Opinion

The President’s bold start

After surviving the internal schisms of the scheming camps within his party, the All Progressives  Congress, to emerge as its standard bearer in the last presidential election, then going through a most turbulent electioneering  that attacked his personality more than his manifesto; and finally surviving legal and illegal hurdles placed on his path to been sworn-in as the 16th President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; President Bola Tinubu has shown within weeks of assumption of office that he, from actions and pronouncements, actually came prepared.

Never in the annals of Nigeria has any President  come into office and within a week or two, embarked on policy pronouncements, initiatives and directives that impacted the lives of  all the citizenry positively or otherwise. Some have said Tinubu promised to hit the ground running, but he actually seems to be speeding. And the speed with which Tinubu has taken off inspired the caption of a report on the new government, by the popular global news medium, Reuters, entitled “Baba Go Fast”!

From his maiden address during inauguration at Eagles Square, Mr President told Nigerians what they did not like or want to hear, he bellowed into the microphone: “Fuel subsidy is gone”! That’s unusual! What is common of such addresses are rosy promises and high vaulting words reminiscent of failed vainglorious platitudes of the past. However, this business-minded helmsman means business. Subsidy is gone, unified exchange rate of the dollars against the value-battered naira is here!  Of course, President Tinubu compassionately promised not to take the people for granted. Their sacrifices, he assured, will not be in vain.

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But government in this part of the world suffers a serious trust deficit from the governed. Surprisingly, the Nigerian youths, workers, students, peasants and other segments of the populace who needed no mobilisation to spill into the streets protesting, creating barricades and burning used tyres and even vehicles after successive increments in prices of petrol and related products as e witnessed in the past; this time, in a rare demonstration of support, decided to give the new regime a benefit of doubt. Or was it that the populace was shocked or taken unawares? So new a regime, so soon a policy!

The labour leaders, for save of face, announced mobilisation for strike over the removal of fuel subsidy that instantly led to price increment. But the government did not wait for the mobilisation to commence or for the ultimatum to expire, nor claim to be “unaware,” the labour was immediately engaged and made to see reasons. Labour shelved the planned mobilisation and negotiations are ongoing; more about cushioning the effects of the subsidy elimination rather than restoration of drain-pipe subsidy.

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There is a new President in town! A politician, businessman, economist, accountant and philanthropist combined. His deliberate, calculated actions has so far underlined his previous remark that the presidency of the most populous nation in Africa has been his “life-long ambition.”

Like a hand long-itching to be active, long overdue bills were signed into law within two weeks; Students Loan Bill, Electricity Bill and judges retirement age bill.

The new President assured he will practice “open door policy,” and almost instantaneously, he demystified the seat of government.  The hitherto impregnable Aso Rock Presidential Villa had its gates literally flung open. From the labour unions, traditional rulers, students, politicians, local and international businessmen, it is now like anyone could just wake up at home and say “I am going to the villa to see Mr President.”

Also, “sacred cow” Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, who introduced a warped currency colour-change, called currency swap that mindlessly led to collapses of businesses and death of some Nigerians, was suspended from office and arrested by the operatives of the Department of State Services. Tongues were still wagging on Emefiele when the head of the government’s anti-corruption agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Abdulrasheed Bawa, was also suspended and “invited” by the DSS. What a rare courage shown by Tinubu. These are the hitherto ‘untouchables’ who bestrode the landscape like a colossus.

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What audacity! What courage! Not a few wondered where Tinubu got the balls from, especially when the individuals got a good cover from the former administration produced by the same ruling party, APC.

And as I was rounding off this article, a tsunami came. In one fell swoop, the service chiefs, National Security Adviser, Inspector-General of Police, Comptroller-General of Customs, were gone. To avoid any vacuum, men and officers were appointed in acting capacities by the President, pending confirmation by the Senate.

Before the dust of sweeping removal and replacement of service chiefs could settle down, news came that all federal boards, parastatals and institutions had been dissolved. Nigerians and non-Nigerians are indeed awed by the actions of the new President. Vocal public commentators had hailed his start and some political opponents also hummed his praise. The question now is will the President sustain the commendable proactiveness? Only time will tell. But, if the morning tells the day, then he has started well. We can only wish him Godspeed in office.

  • Tunde Oladunjoye is a UNICEF-trained social policy advocate



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