Very so often, news about Nigeria and its leaders, is profoundly concerning. Worrisome. Whenever Tinubu presidency is over, I suggest that it should be taught as history lesson in schools – on how not to govern a country on the basis of propaganda and tapestry of lies.
Governance is a serious, honest, human enterprise. It should not be the opposite. Amid a blizzard of shocking revelations of bizarre profligacy in less than seven months in power, it shows some clear, but disturbing issues about power and leadership in Nigeria. First, nothing that happens to a country that is not like their leaders.
Secondly, power is like a bikini: it reveals more than it can hide. In other words, what leaders do when they are trying to get power is not necessarily what they do after they have it. This is Tinubu and the All Progressives Congress revealed. It’s an unravelling story that will perhaps get worse with the passage of time. This is a government of contradiction.
What we are witnessing today is not how to run a country and ‘Renew Hope’. It’s exactly what historians foresightedly warn us to beware of manipulative and devious leaders who are always searching out, trading favours and flattering, exploiting the weaknesses of pliant and servile politicians in the parliament.
And once they have achieved the power they so ruthlessly sought, there’s nothing more to achieve, no vision of any breathtaking scope, no real agenda to accomplish real goals for the vast suffering majority the people other than personal aggrandizement and that of cronies, at the expense of an economy in dire straits.
Isn’t that where Nigeria is today? The portrait of this administration in just seven months in office can fittingly be likened to the famous Titanic luxury passenger liner whose crew indulged in revelry, unconscious that the ship was sinking.
It was a romantic disaster. Nigeria is nearing a shipwreck right now. It’s like a company under receivership, but the leadership and managers of the economy managers seem not to care, even when the red flags are evident.
These are the facts, the cold hard evidence. In seven months of Tinubu administration, many multinational companies have exited Nigeria, citing “challenging business environment and difficulty in creating U.S. dollar value”. First, it was GlaxoSmithKline( GSK plc), a global leaders in pharmaceutical products. GSK left in September.
Days ago, Proctor & Gamble( P&G), another multinational consumer goods manufacturers, announced it’s pulling out of Nigeria. Nigeria’s economy, according to statistics, is expected to lose a hefty $335 million (about N310bn) in foreign direct investment.
The amount represents the combined assets value of P&G, and Equinox, another global player in the upstream oil sector. In total, 20,000 workers, majority of them Nigerians, are expected to lose their jobs.
Yet, the insatiable appetite of our politicians remains unchanged, amid soaring cost of governance and worsening hunger index in the land. What does that tell President Tinubu? It means his recent globe-trotting to woo foreign investors is yielding the opposite results. In a serious, saner clime, this is bound to have political repercussions. But not in Nigeria. Like drunken sailors, the ‘party’ goes on, regardless of the economic headwinds pointing to a country careening dangerously towards bankruptcy . In an address delivered recently at the Chief of Defence Intelligence Annual Conference, in Abuja, National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, claimed that the Tinubu government inherited a bankrupt country which had resulted in budgetary constraints.
He told his audience, “it’s important for you to know that we inherited a difficult situation, literally, a bankrupt country. No money to point to where we can say that all the money we are getting now, we are paying back what was taken from this country”.
Perhaps prearranged, President Tinubu at the same time in faraway Saudi Arabia then, told the Vice President(Country Programmes) of the Islamic Bank, Dr Mansur Muktar, “we inherited serious liabilities and also assets from our predecessor, but we have no excuses to give”. But, excuses now abound to justify lack of performance.
Does the extravagant, reckless expenditures of this government and its officials show an administration that has shown any scintilla of respect for financial prudence? Rather, what we have seen is a deceitful, vision- less government and its officials who feed fat at the expense of the economy and the people. It’s not unkind to say that what is unfolding before our very eyes is a rapid descent into unprecedented profligacy and a spineless, servile National Assembly that has sold out. And you ask: where has conviction politics gone?
During the president’s presentation of the 2024, the world was shocked to see elected officials singing Tinubu’s campaign slogan rather than the National Anthem? What a shame! Multilateral financial institutions are watching the recklessness of the government and its officials.
The outrage that greeted Nigeria’s oversized delegation to the recent Conference on Climate Change, COP28, in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, says it all: this is a government of contradiction, living in denial, trading blames, and dishing out tissues of lies.
While this government claimed it inherited a bankrupt economy, it has by far, worsened it. Nigeria’s delegation of 1,411 at COP28, was the third largest in the world, and largest encourage in Africa. Some government officials allegedly went to Dubai with their harem and relatives who had no business whatsoever to do in Dubai.
Even if government’s claim that it sponsored only 422 delegates to the conference, the total amount reported to have been spent on these delegates as flight ticket, to- and from Dubai, amounted to N880 million.
The waste of public resources is happening at a time Nigeria is spending about 96 percent of its revenue to service debts that have accumulated to all-time high of N87 trillion, soaring inflation rate of 27.33 percent, crushing poverty and out-of-control exchange rate.
It seems nothing is shocking anymore about Nigeria. What happened at the COP28 did happen when the dust is yet to settle over the N7.5trn reportedly spent on the purchase of SUV vehicles for the members of the National Assembly, and the N20.5bn voted for the renovation of the vice president’s residence in Abuja.
During the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in September, the government reportedly spent $507,374(equivalent to N391 million) on hotel accommodation for the President at the prestigious St.Regis hotel in New York. According to a memo obtained by Foundation for Investigative Journalism, dated Sept 11, and signed by the Permanent Secretary, State House, Mr Adebiyi Olufunso , $422,820(N325.5m) covered the cost of rooms booked for President Tinubu and his close aides. According to the memo, the remaining amount, $84,564(N65.1m) which is 20 percent of the hotel reservation cost, was for incidentals. Hotel incidental charges include the cost of services and amenities that are not provided in the estimated room rates. Those familiar with St.Regis hotel say the cost of a room , including taxes and fees, is as high as $17,273 per night. The cheapest room rate is about $915 a night.
This is how Nigeria’s lean resources are wasted to pamper the rich at the expense of the poor at a time that millions of Nigerians are facing the harshest economic realities of their lives, millions struggling to make ends meet. Many parents can no longer afford their children’s school fees and other basic essentials.
Cost of drugs is beyond the reach of the poor, and prices of food items have hit rooftops. To be fair to Tinubu, before he became President that he desperately sought, and got, he didn’t hide his proclivity of a spendthrift. Where is the money that has been saved from the removal of fuel subsidy? Nobody is willing to tell Nigerians, not even the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, according to the World Bank.
Recall during the electioneering campaign in January this year, Tinubu mocked Peter Obi, the Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, as a “stingy man”. He also taunted PDP presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar, as “Mr.Privatise”. He alleged that if Obi got elected as President, he(Obi) would save money and starve Nigerians. Guess who is starving Nigerians now? Tinubu presidency is squandering Nigeria’s resources and starving Nigerians.
It’s time to change this narrative. Life in the presidency is about learning and using the opportunity of a lifetime to serve one’s country and the citizens. It shouldn’t be about using great power for personal, selfish purposes. What we have seen in almost seven months of this government is President Tinubu’s so-called ‘political genius’ and his shortcomings. This is a lesson in power. Nigeria and Nigerians don’t deserve this.