The Tinubu regime:  A new beginning or a continuation of the status quo?

By Daniel Akande

Nigeria is in a state of comatose, no thanks to the Tinubu regime, which has made the lives of the working masses, students, artisans, youths and farmers miserable. 

All of the possible capitalist social-economic policies within reach of the capitalist establishment of the Tinubu regime have been put forward in order to salvage the economic situation of the country, yet no fundamental changes have been achieved. These policies, ranging from subsidy removal (which invariably leads to astronomic hikes in petrol costs) and the floating of the country’s currency, among others, are anti-people and have made life unbearable for the vast majority of the working masses. Unfortunately, these capitalist economic policies of the Tinubu regime are just like those of the Buhari and other previous capitalist governments in the country. 

The Neo-liberal policies of deregulation of the downstream of the oil sector, removal of the fuel subsidy, commercialization of the education sector, privatization of the key sectors including the power sector and the endless dollarization of the Nigeria economy have been the driven policies of the Tinubu regime; this has continued to make life difficult for the working mass and the Nigerian youths.

In the absence of a significant increment in the salary of an average worker and the abysmal #35,000 which is handed out to some workers as the Tinubu’s sluggishly yielded to the two centre labour demand to cushion the effect of subsidy removal. While this money is petty, it is also used as the basis of division amongst the mass of the working class as some workers in some sectors, including at the state level, are not included in the scheme. Divide and rule is the other of the day under the Tinubu regime. It is a case of double jeopardy for the working masses. On the one hand, salaries have not been increased even though the prices of goods and transportation have continued to go up. On the other hand, the children of the working masses have been committed to either of these faiths-one to drop out of school or to commit their lives to eternal indebtedness through the student loan scheme.

Tinubu regime: lies upon lies 

The Tinubu regime has continued to give lies upon lies. Firstly, he made people believe that fuel subsidy removal would put an end to fuel scarcity and queues in the fueling stations; this is a pure lie; fuel scarcity and queues at the fueling stations have resumed in most cities, including the FCT-Abuja. Secondly, they told the public that the student loan scheme would put an end to the ASUU strike and all of the problems confronting tertiary education, including making education available and accessible for all students. These are another round of lies. According to the report, in the last quarter of 2023, more students dropped out of tertiary institutions than in the previous years. We have seen several protests in tertiary institutions, including a protest at the University of Lagos and the University of Benin, and this has seen the outrageous hikes in school fees protested by the students. This Tinubu education policy has pushed more students from poor working-class backgrounds out of the school. 

In recent time, the capitalist economists and the APC apologist has told us to be patient with Tinubu’s government, stating that the situation of the country has already been worsened and that it will take time before the country can be repositioned. The point is that Tinubu has always been part of those driving the economy of the country since 1999, being a two-time governor of Lagos State and the funding member of the APC party that Buhari contested and won and ruled the country two times.

Tinubu has been part and parcel of those who implemented anti-people policies, putting this country into what it has become today, and there can be no justification that the country has already been in a bad state and that the Tinubu regime inherited the terrible economy. While this statement is no new, a similar statement was put forward in the first two years of Buhari, yet Buhari spent eight years in power with nothing to show for it. 

So many news outlets describe the Buhari government as a regime of economic devastation. The sum-up of his administration record was high levels of unemployment, poverty, inflation, hunger, and despair. Even though some APC-Buhari apologists have scored the regime excellently while making claims of his achievements across all sectors, of course, the reality was poverty, joblessness and hopelessness everywhere, and it has become worse under the current administration of Tinubu.

Tinubu: Old wine in a new bottle: 

With all of the so-called Tinubu’s economic reforms, the country’s statistics within this period showed that the country is much more retrogressive than what Buhari left in May 2023, so people are now begging for a return to the previous administration. 

According to the World Bank, Nigeria’s economy has shown signs of retrogression in recent years, with the country facing numerous economic challenges. The GDP growth rate has plummeted from 6.2% in 2014 to 2.3% in 2019 under Buhari; the GDP growth rate was 3.54% recorded in the second quarter of 2022, while under Tinubu, it has declined to 2.51% in the second quarter of 2023, and the poverty rate has increased from 35% in 2015 to 40% in 2020 and much more in the last quarter of the year 2023.

In January 2023, the headline inflation rate rose to 21.82% compared to the December 2022 headline inflation rate, which was 21.34%. August 2023 headline inflation rate, which was 25.80 per cent; Nigeria’s inflation rate has risen to its highest level in two decades in recent times, 26.72%, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Nigeria’s inflation rate in September 2023 rose for a ninth consecutive month from an already high 25.8% recorded in August.

On a year-on-year basis, the inflation rate was 5.94% higher than when compared to the 20.77% recorded in September of 2022.

Unemployment has also worsened, with the rate increasing from 9.9% in 2015 to 27.1% in 2020, 33.3% in the early year of 2023 and even worse off in the last quarter of 2023. 

This has led to a surge in social unrest and crime, most especially the young people who are now searching online daily for quick money while others have ventured into advanced social media scams (Yahoo-plus); as many young people struggle to find employment opportunities, nearly 12 per cent of the world’s population living in poverty today dwells in Nigeria, declares Statista. 

Global consultancy firm KPMG, in its Global Economy Outlook Report, estimates the country’s jobless rate in 2022 at 37.7 per cent and projects this to stand at 40.6 per cent in the last quarter of this year-2023. 

Bloomberg reported in March 2021 that Nigeria briefly surpassed South Africa on a list of 82 countries whose unemployment rates were tracked, with Namibia leading with 33.4 per cent. Nigeria was ranked 103 out of 121 countries in the 2022 Global Hunger Index. It ranked 103 out of 116 countries in 2021 and 98 out of 107 countries in 2020. The reality is that today, the socioeconomic conditions of an average person, including that of the working class, have been completely swooped into poverty, and if the country is to be ranked today, it won’t be surprising that the country might stand at 116 out of the 116 countries on the Global Hunger Index. 

In addition, Nigeria’s external debt has spiked from $10.7 billion in 2015 to $27.6 billion in 2020, putting a strain on the country’s financial health and leading to concerns about its ability to meet its debt obligations. According to Vanguard, Nigeria’s foreign debt is expected to rise further to about $51 billion, following President Bola Tinubu’s request to the Senate, seeking approval to borrow additional $7.8 billion and €100million, as part of his 2022-2024 borrowing plan.

Under the Tinubu regime, the PUNCH news has it that 36 states of the federation have spent N1.71tn on recurrent expenditures, including allowances, foreign trips, office stationery, aircraft maintenance, and more in the first nine months of 2023. “Of the 36 states, only 30 states have disbursed security votes (N87.45bn) so far. Also, the total borrowings of the states grew to N988bn as of the third quarter of 2023”.

Furthermore, the country’s infrastructure and social services have shown little or no improvement; in some cases where these infrastructures exist, they have become decayed, obsolete and withered away. For instance, inter-state roads in most parts of the country are deplorable states, except Abuja to Benue road, which is motorable, and Abuja to South-West roads are dead traps claiming the lives of not less than a thousand people monthly. 

Also, the challenges in the power sector, healthcare, and education persist. Many Nigerians still lack access to basic amenities and suffer from inadequate public services. The lack of a constant power supply has continued to be erratic. Nearly ten years after the privatization of the electricity industry, supply to end users has remained below 4,000 megawatts, and the prices of electricity have continued to hike week-in and week-out without any significant improvement in service delivery. In most communities, it is always a case of constant fighting between the workers of the different Nigeria Electricity distribution Companies, including the AEDC in Abuja and its environment. Of course, these workers are also part of members of the working class who have been subjected to the misery of capitalism; most of them are casual workers who are only striving to make ends meet. The lacuna between the members of the public and that of the workers of the Electricity distribution companies was created as part of the crises of capitalism and with the absence of organized labour to bring together all of these elements to wrestle power from the capitalist predators and save the prays from the den of oppressors. 

In most villages, there is little or no sign of government; it is only during the election periods that the villagers get to know who is representing them. The story is the same everywhere, and it has continued for years. 

Overall, the statistics show that Nigeria has experienced retrogression in various aspects of its economy and society since President Tinubu took office on May 29 2023. The challenges facing the country have deepened, and urgent action is needed to address these issues and put Nigeria on a more progressive path.

The number of out-of-school children rose significantly from 13.2 million in 2015 to 20 million in 2022. Data shows that 57.8 million children are of school-going age (6–15 years old). A shocking 28.7% of all school-aged children whose data are included in the survey are not attending school.

Nearly 133 million (63%) Nigerians are multidimensionally poor.

The Nigeria Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) 2022 shows that poor people in Nigeria experience over one-quarter of all possible deprivations.

A significant portion of this poor population is deprived of clean cooking fuel, adequate sanitation and access to healthcare.

4 out of 10 Nigerians experience monetary deprivation, but more than 6 out of 10 are multidimensionally poor.

The report made available by the Transport Fare Watch for June 2023 States that “the average fare paid by commuters for bus journeys within the city per drop increased by 97.88% from N649.59 in May 2023 to N1,285.41 in June 2023. On a year-on-year basis, it rose by 120.63% from N582.61 in June 2022. In another category, the average fare paid by commuters for bus journey intercity per drop rose to N5,686.49 in June 2023, indicating an increase of 42.09% on a month-on-month basis compared to N4,002.16 in May 2023. On a year-on-year basis, the fare rose by 55.25% from N3,662.87 in June 2022. In air travel, the average fare paid by air passengers for specified routes’ single journeys increased by 4.93% from N74,948.78 in May 2023 to N78,640.54 in June 2023. On a year-on-year basis, the fare rose by 40.22% from N56,082.64 in June 2022. The average transport fare paid on Okada transportation was N618.52 in June 2023, which was 33.14% higher than the rate recorded in May 2023 (N464.55). On a year-on-year basis, the fare rose by 48.34% compared to June 2022 (N416.97). For water transport (waterway passenger transportation), the average fare paid in June 2023 increased to N1,366.22 from N1,045.15 in May 2023. On a year-on-year basis, it increased by 44.84% from N943.26 in June 2022”.

Also, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, the “Selected Food Price Watch for June 2023 shows that the average price of 1kg of Beef boneless stood at N2,653.02 in June 2023. This indicates a growth of 27.55% on a year-on-year basis from N2,079.93 recorded in June 2022 and a 5.26% rise monthly from N2,520.52 in the previous month. Also, the average price of 1kg of Tomato increased by 24.86% on a year-on-year basis from N438.33 in June 2022 to N547.28 in June 2023. On a month-on-month basis, the average price of the product increased by 9.82%. The average price of 1kg of Rice local (sold loose) rose by 32.17% on a year-on-year basis from N460.17 in June 2022 to N608.20 in June 2023. On a month-on-month basis, it increased by 9.55% from N555.18 in May 2023.” Even though the country is in the time of harvest, the prices of staple foods are not reducing. For instance, a muddle of White Beans in the Federal Capital Territory area and its environment rose from #600 in June to #1100-1200 in November, while a muddle of Brown beans increased from #650 in June to #1300. Yet, there is no reduction in the price of the old beans. Also, the sachet water of 50cl per one increased from #10 to #30. 

Tinubu regime: Predators feeding fat over preys: 

Is this a government of the people or a government by greed? The citizens ask this question daily. 

One of the national questions remains the question of hunger and abject poverty amidst the abundant human and natural resources, so why the hunger and why the poverty? Only this year alone has the Tinubu government made it known to us that at least 1 trillion Naira has been saved monthly from the fuel subsidy removal, citizen rapporteur disclosed.

This means that in the last six(6) months, the Tinubu government must have saved about 7 trillion on fuel subsidies, so the question is, where are those monies saved? With the opulent lifestyle of the Nigerian politicians, spending big on SUV cars, renovation of the offices/houses and the billions of Naira allotted to wardrobe allowance. The media exposed the reports of lawmakers on the verge of receiving brand new 2023 models of Toyota Land Cruiser and Prado Sports Utility Vehicles that will cost the nation at least N57.6bn in total. With a budget deficit, as of July 2022, of N4.63 trillion, where the government has proposed to spend N4.99 trillion as personnel expenditure in 2023, with expenditure of N5.35 trillion, Nigerian attackers eat fat in their prayers.

While Nigerian politicians give 35,000 as palliatives to some workers to cushion the effect of fuel subsidies, politicians have special palliatives for themselves. The President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Tajudeen Abbas, spent N40 billion on 465 trucks for members and bulletproof vehicles for senior officials and 70 billion Naira as palliatives for new members. It’s a shame! The decision is an insult to the souls of the 137 million Nigerians who are currently dying in dire straits. It represents the height of the indifference of members of the federal parliament to the plight of the poor.

A socialist Alternative is needed:

While the policies of the APC and Tinubu government continue to deteriorate, it is good that we continue to sensitize the workers to start putting pressure on their leaders from the local government level to the state and federal levels. The leadership of the Labor Party at the national level must use the current anti-people policies of the APC government that continue to make the lives of ordinary Nigerians miserable as an opportunity to fulfil its historical role. The leaders of the union should unite with the workers across the country to end these attacks on the poor people of Nigeria. Only a programme of mobilizing the workers into the arena of struggle and ultimately putting forward a question of the mass-based worker’s party can wrestle power from these predators, which have continued to pray over the Nigerian people over the years.