Tinubu Should Resign

By Casmir Igbokwe

Three videos which trended on the social media last week brought home the current reality of life in Nigeria. The first one happens to be a group of young women struggling to scoop rice from the pot of a rice vendor in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital. The big pot of rice was still on fire, steaming hot. But the women were not bothered with fire or any other thing. All they wanted was to quench the fire of hunger ravaging their stomachs.

In the second video, a group of people, mainly youths, were struggling to collect loaves of bread said to be N100 each. It was on February 14, 2024, being Valentine’s Day. As the youths were pushing and shoving one another, the organisers, who had a tough time controlling them, resorted to whipping them to be orderly. This particular incident reportedly happened on Lagos Island.

The third incident was also said to have occurred somewhere in Lagos. A truck carrying tubers of yam was reportedly hijacked and the content shared among a crowd of youths. Though I am not sure of the veracity of these videos, they are a reflection of the hardship and the high cost of living prevalent in Nigeria of today.

The Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, did not mince words to tell the wife of President Bola Tinubu recently that Nigerians no longer find life palatable. He urged Mrs Remi Tinubu, who paid him homage at his palace, to tell her husband that Nigerians were suffering.

Bayero noted, “We get information daily that essential commodities and cost of living are high and people are suffering, although it didn’t start with this government. We know the government is making efforts but it should redouble efforts to ease the suffering faced by the people.”

The Sultan of Sokoto and Chairman of the Northern Traditional Rulers Council, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, delivered a similar message to the powers that be recently. According to the Sultan, Nigeria is sitting on powder keg as millions of Nigerian youths have been left without jobs and food. He said people were very agitated, hungry and angry and “so, we have this onerous task of reaching out to everybody, calm them down and assure them things will be okay.”

From the North to the South and from the West to the East, the hardship has become unbearable. The rising cost of food items is worse. The price of what you buy today may likely change when you go back to buy it again after two days. Despite the measures the government has adopted, the situation keeps getting worse. As of December 2023, the rate of inflation was 28.92 per cent. The rate of food inflation was 33.93 per cent. By January 2024, the consumer inflation rate had further increased to 29.90 per cent while food inflation rose to 35.41 per cent. Inflation in Nigeria has not climbed this high since mid-1996.

The situation has exacerbated the cost-of-living crisis and increased the rate of depression and insecurity in the country. Some of those who cannot bear it any longer commit suicide. There has been a wave of protests against the high cost of living in some parts of the country. Last week, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) gave notice for a two-day nationwide protest to be held on February 27 and 28 to press home their disgust over the hardship in the country.

In its panicky bid to control the bad situation, government continues to take measures that are not sustainable. President Tinubu earlier ordered the release of 102,000 metric tonnes of rice, maize, millet and others from the strategic national reserve to address the high cost of food in the country. This is okay, but how will this assuage the hunger of millions of Nigerians? Has it brought down the prices of essential food items in the market? And will it ensure constant supply of food to the populace?

Clearly, President Tinubu has lost it. He appears rudderless, confused, ineffective and incompetent. I doubt if he even understands what is going on. How will he when some of his key advisers believe there is no hunger in the land and that Nigeria has the lowest cost of living in Africa?

This is what a country gets when the major qualification of its President is that it is his turn to be President. During his campaigns for the job, Tinubu told the nation that it was his turn to become President. This gave rise to the now popular phrase, ‘emilokan’ (it’s my turn).

When he appeared at the Chatham House in London, he could not answer questions posed to him. He simply directed his aides and acolytes to answer those questions. Afterwards, he spoke about power not being given a la carte. “You snatch it, grab it and run with it.” That is the man ruling us today. I have not died of high blood pressure because I knew it would come to this. So, I had prepared my mind for a rough ride.

The worst tragedy of it all is that he has not even marked one year in office. If, in less than one year, the hardship is like this, how will it be in two years, not to talk of four years?

Let’s begin now to tighten our seat belts. The flight ahead will be more turbulent. They said we should tighten our belts; that the hard choices of today will eventually lead us to paradise.

But how do we get to this paradise when naira is getting weaker and weaker; when profligacy is the cardinal principle of state policy; and when there is no consistency in government’s policies? Tinubu said fuel subsidy was gone in his inaugural speech in May 2023. But, according to BusinessDay newspaper report last week, this government now spends more money on subsidy than the amount spent on it before it was purportedly stopped. On a monthly basis, the country now reportedly pays about N907.5 billion on petrol. Before the removal of petrol subsidy, the country was said to be spending about N400 billion monthly on petrol. The increase, BusinessDay reported, was because of the country’s foreign exchange crisis which pushed the actual cost of litre of fuel to N1,203. The newspaper also reported that the prevailing black-market rate of N1,500 per dollar has pushed the landing cost of petrol to N1,009 per litre as against the N720 per litre recorded in October 2023.

Many companies are finding it difficult to break even these days. Procter & Gamble, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and many other companies have left our shores. Nigerian Breweries Plc recorded a net loss of N106 billion in its audited results for the period ended 31st December 2023 despite the large quantity of drinks Nigerians gulp down every day. The company recorded an operating profit of N44.5 billion in 2023, but it was lower by 15 per cent compared to the corresponding period in the previous year. The loss is principally because of the foreign exchange crisis. About 50 per cent of the company’s raw materials are imported and are paid in dollars. With the sorry state of the naira, it will be hard to make profit in the circumstance. As the Managing Director/CEO of the company, Mr Hans Essaadi, put is, “The business performance of 2023 reflects the challenging economic environment in Nigeria. These severe economic conditions include persistent cash scarcity, removal of fuel subsidies resulting in a notable surge in energy cost, naira devaluation, foreign exchange scarcity, and continued challenged consumer spending in the midst of high inflation.”

As it is now, the best thing for Tinubu to do is to throw in the towel and bow out honourably. He has no business remaining in power when he cannot solve the basic problems of Nigerians. He should emulate leaders who had done that in history. Last year, Jacinda Ardern stepped down as prime minister of New Zealand. She said her resignation was a personal decision hinged on the fact that she no longer had “enough in the tank” to fulfill the responsibilities of being prime minister. In November 2000, Alberto Fujimori resigned as President of Peru. Congress rejected his resignation and rather sacked him and banned him from holding public office for 10 years. He was later jailed 25 years for corruption and massacre of civilians. President Richard Nixon of the United States resigned in August 1974 following the Watergate scandal. There are many other examples.

Resigning will save Tinubu the trouble of having the country collapse on his head. It will save him from going down in history as the worst President Nigeria ever had. I know this will be hard nut to crack for him. But trusted aides like the Chief of Staff, Femi Gbajabiamila, or even the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, who believes so much in him, can nudge him to do the needful. It will save him a lot of embarrassment in future.  Meanwhile, let’s continue to pray for Nigeria in distress.

 

Re: Super Eagles as tonic against renewed hardship

Casmir, Nigerians are soccer loving people especially when their Super Eagles are doing well. The euphoria knows no boundaries. Everyone is excited and united in the celebration. It’s the time religion, politics and tribal dichotomy scores low. This excitement provides the momentary cessation of tribalism, religious bigotry and political intolerance.

Unfortunately, due to greed, corruption and insincerity on the part of government, religious, tribal and political leaders, the unity gained during such soccer fiesta vanishes as soon as the fiesta is over. The government has the greatest role to play in ensuring that the unity gained from such football fiestas are sustained through policies that are benefitting to the masses. The rule of law must be held in high esteem.

Once this is done corruption, tribal dichotomy, religious intolerance, political upheavals, economic sabotage, banditry, kidnapping etc will be arrested and that is when renewed hardship can be toppled to usher in a new dawn of renewed hope.

-Pharmacist Okwuchukwu Njike, +234 803 885 4922

•Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, February 19, 2024

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