Prof. Itsey Sagay (SAN), who is the former Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Corruption under former President Muhammadu Buhari, has lambasted President Bola Ahmed Tinubu blaming for the current economic crisis plaguing Nigeria.
The human rights activist and legal luminary, while in an interview with reporters on the state of the economy which was monitored by Africa Today News, New York, said President Tinubu’s ‘terrible mistakes’ in his policies have accounted to why Nigerians are going through hardship, saying the twin pronouncement of removal of fuel subsidy and floating of the naira, among other decisions so far, have led to Nigerians living in misery presently.
Prof. Sagay said: ‘Tinubu started on the wrong footing and acted in a haste on his inauguration day. That is what triggered the hardship Nigerians are going through right now. Saying subsidy is gone was such a hasty statement when he hadn’t put up any arrangement, any plan to shore up the economy.
‘That was the greatest mistake he made so far as the president and it robbed him of the normal enjoyment of one hundred days honeymoon. His decision and how he started has plunged the country into misery. I was interviewed after he won the election to advice on what to do about subsidy and I said I agreed that subsidy should go but it has to stay until we start refining petrol internally. I said we have to wait until Dangote Refinery or one of those refineries starts refining and then subsidy will go. It will go naturally because what makes subsidy is the transport. You carry crude abroad and carry same back as refined product with charges and all that.
‘Those are the things being subsidised. Once we start producing petrol internally, that will be the end of subsidy. That was my advice and I think the president started wrongly by that pronouncement and till today, the cost of living has gone beyond the ordinary man on account of that. Tinubu gave himself a very terrible welcome into the Nigerian presidency by his pronouncements and actions, as well as the hardship into which Nigerians were plunged into because of his hasty pronouncement. I also agree that he should not have floated the naira because a very weak currency like ours should not have been floated like that.
‘You must shore it up; you must support it until the country’s economy is strong enough for any floating. That decision was also hasty and premature on his part. I completely lay the blame on him on these two although I will acknowledge that they have been struggling to get the country out of the ugly situation because the naira is gradually gaining more power lately but to be honest, those were the terrible mistakes the president made which I think he should have thought twice in the first place,’ he said.
The foremost scholar and anti-corruption crusader also said the ambition of both the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) presidential candidate in the 2023 election, Atiku Abubakar, and his Labour Party (LP) counterpart, Peter Obi, almost crumbled the country, accusing them of not being sportsmanlike after the declaration of Tinubu as the winner of last general election.
Sagay noted that both candidates resorted to mundane issues in order to find an avenue to unseat the president.
He said: ‘The certificate of Tinubu might not have emanated from the school but it contained exactly what is recorded in the original school result. That is the first point. The second point is that I am told that it is an American convention that third parties have powers to issue certificates for universities and other institutions. So those are the two points. What people were saying before was that Tinubu never went to Chicago State University (CSU), that he was lying.
‘When that was proved that he actually attended the school, then the next desperation from them showed up and they jumped to certificate. For Christ sake why can’t Nigerians accept defeat and move on. Those who are desperate are the ones opening Nigeria to the whole world in their quest to be in power. I blame the opposition for being so bitter and not accepting defeat so they resorted to fighting to bring the county down through all those accusations.
‘I thought they (Atiku and Obi) would have insisted on who scored the majority of votes but no, they were not interested in that because they know Tinubu scored the highest votes. They now started looking for technicalities and certificates and other ridiculous things like Abuja alone determining the fate of Nigerians.
‘I am happy justice has been done because it would have been so unjust if Tinubu was removed by the court because he won the election. It would have been terrible and for those who are bitter, I think it is good for them to start preparing for the next four years instead of deploying all means to want to bring down the country.
‘I saw a lot of desperations and that is not good for the country. Tinubu won the election and all those anxiety and separations were not necessary. The best thing was to move on and wait for the next election year,’ he said further.