Tunde Daramola, pharmacist, is a former member of the national working committee of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and a party chieftain in Lagos State. In this exclusive interview with INIOBONG IWOK, he assesses the state of the nation and President Bola Tinubu’s administration. Excerpt:
What is your take on Tinubu’s economic policies so far?
Not because I just came back from America, but because I have observed the state of affairs since Tinubu assumed office, when he announced the removal of petrol subsidy.
A serious administration will follow the removal with certain pronouncements; like a committee should have been put in place before his inauguration except that he was not sure of his victory. He had enough time to put forward a committee, not to talk of him having a kitchen cabinet which worked with him throughout his campaign.
Any serious candidate must have put in place a blueprint of his action. Don’t tell us when you get there is when you begin to realise the task ahead. We all knew from January, Buhari said it from January that there would be no allocation for subsidy. It is unfortunate Tinubu came to power unprepared, if he was prepared there was supposed to be a committee to look into the effects of subsidy removal and other reforms on Nigerians. You don’t do a fire-brigade approach that is to tell you there is going to be more oppression for Nigerians.
President Tinubu said there are plans to roll out palliatives soon. Don’t you believe him?
What kind of palliatives is that? Forget about his small palliatives, what did the Buhari palliatives do for Nigerians? What Nigerians need is not palliatives, we want a serious government who knows their onion.
There should have been a committee to take care of the effects that would come with subsidy removal on Nigerians.
The United States is the biggest debtor but they have predicted recession for the past two years, the economy is growing stronger. There is an inflation reduction act, there is infrastructure money pumped out. Wherever the money came from, you don’t tell the people to continue to sacrifice after you implemented a seventy per cent salary increase for legislators, yourself and other executives.
What type of leadership style is that? I foresee more oppression for the masses. The exchange rate is going up daily, if the naira is floating, there would be more oppression and suffering for the masses because of the importation of petrol with dollars.
Are you saying the FX policy is wrong?
They may have a policy but the policy does not look right for the masses. We don’t produce, you carry crude out to refine outside and bring it back, that is multiply crude that could be refined in Nigeria to provide jobs for thousands of Nigerians.
What is your take on the recently screened ministers?
I stopped watching the screening process when they were screening them, it was a charade. I saw on social media where the Senate president was talking about sharing money among his colleagues, while the masses can hardly eat. What do we produce? The God-given product; we can’t even refine it.
Dangote refinery may not work in another year. So all that jamboree just to commission it may was just for it.
The newly appointed ministers are just old wine in another bottle; this is going to be a government run on propaganda. It would be loud noise and no movement.
We have more ministers appointed by President Tinubu than his predecessors?
That means he is settling the boys. Buhari had 36 and chose one each per zone making 42. Tinubu is creating jobs for the boys. Do you expect anything different?
The current President was leader of APC and he could not intervene in the administration of Muhammadu Buhari, but promised to continue where Buhari stopped.
We had more ministers from the North-West and indication that he is settling those who voted for him.
I say shame on tribal leaders; what Nigeria needs is a nationalist leader who can bring succour to the country. I came back to Nigeria and moving from my house to Yaba is so free, although I am spending so much on fuel.
The President said recently he would intervene in the FX policy when the need arises. Don’t you agree with him?
The exchange rate cannot be fixed, if they want to intervene now it means they were unprepared.
I am surprised by those praising him for removing petrol subsidy; what alternative did he provide?
The student loan signed into law by Tinubu, where is the work for anyone that takes the loan to pay back after graduation? At N30 percent interest rate how can they pay back at this crushing interest rate?
Even America as rich as they are; the Biden administration wrote-off loans collected by students recently. Tinubu went to Chicago University; it is a free school, so how dare he hike tuition fees here.
What is your take on ECOWAS move to intervene in Niger?
I hope they are not enablers, a country as rich as that still subservient to France, would they remain eternity in slavery. I hope it is not a distraction. I hope we don’t allow France to continue to impoverish these people.
You have colonised them with language, you are colonising them economically, that is why I said; hope Nigeria is not an enabler. What is our business? A good government would be supported by the people. The people are not protesting only about the government, they are also protesting against French domination. If Bola Tinubu wants to send our young men to go and die in Niger it is bad. He should learn what is called diplomacy; the people are saying they don’t want French domination again.
I am not encouraging a coup; an unpopular government should not expect anything. Bola Tinubu lost all support from the masses within two months of his administration.
Is it not too early to write Tinubu’s administration off?
When Goodluck Jonathan raised fuel prices then civil society organisations protested, but they are silent now because they are with the government in power. Bola Tinubu used to finance them, if you are expecting anything from Labour you are joking.
But some people say PDP is not playing an active role in the opposition?
PDP is not the masses, the masses asked for APC they got what they wanted. I hope they are not regretting it now.
What is the way forward for PDP; Nyesom Wike is now minister of APC’s government?
I am not surprised Wike went to join APC, but he would be disappointed; the freedom he has in PDP to be lord and master, he cannot get it there.
He cannot exhibit that rascality in APC. I cannot say about the future, I am not a member of the national working committee; the task ahead is for PDP to take stock, focus and look to close the lapses.
The maladministration of this government is more and there would be more of it. When I heard a minister during the screening talking about N700 as a benchmark for dollars, it tells you how this government is.
Why are you floating the naira? It sends the wrong signal. This is a government I am waiting to be disappointed in.
What is your expectation from the tribunal?
I am not a lawyer; I am a pharmacist. It is time for us to take back our country. What that means is the masses should open their eyes.
I heard some people are already regretting this administration, they did not come out fully but it is clear they are already disappointed with Tinubu.
I believe there is a need for the tribunal to be complete before they assume office, which would help to check a lot of things.
Tinubu told Nigerians to be patient with his administration; don’t you agree?
This government had three months to prepare before assuming office and they failed to prepare. I am not expecting Labour to do anything. The normal thing is if fuel prices rise to that level, the minimum wage should be about N300, 000.
They just set up a committee on physical policy and tax reforms. Who is going to bear the brunt of the taxation?
It is the working class; nobody taxes the wealthy. All the high rises and big buildings are not owned by the masses, they are owned by less than one percent of the population. The tax policy is going to add to the suffering of the people.