Tinubu: One Year in the Saddle

Tinubu: One Year in the Saddle

Tuesday, June 18, 2024 2:32 pm


Thinub's frst anniversary cover design

Thinub’s first anniversary cover design.                                                                              Despite the different challenges in the country, the President Bola Tinubu administration’s policies are for the benefit of Nigerians


Next Wednesday, 12 June, Nigerians and their well-wishers across the world will join in the celebration of a 25-year milestone of unbroken democratic governance in the country. Nigeria cut off from the military to democratic rule with the transition of government from military head of state, General Abdusalam Abubakar to  Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo on 29, May 1999. However, June 12 was adopted as Democracy Day to immortalize a key bump in the tortuous journey to see the military out of governance in Nigeria: The June 12, 1993, presidential election was believed to be the fairest and most credible poll ever conducted in the country and won by billionaire businessman, Chief Moshood Abiola or MKO Abiola as he was popularly known.  But the military rulers, led by General Ibrahim Babangida, IBB and later, the late General Sani Abacha never allowed MKO Abiola to enjoy his mandate.  It took the death of General Abacha at the Aso Rock presidential villa on June 8, 1988, and Abiola’s passage exactly a day to the first month anniversary of the dictator’s death for the hurriedly arranged transition that produced Obasanjo as the civilian President of Nigeria’s Fourth Republic in 1999 to materialize.  A quarter of a century is the longest stretch Nigerians have been able to sustain democracy without interference by military rule since the country’s independence in 1960.  Therefore, it was expected that the milestone would be an opportunity to reflect on how well the country and its people have fared under democratic rule in the past 25 years.

President Bola Tinubu on 29 May 2023 at Eagle Square

President Bola Tinubu on 29 May 2023 at Eagle Square

Enter Tinubu

Even more importantly, the milestone will also provide an opportunity to assess the performance of the present occupant of the Aso Rock presidential villa, Bola Ahmed Tinubu who was sworn in as Nigeria’s 16th president on 29, May 2023. Tinubu, who was governor of Lagos between 1999 to 2007 was a prominent player in the struggle that led to the exit of the military from power and the return of Nigeria to democracy.

He was elected to represent the Lagos West at the senate in 1992 and was forced to flee the country because of his role in championing the country’s return to democracy and the installation of the winner of the 1993 presidential election. Thus, Tinubu has the unique attribute of being the first Nigerian president who has traversed the legislature and the executive.

Besides this, Tinubu also came to Abuja, Nigeria’s seat of power over one year ago with a strong record of performance as governor under his belt. He was credited with laying the foundation that has made Lagos unarguably not just the most efficiently and progressively run,  but with the most robust economy among its peers in the federation.

The hope was high that the former governor would deliver the same feat at the federal level after he was declared winner of the fiercely contested February 25 presidential election with his promise of Renewed Hope Agenda.

General Abacha, left, MKO Abiola and then Senator Tinubu at the centre, working to retrieve the June 12 mandate

General Abacha, left, MKO Abiola and then Senator Tinubu at the centre, working to retrieve the June 12 mandate

‘Subsidy Is Gone’

Living up to this expectation, Tinubu had in the speech he delivered immediately after he was sworn in at Eagle Square, Abuja indicated his readiness to take on the challenges that others before him had dreaded with his announcement of the end to the subsidy of petrol.

The President had told Nigerians that the country cannot continue to pay for subsidies in the face of the drying resources of the country.  “We shall instead re-channel the funds into better investment in public infrastructure, education, healthcare and jobs that will materially improve the lives of millions,” Tinubu stated.

Analysts said in as much as the removal of subsidy was a courageous act on the part of the new President, he also did not have much elbow room to do otherwise. For one, the departing Muhammadu Buhari’s administration had during his presentation of the 2023 budget to the National Assembly in 2023 indicated that subsidy was no longer sustainable considering the state of finances of the government and as such will be discontinued by the end of the year.

Buhari’s move was also in line with the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) which indicated that the subsidy should have ended on 17 February 2022, six months after he signed the bill into law. Specifically, Section 205 of the PIA indicated that the pricing of petroleum products must operate under unrestricted free market conditions; hence the Petroleum Equalization Fund (PEF) and the subsidy system have been abolished.

However,  Buhari had made budgetary provisions of  N3.36 trillion to cover payment of subsidy for the first six months of 2023, that is, January to June. And at a National Economic Council, NEC meeting held just before the exit of the administration in office, Zainab Ahmed, the then Minister of Finance said it was decided that the incoming Tinubu administration will take the decision.

Gains/Pains of Removal of Subsidy

The announcement of the removal of petrol subsidy by President  Tinubu on 29 May immediately resulted in a jack in of price of a litre of the product from an average of N200 to N 557 naira across the country and about two months later  N617 naira at fuel stations operated by the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Limited (NNPCL).

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in April 2024, President Tinubu acknowledged that the reforms have been painful for Nigerians, but they were needed not only to reset the economy but to prevent Nigeria from going bankrupt

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in April 2024, President Tinubu acknowledged that the reforms have been painful for Nigerians, but they were needed not only to reset the economy but to prevent Nigeria from going bankrupt

Other marketers subsequently took a cue on their pricing from the NNPCL. Prices of the product have since then hovered between N617 and slightly over N700 at fuel stations across the country.

One of the immediate gains of the removal of the subsidy was a reduction in average daily petrol consumption to 48.43 million litres from a daily average of 66.9 million litres in January through May before the subsidy was removed, according to figures from the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA).

This, according to analysts said was confirmation that a large quantity of petrol being subsidized in Nigeria was being smuggled across the country’s border for sale in neighbouring countries by unscrupulous marketers. Indeed, a report by the Voice of America, VOA indicated that the price of price of petrol doubled after the announcement of the end of the subsidy regime in Nigeria. However, back home, the immediate effect of the removal of fuel subsidies triggered inflation and made life more unbearable for Nigerians with an increase in the cost of transportation.

This was further compounded by reforms introduced by the new administration to unify the windows for foreign exchange which has pushed the naira dollar exchange rate from N460.702 in May 2023 to about N1,500/$1 as of April.  The twin policies sparked an unbearable rise in prices of food and basic commodities with many Nigerians struggling to feed.

Reforms Needed to Reset the Economy

But speaking at the World Economic Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in April 2024, President Tinubu acknowledged that the reforms have been painful for Nigerians, but they were needed not only to reset the economy but to prevent Nigeria from going bankrupt.

According to Fitch, the CBN (headed by Cardoso) has stepped up efforts to reform the monetary and exchange rate framework

According to Fitch, the CBN (headed by Cardoso) has stepped up efforts to reform the monetary and exchange rate framework

The President noted that the removal of the petrol subsidy has engendered accountability, transparency and fiscal discipline for the country. He also noted that his administration also implemented a raft of measures to lessen the impact of the reforms on the vulnerable segments of society.

“It is going to be difficult, but the hallmark of leadership is taking difficult decisions at the time it ought to be taken decisively. That was necessary for the country. Yes, there will be blowback, and there is an expectation that the difficulty in it will be felt by a greater number of the people, but once I believe it is their interest that is the focus of the government, it is easier to manage and explain the difficulties,” he said.

“Along the line, there is a parallel arrangement to cushion the effect of the subsidy removal on the vulnerable segment of the population of the country. We share the pain across the board, we cannot but include those who are vulnerable,” the President added. The President added that the reform of the forex market was also necessary to salvage the economy. “The currency management was necessary equally to remove the artificial elements of value in our currency. Let our local currency find its level and compete with the rest of the world currency and remove arbitrage, corruption, and opaqueness.”

Gains For Subnational Governments

On the brighter side, the removal of fuel subsidies has led to more funds going into the subnational levels as confirmed by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI). A report by NEITI earlier in the year indicated that N10.143 trillion in disbursements to labour in 2023 was an increase of N1.934 trillion or 23.56 per cent over the disbursement of N8.209 trillion shared in 2022.

Wale Edun revealed that the President approved an emergency economic plan that would be implemented within the next six months

Wale Edun revealed that the President approved an emergency economic plan that would be implemented within the next six months

Specifically, the report indicated that the state governments shared N3.59 trillion in 2023 compared to the N2.76 trillion they got in 2022, showing an increase of 29.99 per cent while local government councils’ share of federation allocation was N2.57 trillion in 2023 compared to N2.032 trillion in 2022, an increase of 26.22 per cent.

The body attributed the increase to improved revenue remittances to the Federation Account due to the removal of the petrol subsidy and the floating of the exchange rate by the Tinubu administration.

Applause For Tinubu’s Reforms

Also, various rating agencies have upgraded their outlook of Nigeria based on the reforms being pursued by the Tinubu administration.  For instance, U.S. rating agency Fitch Ratings in May 2024 revised Nigeria’s long-term debt repayment from stable to positive, assigning it a “B-” rating. According to Fitch, reforms undertaken by the Tinubu administration to stabilize the Nigerian economy, particularly in monetary and exchange rate frameworks and reduction in fuel subsidies have led to a resurgence of substantial foreign investment inflows and an appreciation of the naira in the official foreign exchange market.

“The CBN has stepped up efforts to reform the monetary and exchange rate framework following last year’s unification of the multiple exchange rate windows, and the large differential between the official and parallel market rates has collapsed. Average daily FX turnover at the official FX window has risen sharply from 2H23, and there has been clearance of $4.5 billion of the backlog of unpaid FX forwards,” Fitch noted while emphasizing that challenges persist, including high inflation, precarious stability in the foreign exchange market, and structural challenges such as the country’s heavy reliance on oil and relatively weak governance indicators persist.

Shortly after he swore in his 48 Ministers last on August 21, 2024, the President also rolled out eight priority areas distilled from the Renewed Hope Agenda document he campaigned with on which their performance will be judged. The criteria for the performance assessment of the ministers ( now reduced to 46) were spelt out after the retreat which followed their inauguration. The eight priority areas are,  Reforming the economy to deliver sustained and inclusive growth;  Strengthening national security for peace and prosperity;  Boosting agriculture to achieve food security;  Unlocking energy and natural resources for sustainable development;  Enhancing infrastructure and transportation as enablers for growth;  Focusing on education, health, and social investment as essential pillars of development; Accelerating diversification through industrialisation, digitisation, creative arts, manufacturing, and innovation; and Improving governance for effective service delivery.

VP Kashim Shettima said the rating by Fitch was a reflection of increasing confidence in the nation’s economy

VP Kashim Shettima said the rating by
Fitch was a reflection of increasing confidence in the nation’s economy

The Ministers are expected to be graded on how well they have done in line with the eight priority areas by the Coordination/ Central Coordination Delivery Unit (CDCU)  headed by Hajiya Hadiza Bala-Usman. There have been speculations that the report of the CDCU may lead to weeding out of cabinet members considered as not living up to expectations.

Stabilisation Plan to Consolidate Gains of Reforms

While this was expected, some of the Ministers had used the opportunity of presentations on the achievements of the President Bola Tinubu administration in its first year, tagged Ministerial Sectoral Update, which began on Tuesday, May 21 to tout their achievements since they assumed office. (See box for Tinubu’s Silent and Unreported Achievements).

Speaking at the forum Wale Edun, minister of finance and coordinating minister of the economy revealed that the President approved an emergency economic plan that would be implemented within the next six months to further stabilize the economy. He said the plan was put together by the president’s economic team as well as representatives of the private sector and sub-national governments.

The stabilization plan, he said, is coming on the heels of improvements in government revenue through the implementation of technological change and procedures that have resulted in funds previously being retained by parastatals, agencies, or other enterprises now going into the government’s coffers.

“What that means is that the government can now pay its way. The government is paying its debt service without resulting in Ways and Means, particularly international debt service. That has been done by the government, not in as comfortable a situation as we would like to be, but onwards where we’ve paid our way domestically, internationally.”

The Minister also noted that  Nigeria’s economy is experiencing a positive gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of 2.98 per cent compared to the 2.3 per cent growth seen in the first quarter (Q1) of 2023. According to him, the agricultural sector, which is critical to the economy, is now showing marginal growth.

“This growth in agriculture provides the monetary authority with the leverage needed to stabilise foreign exchange (FX) rates.  By continuing on this path and intensifying our efforts, we are on track to lift many Nigerians out of poverty. This sector’s progress is expected to play a significant role in combating inflation, especially through a favourable wet season harvest that should stabilise food prices.” Edun added that his ministry aims to bring down the rate of inflation so that monetary authorities can stabilise the exchange rate, reduce interest rates and attract more investments into the country. This, he said, would create more jobs create more jobs, reduce poverty and increase productivity.

Tinubu’s Reforms Increase Confidence in Economy

Also speaking recently at the 141st meeting of the National Economic Council, NEC,  Vice President, Senator Kashim Shettima said the rating by Fitch was a reflection of increasing confidence in the nation’s economy:  “There is no doubt that this government has demonstrated transparency in its financial dealings and protections. Therefore, it is not surprising that just a few days ago, Fitch Ratings upgraded Nigeria’s credit outlook to positive, citing reform progress under President Tinubu. This reflects the increasing confidence in our economic trajectory, especially in light of policy changes aimed at reducing our debt service burden,” he stated.

VP Kashim Shettima said the rating by Fitch was a reflection of increasing confidence in the nation’s economy

VP Kashim Shettima said the rating by
Fitch was a reflection of increasing confidence in the nation’s economy

Also speaking at the APC Professionals Forum’s Policy Roundtable Conference tagged: “Asiwaju ScoreCard Series” in Abuja held ahead of the first anniversary of the administration, the Vice President noted that Tinubu has chosen a path that is demanding but with the prospect of preventing Nigeria’s economic downfall. “This began with the calculated removal of the fuel subsidy. This decision was not made for its own sake, but to redeem the reality of the nation’s unsustainable debt service-to-revenue ratio, which had grown to alarming levels over the past few years.”

Shettima  who was represented at the event by his Special Adviser on General Duties Aliyu Moddibo Umar further noted that the Tinubu government’s policies and programmes have been guided by its eight-point agenda with initiatives being implemented to create tangible improvements in the lives of everyday Nigerians.”

The Vice President cited some of the key initiatives already being delivered by the Tinubu administration including huge investment in agriculture as well as the ‘Renewed Hope Housing Scheme’ designed to address not just the housing deficit in the country, but to stimulate economic growth. “Similarly, we are also focused on reducing unemployment and underemployment through various initiatives, including the Outsource to Nigeria Initiative, Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises, and the Expanded National MSME Clinics.

These programmes are designed to create more job opportunities and foster economic inclusivity.” Shettima said the administration’s commitment to education was evident in the launch of the student loan scheme and the appointment of Mr Jim Ovia to chair the Nigerian Education Loan Fund: “This initiative will empower our youth and ensure that they have the resources needed to succeed, and I assure you that the policy is in place to offer interventions to vulnerable or disadvantaged Nigerians without discrimination or favouritism.”

The Vice President further added that the Tinubu administration is implementing digitisation of revenue collection across all government sectors to enhance the transparency it promised Nigerians. “Our economic indicators will improve as we continue to implement our policies, and we are confident that significant growth is on the horizon. The results of our interventions are promising, and we are proud of the progress made in strengthening the Naira.”

Also speaking at the Forum, former Bauchi governor Isa Yuguda noted that while Tinubu was not the creator of any of the country’s economic problems,  the President has been championing reforms that are required to pave the way for a better society.

President Tinubu told a delegation of the Yoruba Leaders of Thought who were on visit to him at the State House, Abuja on Friday, May 24 that the country is no longer “bleeding”, but moving gradually into prosperity

President Tinubu told a delegation of the Yoruba Leaders of Thought who were on visit to him at the State House, Abuja on Friday, May 24 that the country is no longer “bleeding”, but moving gradually into prosperity

“We all recall how on assuming office, President Tinubu announced the removal of fuel subsidy, but again for the avoidance of doubt, he did not remove subsidy on PMS. It was not in the later part of the 2023 budget, but surprisingly the Tinubu administration has had to bear the brunt of subsidy removal. Indeed, the President has today been proved right with the manner petrol importation has gone down by 50% since June 2023 and it is almost certain to go down more in a few months when the 650,000 barrels per day Dangote Refinery begin to produce PMS locally as well as the impending resumption of production at the Port Harcourt and Warri Refineries.

“If any Nigerian is still in doubt about how payment of subsidy has over the years strained the country’s resources, they must have seen how the sub-nationals now receive more than double what they used to get from Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC).”   Yuguda also noted that the three tiers of government in April 2024 shared N1.2 trillion as against N655.8 billion shared by the three tiers in 2023 during the subsidy era.

“The reform-minded Tinubu administration also unified the exchange rates, which inevitably sent those benefiting from the arbitrage out of business. And of course, it did not take long before Nigerians began to reap the benefits as the economy grew by 3.46% in the fourth quarter of 2023 compared with 2.54% in the preceding quarter. Also, Capital importation was up by 66% in Q4 of 2023 compared to a 33% decline in the previous quarter,” said Yuguda who is also a former bank managing director.

He also noted that the reforms being implemented by Tinubu have led to steady growth in Nigeria’s oil production from 1.22m barrels per day in the second quarter of 2023 to 1.55m barrels per day. This, he said,  means additional resources even as non-oil revenue continues to rise as a result of the financial re-engineering of the Tinubu administration.

“There was a time, specifically in the first quarter of 2023, when debt service went from about 95% of the nation’s revenue to 183%, according to data from the Budget office, even though our debt-to-GDP ratio looked good.

“Today, Nigeria’s debt service-to-revenue ratio has dropped to about 66.9% which is the lowest in four years. This is largely due to fuel subsidy removal and the unification of the foreign exchange market, which have not only increased revenue inflows but also ensured the allocation of more funds for capital projects.”

Worst over for Nigeria

The President told a delegation of the Yoruba Leaders of Thought who were on visit to him at the State House, Abuja on Friday, May 24 that the country is no longer “bleeding”, but moving gradually into prosperity as a result of the reforms he has implemented in the past one year.  “We will turn the tide. We are turning the bend. This I assure you. I am being very careful. The worst is over for Nigeria. We will prevail.

“I thank the team who have been working hard. All I can promise is that we will do whatever it takes. We are determined, and we will work so that all Nigerians can feel the impact of good governance,” the President promised.

No Quick Fix

Yet, as the administration begins its second year, former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi has cautioned Nigerians to be realistic in their expectations from the government.

Sanusi, who is now the Emir of Kano said the reforms of the Tinubu administration as related to forex and fuel subsidies are necessary, but the benefits will take time to materialize.

“The mismanagement of the last 10 years will not be undone in six months or one year. We need to understand that some of the difficult things will take time to work through the economy. It will take a little while for us to see a turnaround, but those decisions are necessary for us to save the economy,” Sanusu said while delivering a keynote speech at the Rivers State Economic & Investment Summit 2024 in Port Harcourt, Rivers State recently.

“We always knew we would have to go through this process if we do not change course. And we have seen this movie in Zimbabwe, we have seen it in Venezuela, we have seen it in Argentina. It is a movie we don’t want to be a part of,” said the Kano Emir.   It is important for us as Nigerians to be realistic.” Mr Sanusi added, referring to the economic hardship caused by the petrol subsidy removal.

Mr Sanusi, an ally of President Tinubu, is a major proponent of the removal of subsidy on petrol. He has been consistent in defending the removal of petrol subsidy by Mr Tinubu’s administration despite opposition by many Nigerians including workers unions.

The three countries Mr Sanusi mentioned have all experienced great social crises because of economic collapse.

Mr Sanusi, however, said he hoped that the hardship would be brief and that Nigeria would soon be put back on the path of economic growth.




Tinubu’s Reforms Will Yield Long–Term Benefits For Nigeria’s Economy —Wale Edun

Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr Wale Edun

Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr Wale Edun

In a recent interview with some media organizations, Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr Wale Edun, gave a comprehensive overview of the country’s economic challenges and the strategies being adopted by President Tinubu’s administration to tackle them. He insisted that there is light at the end of the tunnel with a focus on agricultural productivity, infrastructure investment, fiscal responsibility, and attracting Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) as critical components of the administration’s strategy to revive the economy. Excerpts


Assessing Tinubu’s Government Economic Agenda

I would say Mr President has achieved relative stability in his first year in office. He has put the economy on a track of growth and has put together a package of intervention measures, especially in agriculture, which needs to be re-doubled, re-emphasized, and further extended to have the full effect. On one hand, the macro-economic measures which everybody knows to save the economy and bring it back from financial bankruptcy, save the FX market from chaos and a market that was stalled and illiquid leaving businesses frustrated. The initial measures taken by Mr President to stabilize the economy have led to an inflationary spike in terms of the cost of fuel and secondly in terms of the exchange rate and also in terms of interest rates, the CBN defined its core mandate as to fight inflation and the number one tool to fight that was push up interest rates. In a nutshell, those were actions that were necessary but led to a spike in the cost of living for the ordinary Nigerian as well as increased costs for businesses.  However, those measures are beginning to bear fruit. At a time when interest rates are high, which normally means that when businesses find it hard to borrow and invest, the economy is growing. People are finding a source of funds and equity, including the government putting in its share of private-public sector funding for infrastructure in particular and that is helping to create jobs and grow the economy presently. But on the other hand, inflation is high at 33.69 per cent, and food inflation at over 40 per cent is worrisome but the fact is that inflation is coming down on a month-on-month basis (2 per cent). So, it is slow and it is expected to reduce. As we continue the dry season harvest and go into the wet season harvest, a lot of emphasis is placed on getting more agricultural input to get prices down and that will be a big factor in bringing down inflation. Recall that there have been intervention programmes to ameliorate the pains of Nigerians, which include direct payments of N75,000 to 15 million households, which is expected to yield dividends in terms of pushing help to Nigerians.

Negative economic indicators

This is not surprising at all. A typical fall-out from the reforms that have to be taken includes the high-interest rate to tackle inflation and attract FX which was successful. In terms of inflation, as I said earlier, it is coming down and is expected to come down over the next few months and as for the other indices, the important thing is that the economy is growing. It is very rare to have a situation where the authorities set a target fighting inflation, bringing down inflation and prices generally and at the same time, have the economy growing. We do have that compared to last quarter in 2023, growth was up to virtually 3 per cent per annum above population growth compared to about 2.0 per cent this time last year, so you do have the economy growing and going in the right direction. As I said earlier, we just need to steer that cause and in steering that cause, amelioration, and help must be given and are being given across the board. Help is going to be given to farmers, consumers, SMEs, and MSMEs and there is on Mr President’s table an economic stabilization plan that deals with the factors affecting big industries, and businesses so that they too can begin to invest, grow the economy and create jobs to reduce poverty.

On the dramatic decline in the purchasing power of  Nigerians

I will say that what we can look forward to in weeks and even months to come is an improvement in the situation. We can expect that food prices will come down, and food availability will increase. That is the commitment and focus of this present administration. We have not only put in place a robust and transparent system to pay people directly. We are also now sitting together and looking at food availability.

On efforts to tackle food inflation

The food security problem is a worldwide phenomenon. 30 per cent of the world’s population to a greater or lesser extent is food insecure. We have our situation in Nigeria which we are focusing on and I think that the issue here is that these areas are critical to Nigerians, provision of food and cheaper transport and the creation of jobs are being focused on. As I said, special funding and intervention for Agriculture and in terms of growth, when you look at investments in infrastructures, the jump-starting of the massive infrastructure program, that is the way to the creation of jobs and multiplier effects of the government to get the economy going again and that is what is happening. The support that is coming is not just Nigerian businesses that are investing. There is also international support coming too. There is an agreement that Nigeria is on the right track and if we stay in this course, we will tackle inflation and get the economy going more, create jobs and people will find their lives easier.

Removal of fuel subsidy and its implications

The fuel subsidy removal, which was the first major policy announcement of Mr President, was necessary and overdue as it had placed Nigeria in a physically unmanageable situation. Although this is not what the average Nigerian sees, the revenue of the government when you look at my role as the government treasurer, we have revamped and renewed government revenue. The procedures that we use now mean that we are collecting virtually all that should be coming to the government from various agencies, revenue-earning departments and parastatals and that is increasing and includes major earnings in FX. Nigeria is no longer living on borrowed money, no longer living on drawing ways and means. Where we have international debts, obligations to international companies or banks like for instance the shareholding in the African Development Bank (AfDB), the shareholding in the Islamic Development Bank (ISDB), 100’s of millions of dollars in debt, we have made them on time. We have kept the reputation of the country intact and that is ongoing. We have paid down N7.3 trillion of outstanding overdue ways and means obligations, that is the overdraft at the CBN and so the government has put in place a robust mechanism, not just on revenue but expenditure to ensure that Nigeria’s money is spent visibly, transparently and accountably. These measures are not easy to implement as change management is always difficult, but with the President’s political will and backing, we are pushing through these reforms.

On IMF, World Bank Influence on Tinubu’s Reforms

Generally, the view of Nigeria as well as developing countries in general is that the multilateral development banks, the so-called Bretton Wood Institutions, are not giving the support that these developing countries deserve. They are not given sufficient funding to develop their countries well enough. Having said that, these institutions form a veritable source of relatively cheap financing and the money is virtually free for about 40 years at 1 per cent or thereabout. What Nigeria has done is to get the support and commitment of those who can fund cheap loans. In two weeks, the Board of the World Bank will consider a $2.25 billion package for Nigeria of virtually grant funding which is not being given under conditionalities, but a large part of it is in recognition of what has been done to stabilize the Nigerian economy and get it on the path to growth and one part of funding will come immediately after the board meeting which we are confident of achieving. This shows that we know how to use the multilateral development banks to our advantage even though we do not agree with everything they say. They agree with our homegrown policies which are aimed at getting Nigeria moving again but in addition, we have learnt that especially when interest rates around the world are high, we need to rely on our resources, without increasing taxes. We are planning to reduce some taxes such as withholding taxes which are lopsided burdening some companies and despite that, we are looking to increase the amount of taxation that belongs to the government that is to be collected. In addition, Nigerians have the capability, not just to fund in Naira, can fund in FX as we have a large and successful diaspora. We just announced recently that we are looking for a domestically issued US dollar bond where mainly Nigerians living abroad, working and Nigerians who live in Nigeria but who have savings abroad, have money in international banks, we are putting before them the opportunity to come and support the efforts of reviving and rebuilding the Nigerian economy through a historic bond issuance and is causing a lot of interest and excitement within various fora. These are examples of immediate funding in FX that will assist in stabilizing the exchange rate, bring down inflation and help Nigeria get back on the growth path. I must emphasize that having rolled off so many things that are being done which are very substantial and fundamental in correcting and making sure that government has enough revenue and is efficient about its spending, the emphasis is on ramping up food production, dealing with food nutrition and security and likewise the emphasis is on helping small scale businesses through grant funding which is done in a world-class standard.

Nigeria’s Growth Outlook

One of the most objective views of how an economy has grown is from the rating agencies. Moody’s improved Nigeria’s credit rating to a positive outlook. Last month, Fitch moved Nigeria’s rating to a positive outlook and these are third-party observers of what is going on. It does take time to have a positive effect come through. As I have said, inflation is falling and expected to fall further and emphasis has been placed on what can bring it down, which ramps up food production amongst others. Likewise, the government is investing in infrastructure and has the support of private sector investors. Also, very sophisticated financial markets are coming to the table, and the institutional investors are putting heads together to see how within the guidelines, rules and regulations we have, they can use a portion of long-term savings to provide affordable mortgages which reignite construction in the housing sector. If you have a housing boom, you have an employment boom. These are the strategies and areas in which the government is looking to rekindle the growth of the economy.

On businesses leaving Nigeria

When we look at the economic climate as we said, particularly for the larger scale businesses, multinationals, and foreign direct investments (FDIs), one of the major drawbacks or impediments was that we did not have an FX liquid market. Now, we have a willing buyer, willing seller market which is now elevated, maybe not at the level we like it to be but it is when you get inflation down, that you can get a stable FX rate, similarly with the interest rate and so that fight is on and what we have now is an improved environment for these big investors. When you look at the oil and gas sector, as a result of reforms on the fiscal side, especially on the Executive Order signed by Mr President, the investment climate has significantly improved for gas which we have in abundance and which most people see as a transition fuel which can be invested in cleaner and non-fossil fuels. But at the same time, the investment climate for deep offshore where huge investment amounts are needed and where the technology is particularly sophisticated, the environment has been improved with the range of incentives and it is estimated that shortly, those measures will unlock $7 billion of FDIs in the oil and gas sector. Hence, the fact remains that companies will always come and go, it is simple economics of free entry and free exit.

We aim to not only keep businesses from exiting but we are sure that with the environment that we have put in place, investors will come for the average manufacturing firm, there is a fiscal policy and tax reform committee that has worked hard to put in place a range of measures, some of which are included in the economic stabilization package that will be considered by Mr President and therefore are measures to help businesses which are imminent as far as the timing of the introduction of the package. We are in a difficult place, but we are striving to improve the economy.

In efforts to attract foreign direct investment

I have just said that there are $7 billion estimated to come in from the oil sector. Another major improvement in the economic environment is the national single window project which is an e-community and trade facilitation platform that will revolutionise what goes on at the ports which will make them more cost-effective and make us more competitive in terms of port operations, too is expected to rake in billions of dollars in economic benefits. Mr President has been on the platforms around the world, most recently speaking at the World Economic Forum in Riyadh. These are all about marketing Nigeria to investors and the prospects are good. We are expecting trade missions, and groups of businessmen interested in investing. One of the things we need to do is have a double taxation treaty, this is what we are tying up from our end in terms of agreement as far as private investments are concerned and so the ball is in our court to some certain extent.


  • President-Bola-Tinubu


Tinubu’s silent and unreported achievements

President Bola Tinubu 29

President Bola Tinubu 29


But for the ministerial presentations on the achievements of the President Bola Tinubu administration in its first year, christened Ministerial Sectoral Update, which began on Tuesday May 21 at the National Press Centre in Abuja, many may not have known or appreciated the quantum of work that has been done by the government within such a short period of one year in office. This piece is not really about the re-engineering work that is being done on the economy, which is now recording a gradual growth. For instance, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, the nation recorded a 2.98% growth in the first quarter of this year, higher than 2.31% recorded in the same period in 2023.

The article is also not about the improving security in the land, especially in the oil producing Niger-Delta region, which has engendered increased oil production. Daily oil production has jumped up from barely 1million to 1.7million barrels per day including condensate, overshooting Nigeria’s OPEC quota, following the statistics provided by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), Senator Heineken Lokpobiri.

The focus of this piece is also not about the increasing flow of investments into the economy, like the $30 billion Foreign Direct Investment commitments already secured during the year to grow the economy.

My focus is about those silent, quiet achievements recorded, thus far, by the administration, which are largely unreported and unsung until now. These achievements are by no means insignificant. They are so concrete and substantial that in some instances, they are ground-breaking, either laying or re-laying the foundation for growth and development in the country or resetting the sectors where they have occurred.

It must be admitted, however, that some ministers have little to showcase in one year. This is evident enough in their presentations, which were drab and lack-luster in a number of cases. The ministerial presentations and inauguration of projects executed by the administration were the only approved activities organised to mark President Tinubu’s one-year anniversary. The president had ordered a low-key celebration.

One defining feature of most of the achievements recorded in the various ministries is that they emerged from the vision or ideas President Tinubu espoused and developed overtime, and embodied in his Renewed Hope Agenda as eight priority areas. The President is reform-minded and, like Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, he is the Guardian Angel of those reforms and the achievements recorded thus far.

It is pertinent to highlight some of these reforms and initiatives across the various sectors. Take, for instance, the laudable projects executed by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mr. Ezenwo Nyesome Wike, the catalyst for those monumental achievements in just one year, is the full autonomy granted FCT by President Tinubu over the resources accruing to the territory. By removing FCT from the Treasury Single Account, the FCT Administration’s resources were unlocked for Wike to deploy in addressing the developmental challenges of the city. Yet that singular action of the President remains unsung and perhaps unappreciated by many. Of course, there are more things done to recalibrate the governance structure of the FCT by the president, including approval for more Mandate Secretaries and its own Civil Service Commission.

As a result of these presidential approvals, Minister Wike, away from the political turmoil in his native Rivers State where he has been fingered as a central figure, unleashed infrastructure on the FCT, opening up new districts with a network of roads and bridges, and resurfacing arterial roads. The minister has completed the construction of many bridges, refurbished the moribund metro line in Abuja and created access roads to the train stations, which had earlier rendered the stations inaccessible even when it was briefly operational. Around $15 million was expended on building the access roads to the various stations.

The minister also restructured and completed the official residence of the Vice President, which had been abandoned since 2010. Some cynics may ask-how important is that residential project at this point in time? This question would be of no significance when it is realized that the project, valued at N7billion in 2010, could not be left to waste and to scoundrels at a time the FCT authorities are working hard to ward off kidnappers and other criminal elements.

The Ministry of Power also has a remarkable story to share, though many would insist the sector has left much to be desired given its importance as an enabler of the economy. But believe it, a silent retooling, which promises to change the disastrous electricity situation in the country, is ongoing. Indeed, unbeknownst to many, power generation is gradually increasing. For instance, 5000MW of power was achieved this month for the first time in three years. “Precisely on May 3, 2024, we generated, transmitted, and distributed 5,003.45MW of power. This is expected to further rise to 6000MW by the end of this year,” the Minister of Power, Chief Adebayo Adelabu, said in his presentation.

President Tinubu did three important things, among others, to tackle the issues in the electricity supply value-chain and set the sector on the path to recovery and optimal performance. Number one, in June 2023, President Tinubu signed the 2023 Electricity Act into law, marking a significant milestone in the sector. The new law focuses on enhancing the regulation and management of the electricity value chain with the active participation of the sub-national governments. This, thus far, has resulted in the process of devolution of regulatory powers to three states – Enugu, Ekiti, and Ondo – to set up their electricity markets.

Two, the President gave approval to defray legacy debts owed gas companies to allow efficient gas supply for the sector going forward and payment mechanism to address generation companies’ debts. This, according to Adelabu, will ensure necessary maintenance and evacuation capacity optimization.

Third, there has also been a series of infrastructure upgrades in the last one year. The ongoing Siemens Power project under the Presidential Power Initiative was one of the programmes that ensured improvement of power assets in Nigeria. In December 2023, President Tinubu and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz witnessed the signing of an accelerated performance agreement aimed at expediting the implementation of the PPI to improve electricity supply in Nigeria.

The Minister of Power also disclosed that the government had also put in place the required framework to achieve an injection of 3.5 million meters into the power sector – 1.5 million meters through the World Bank Distribution Support Recovery Program and 2 million meters through the Presidential Metering Initiative.

In aviation, some developments are worthy of note, including the construction of the second Abuja runway, which had been stalled for many years as a result of law suits while a second runway in Lagos has been reactivated. Among other things, Minister of Aviation Festus Keyamo has facilitated the acquisition of aircraft by local operators under the dry lease agreement to support and empower the indigenous airlines to compete with international airlines on more lucrative international routes like the case of Air Peace on the Lagos-London route.

Additionally, discussions have also reached an advanced stage with foreign investors to establish a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Centre in Nigeria through PPP. Ibom Air is almost through in their negotiations with Airbus.

With respect to the food situation in the country, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development launched dry season farming involving 118, 651 hectares in 15 states, with Jigawa State alone getting 40,000 hectares. This intervention injected an estimated N309 billion into the economy, according to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Abubakar Kyari.

The ministry also supported a total of 107, 429 wheat farmers with inputs resulting in output of 474, 628 metric tonnes. It has also created about 60,000 jobs across the agric value chain within the first year.

As the administration’s substantial investments in enhancing security across the country begin to post concrete yields, this will positively impact agricultural productivity going into the President’s second year in office.

Also, the revenue accruing to the country from marine and blue economy is on the increase. Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, said the ministry, through its agencies, realised N242 billion within the first quarter of 2024, which represents 92% compared to the amount generated within the same period last year.

Importantly, the nation’s budgeting system has also been rejuvenated to give proper attention to the government’s priorities. The Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Senator Atiku Bagudu, who incidentally is also the Chairman of the Ministerial Sectoral Update Committee, said the 2024 budget has two remarkable features. “One is the determination, despite our challenges, to restore budget discipline by lowering the fiscal deficit. So, the 2024 budget targeted a reduction in deficits from 6.11% in 2023 to less than 4% in 2024 and an increase in capital expenditure relative to recurrent spending, which is 39% expenditure, the highest in the country’s history,” he said.

In addition to innovative budgeting, N100 billion fund has been earmarked for Consumer Credit designed to mobilise the manufacturing sector to produce again, which would occur when the people can fund their purchases.

There is also a mortgage fund to support the creation of mortgages. “So with consumer credit mobilising the manufacturing sector, mortgages re-energising the housing sector, and national agricultural development fund mobilising the agricultural sector, our youth and our productive economy will be mobilised. The N130 billion we provided for conversion, for transition to CNG, which is a cheaper form of energy than petroleum, is designed to restore energy competitiveness so that our manufacturing sector, our transport sector, and our economy will benefit from a cheaper form of energy that will support the economic reform,” Bagudu said.

Under the Tinubu government, the projects and initiatives undertaken thus far did not emerge by happenstance or by luck. They are well thought-out and emerged from a vision to reengineer the country and put it on the path of economic recovery and prosperity. One of these landmark initiatives is the Renewed Hope Infrastructure Development Fund, aimed at revitalising Nigeria’s crumbling infrastructure. This fund has earmarked substantial investments for constructing and rehabilitating roads, bridges, and public amenities. The construction of the Lagos-Calabar coastal road connecting nine littoral states has already taken off.

There is also the Students Loan Fund for indigent students in tertiary institutions, which registration portal opened about two weeks ago.

The country may not be where it should be at present. There are still challenges; notable among them is the cost of living, which is still high. Food prices surged last month, with inflation rising to 33.69%, according to NBS. The Naira is also struggling to find its level against the Green Back, hovering around N1,400 to N1,500/1$ at the parallel market for a couple of weeks. However, on Wednesday, May 29, it recorded its biggest appreciation in four months to close at N1,173. 88/1$.

The country is gradually turning the corner.

Looking back at how far he has gone since he mounted the saddle, President Tinubu said the journey had been challenging and fulfilling. He promised that his administration would do all it takes for the average Nigerian to feel the impact of governance, stating that governance must be transformative and must address the critical needs of citizens.

Speaking when he received a delegation of the Yoruba Leaders of Thought at the State House, Abuja on Friday May 24, President Tinubu added that the country is no longer “bleeding”, but moving gradually into prosperity.

“It has been challenging. It has been fulfilling as well. We took over, and we have stopped the bleeding. I can say categorically now that Nigeria is no longer bleeding. And it will not bleed to death, but rather will now move to prosperity.

“That is the promise that I made to you all, and it is also the charge that you gave to me. We are managing to swim through the pond. The current is not a good one. We will turn the tide. We are turning the bend. This I assure you. I am being very careful. The worst is over for Nigeria. We will prevail.

“I thank the team who have been working really hard. All I can promise is that we will do whatever it takes. We are determined, and we will work so that all Nigerians can feel the impact of good governance.”


-Rahman is a Senior Presidential Aide.





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