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Tinubu’s silent revolution shakes public service  

Wednesday September 06 2023
Nigerian President Bola Tinubu

Nigeria's President Bola Tinubu. PHOTO | AFP

By MOHAMMED MOMOH

Nigeria's President Bola Ahmed Tinubu rode to power in May on the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) ticket. On Wednesday, his fate will be decided by the Presidential Election Tribunal which is due to announce whether his election victory in February was valid.

So far, he seems to have disagreed with policies of his predecessor Muhammadu Buhari. He has engineered a change in his party, seeing a new national chairman installed.

Beyond politics, certain decisions have already rubbed stakeholders the wrong way.

In the past three months, he has reversed two major economic policies and fired senior government officials. The public has not been pleased, especially since some of those decisions hurt the cost of living.

The 71-year-old leader removed the decades-old petroleum subsidy and unified the foreign exchange market. Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer, but it imports all refined products, making ordinary folk reliant on subsidy to keep the prices down, and earn politicians' regular re-election. 

Read: AKINYEMI: Is fuel subsidy scrapping Tinubu's deal-maker?

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Tinubu upended this and also shook up the country’s security agencies.

The removal of fuel subsidy on May 29, 2023, his inauguration day, caused more than 400 percent in the increase of price of petrol. The unified single foreign exchange market also caused a sharp depreciation in the value of the Naira. 

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefile was replaced and is currently undergoing trial for various allegations, including the shabby implementation of the cashless economy policy. 

The new policies, he argued, were designed to direct funds into meaningful investment in the economy. But ordinary people only saw a rise and rise of food prices, among other basic commodities. 

According to Nigeria's National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), inflation has peaked at more than 24.08 percent. 

NBS said the July 2023 inflation rate rose by 1.29 percent compared to June 2023 headline inflation rate. The NBS also said on a year-on-year basis, the headline inflation rate was 4.44 percent points higher compared to the rate recorded in July 2022, which was 19.64 percent. 

Read: Spiralling debt, inflation hit Nigeria’s economy

“This shows that the headline inflation rate (year-on-year basis) increased in July 2023 when compared to the same month in the preceding year (i.e., July 2022),” it said. 

It said Tinubu’s removal of subsidy on petrol has caused hardship for many Nigerians with its attendant increase in the prices of goods and services.

The hardship has infuriated the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) which have demanded a response from the federal government. 

On Tuesday, the unions entered a strike, which, according to NLC President Joe Ajaero, is to ensure the immediate introduction of a “living wage” as well as national palliative against the hardships. 

The strike has crippled critical infrastructure such as electricity, transportation and banking services aside street protests in major cities.  

“There is massive suffering in the land. This is why we are embarking on this warning strike to press home our demands,” Ajaero said.

President Tinubu has also dismantled the hitherto existing security architecture he inherited from ex-President Buhari’s administration, and effectively putting his men in control of the key security establishments as well as rejigging the governance structure. 

He replaced all the Service Chiefs, National Security Adviser, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), heads of the Nigerian Customs and Immigration Services as well as that of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC). 

Read: Nigeria's Buhari makes controversial decisions in his last days as president

The new Chief of Army Staff Gen Taoreed Lagbaja has carried out massive reshuffling with the compulsory retirement of more than 84 generals and redeployment of officers. 

The Director of Army Public Relations Brig-Gen Onyema Nwachukwu said the redeployments and appointments were to reposition the Nigerian Army for operational efficiency, functional administration and national security. 

Those affected include Principal Staff Officers (PSOs), General Officers Commanding (GOCs), Corps Commanders, Commandants of training institutions, Logistics, Brigade Commanders, and Commanding Officers, Unit Commanders, Brigade of Guards and formations within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). 

The Boards of more than 2,100 government parastatals, agencies, companies, which are constituted with political party supporters, have also been dissolved while Chief Executive Officers of the agencies were being replaced. 

According to George Akume, the new Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Tinubu approved the immediate dissolution of the Boards in the exercise of his constitutional powers and in the public interest. 

Then, on September 3, the Nigerian leader recalled all career and non-career ambassadors who were posted in 2021 from their duty posts worldwide with an October 31 deadline to return to Abuja. 

The recall did not affect Nigeria’s Permanent Representatives to the United Nations in New York and Geneva, ostensibly because of this year’s UN General Assembly which began this week. 

According to Mr Ajuri Ngelale, presidential spokesman, the recall follows an assessment of affairs at Nigerian Consulate Offices and Embassies worldwide and to be in line with Tinubu’s ‘Renewed Hope’ agenda.

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