•Private sector demands blueprints on economy, fuel subsidy
•Don’t pity me, I asked for the job, I won’t give excuses – President-elect
•Tinubu worked hard to be elected President, says Buhari
As the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, takes the oath of office as Nigeria’s 16th President today, Nigerians have demanded quick actions in the areas of the economy, security, fuel subsidy and other critical sectors.
Tinubu, who was declared the winner of the February 25 presidential election, will be sworn in by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Olukayode Ariwoola, at Eagle Square, Abuja.
Though the victory of the ex-Lagos State governor is being challenged by Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, the Peoples Democratic Party and Labour Party standard bearers, respectively, at the Presidential Election Petition Court, he would nevertheless take over from the outgoing President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), in a glamorous ceremony which would be witnessed by over 300 guests.
The ceremony will also be broadcast live to millions of Nigerians at home and abroad.
In preparation for the inauguration, the authorities have tightened security in the Federal Capital Territory with the deployments of soldiers, policemen, undercover operatives and counter-terrorism units at strategic locations and public facilities, including hotels where invited guests were accommodated.
Also, the military and the police have been conducting aerial surveillance of the FCT with helicopters flying overhead.
Ahead of the transition of power to the president-elect, scores of representatives of foreign governments, diplomats and heads of international organisations began arriving in Abuja, on Sunday.
Against the backdrop of the challenges facing the country, economic players, including the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, Nigerian Economic Summit Group and the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria admonished the former Lagos State governor to tackle inflation, stabilise the exchange rate and ensure the removal of fuel subsidy within his first 100 days in office.
Speaking with The PUNCH in Lagos on Sunday, the Director General of NECA, Mr Wale Oyerinde, said his group expected Tinubu to put together his economic team within the first 100 days.
He noted that the incoming administration should be able to create a blueprint for reviving the refineries and removing fuel subsidies.
Oyerinde said, “We expect that they would have shared definitive economic philosophy that they will use to run the country a definite economic philosophy.
“Within the first 100 days, they must come up with a blueprint for reviving the refineries and removing fuel subsidies. In the first 100 days, we believe they must also have a blueprint to deal with all revenue leakages including oil theft.”
The NEC Director-General further said the new administration must build a consensus around its economic philosophy and get the buy-in of all Nigerians.
Oyerinde highlighted the critical roles of the private sector in moving the nation forward, stressing that the next administration must define the sector’s roles in its economic plan.
He said, “We expect that in the first 100 days, they would have built consensus around their economic philosophy that will take Nigeria out of the hole that we find ourselves in. But the first thing is that the economic team that drives the fiscal and monetary policy must be in place in the first 100 days.
“They must have formed their administration and come up with a blueprint for the economic revival. They must build consensus around their economic program so that Nigerians and all stakeholders can also support it. And they must also share a clear role of the private sector in their administration.”
A facilitator with the NESG, Dr Ikenna Nwaosu, who observed that Tinubu was yet to unfold his economic blueprints, urged him to unite Nigerians.
He noted, “The man has not unfolded any economic blueprint, but the most important part is that he has to unite the country. As he rises above the partisan nature of politics and checks the inflation and exchange rate, they are rising too fast.
‘’The inflation rate, exchange rate, debt to GDP rate and oil subsidy; he can handle them in the first six months. These are the main issues, every other thing is additional.”
Economy parlous – MAN
According to a document made available to The PUNCH by MAN’s Director-General, Segun Ajayi-Kadir, the association said that the economy was in a parlous state and needed a quick re-jig.
MAN said the new President should set specific deliverables to be accomplished within the first 100 days in office.
The association also urged the new government to direct the Central Bank of Nigeria and ensure that it complies with the prioritisation of foreign exchange to the productive sector, particularly to manufacturers to enable them to import raw materials, spares and machinery that are not locally available.
The group urged the government to direct the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission to admit all qualified applicant companies into the Eligible Customer Scheme to allow them to access power as stipulated in the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, 2005.
It further asked that all relevant government agencies be directed to ensure that the electronic call-up system at the ports aimed at redressing the congestion works smoothly.
The statement read partly, “A change in administration is usually greeted with expectations, particularly when it was preceded by electioneering campaigns when promises are made by the candidates of the various political parties.
“Even though MAN is an advocacy group and apolitical, we have expectations from the incoming government and look forward to working with them to accelerate the economic development of Nigeria, particularly the manufacturing sector.
“Our expectations, as manufacturers, are coming against the backdrop of a reduction in the Manufacturers CEO Confidence Index in the last quarter of 2022. As you are aware, the MCCI is a quarterly survey of MAN to gauge the pulse of the operators and trends in the manufacturing sector.”
Further enumerating its demands, the association told the government to take a definite stand by ordering the removal of the fuel subsidy as well as announcing a special policy initiative to address the revival of closed and distressed industries, particularly in the North-East where 60 per cent of its member companies have closed down.
Similarly, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in a statement signed by its Director-General, Chinyere Almona said the present fragile business environment was the result of inappropriate and poorly implemented policies and interventions.
According to the LCCI, the incoming government must review the fiscal policy gaps, unsuitable monetary policies, and administrative inefficiencies which are inimical to the proper functioning of the economy.
Areas of grave concern, the chamber said, include arbitrage, non-unified exchange rates, incidences of market shocks, massive infrastructural deficits, and unsustainable debt burden.
Another issue raised by the chamber was the recently approved fiscal policy measures which it said are at variance with the pre-existing but fully agreed-on FPM roadmap 2022 – 2024.
The statement read, “The government should sustain interventions in select sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, and export to boost the nation’s foreign exchange earnings capacity. We urge the government to keep track of the plans to tackle the menace of oil theft and to boost oil exports.
“The LCCI encourages the new government to tackle the issue of subsidy removal with alacrity and with its economic consciousness. The decision, however, must be combined with humaneness for the sake of the most vulnerable. Security is an issue that must also be dealt with in order to ensure a conducive investment climate.”
On its part, the Trade Union Congress said it had presented its charter of demands to Tinubu.
While wishing him well, the congress noted that its stance on the removal of the fuel subsidy remained the same.
The TUC National Vice President, Tommy Etim in an interview with one of our correspondents on Sunday, said, “We, as a union, have presented our charter of demands to him. The utmost priority for him should be on the state of the Nigerian workers: improvement in salary structure, standard of living among others.”
When asked about the charter details, Etim said, “I may not be able to list everything now but the issue of workers’ welfare as I said earlier is a priority. Our stance on fuel subsidy remains the same. I will not want to dwell further on that because we have made our stance known.”
Meanwhile, the outgoing President, retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari, has defended his regime’s policies, which he argued were for the “overall good of the country.”
Buhari, who admitted that his policies brought “temporary pain and suffering” to millions of Nigerians said they “yielded the desired results” nonetheless.
In a televised farewell message aired early Sunday, he said, “In the course of revamping the economy, we made some difficult choices, most of which yielded the desired results.
“Some of the measures led to temporary pain and suffering for which I sincerely apologised to my fellow countrymen, but the measures were taken for the overall good of the country.”
The PUNCH reported that the naira redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria led to a nationwide shortage of naira notes.
Many farmers, particularly those in remote villages, switched to trade by barter in order to feed, losing about N30bn in the process, the All Farmers Association of Nigeria stated.
The Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions also revealed that banks lost N5bn nationwide, following attacks and destruction of facilities by irate customers.
In early March, the Supreme Court stopped the CBN from proceeding with the policy which planned to mop up N3tn of old notes from circulation and introduce new ones in controlled amounts.
Buhari lauds Tinubu
Commenting on the presidential election, Buhari congratulated Tinubu, stating that he worked hard for his victory “which was propelled by a burning passion to put Nigeria amongst the leading nations of the world.’’
He described him as the best of the candidates, noting that Nigerians had chosen well.
He said, “To my brother, friend and fellow worker in the political terrain for the past 10 years – Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu – I congratulate you on the realisation of your dream, which was propelled by a burning passion to put Nigeria amongst the leading nations of the world.
“You have indeed worked for this day and God has crowned your efforts. I have no doubt that your passion for excellence, reliance on competence, fairness in relationships, commitment to equity, loyalty to the country and desire for Nigeria to be globally relevant would come through for you, under God’s guidance, as you lead our country to levels higher that I am leaving.
Meanwhile, president-elect said he knew how to find President Buhari when he needed him.
He disclosed this at the inauguration dinner and Gala Night hosted in the Presidential Villa in Aso Rock, Abuja.
He said, “With the problems confronting us, don’t pity me, I asked for the job, I campaigned for it , no excuses, I will live up to the expectations. I promise you.”