In a move reminiscent of the plea by the people of Israel to Rehoboam, shortly after power transition from King Solomon, to lighten their load, Nigerians who have suffered so much in the last eight years have urged the President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu to make their loads lighter.
Eight years under the out-going President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerians say, had been hellish on many fronts; hence, the cry for a human face to governance.
Tinubu would be sworn in Monday as the successor to the outgoing President Buhari whose two-term tenure of eight years have been variously described as disastrous, impacting negatively on Nigerians.
Moses Onodua, a public affairs analyst, said that considering Tinubu’s years of experience in governance and his previous antecedents, which are pointers to his capability to deliver and meet the expectations of Nigerians, he should be able to source the best hands that would bring the much-desired change that Nigeria needs.
“Bola Tinubu has no option than to perform because it was largely due to his support that Buhari became President. Therefore, he has to ameliorate the untold hardship and sufferings this outgoing administration unleashed on Nigerians.
“It is heartwarming that by May 29th, 2023, the tenure of President Buhari will officially come to an end. It will also signal the end of eight years of the most cruel and difficult time to be a Nigerian. Nigerans are eagerly waiting for him to leave so that the rebuilding of the nation can begin. It was eight years of colossal wastage of national treasury and resources.
“It is the end of the road for the change mantra which was joyfully and wholeheartedly accepted by vast majority of Nigerians but how Buhari turned against the same people who were ready to sacrifice themselves for him to take the mantle of leadership is totally beyond comprehension.
“He threw the dream, hope and aspirations of the people to the wind. Buhari’s eight years’ record will make it very difficult for Nigerians to trust any other person to deliver for them. Nevertheless, Bola Tinubu will tomorrow take over as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Sincerely speaking, Buhari has already laid the foundations for the failure of the incoming government but I’m sure that the failures of this administration will go with Buhari and a new chapter is about to be opened for Nigerians,” he said.
Onodua stressed that after years of going through pains, Nigerians need a compassionate leader, hence the president-elect must embark on people-oriented programmes that will ameliorate or completely eradicate the sufferings in the land.
“He must focus on projects that will bring out Nigeria from the economic quagmire that we have found ourselves in as a result of the several policies of the Buhari administration. Efforts must be made to make life meaningful to all Nigerians with special focus on power generation, transmission and distribution to every nook and cranny of Nigeria.
“All-round availability and affordable petroleum products, agriculture, road network, education and health care are areas that should be declared as national emergencies. These areas are almost dead and there is urgent need for emergency measures to be taken to revive them.
“Finally, he needs to address the issues of insecurity and corruption. These two monsters, if properly handled, can lead to the provision of all other things needed by Nigerians,” Onodua said.
Bright Oniovokukor, Project Manager, Indomitable Youth Organisation, said Tinubu must be able to prove beyond doubts he meant well for Nigeria.
“In most of his remarks from the day he shouted “Emi lo kan”, there has not been one tangible thing to pin on him as a strategy he would use to ease the sufferings of Nigerians. In fact, that is the major challenge with Nigerians at the moment as there is still uncertainty in the air.
“So much talk and promises were made in the build up of Buhari coming into power and now eight years is coming to an end. The positive difference between then and now is not remarkable enough. As for Tinubu, he should by now understand that our systems are not working, and he should be ready to make them work,” Oniovokukor said.
Meanwhile, the incoming administration under Bola Ahmed Tinubu, president-elect, must immediately tackle Nigeria’s economic needs, including “low productivity, very poor infrastructure and logistics, epileptic power supply, and inadequate access to finance for small and medium size enterprises.”
This is the only way the nation’s economy can record the needed improvement.
The challenge was given Saturday by the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina in his speech at the Inauguration Lecture held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
Adesina noted that the President-elect now has an opportunity to make history, by building a resurgent, a united and prosperous Nigeria, adding that “It is Nigeria’s turn.”
According to him, “Nigeria will be looking to you, as President Tinubu, on your first day in office, with hope. Hope that you will assure security, peace, and stability. Hope that you will heal and unite a fractious nation.Hope that you will rise above party lines and forge a compelling force to move the nation forward, with inclusiveness, fairness, equity, and justice. Hope that you will drastically improve the economy. Hope that you will spark a new wave of prosperity.”
He charged the incoming President to bring this “hope to the present, as hope deferred makes the heart grow weary.”
He further said that the starting point must be macroeconomic and fiscal stability, adding that “Unless the economy is revived and fiscal challenges addressed boldly, resources to develop will not be there,” as according to him “No bird can fly if its wings are tied.”
He also noted that Nigeria’s current huge fiscal deficit have been due to huge federal and state government expenditures, lower receipts due to dwindling revenues from export of crude oil, vandalism of pipelines and illegal bunkering of crude oil.
“According to Nigeria’s Debt Management Office, Nigeria now spends 96percent of its revenue servicing debt, with the debt-to-revenue ratio rising from 83.2 percent in 2021 to 96.3 percent by 2022.”
He noted further that “while som will argue that the debt to GDP ratio at 34percent is still low compared to other countries in Africa, which is correct, no one pays their debt using GDP.
“Debt is paid using revenue, and Nigeria’s revenues have been declining. Nigeria earns revenue now to service debt — not to grow. The place to start is to remove the inefficient fuel subsidies.”
For him, Nigeria’s fuel subsidies benefit the rich, not the poor, fueling their and government’s endless fleets of cars at the expense of the poor. Estimates show that the poorest 40percent of the population consume just 3percent of petrol.
He therefore, called on the incoming administration to tackle the subsidy issue, adding that “Fuel subsidies are killing the Nigerian economy, costing Nigeria $10 billion alone in 2022. That means Nigeria is borrowing what it does not have to if it simply eliminates the subsidies and uses the resources well for its national development.
“Rather, support should be given to private sector refineries and modular refineries to allow for efficiency and competitiveness to drive down fuel pump prices. The newly commissioned Dangote Refinery by President Buhari – the largest single-train petroleum refinery in the world, as well as its Petrochemical Complex — will revolutionise Nigeria’s economy.
He also charged the incoming government to look critically at the cost of governance in Nigeria, which he said “is way too high and should be drastically reduced to free up more resources for development. Nigeria is spending very little on development.
“Today, Nigeria is ranked among countries with the lowest human development index in the world, with a rank of 167 among 174 countries globally, according to the World Bank 2022 Public Expenditure Review report.
“To meet Nigeria’s massive infrastructure needs, according to the report, will require $ 3 trillion by 2050. According to the report, at the current rate, it would take Nigeria 300 years to provide its minimum level of infrastructure needed for development.
“All living Nigerians today, and many generations to come, will be long gone by then! We must change this. Nigeria must rely more on the private sector for infrastructure development, to reduce fiscal burdens on the government.”
On tax revenue, he noted that much can be done to raise tax revenue, as the tax-to-GDP ratio is still low.
“This must include improving tax collection, tax administration, moving from tax exemption to tax redemption, ensuring that multinational companies pay appropriate royalties and taxes, and that leakages in tax collection are closed.
“However, simply raising taxes is not enough, as many question the value of paying taxes, hence the high level of tax avoidance. Many citizens provide their own electricity, sink boreholes to get access to water, and repair roads in their towns and neighborhoods. These are essentially high implicit taxes.Nigerians therefore pay the highest ‘implicit tax rates’ in the world.
“Governments need to assure effective social contracts by delivering quality public services. It is not the amount collected, it is how it is spent, and what is delivered. Nations that grow better run effective governments that assure social contracts with their citizens.
“We must re-balance the structure and performance of the economy. A very common refrain in Nigeria, with every successive government, is “we need to diversify the economy.” But is it so?
“The economy of Nigeria is one of the most diversified in Africa, with the oil sector accounting for only 15percent of the GDP, and 85percent is in the other sectors.
“Nigeria’s challenge is not diversification. Nigeria’s challenge is revenue concentration. This is because the oil sector accounts for 75.4percent of export revenue and 50percent of all government revenue.
“The solution, therefore, is to unlock the bottlenecks that are hampering 85percent of the economy.”
He said Nigeria must also shift away from import substitution approach to export-focused industrialisation. Nations do not thrive through import substitution; they thrive from export- bound industrialisation, adding that “ for faster growth, Nigeria must decisively fix the issue of power, once and for all.
“There is no justification for Nigeria not having enough power. The abnormal has become normal. Nigeria’s private sector is hampered by the high cost of power. Providing electricity will make Nigerian industries more competitive. And it is not brain surgery.”
He cited the examples of Kenya and Egypt, adding that with the support of the African Development Bank, Kenya, under President Kenyatta, was able to expand electricity access from 32percent in 2013 to 75percent in 2022. “What an incredible achievement within 10 years!
“Today, 86percent0 of Kenya’s economy is powered by renewable energy. And in one project – the Last Mile Connectivity Project—the Bank’s support allowed Kenya to connect over 2.3 million poor households to electricity – that is over 12 million people provided with affordable connection to grid power.
“In 2014, Egypt had electricity deficit of 6,000 megawatts, but by 2022 it had 20,000 megawatts of surplus power generation capacity. Amazing!
“I commend the Government of Nigeria on the recent commissioning of the several power projects. But there is still much to do. He therefore m advised Nigeria to invest massively in renewable energy, especially solar.
“The African Development Bank is implementing a $25 billion Desert-to-Power program to provide electricity for 250 million people across the Sahel, including the northern parts of Nigeria.
“For inclusive development, Nigeria must completely revive its rural areas. Nigeria’s rural areas are forgotten and have become zones of economic misery.
“To revive and transform these rural economies, we must make agriculture their main source of income, a business and a wealth creating sector. To be clear, agriculture is not a development sector.”
He also recommended the development of Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones which he said will transform agriculture, add value for agricultural value chains and attract private sector food and agribusinesses into rural areas.
“Special agro-industrial processing zones will help turn rural areas into new zones of economic prosperity and create millions of jobs.
The African Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development are currently supporting the implementation a $518 million Special agro-industrial processing zones’ program in 7 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
“We are ready to help expand this to every state in the country. We are equally ready to help revamp agricultural lending institutions to help modernize the food and agriculture sector.
“The best asset of Nigeria is not its natural resources; Nigeria’s best asset is its human capital. We must invest heavily in human capital to build up the skills Nigeria needs to be globally competitive, in a rapidly digitized global economy.
“We must build world class educational institutions, and accelerate skills development in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, as well as in ICT and computer coding, which will shape the jobs of the future.
“There is an urgent need to unleash the potential of the youth. Today, over 75percent of the population in Nigeria is under the age of 35. This presents a demographic advantage. But it must be turned into an economic advantage.”