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A Citizen-Centric Review of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s First Year in Office

By StateCraft
Nigeria A Citizen-Centric Review of President Bola Ahmed Tinubus First Year in Office
WED, 29 MAY 2024 LISTEN

As Nigeria marks one year under the leadership of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a wave of optimism and discontent washes over the country. Tinubu's administration has implemented sweeping changes across various sectors that have been heavily criticised as citizens navigate the immediate economic hardships and weigh them against the potential for long-term gains. To commemorate his first year in office, Behind the State (BTS) asked a couple of Nigerians to share their thoughts on his policies and administration so far. After a comprehensive survey conducted by YMonitor, the following consistent talking points emerged:

The Positives
Renewed Hope Infrastructure Development Fund: One of the Tinubu administration's hallmark achievements is the Renewed Hope Infrastructure Development Fund, aimed at revitalising Nigeria’s crumbling infrastructure. This fund has earmarked substantial investments for constructing and rehabilitating roads, bridges, and public amenities. In the YMonitor survey, 58.7% of respondents aged 18-35 expressed satisfaction with the infrastructure improvements. Chinedu Nwankwo, a trader interviewed when compiling this report, said he has noticed some improvements in his commutes between Lagos and Ibadan. "Traveling used to be a nightmare with all the potholes and traffic jams," he says. "Now, it's much smoother and faster, which means I can make more trips and increase my earnings." According to the Ministry of Works, over 500 road kilometres have been constructed or rehabilitated within the first year, benefiting over 10 million Nigerians.

Healthcare Investments: The Renewed Hope Health Investment Initiative is another cornerstone of Tinubu’s administration. This program is constructing over 8,000 new healthcare centres nationwide to enhance access to quality medical services. In rural areas, where healthcare infrastructure has historically been lacking, 61.3% of young Nigerians reported improved access to healthcare. "Before, the nearest clinic was over an hour away, and it was often closed or out of supplies," says Amina Musa, a small village resident in Kano State. "Now, we have a new health centre right in our community, and it's well-equipped." The Ministry of Health reports that these new facilities have already seen over 1 million patient visits, significantly reducing the strain on existing hospitals and improving health outcomes nationwide.

Economic Support through the Bank of Industry: Under Tinubu's watch, the Bank of Industry (BOI) has played a pivotal role in supporting Nigerian businesses. Through initiatives like the new Presidential Conditional Grant Scheme (PCGS) and the Innovation and Digital Entrepreneurship Ecosystem (iDICE) program, the BOI has continued to provide low-interest loans and grants to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). According to the survey, 54.2% of young entrepreneurs expressed satisfaction with the BOI's support. The PCGS initiative provides quick financial assistance to nano businesses affected by economic disruptions, while the iDICE program targets startups and technology-driven enterprises.

Improved Passport Processing: The administration's efforts to streamline passport processing have yielded impressive results. Previously, obtaining a Nigerian passport was a protracted and often frustrating process, but recent reforms have significantly reduced wait times. In the YMonitor survey, 65.4% of young Nigerians reported a positive experience with the new passport processing system. The Nigerian Immigration Service reports that passport processing times have decreased by 60%, and over 1 million passports have been issued since the reforms were implemented. These changes have made it easier for Nigerians to travel abroad for business, education, and leisure, thus enhancing the country's global connectivity.


The Negatives
Fuel Subsidy Removal: The removal of fuel subsidies, a move aimed at reducing government expenditure and encouraging a market-driven economy, has had severe repercussions for many Nigerians. Fuel prices have more than doubled, leading to increased transportation costs and a general rise in the cost of living. According to the Ymonitor survey, 82.5% of young Nigerians reported increased financial strain due to higher fuel costs, with lower-income households being the hardest hit. "I used to spend N5,000 on fuel weekly, but now it's over N12,000," says Adewale Oladipo, a taxi driver in Lagos. "It's really hard to make ends meet." The removal of subsidies, though fiscally prudent, has sparked frustration with the sudden economic burden, and it remains to be seen how soon the sacrifice will yield dividends.

Floating the Naira: The decision to float the Naira, intended to stabilise the currency and attract foreign investment, has had mixed results. While it theoretically allows for a more realistic exchange rate, the immediate effect has been a sharp depreciation of the Naira, leading to higher prices for imported goods. Data from the Central Bank of Nigeria indicates that the Naira has depreciated by over 30% since the policy was introduced, contributing to an inflation rate that now stands at 22%. The survey indicated that 67.9% of young Nigerians felt the impact of the currency devaluation on their purchasing power. "Everything is more expensive now, from groceries to school supplies," says Grace Eze, a schoolteacher in Abuja. "It's a daily struggle to keep up."

Increased Tertiary Education Fees: The introduction of student loans was meant to make higher education more accessible, but the accompanying increase in school fees has sparked widespread concern. Many students and their families find the new fees prohibitive. The survey found that 55.4% of students were unhappy with the increased fees despite the availability of loans. "My parents can barely afford the new fees, even with the loan," says Chigozie Nnamdi, a university student in Enugu. "I'm worried I might have to drop out."

Epileptic Electricity Supply: Despite promises of improvement, electricity supply remains dire, even with the electricity tariffs and the categorisation of consumers into five categories, including Band A-E by the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC). Band A is supposed to have the best service with 20-24 hours of electricity. Band B follows closely with 16-20 hours. Band C receives 12-16 hours, Band D gets 8-12 hours, and Band E has the least electricity, with only 4-8 hours daily. The increased tariffs and categorisation have yet to be matched by better service, with many areas still experiencing frequent outages. So far, the grid has collapsed five times this year. These blackouts and inconsistency in power supply continue to hinder economic activities and frustrate citizens. This has forced many businesses to rely on expensive generators, increasing operational costs. The Ymonitor survey showed that 73.2% of young Nigerians were dissatisfied with the current electricity situation. "We have power cuts almost every day," says Fatima Abdullahi, a shop owner in Kaduna. "I spend so much on diesel just to keep my business running."

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu's first year in office has been a period of significant change, marked by ambitious reforms and notable challenges. While the administration may have laid the groundwork for long-term improvements in infrastructure, healthcare, and economic stability, the immediate effects of these policies have been painful for many Nigerians. Balancing the need for bold reforms with the imperative to alleviate short-term hardships remains a critical challenge for the Tinubu administration as it moves forward. The coming years will be crucial in determining whether the seeds of "Renewed Hope" will blossom into tangible improvements for the Nigerian people.

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