Thu. Jul 25th, 2024

A Peep At 100 Days In Office: Renewed Hope Or Fatality Of Nigerians Wellbeing? By Caleb Onah

Caleb Onah

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in four Nigerians – some 50 million people – are suffering from some sort of mental challenges. Yet, the country lacks adequate resources, policies, and awareness to address the problem. Nigeria has only 0.09 psychiatrists, 0.02 psychologists, and 0.05 nurses per 100,000 population.

Many of us as Nigerians face poverty, insecurity, violence, corruption, unemployment, and other stressors that affect our mental well-being. The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the general election held in February 2023 has also exacerbated the situation by causing anxiety, worry and frustration among many Nigerians.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who took office on May 29, 2023, has been praised by some and criticised by others for his economic policies and decisions in his first 100 days in office. His ‘supporters’ claim that he has shown a strong commitment to Nigeria’s renewed hope by initially scrapping the costly fuel subsidies, unifying the forex market, inaugurating a new economic council, launching a social investment program, and attracting foreign investments.

As he reached his 100-day mark in office, as Nigerians we find ourselves pondering whether the new administration has truly ushered in a renewed hope for our country’s well-being or if it has contributed to further challenges in an already complex landscape.

The first 100 days in office have historically been a critical period for this new administration, offering a glimpse into the direction they plan to take the nation. For President Bola Tinubu, this period has been marked by a series of ambitious landmarks, numerous challenges, and a divided public opinion.

However, the President’s commitment to the fight against corruption has been ‘unwavering,’ with several high-profile arrests and prosecutions of individuals implicated in corrupt practices. Earlier, the Department of State Services (DSS) reportedly arrested the suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, after President Tinubu ordered a probe of the apex bank.

Also, the DSS allegedly ‘arrested’ the deputy governor of the CBN, Kingsley Obiora, who was accused of being involved in a fraud scheme with Emefiele. This has been largely welcomed by the public, but some critics argue that the anti-corruption drive must go beyond individuals and address systemic issues that enable corruption to thrive.

The issue of national security remains a top concern. The Tinubu administration has taken some stance against insurgent groups like Boko Haram and ISWAP, with increased military operations in troubled regions. While these efforts have yielded some ‘positive results,’ the security situation remains fragile in many parts of the country, particularly in the North-East and North-West regions and even the Eastern part of Nigeria. Kidnappings, banditry, and communal clashes continue to disrupt the daily lives of many Nigerians, well achieving lasting peace and stability remains a significant challenge.

During this period, the President’s economic team claimed to have introduced several initiatives aimed at boosting economic growth in addition to scrapping costly fuel subsidies, unifying the forex market, launching a social investment program, such as investment in infrastructure and the agricultural sector, have not ‘shown’ tangible results, have been slow and some not at all materialise. The cost of living remains high for many Nigerians; with inflation rates persistently rising in July 2023, Nigeria experienced a persistent surge in its annual inflation rate, marking the sixth consecutive month of acceleration. The rate soared to a staggering 24.08%, the highest level observed since September 2005, exceeding earlier projections that had estimated it at 23.7%. This alarming inflationary trend has raised concerns and posed challenges for the country’s economic stability.

The primary driver behind this inflationary surge was the significant increase in the prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages, which registered at 26.98% compared to the previous month’s rate of 25.25% in June. This category includes essential items such as oil and fat, bread and cereals, fish, potatoes, yam, and other tubers, fruits, meat, and vegetables, as well as dairy products like milk, cheese, and eggs.

The rising costs of these everyday necessities have placed added financial strain on households across Nigeria. Furthermore, the month-on-month comparison revealed a substantial increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) by 2.9% in July, following a previous 2.1% hike in June and more in September.

This sharp uptick in consumer prices underscores the pressing issue of inflation and its implications for the cost of living. In addition to the headline inflation figure, Nigeria also observed an increase in core inflation, which excludes the influence of volatile items, reaching 20.8% in July year-on-year. This marked a slight uptick from the 20.3% rate recorded earlier.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) in Nigeria serves as a crucial metric for gauging the fluctuations in the prices of 740 essential goods and services that people rely on for their day-to-day living expenses. The recent acceleration in inflation rates highlights the growing economic challenges that the country is currently grappling with and underscores the urgency for effective policies to mitigate its impact on the population.

While the administration faces the daunting task of managing the nation’s fiscal and monetary policies to strike a balance between economic growth and stability, many however argue that no doubt he has performed ‘badly’ in the area of the economy by increasing inflation, reducing economic welfare, raising the cost of living and transportation, and imposing hardship on the masses. They also accuse him of being insensitive to the plight of the people, especially the poor and vulnerable, who have not benefited from his policies and programs.

This which is became evident in the twist when Tinubu who was worried about Nigeria’s well being announced a N5 billion palliative for each state of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory, to cushion the impact of the removal of the petrol subsidy. This however has not seen the light of day as Nigerians are groaning daily calling on the government to reverse its decision as experts noted that the palliative will not solve the disturbing development.

Another important aspect that has characterised this current administration and which has threatened the well-being of Nigerians and placed citizens in doubt is the ‘prompt failure’ of the government to respond to NLC asking the federal government to increase the minimum wage from N30,000 to between N150,000 and N200,000, but the negotiation which is still ‘ongoing’ with government ‘experts’ noting that the demand is unrealistic following Nigeria’s current economic crisis.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) recommended palliatives for workers and vulnerable groups to ameliorate the harsh effects of fuel subsidy removal by Tinubu, however, the President has pleaded with Nigerians and the Union, to exercise patience with the economic challenges the country is facing, even as he unveiled policy measures to tackle them.

In addition to the above and in the recent coup in neighbouring countries, Tinubu who is also the chair of ECOWAS has hinted that he ‘may support’ a nine-month transition period in Niger rather than his current stance for the return to power of ousted President Mohamed Bazoum maintained he is frightened by the recent development in Gabon but he is also struggling to deal with the Niger Junta, who maintained that the issue of returning President Mohamed Bazoum into power won’t work. This has placed Nigeria as a country in a deep cross-road as his decision has halted Nigerian inter-relationships with other neighbouring nations.

As President Bola Ahmed Tinubu reaches his 100-day milestone, Nigeria stands at a crossroads. Personally, the nation faces numerous challenges and it remains to be seen whether the renewed hope promised during the campaign will transform into tangible improvements in the well-being of Nigerians. The next ‘phase’ of the administration’s tenure will undoubtedly be crucial in determining the trajectory of the nation’s future. 

Caleb Onah is Behavioural Scientist, Writer & Author

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