubu must emphasise policies that promote national unity and cohesion – Agunbiade

Tinubu must emphasise policies that promote national unity and cohesion – Agunbiade

Babatunde Agunbiade is an ICT professional, philanthropist, and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who previously ran for councillorship in Ward D of the Ayobo-Ipaja LCDA in Alimosho, Lagos State, and contested for the House of Representatives on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) but last year, decamped to the APC. In this interview with Remi Feyisipo, Agunbiade spoke on the state of the nation, one year of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, how best to tackle corruption, among others. Excerpts:

How would you rate the first year of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration?

The first year of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration has been marked by a mix of significant achievements and notable challenges. Some his achievements included, economic reforms, healthcare and education especially with the introduction of student loans and the Nigerian education Loan fund aimed to improve access to higher education, despite accompanying fee hikes, security liberation of thousands of hostages and the neutralisation of many insurgents, infrastructure and agricultural Initiatives among others. But the year also comes with challenges such as fuel subsidy removal, currency devaluation, increased education costs, persistent electricity problems.

But in the overall, President Tinubu’s first year has been characterised by substantial reforms and ambitious projects aimed at long-term benefits, but these have come with immediate economic difficulties for many Nigerians.

So, the administration’s success will likely depend on how effectively it can mitigate these short-term pains while ensuring the promised long-term gains materialise.

The FG removed fuel subsidy and this led to increase in prices of goods and services and high inflation; what is your opinion about this and do you think the President is on the right path on the economy?

The removal of fuel subsidy has significant effects on the economy, including increased prices of goods and services and higher inflation, as observed in Nigeria. Whether this decision is the right path for the economy depends on various factors, including the overall economic context, the effectiveness of alternative policies, and the government’s ability to mitigate the negative impacts on the population. As for whether the President is on the right path on the economy, it ultimately depends on the effectiveness of the government’s overall economic strategy, including its efforts to address inflation, promote economic growth, and improve the standard of living for Nigerians. The removal of fuel subsidy is just one aspect of economic policy, and its success or failure should be evaluated within the broader context of the government’s economic management.

The economic indicators and performance

index of the economy were not giving Nigerians any hope. What do you think FG can do to cushion the effect of the hardship?

To cushion the effects of economic hardship in Nigeria, the Federal Government should consider implementing social safety nets, job creation, more Infrastructural development, adoption of appropriate monetary and fiscal policies to stabilise the economy and support growth, Investment in Education and Healthcare, accelerate efforts to diversify the economy away from reliance on oil and promote growth in non-oil sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, and services, Public-Private Partnerships to foster collaboration between the public and private sectors to drive economic growth and development, transparency and accountability in the management of public resources to minimise waste. By implementing these measures, the FG will help alleviate the hardship faced by Nigerians and create an enabling environment for sustainable economic growth and development. It is therefore, important for these efforts to be comprehensive, coordinated, and targeted to address the specific needs of the most vulnerable segments of the population.

If you are to advise the President going forward, what should he be doing?

Going forward, if Tinubu aims to lead effectively and address the challenges facing Nigeria, he should prioritise national unity. I will also advise him to emphasise policies and initiatives that can promote national unity and cohesion. Nigeria is a diverse country with various ethnic, religious, and cultural groups, and fostering unity among its citizens is crucial for sustainable development and peace.

Apart from this, he should likewise, promote good governance, ensure good governance, engage with civil society, foster dialogue and collaboration with civil society organisations, the private sector, and other stakeholders to address the needs and concerns of the Nigerian people. He should also promote Regional Integration: Strengthen Nigeria’s relationships with its neighboring countries and regional organisations to promote peace, stability, and economic cooperation in West Africa. Regional integration can unlock opportunities for trade, investment, and development across the region. So, by prioritising these areas and demonstrating effective leadership, Tinubu can contribute to building a stronger, more prosperous, and more united Nigeria.

The issue of corruption has not been tackled head on, as there are still corruption allegations here and there. How best do

you think President Tinubu should handle this?

Addressing corruption requires a multifaceted approach that combines legislative, executive, and judicial actions, as well as societal changes. But it is important to note that tackling corruption is a long-term and ongoing process that requires sustained commitment and effort from all sectors of society. President Tinubu should work collaboratively with other branches of government, civil society organizations, the private sector, and the international community to effectively address this challenge.

What’s your take on restructuring; should the report of the 2014 Constitutional Conference under former president Goodluck Jonathan be implemented or do you think another one should be organised?

The question of restructuring in Nigeria is complex and multifaceted, and there are varying opinions on how best to approach it. The 2014 National Conference convened by former President Goodluck Jonathan produced a comprehensive report with recommendations on various aspects of governance, including restructuring. Some argue that implementing the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference could provide a starting point for addressing the issue of restructuring in Nigeria. These recommendations were the product of extensive consultations and deliberations involving various stakeholders from different parts of the country. Implementing them could potentially address some of the longstanding grievances and disparities in the country’s political and economic structure.

However, others argue that the 2014 National Conference may not adequately represent the views and aspirations of all Nigerians, and thus, there may be a need for further consultations and dialogue to ensure that any restructuring process is inclusive and comprehensive.

Additionally, political will and consensus among key stakeholders are essential for successful implementation of any restructuring agenda.

Ultimately, whether to implement the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference or to organise another one is a decision that should be made through a transparent and participatory process, taking into account the diverse interests and perspectives of Nigerians. The goal should be to pursue a restructuring agenda that promotes national unity, equity, and development.

How are you impacting on your community especially youths and women, and what are you doing presently?

As a citizen and philanthropist, I can certainly outline how I have positively impacted youths and women in my community through my NGO- COBATALK Initiative.

I provide accessible and personalised education resources, helping both youths and women to learn new skills, access quality education, and pursue their interests regardless of their geographical location or socioeconomic status. I have assisted in matching individuals, including youths and women, with suitable job opportunities based on their skills and interests. I empowered women and youths by providing them with tools and resources to start their own businesses or initiatives, access financial services, and participate more actively in the economy. I have also provided healthcare services, through personalised medical advice, and assist in early detection and treatment of diseases, benefiting both youths and women.

Presently, am actively working on creating and implementing solutions that address these areas. For example: Developing educational platforms that cater to different learning styles and abilities; creating job search platforms that match individuals with suitable employment opportunities; building enabled financial services platforms that cater to the specific needs of women and youths; implementing healthcare solutions for remote diagnosis and monitoring and establishing online communities and forums specifically for youths and women to connect, share resources, and support each other.

These efforts aim to leverage Government system to create positive impacts on the lives of youths and women, ultimately contributing to their empowerment and well-being.

Next year, Lagos State will conduct another LG election, are you aspiring for any position?

Abraham Lincoln defined democracy as government of the people, by the people, and for the people. So, it all depends on my people; if a clarion call comes, I will respond; but, the dream is bigger.