Nigerian economy: Beyond pillorying President Bola Tinubu

President Bola Tinubu

Nigerian economy: Beyond pillorying President Bola Tinubu

By Taiwo Akerele.

A barrage of criticism has been directed towards the Nigerian President, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, from the depreciating Naira to escalating inflation affecting goods and services, and increasing security concerns.

These issues are significant, stirring widespread anger and concern, with the populace feeling the impact directly.

The structure of Nigeria as a federal state, as outlined in the 1999 Constitution, delineates clear responsibilities across federal, state, and local governments. Despite this, the burden of expectation often falls disproportionately on the federal government and the President, despite state and local governments receiving a substantial portion (not less than 49%) of federal allocations, amounting to billions monthly.

With the removal of fuel subsidies in the spring of 2023, state allocations have increased by 80%, alongside additional financial support aimed at enhancing social welfare services.

Despite these measures, including a staggering N5 billion allocation to each state and an additional N30 billion as revealed by the Senate President, the improvement in living conditions remains minimal.

This raises questions about the accountability and utilization of these funds by state governments.

The apparent mismanagement by states, evidenced by the lack of investment in crucial areas such as agriculture, local infrastructure, and security, exacerbates the hardship faced by citizens. The disconnect between government actions and public welfare is growing, with state governments seemingly enriching themselves at the expense of their residents. Essential services and supports, such as education and public utilities, have deteriorated, while financial support to the states continues unabated.

To address these challenges, several actions are proposed:

1. Resume and mandate the publication of monthly allocations and expenditures by all tiers of government to foster transparency.

2. Subject the expenditure of all ‘security votes’ of state governments estimated at N100 billion monthly to forensic scrutiny by the EFCC and the DSS.

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3. Enforce legal spending of foreign currencies within Nigeria, requiring conversion to Naira, and empower the EFCC and DSS to regulate illegal foreign currency hoards.

4. Critique the lack of a comprehensive economic plan following the removal of fuel subsidies and the ineffective distribution of palliatives.

5. Advocate for partnerships with the private sector to invest in agricultural production and value chains, creating sustainable employment and addressing export gaps.

6. Highlight the necessity for expenditure monitoring and a results framework to ensure accountability in state and local government spending.

7. Stress the importance of investing in social sectors to improve the quality of life and reduce poverty, including significant investment in health and education to reverse the annual outflow of $40bn for these services abroad.

8. Propose replacing the current cash transfer system with a need-based voucher system for essential items, institutionalizing the social welfare system.

9. Condemn and abolish repetitive budget line items as this is detrimental to the Nigerian economy.

While it’s easy to focus criticism on the President and federal government, recognizing the role of state governments in welfare and social protection is crucial.

Accountability at the state level is essential for addressing the challenges facing Nigeria.

Thank you.

Akerele is the Executive Director of Policy House Int’l. Abuja.

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