In the wee hours of March 1st 2023, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) formerly declared Mr. Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), President-elect at the INEC Collation Centre in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. This single pronouncement has implications for the Nigerian business and economic landscapes.
This development marks the conclusion of a keenly contested presidential election and the culmination of one man’s tedious march to the pinnacle of his country’s political power.
In the most wide-open presidential election Nigeria has witnessed since 1979, Mr. Tinubu polled 8,794,726 votes to defeat 17 other candidates. His two closest opponents, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the PDP and former Governor Peter Obi of the Labour Party, are however calling for the cancellation of the 25 February poll, alleging that it was tainted by rigging and the failure of INEC to upload polling units results from the over 176,000 polling stations to a web portal as stipulated in its guideline.
The legibility of the election process is a matter for the law courts to decide. As it is, there is a President-Elect in Nigeria, and barring court ruling, Mr. Tinubu will be sworn in as the 16th President of Nigeria on May 29, 2023. It is therefore pertinent for us to examine what a Tinubu Presidency will portend for Nigeria.
TINUBU’S LEGACY AS LAGOS STATE GOVERNOR
Bola Ahmed Tinubu has consistently played major roles in party politics since 1992 when he was elected Senator for Lagos West District. He has since then served as the Governor of Lagos State for eight years between 1999 and 2007.
Tinubu’s legacies as governor include pioneering the Bus Rapid Transit System and LAGBUS, the establishment of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and the creation of 37 local council development areas. As an advocate of true federalism, he referenced at least 13 matters related to the principle of federalism to be tested by the Supreme Court. His creation of the LCDAs led to the federal government seizing the allocations to local governments in the state from the federation account until he and General Obasanjo left their different offices in 2007.
It is on record that Mr. Tinubu successfully managed the Lagos economy, improving its Internally Generated Revenue from a paltry N600 million monthly, which has now grown to N51 billion under the present leadership in the state. This was possible because of the structures that Bola Tinubu introduced.
Nigerians who voted for Bola Ahmed Tinubu on February 25, 2023 are convinced that Tinubu will transform the already battered economy of Nigeria the way he changed Lagos State when he was at the helm of its affairs.
The economy of Nigeria is middle-income driven with expanding manufacturing, financial, service, communications, technology, and entertainment sectors. It is ranked as the 31st largest economy in the world in terms of nominal GDP and the largest in Africa.
THE LAST SEVEN YEARS
The last seven years (2015–2022) have been tough for Nigerians. During this period, GDP growth averaged 1.1 percent as the country experienced two economic recessions. Unemployment and underemployment rates increased to an all-time high of 56.1% in 2020, pushing 133 million of the population into multidimensional poverty, according to data gathered from the National Bureau of Statistics. Likewise, economic growth has not been inclusive, and it is faced with key challenges of lower productivity, this is coupled with the weak expansion of sectors with high employment elasticity.
As of September 2022, Nigeria’s total debt stock rose to N44.06 trillion as against N42.84 trillion recorded on June 30. The debt “comprises of Total Domestic and External Debt Stock of the Federal Government of Nigeria. This is according to the Debt Management Office (DMO).
It is unfortunate that this is the economy the President-Elect will inherit on May 29, 2023; with its inherent poor state of insecurity, weak infrastructure, high rate of unemployment, increased business mortality among others. These have culminated in loss of confidence in Nigeria’s prospects, reason for her inability to attract foreign direct investments for the past 8 years. The question now is, what magic wand can the incoming government under Mr. Tinubu wave to pull Nigeria out of the woods?
To provide insight, it is essential to examine the President Elect’s campaign manifesto.
THE TINUBU MANIFESTO
A cursory examination of the manifesto provides some ray of hope for the nation, especially the business community that has been groaning under the outgoing administration’s inconsistent economic policies.
In October last year, Tinubu released an 80-page policy document titled “Renewed Hope 2023 – Action Plan for a Better Nigeria. He emphasized that his objective is to foster a new society based on shared prosperity, tolerance, compassion, and the unwavering commitment to treating each citizen with equal respect and due regard.
Top on his priority lists of action are national security, economy, agriculture, power, oil and gas, transportation and education.
He promised to review the revenue-sharing formula among the three tiers of government. The incoming president will allocate more funds to the states and local governments to address local concerns and fulfill their expanded constitutional obligations to the people. He stated that the existing arrangement has been problematic because “state governments are closer to the people and must be more responsive to local needs and aspirations of the people.”
On his FISCAL POLICY, Tinubu has promised to review the federal budgetary methodology, embark on national infrastructure campaign, drive an import substitution agenda, reform the taxation system whereby the rich will pay more for what they consume, and lastly fight corruption, inefficiency and waste in government.
On his government’s MONETARY POLICY, the nation should be witnessing a very tight management of the exchange rate that will be different from the current loose, open market approach. Inflation shall be more targeted and managed, while foreign debt obligations will be limited and re-negotiated.
Most important is the INDUSTRIAL POLICY. There will be a national industrial plan that will be focusing on the following:
- Extend tax and other credit facilities
- Encourage domestic manufacturers and producers
- Develop major and minor industrial hubs in all geopolitical zones
- Promote and boost industrial creativity with the use of new innovative technologies
- Provide tax credits and reduce interest rates on loans
One of the key areas of gap the manifesto noted is in the housing needs of Nigerians. President-Elect Bola Tinubu’s housing policy will focus on creating mortgage and consumer credit reforms, introduce home ownership programme for civil servants with flexible payment terms.
OIL & GAS
- In Oil and Gas, he will be increasing domestic oil production with the goal of increasing crude oil production to 2.6mmbpd by 2027 and 4mmbpd by 2030 respectively.
- Increase Indigenous Participation and Host Community Development, with the goal to increase indigenous share of crude oil production to over 1mmbpd by 2027
- Harness Domestic Gas Potential, with the goal to achieve full deregulation of midstream gas prices within 6 months, increase gas production by 20% and complete critical gas infrastructure projects by 2027.
- Implement Policy Reform, with the goal of accelerating the full implementation of the Petroleum Industrial Act (PIA) and implementing additional favorable policies to attract investment in deepwater assets within 6 months.
- Increase Investment in Infrastructure and Technology, with the goal to securing Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) and international partnerships towards financing infrastructure development.
- Ensure Stability of Petroleum Product Supply, with the goal to achieving stability of petroleum products supply by fully deregulating the downstream sector and ensuring that local refinery capacity will meet domestic consumption needs.
THE 10 OTHER PROMISES:
- Build a Nigeria, especially for our youth, where sufficient jobs with decent wages create a better life.
- Manufacture, create, and invent more of the goods and services we require. Nigeria shall be known as a nation of creators, not just of consumers.
- Export more and import less, strengthening both the naira and our way of life.
- Continue assisting our ever-toiling farmers, through enlightened agricultural policy that promotes productivity and assures decent incomes, so that farmers can support their families and feed the nation.
- Modernize and expand public infrastructure so that the rest of the economy can grow at an optimal rate.
- Embolden and support our young people and women by harnessing emerging sectors such as the digital economy, entertainment and culture, tourism and others to build the Nigeria of tomorrow, today.
- Train and give economic opportunity to the poorest and most vulnerable among us. “We seek a Nigeria where no parent is compelled to send a child to bed hungry, worried whether tomorrow shall bring food”.
- Generate, transmit and distribute sufficient, affordable electricity to give our people the requisite power to enlighten their lives, their homes, and their very dreams.
- Make basic healthcare, education, and housing accessible and affordable for all.
- And, most importantly, establish a bold and assertive policy that will create a strong yet adaptive national security architecture and action to obliterate terror, kidnapping, banditry, and all other forms of violent extremism from the face of our nation.
If this manifesto and promises are implemented with sincerity of purpose, the Nigerian economy should begin to re-calibrate within the first year and in four years, it should experience stability in all key socio-economic sectors with general hope renewed in the new Nigeria project.
We can anticipate an expansion of the middle class and its attendant effect on job creation and GDP. It is anticipated that the President-Elect will surround himself with seasoned technocrats and bureaucrats who are more ‘hands-on’ than his outgoing counterpart.
Mr. Tinubu will surely show better leadership, a greater understanding of the issues and challenges the nation is grappling with and is better equipped knowledge-wise to address them.
Businesses and investors will likely have renewed confidence in the economy leading to fresh prosperity that Nigeria has not seen in a long time. It will be a time to invest cautiously in this ‘better Nigeria’ as the prospects of a market of over 200 million persons will certainly command global attention.
Despite the optimism, a Tinubu presidency will have to address the issues of his party’s failed promises in the recent past, the ugliness these elections have thrown up in terms of tribalism and ethnicity. He must unify the entire nation presently divided along political, religious and ethnic lines as a fallout of the general elections. He must show that he will be a President to the whole nation rather than for those who voted him into power.
Furthermore, he has a lot to do in addressing the overall reputation of the country which has been well-battered in recent years. He will also need to work on his own personal reputation which has for a long time centers on corruption and criminal allegations. Afterall, the lawyers say ‘he who comes to equity, must come with clean hands’.
Adetola Odusote, writes in from Lagos. He is a Political Lobbying, Corporate Communication and Stakeholders Engagement Specialist at CMC Connect LLP (Perception Consulting).