First Anniversary: Tinubu’s Economic Reforms as Foundation for A Modern Nigeria

First Anniversary: Tinubu’s Economic Reforms as Foundation for A Modern Nigeria

The famous quote: “A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman thinks of the next generation.” is attributable to James Freeman Clarke and it has proved to be true in the history of leaders who tried to change their society across the globe. Maya Angelou once said “What you’re supposed to do when you

The famous quote: “A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman thinks of the next generation.” is attributable to James Freeman Clarke and it has proved to be true in the history of leaders who tried to change their society across the globe. Maya Angelou once said “What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.”

President Bola Tinubu came to power with the mindset of the above quotes. By the time Nigerians went to the polls in 2023 to elect a new President, it was very visible that a lot of the citizens had given up hope on the Nigerian project. The younger population was leaving the country in droves in search of better opportunities in other climes, factories were shutting down due to an unfavourable and unpredictable business climate. Nigeria had reached ground zero and there was no debate that it needed a reset, purge of false living and make a detour to a life of reality, even if it meant a fresh beginning.

Africa’s largest economy needed urgent reforms to stabilize the country’s fiscal situation and attract investment. Before Tinubu, Nigeria had squandered wealth and goodwill through a mix of bad fiscal and macroeconomic policy, corruption, and poor governance.

That is the context to give an understanding of President Tinubu’s economic agenda and policies in his first year in office. They were targeted at restoring the confidence of the investors (local and foreign) and promoting stability and predictability for corporate planning and critical investment decisions. They are bearing positive fruits as they have been of mixed blessing.

Like Nehemiah in the Bible, he decided to rebuild the economy by uprooting the false and sandy foundations on which it stood; haemorrhaging and hurting. Confronted with a monstrous, corruption-ridden, and unsustainable fuel subsidy regime like a bolt from the blue, he took a bold and strategic step announcing the removal of the fuel subsidy, on the day of his swearing-in. He also took steps to unify the multiple foreign exchange markets and made the Naira discover its real value. Since no one makes an omelette without breaking an egg, the policies came with some pains. But they are like the pain of a woman in the labour room, who groans while birthing a child only for smiles to return to her face a day after.

Those were significant steps that restored investors’ confidence in the economy giving it a fresh breath of life. Along with other policies in his economic bag, things started looking up again. Rather than go cap in hands begging for aid and debt forgiveness, President Tinubu took the bull by the horns and hit the road as a salesman. His aggressive economic and diplomatic shuttles abroad are bringing forth fruits. With fresh indices on the economy, the good salesman that he is has been able to attract several promissory notes in terms of intention to invest in the country by conglomerates across the globe. He has not stopped firing on all cylinders and the totality of his multi-faceted efforts will visibly manifest in the next couple of years.

Mr. Tony Elumelu, Chairman of Heirs Holding and a well-known investment analyst recently buttressed President Tinubu’s strategy when he said at an international forum that “Africa does not need aid, Africa needs investment to catalyse prosperity and economic development”. In his first year in office President Tinubu’s administration has attracted not less than $30 billion Direct Foreign Investment commitments to shore up the Nigerian economy.

“The government of Nigeria has taken some decisions with short-term hiccups, but I can tell that the economy will do better over time because there would have been more implications for the country if those decisions were not taken”, the Group Managing Director of UBA, Oliver Alawuba, who is optimistic about Tinubu’s reforms said in reaction to the new economic policies.

After six months in office, statistically, “The Nigerian economy saw a better than anticipated performance especially in the last quarter of 2023, growing by 3.46 per cent, compared with 2.54 per cent in the preceding quarter. Capital Importation into Nigeria was up by 66 per cent in Q4 2023, reversing a 36 per cent decline in the previous quarter. And, in January 2024, the Nigerian Stock Exchange All Share Index (ASI) crossed the 100,000 points mark, its highest ever.

Foreign investor demand for Nigerian assets and money sent home by citizens living abroad have been on a rebound as reforms instituted by President Bola Tinubu’s administration started paying off. According to Bloomberg, “Foreign portfolio investor asset purchases exceeded $1 billion in February, bringing total receipts so far this year to at least $2.3 billion. Compared with $3.9 billion for the whole of 2023. Overseas remittances rose more than fourfold to $1.3 billion in February from a month earlier.

There is also an attempt to bring succour to the corporate world, through a comprehensive review and streamlining of collectable taxes. The government set up a Tax and Fiscal Reforms Committee that is fully at work to deepen the ongoing reforms and reposition the national economy for long-term sustainability. Part of the committee’s mandate, working with the state governments, is to simplify our complicated tax system, eliminate multiple taxes, streamline regulations that negate the ease of doing business, and close the over 20 trillion annual tax gap.

Economic and diplomatic shuttles are yielding fruits. The recent expansion of the coastal shoreline holds the prospect of increasing opportunities through the Marine and Blue Economy Ministry. It is also cheering that Emirates Airlines will return to Nigeria in October 2024 as part of the outcome of the President’s diplomatic shuttles across the globe.

It is not uncommon for a lot of people to choose to see the glass as being half-empty rather than half-filled because of the pains and the government has applied some moderation to the full application of its economic recovery programme. The government has also introduced a few social security initiatives in the form of palliatives to ameliorate the pains of reforms on the people. The Tinubu’s achievements in one year may not have been visible but are no less significant as they are the keys to future economic prosperity of modern Nigeria.

Ayo Aluko-Olokun
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