The price for unprepared leadership is a point-by-point disputation of government’s position on the impact of President Tinubu’s economic policies.
The Presidency failed to provide a credible defence of President Bola Tinubu’s failures in tackling Nigeria’s economic challenges. And yes, Atiku Abubakar offered better policy options to Tinubu’s morbid prescriptions.
The Presidential Spokesman, Bayo Onanuga, failed to provide a credible defence of Bola Tinubu’s failures in tackling the economic challenges facing the country. In his characteristic manner, he resorts to insults and name-calling. He demonstrates ignorance of the happenings around him – as he denies, for example, that Bola Tinubu’s policies are creating excruciating pain and causing despair.
We wish to respond to him as follows.
Point 1: Did Atiku Abubakar offer any better policy options in his run for the presidency?
Yes, he did. His living prescriptions contrast sharply with Bola Tinubu’s morbid policies. Atiku’s policy document, My Covenant With Nigerians, offers a clearly defined and robust roadmap for the socio-political and economic transformation of Nigeria. On the economy, the policy document outlines the challenges we face and our vision to get the economy on its feet and create prosperity.
If Bayo desires, he can have a copy for free!
Point 2: All the major presidential candidates supported withdrawal of subsidy on PMS.
But so, what? Even if all the major candidates agreed that the fuel subsidy regime must end and that the multiple exchange rates must be fixed, this would not translate into endorsing Bola Tinubu’s failures in implementation. The truth is that unlike Atiku, Bola Tinubu did not understand the reforms he embarked upon and had no idea what steps to take to mitigate their negative impact.
As a leader with foresight, Atiku anticipated that the withdrawal of subsidy and the unification of exchange rates could, in the absence of fundamental interventions, impact negatively on micro and small enterprises in the informal sector. He anticipated that such policies could elevate the levels of vulnerability and deprivation of poor families. including the youth and adults with no incomes.
The former Vice President, therefore, pledged to support Nigeria’s businesses by creating an Economic Stimulus Fund with an initial investment capacity of approximately US$10 billion to prioritize support to MSMEs across all the economic sectors, as they offer the greatest opportunities for achieving inclusive growth. The Fund was designed to make it easier for Nigeria’s 60 million micro and small enterprises to navigate the stormy seas in the aftermath of the withdrawal of subsidy on PMS.
In contrast, Bola Tinubu offered a paltry N125 billion to help the MSMEs, which at today’s exchange rate is no more than US100 million. Of course, Bayo Onanuga is aware that the pledge is yet to be redeemed by the president.
Atiku also pledged to implement a robust social investment programme to support the poor and vulnerable with CCTs. Atiku’s support to the poor and vulnerable would include prioritized actions to address the challenges of displacement and the sufferings of IDPs across the country.
In contrast, the funds for Tinubu’s CCT were cornered by his officials in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs.
Alongside the Economic Stimulus Fund, Atiku pledged to launch a uniquely designed skills-to-job programme that would target all categories of youth, including graduates, early school leavers as well as the massive numbers of uneducated youth who are currently not in education, employment, or training.
As a leader of vision, Atiku was ready for the potential fallout of his policies. Bola Tinubu was clearly not ready. It was only after he unleashed his morbid reforms that he started groping in the dark, looking for solutions. We all recall that in October 2023, the Financial Times of London rebuked Bola Tinubu for announcing plans without ideas for how to implement them.
Point 3: Is the private sector not overburdened by Bola Tinubu’s failure to address the aftermath of his policies?
Would Bayo Onanuga deny that Unilever, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Procter & Gamble (P&G), Sanofi-Aventi Nigeria, Bolt Food, Equinor etc had exited Nigeria citing reasons including foreign exchange complexities, security concerns, and high operational costs?
Bayo Onanuga must be living in a dream world outside the shores of Nigeria.
Point 4: Is Bayo denying that cost-of-living pressures have intensified since May 2023?
He needs to read the official statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics: The annual inflation rate reached a nearly 30-year high of 28.9% in December 2023, up from 28.2% in November.
Would Bayo Onanuga deny that food prices, which constitute a significant portion of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) basket, soared to 33.9% in December, the highest level since August 2005? Would he also deny that in many states of the federation, citizens have blocked roads in protest? Just yesterday morning (Monday, February 5), it was reported that hundreds of residents of Minna in Niger State blocked major roads to protest hunger and the high cost of living in the country.
Only failed leaders play the ostrich and live in self-denial.
Point 5: The Presidency’s response is full of lamentations and resorted to blame game. It is a familiar road travelled by the ruling party!
It has become fashionable for every APC-led government to blame others, especially the opposition and external factors for Nigeria’s economic woes. Now, Tinubu is elevating the blame game to the NEXT LEVEL as he accuses his own party of lacklustre performance.
The evidence, however, is overwhelming. Tinubu’s under-performance is largely attributable to leadership failures in the management of the economy. The failure of leadership by the APC-led government is staring every Nigerian in the face as the country’s economic, social, political, and security challenges persist and assume frightening dimensions.
An unprepared leadership such as Bola Tinubu’s fails to anticipate impending crisis and is always slow to react.
Paul Ibe: The price for unprepared leadership.
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