agenda bender

Nigeria: 10 things on President-elect Tinubu’s to-do list

By Ben Ezeamalu

Posted on March 3, 2023 13:49

 © Presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Tinubu looks on as he attends a party campaign rally at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos, on November 26, 2022. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)
Presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Tinubu looks on as he attends a party campaign rally at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos, on November 26, 2022. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

Nigeria’s election shows a deeply divided country. That division is one area the president-elect Bola Tinubu promises to address upon assuming office on 29 May. It will go alongside a long list of other items, from security to fixing the collapsing currency, rebuilding trust in elections and fixing abysmal electricity provision.

At around 4 AM on 1 March, Nigeria’s electoral commission announced Bola Tinubu, the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the 25 February 2023 presidential election. Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous state, polled 8.7 million votes to defeat his two closest challengers – Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (6.9 million votes) and Peter Obi of the youth-centric Labour Party (6.1 million votes).The result of the polls elicited angry reactions from several Nigerians who accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of conniving with the ruling party to rig the election. INEC denies the allegation.

YIAGA Africa, one of the election monitoring groups, decried the violence and voter suppression rampant on voting day and described the outcome as “a missed opportunity.” The main opposition parties have indicated they would challenge the result in court.

But the ruling party maintains that the irregularities were not as widespread as alleged and that Tinubu’s win was the will of a plurality of the voters. During his acceptance speech, Tinubu, 70, admitted as much and noted that the lapses were “relatively few and immaterial to the final outcome.”

The president-elect extended a hand of friendship to his opponents and assured Nigerians that he would be a fair leader. “I will be in tune with your aspirations, charge up your energies and harness your talents to deliver a nation that we can be proud of,” said Tinubu.

But beyond the president-elect’s promises and assurances, the fallout from the election showed a deeply divided country. And when he is sworn in on 29 May as Nigeria’s sixth elected president since independence, Tinubu will have to urgently attend to some of the challenges currently facing Nigeria.

The Africa Report presents ten of the most pressing issues the new president will focus on upon assumption of office.

1. Uniting the nation

The 2023 presidential election left in its wake a country deeply divided along ethnic as well as religious lines.

Nigeria is divided into a largely Muslim north and a Christian south. Tinubu, who ran on a Muslim-Muslim ticket, won eight of the 19 states in northern Nigeria. Atiku, a Muslim, took nine states while Obi, a Christian, got two. Obi, an Igbo from southeast Nigeria, also won nine of the 17 states in the south, including all five south-eastern states.

I will be in tune with your aspirations, charge up your energies and harness your talents to deliver a nation that we can be proud of.

For most of his eight years in office, President Muhammadu Buhari was accused of favouritism towards Muslims in his appointments.

“Buhari should come out and tell us why every appointment now must be a Muslim or Hausa-Fulani Muslim,” Danladi Yarima, secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria, said in 2016 after the president’s appointment. “Is he telling us that in Kano, Katsina, Sokoto and other states he has appointed from that there is no Christian”?

When announcing his cabinet, Tinubu is expected to ensure balance and fairness.

In his acceptance speech, the president-elect called on his supporters and those of his opponents to unite toward his “renewed hope” vision for Nigeria.

2. Addressing insecurity

One of the biggest issues facing Nigeria going into the 2023 general election was insecurity. Before 2015, Nigeria’s security challenges were restricted mostly to the northeast where Boko Haram terrorists were carrying out violent attacks and kidnappings. By 2022, the insecurity had spread to all six regions.

As Nigeria struggles with dwindling revenue, a secure environment that will provide an enabling environment for private investors becomes even more important.

At his 69th birthday colloquium in Kano in 2021, Tinubu highlighted the need to address Nigeria’s security challenges when he made the now-viral claim of recruiting 50 million youth into the army and feeding them with corn and cassava.

Tinubu says he would create anti-terrorist battalions with special forces whose objective shall be to tackle terrorists, kidnappers, and bandits.

3. Revamping the economy

Nigeria’s unemployment rate is projected to hit 37% in 2023, according to a report by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG). The report added that the country’s inflation will average 20.5% in the same year.

At least 133 million Nigerians are living in poverty, according to the latest figures by the National Bureau of Statistics.

In an interview with The Africa Report in January, Wale Edun, a Tinubu ally who is tipped to become Nigeria’s finance minister, said the administration will focus on accelerated and inclusive, double-digit economic growth.

“Tinubu said ‘you have to set a ceiling of at least 6% growth per annum because anything below that will not start denting poverty….”

4. Rebuilding trust in the electoral process

The reputation of Nigeria’s electoral body, INEC, received a hit during the 2023 presidential election. Failure to deploy officials to polling units, late arrival of officials, and delay in uploading results on the election viewing portal were major issues in the election.

“The inconsistencies in presidential election results for states like Imo and Rivers make clear drastic steps [that] are now needed and INEC must be fundamentally reformed,” YIAGA Africa said in its post-election statement.

With governor elections in Edo and Ondo coming up in 2024, Tinubu is expected to do something urgently to restore confidence in INEC.

5. Agricultural reforms

In the run-up to the elections, Tinubu’s interest in agriculture was never in doubt.

While addressing delegates before the APC presidential primaries in June last year, he suggested that he cared about agriculture and the plight of the ordinary farmer. Moments afterward, when he had won the party’s ticket, he said he “will create jobs for our youth, from the Zamfara and Osun gold deposits to the vast agricultural lands across the country.”

In his campaign manifesto, Tinubu vowed “to help the farmer and his community in new and significant ways that usher in a true and complete rebirth of Nigerian agriculture.”

6. Access to stable electricity

Nigeria still struggles with stable electricity, both in its major cities and rural areas.

With an approximately 12,000MW installed capacity, the country is only able to generate about 8,000MW and is only able to distribute half of that.

The president-elect noted in his policy document that the nation’s power problems cannot be solved overnight. He, however, said he would immediately take steps to ensure more of the generated power can be transmitted and distributed to Nigerian homes and businesses.

He also said he would end the “unpopular and harmful” practice of estimated billing and ensure all electricity bills are meter-based.

At a town hall meeting and dialogue with the business community in Lagos, last November, Tinubu harped on the need to provide affordable and reliable power to drive private sector business.

7. Ending crude oil theft

In 2022, Nigeria’s crude oil output fell to its lowest since 1998.

According to NNPC Limited, Nigeria’s for-profit oil company, the country loses 470,000 crude oil barrels per day, although experts put the figure at 600,000 barrels.

The NNPC Ltd says the government lost N4.3trn ($10bn) to crude oil theft between January and July 2022.

Currently, Nigeria’s oil production is about 1.67 million barrels per day, some millions short of the 1.8 million bpd quota allocated by OPEC.

Tinubu’s administration plans to increase the crude oil output to 2.6 million bpd by 2027 and 4 million bpd by 2030. To do this, the government plans to establish a Special Enforcement and Monitoring Unit whose sole mandate will be to protect the nation’s pipelines by deploying technology to curb production disruptions.

8. Reforming the education sector

In 2022, Nigerian universities were shut for eight months over claims of poor funding by lecturers.

Even the attempt by Tinubu to intervene – when the strike was five months old – was unsuccessful.

During his campaign, Tinubu said he would do whatever it takes to ensure that ASUU (Nigeria’s university lecturers’ union) does not go on strike if elected president.

“There will no longer be ASUU strikes in Nigeria. All courses will be finished as and when due. For instance, all courses slated for four years will be finished at the end of the four years in the university.”

Some of the reforms Tinubu plans to implement include new accreditation standards and curriculum for schools, standardised teacher training courses, and a pilot student loan regime.

9. Decongesting Apapa ports

Port congestion remains a major challenge in Africa’s maritime sector.

In Nigeria, the congestion at the Apapa ports in Lagos has defied solutions, including the introduction of the electronic call-up system.

The port in Apapa, which had a 34 million tn capacity, was doing over 80 million tn, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said in 2019.

A report by Dutch consultancy firm, Dynammar, in 2020 said Nigeria loses about $55m daily from the congestion at the ports.

One of the ways the Tinubu administration plans to decongest the Lagos ports is to encourage greater use of other major seaports in Nigeria such as Onne, Warri, and Calabar.

Already, the Lekki Deep Sea Port has been commissioned and is expected to ease a substantial amount of the burden on the ports in Apapa.

“I commit to realising the immense opportunities inherent in the Lekki Deep Sea Port,” Tinubu said during a meeting with the Federation of Construction Industry in Nigeria, before the election.

10. Ending fuel subsidies

Already, the Buhari administration has begun steps to end the subsidy on petrol.

President Buhari said last October that he would end the subsidy on petrol in 2023.

In this year’s budget, the federal government set aside N3.36trn ($7.5bn) for petrol subsidy until June.

According to the NNPC, the government spent N2.91trn ($7bn) on petrol subsidies between January and September 2022.

Tinubu, who will be sworn in on 29 May, is expected to follow through with the government’s plan.

Speaking to the Kaduna-based Freedom Radio in early January, Tinubu described Nigeria’s petrol subsidy regime as “anti-poor.”

“I will ensure we end the wastage and re-channel the money to the people who truly need it.”


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