A political and economic development monitoring group known as the Independent Media and Policy Initiative (IMPI) has said that the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration has made giant strides in many critical areas, especially on tackling insecurity, inflation, hunger and corruption.
The group addressed s press conference in Abuja on its assessment of the performance of the administration and used the opportunity to heap praises on the president for adopting a proactive approach and maturity in tackling critical national issues.
Chairman of the Initiative, Chief Niyi Akindiju, who addressed the media on the analysis carried out by the group, said overall, the present administration has performed creditably well in the past eight months.
“From President Tinubu’s policies in the last eight months, we can objectively submit that the administration has performed creditably well despite the enormous institutional, economic headwinds and domestic challenges it had to contend with.
“From the conceptualisation and deployment of policies across multifarious sectors by the Federal Government, we are convinced that President Tinubu is putting in place new building blocks to serve as the bedrock of a new model for national and socio-political development.”
The text of the briefing read by the chairman is reproduced on part below.
“As a body of policy analysts, we have painstakingly studied and analyzed the prevailing situation in the country over the last eight months and we are glad to inform Nigerians of our findings.
“President Tinubu came into office in the midst of the lingering effects of Post Covid-19 challenges and a global economic downturn exacerbated by the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
“In response, the President took and deployed policies and related measures, that, in the circumstances, should be described as proactive and courageous in confronting the major socio-political, security and economic issues affecting the nation.
“On his first day in office, the President rightly acknowledged that the fuel subsidy regime was an albatross on the nation’s economy with debilitating impact on its sustainability and by extension, a threat to the quality of life of the generality of Nigerians, if a decisive policy statement was not immediately made and enforced.
”While taking cognizance of the associated economic challenges that households are grappling with, it is our considered opinion that “e decision by the President to announce the removal of fuel subsidy is not only courageous but commendable.
“More important, it was a measure to eliminate the long standing subsidy related corruption perpetrated by the cartel of the subsidy regime.
“From a policy impact point of view, the measure triggered the immediate positive outturn on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) consumption and related revenue earnings compared to the pre-subsidy removal regime.
“Distinguished members of the media, you can all attest to the fact that just about a month after the announcement of the removal of fuel subsidy, national daily fuel consumption fell dramatically from an unexplainable 66.7 million litres a day as of May 2023 to 45 million litres. The consumption size has further reduced and now stabilised at 43.3 million litres a day.
“This steep reduction has led to a quantum leap in total gross revenue going into the federation account and subsequent FAAC allocation to the three tiers of government from N786.161bn in May 2023 to a high of N1.1trn in August because NNPCL was no longer resorting to its famed under-recovery.
And for the first time in the history of FAAC, the Federal Government of Nigeria started cultivating the culture of savings from revenue accruals beginning from the over N700bn that was saved in July last year when the FAAC received the sum of N1.959 trillion.
“This has marked a turning point in Federation accruals and revenue generation with implications for budget performance.
“Some of the measures taken to cushion the impact of fuel subsidy removal on Nigerians are the wage awards to workers and commitment of Federal Government’s intervention in ameliorating the cost of transportation during season’s peak periods.
“A more profound measure in this regard is the activation of the long dormant National Gas Master Plan which effectively provides momentum for the commercial use of natural and liquefied gas.
By our reading of the President’s plan, as being implemented in the sector, four Compressed Natural Gas-based vehicle assembly plants are already being built in the country which will, in the first instance, produce 750 buses and thousands of tricycles, while 100 electric buses are on their way into the country to consolidate the
“In connection with this, we can also confirm that CNG vehicle service centres with refilling facilities are being built across the country.
The multiplier effect of all of these will include technology adaptation, cheaper transport, job creation, enablement of commercial utilisation of natural gas and an environment-friendly energy use regime, in alignment with environmental sustainability.
“In the light of efforts to ameliorate the transportation cost burden on Nigerians during the last Christmas period, we all recall how the President introduced an intervention to reduce public transportation costs by 50% on selected routes nationwide as well as the free rail transport initiative across the country.
We consider this a true exemplification of emotional intelligence by the President Tinubu administration and a show of connection to everyday existence of the average Nigerian.
“Similarly, we have conducted a performance audit of the implementation status of railway projects in the country as part of properly situating the intermodal transportation system that should facilitate cheaper and easy spatial connectivity within the Nigerian geographical space.
“We can authoritatively report that in addition to the popular Abuja – Kaduna and Lagos – Ibadan standard gauge routes, laying of tracks has been completed on the Port Harcourt-Abia axis of the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri strategic narrow rail route and from all indications, rail services are set to commence on that route shortly. Also, the Lagos-Kano narrow gauge express service will be operational soon.
“Related to this, our investigation shows that work is ongoing simultaneously on the Kaduna to Kano and the Kano to Maradi rail projects.
This is indicative of a developing scenario of a truly intermodal transportation system as required in any country with a claim to driving growth and development.
“Concerns over Food Inflation and Its Remedies. As part of our evaluation of the nation’s economy under the present administration, we reviewed the national inflation rate especially the food inflation, the latest of which the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported to be at 33.93% for December 2023.
“This rate should naturally exert concerns, however, our findings have shown a commitment by the President to stemming the tide of rising food prices and ensuring food security by approving the accelerated cultivation of 500,000 hectares of land across the country in collaboration with state governments.
“This, in itself, is a commendable model of cooperation between the federal government and the sub-nationals. We are certain that in a short while, Nigerians will start receiving the products of the federal and sub-national governments working together.
To crystallise the policy, the administration has introduced an irrigation programme to facilitate and guarantee all-year round farming. Our investigation within the general purview of agriculture implicates the deployment of several policies including waivers on the importation of tractors and farm implements, the recent launch of dry season farming in Jigawa State and the allocation of N102bn to the National Agricultural Development Fund (NADFUND) to mention just a few.
It is our view that these measures will guarantee adequate food supply in the shortest possible time.
“On security, we note with special interest the approval of N50bn for the establishment of the Pulaaku Initiative, a non-kinetic approach to tackling insecurity which emphasizes the provision of social amenities like schools, hospitals, housing and sanitary facilities in the seven (7) pilot states of Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, Kaduna, Benue, Katsina and Niger.
“This is, in our view, a creative and pragmatic intervention that will most likely change the narratives around insecurity in the country.
“We note also the conscious policy to deliver more roads across the country as exemplified in the recent approval of funds for the construction of the Second Niger Bridge bypass, completion of the Lagos-Ibadan highway, the Lafia bypass, Dualisation of Makurdi – Otukpo 9th mile road and sections of Abuja-Kaduna Zaria expressway.
This is aside the Presidential approval for the rehabilitation and construction of 1,925 roads and highways across the country.
“We are convinced that under the current fiscal regime, these projects would be completed to time and shall have positive effect on the socio-economic development of the country.
“The Forex Resolution Game Plan. We have also reviewed policy applications by the federal government and the Central Bank working together in the management of our foreign exchange, and we are encouraged that the policy outcomes of this collaboration would address the supply side of our forex in the context of the current floating regime with expected consequential effects on the value of the Naira.
“To this end, we put in context, the affirmation by the CBN Governor, Mr. Olayemi Cardoso, that the Naira is undervalued. We agree with this position especially in the light of the Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) of the Naira vis-a-vis the dollar.
‘In connection with this, we also note the impressive returns of the Nigeria Stock Exchange since June 2023 when the harmonisation of the forex window was formally announced. Currently the Nigerian Stock market takes a pride of place as the number one stock exchange globally, principally driven by domestic investors, which as at 2023, accounted for 88.52% of total market value.
“This is a confirmation of the existence of conducive environment for foreign investors to invest across the Nigerian investment ecosystem.
“Respect of Rule of Law for Good Governance. As a corollary to the assurances of good governance, we have noted comments by several beneficiaries of recent rulings by the Supreme Court. Most of them clearly indicated the manifestation of an independent judiciary in the Tinubu administration, which we believe is an affirmation of the entrenchment of democratic culture and value.
“Actionable Policy on Corruption. Perhaps, the most significant policy position in all of these will be one that broadly and dimensionally addresses corruption in the country. Corruption is a disincentive to foreign investment especially of the kind we are so desirous to have in Nigeria at this time.
“However, we take notice of the President’s swift response to corruption allegations against a member of his cabinet, Dr. Betta Edu, by suspending and ordering her investigation.
“Without prejudice to the outcome of the ongoing investigation, we urge the President to not bow to pressure, but ensure that the report of that investigation and those of other government officials under investigation be made public in the spirit of transparency.
“This will go a long way to sending clear signals to local and international audiences about the Tinubu administration’s seriousness to tackle the scourge of corruption as recently observed by the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken during a recent visit to Nigeria.”