'It’s Been 1 Year Of Trial And Error' – Atiku Knocks Tinubu

A former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, has described the one-year administration of President Bola Tinubu as one of trial and error, stressing that policies of this administration rather than creating prosperity have pauperized the poor, made the rich bankrupt and inflicted the worst economic crisis on majority of Nigerians.

He stated that Tinubu’s promise of growing the economy has remained unfulfilled. He noted that all the economic hardships of the immediate past administration have increased in the last 12 months.

According to him, “on May 29, 2023, President Bola Tinubu raised the hopes of Nigerians with his pledge to remodel our economy to bring about growth and development through job creation, food security and an end to extreme poverty.

“Since then, Tinubu has also spoken about growing the economy at double-digit rates to $1 trillion in six years, ending misery, and bringing immediate relief to Nigeria’s cost of living crisis. On listening to this, Nigerians must have heaved a sigh of relief after their experience with former President Muhammadu Buhari’s eight years of economic misadventure.

“Tinubu laid out no plans for the ‘remodelling’ of the economy but soon embarked on a cocktail of policies to achieve it. In May 2023, he eliminated petrol subsidies, and a month later, the CBN implemented a new foreign exchange policy that unified the multiple official FX windows into a single official market.

“More policies followed in rapid succession, including the tightening of the monetary policy to reduce Naira liquidity, a hike in monetary policy rates, the introduction of cost-reflective electricity tariff, and a cybersecurity tax.

“Predictably, 12 months on, Tinubu’s pledge of growing the economy and ending misery remains unfulfilled. His actions or inactions have significantly worsened Nigeria’s macroeconomic stability. Nigeria remains a struggling economy and is more fragile today than it was a year ago. “Indeed, all the economic ills, including joblessness, poverty, and misery, which defined the Buhari administration have only exacerbated.

Read Also: Tinubu Taking Deliberate Steps To Revitalize Economy — Shaibu

Africa’s leading economy has slipped to the fourth position lagging behind Algeria, Egypt, and South Africa. Citizens’ hopes have been dashed and not renewed, contrary to the propaganda of the administration, as Nigeria’s economic woes have multiplied.

“President Tinubu’s policies do not create prosperity. Instead, they pauperise the poor and bankrupt the rich. They spare no one. Nigerian citizens, the majority of whom are poor, are going through the worst cost of living crisis since the infamous structural adjustment programme of the 1980s.

“The annual inflation rate at 33.69 percent is the highest in nearly three decades. Food prices are unbearably higher than what ordinary citizens can afford, as food inflation soared to 40.53 percent in April, the highest in more than 15 years.

“Nigerian citizens have to pay 114 percent more for a bag of rice, 107 percent more for a bag of flour, and 150 percent more in transport fares relative to May 2023.

“Today, in some locations, motorists are paying 305 percent more for a litre of fuel. Yet, on a minimum wage of the equivalent of $23 per month, Nigerian workers are among the lowest wage earners in the world.

“Tinubu had the courage to remove subsidy on PMS and impose additional taxes on his people, but lack the compassion to raise the minimum wage or implement a social investment programme that would reduce the level of vulnerability, and deprivation of workers and their families.”

The former vice president further stated that the policies of the present administration have allegedly created a hostile environment for the private sector. He noted that the manufacturing sector “has been bogged down by rising input prices, higher energy and borrowing costs, and exchange rate complexities.

“President Tinubu’s foreign exchange policies have not had any positive impact on Nigeria’s foreign trade balance, contrary to policy expectations. In particular, the free-float and the resulting devaluation of the Naira has not resulted in an appreciable improvement in Nigeria’s trade balance. Devaluation has not enhanced the competitiveness of local producers and has had no positive impact on exports of goods, primary or manufactured.

“In Q4 of 2023, for example, while imports surged to 163.1 percent, exports rose at a slower 99.6 percent, indicating a huge foreign trade deficit.

“Similarly, in Q1 of 2024, Nigeria recorded a trade deficit of $7.5 billion, with exports value of $12.7 billion and import value of US$14 billion.

“Overall, the trade deficit as a percentage of the GDP increased by 0.83 percent from 0.05 percent in May 2023 to 0.88 percent in May 2024.

“President Tinubu’s policies have failed to attract foreign investments into the country, despite all the posturing and media hype by the President’s men.

“Exchange rate unification and free floating of the Naira have not led to higher capital inflows, whether Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) or Foreign Portfolio Investments (FPI), again contrary to policy expectations.

“Indeed, FDI inflows declined by 26.8 percent, from US5.33 billion in May 2023 to US$3.9 billion in May 2024. It is not difficult to understand why the FDI is about trust. It is about the investing world trusting the leadership of a country to act and deliver on promises made. Investors come when the right policies are designed and delivered timely and efficiently by public institutions.”

The former vice president admonished President Tinubu to undertake a review of the 2024 budget, as the Appropriation Act in its current form is not designed for the challenges of the economy.

The review must prioritise fiscal measures to deal with an unprecedented rise in commodity prices. Higher commodity prices have created more misery for the poor in our towns and villages and have pushed millions of people below the poverty line. One of such measures for immediate implementation will be to ease the existing restrictions on selected food imports.

“Tinubu must be cautioned against any attempt to further pauperise the poor by introducing new taxes or increasing tax rates. We are aware of the behind-the-scenes attempts to increase VAT rate from 7.5 percent to 10 percent, re-introduce excise on telecommunication, and increase excise rates on a range of goods. It needs to be restated that we cannot tax our way out of this situation. Instead, Tinubu must see the need for expenditure rationalisation and restraint, by having the budget more in sync with Nigeria’s fiscal reality, by improving efficiency in revenue utilisation, improving procurement processes and trimming the size of government, and reducing the cost of governance.”

He charged President Tinubu to provide clarity on the fuel subsidy regime, including the fiscal commitments and benefits from the fuel subsidy reform and the impact of this on the Federation Accounts. 

Africa Today News, New York

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