• Sunday, July 14, 2024
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BusinessDay

Hardship: Uneasy calm over Tinubu’s economic policies

Tinubu inaugurates presidential committee on livestock reforms

For many Nigerians, the last one year has been a renewed suffering as President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s eight-point agenda failed to tackle rising headline and food inflation, unemployment, and a declining Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

There are growing agitations for President Tinubu to revisit some of his policies to ease the rising cost of living in the country.

There is the view that Tinubu’s reform policies have made life harder for the masses and should be jettisoned.

The rising cost of living has forced people to question President Tinubu’s style of governance and economic policies.

“I spend most of my salary on food now, transport, and there is little left for other things,” Okafor Umeh, a banker, said.

The President has been heavily criticised by the citizens, even among those who supported his election due to the current high cost of living in the country.

Across the country the huge euphoria that heralded his administration upon assumption of office in May last year seems to have given way to despair and anger.

Many Nigerians are wondering if the President clearly understands the enormity of the work at hand, others are just agitated and confused on the direction the country is heading, with the prices of goods and service rising on daily bases and beyond their reach.

“The situation is bad, we hardly can feed twice a day, there is no cheap food for anyone to buy in the markets.

“I really don’t understand what the President’s policies are, people can’t feed. It’s scary, no one knows where we are going,” Abigail Michael, foodstuff seller, said.

With inflation at a record high 34%, coupled with the falling value of the naira, many people are pessimistic about the future. Ironically wages have not gone up either.

A litre of petrol costs more than three times what it did a year ago, while the price of the staple food, rice, has more than doubled.

These two figures highlight the difficulties that many Nigerians are facing.

Tinubu, during his campaign for office, said he would make difficult decisions and that running the country would not be business as usual.

From day one, he sought to fulfil his promises, beginning from his earth-shaking ‘subsidy is gone’ announcement at the Eagle Square, on the day he was sworn in. The announcement reverberated around the country and beyond.

Tinubu announced, among a package of austerity measures, the immediate removal of the fuel subsidy, a longstanding economic policy introduced to protect the citizenry against high import prices.

However, the reforms have come with a price, the last one year have been marred by economic upheaval and social distress.

As a result of the rise in cost of living many families have been plunged into a state of unprecedented despair, hardly able to feed.

The prices of foods and essential commodities are now three times or more the former price, leaving many people stranded.

The situation is worsened by the spate of insecurity in several regions which has forced many farmers to abandon their farms.

Experts say the country is currently experiencing its worst economic widespread hardship and anger.

They said President Tinubu’s efforts to remodel the economy have also added to the burden.

Despite Tinubu’s reforms, many analysts say Nigerians have not felt the impact of his one year in office despite making various policies and reforms aimed at repositioning the economy.

They also said that the economic recovery has been slow, blaming him for the exchange rate crisis and that he has not done enough to check many Nigerians still struggling with inflation and unemployment.

Some weeks ago, some residents of Zamfara State protested that they were only existing but not living, owing to the serious economic hardship facing them.

A welder, Uche Ezeugo, said that he could not remember the last time his family ate chicken.

“Due to the economic hardship, coupled with the hike in petroleum products, we are not receiving patronage as people are thinking of how to provide food for their families,” he added.

According to him, he has been battling to settle his children’s school fees but has yet to find a solution and two of his children are presently out of school due to economic constraints.

Chinwe Blessing, a trader folded her business in Tudunwada market as she was not getting patronage from buyers.

Similarly, Grace Ogunshakin, noted that everybody in the country is feeling the pain of economic hardship.

She stressed that the only solution for the country’s challenges was divine intervention, as bandits are not letting up in their nefarious activities.

Speaking on the President’s handling of the economy, a chartered stockbroker, Arinze Nwobu, said the indices are all looking South, while none is looking up.

According to him, “We’re facing a serious economic headwind. All the parameters: exchange rate, interest rate and others are all not looking good.

“Tinubu doesn’t realise that after politics and taking over power, everything you take care of next is the economy because that’s the life blood of the people. Tinubu focused more on the political dynamics; he didn’t really prepare himself for the economic dynamics.”

He added, “There’s an outstanding surplus of money supply in the system through ways and means and underground money already causing inflation, the President now removed fuel subsidy because they didn’t measure the pulse of the economy.

“The people he appointed later on didn’t advise him prior. You should know that as you’re struggling for power, begin to prepare your economic plan because that’s what affects people in the country.’’

Similarly, Idakolo Gbolade, CEO of SD & D Capital Management, said the government’s monetary and fiscal policies have been reactionary instead of systematic.

He stressed that Tinubu’s government had failed to listen to expert advice, and its approach was not yielding results.

He noted that the CBN’s hike in interest rates has failed to bring down inflation.

Gbolade rated Tinubu’s administration’s handling of the nation’s economy in the last one year as below average.

“The fiscal and monetary policies of the Bola Tinubu administration have been reactionary instead of systematic to the extent that the government failed to listen to experts’ opinions even when its approach is not yielding the required results.

“The monetary policies implemented by the CBN have not stemmed inflation despite continuous increase of the MPR.

“The monetary authorities have failed to listen to experts’ views that raising interest rates alone will not bring down inflationary pressures.

“The cost of doing business has tremendously increased, and many companies are packing up or sacking staff because of losses.

“On the fiscal side, after the twin policies of fuel subsidy removal and exchange rates harmonization, the government began to realize increased revenue streams, which has not transformed the economy.

“The government listed many measures, like providing CNG conversion kits and buses to ease transportation problems, and promised to ensure the refineries would be working in the first quarter of 2024 and an agricultural revolution; these promises have yet to be fulfilled.

“The economy has witnessed serious pressure from these policies, increasing untold hardships for the people. The government also showed its insensitivity to the plight of the people by allowing an electricity tariff increase and the now abandoned Cybersecurity levy.

“They have increased subscription on Dstv and others; in the telecommunications sector, they are also awaiting government’s approval to increase tariffs.”