The LYNX EYE: President Tinubu Needs to Check the Wheels of Governance – By Taiwo Adisa

Sharing is caring!

No one could accuse President Bola Ahmed Tinubu of being a rookie in power when he took the reins of the nation’s presidency on May 29, 2023. He has been a Senator of the Federal Republic, and the governor of the nation’s economic capital, Lagos State. So he has seen the inside and outside of power. And one thing you cannot deny men who have been in power and out of it is experience. Experience teaches you so many things; they say it is the best teacher and truly it is. It teaches one that the power is transient and that the office you occupy today is fixed according to the dictates of time. When you are in power, the house is full, no matter its size. When power leaves, the house becomes so empty.

So, because of his experience around power, we cannot say that Tinubu would get carried away by the reverie and celebration of the 2023 victory. We cannot say the President would not hit the ground running, especially going by the vehemence he demanded our votes and the widespread emilokan soundbites on the campaign trail. Perhaps to showcase his determination, the President on May 29, 2023, promptly made the ‘subsidy is gone’ announcement, a policy that immediately altered the nation’s socio-economic landscape. Escalating cost of food, goods and services, drugs and what have you, were the consequences. That was followed by the floating of the Naira, which saw the nation’s currency exchanged for nearly N2,000 to one US dollar at a point.

But after announcing itself to the people with those landmarks, the wheels of governance appear to have been hit by a kind of slow-down. Programmes and policies designed to promote succour and alternate conversation among the people have been slow and unsteady. The students’ loans programme was supposed to take off at jet speed, but it wobbled. Amendments had to be made to the original Act. Citizens were persistent on the calls for palliatives in the wake of the fuel subsidy removal and then the galloping inflationary trend remained devastatingly bearish. The call for palliatives has remained an endless conversation. Even though the Federal Government threw money at the challenge, granting state governors N2 billion each to quieten the grumbling in the land, soothing relief has only remained afoot.

Just as time was rolling everyone by and the people were waiting for the day the price of rice, garri, beans, yam, fish and others would breathe the air of affordability for the common man, there was a knock on the door. It was the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) that reminded us the Tinubu government was almost one year old in office and that its members were yet to be paid the balance of the salary withheld by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari. The lecturers slammed a ‘No pay, No work’ ultimatum on the Tinubu government. They decried the failure of the administration to constitute the governing councils of the nation’s universities in one year.

The message from ASUU is one clear signal that brings home the fact that the wheels of government might have been driving slowly in the last 12 months and that we all might have been preoccupied with the challenges of spiralling inflation and vicissitudes of life under this administration.

If the demand for ASUU’s unpaid salaries is considered contentious by the government, I do not think that anyone needed to break a sweat over the need to constitute the governing councils of the universities because it is an opportunity to engage the hundreds of members of the president’s political party, who are almost weary waiting for such appointments. So why has the government delayed such a ‘make me shine occasion?’

Another instance that calls the attention of the president to the need to check the wheels of his government is the revelation last week that the administration was proposing N48,000 as the new minimum wage. Of course, organised labour had rejected that proposal, calling it an insult to the workforce. But why would an administration remove subsidy on essentials of life and then refuse to pay a commensurate salary? Again, the administration is aware that the existing Minimum Wage Act would terminate before its first anniversary, why was everything not put in place to knock that out and get some reprieve for the populace to guarantee a cordial industrial atmosphere? Though a committee had been set up on the issue, the fact that such a committee is unable to take off in real terms is evidence of snail speed. Maybe they are trying to paint the picture of an insensitive government, which is only quick to listen to the dictates of the IMF and the World Bank.

The president must watch it and caution those who only revel in the sing-song of the reform agenda, who are unconvincing on how such agenda will renew our hope. These days, it appears that talks about Tinubu’s reforms are more deafening than the expected results. But the President must resist the allure of sycophancy, much as it is difficult to do. No one needs to tell him what the bootlicker does to men in power. The day you are excused from the office, you are left to perceive your smell.

I once saw the nakedness of power while I served as Special Assistant to the President of the Senate, Adolphus Wabara, between 2003 and 2005. Recall that Wabara was forced to resign his position on the charges of then President Olusegun Obasanjo, at the start of his cleansing process for the fabled third-term agenda. The day after Wabara announced his decision to resign from his seat, so he could cleanse his name off the bribe-for-budget saga, his official residence, the Apo Mansion, which used to be a beehive of activities for Senators became a ghost town. I took newspapers to the then-official residence of the nation’s number three citizen early morning and found the space looking like a 100,000-capacity stadium. The car park looked too bogus and the main building was like an empty church auditorium. When Wabara spoke from the upper floor of the building, the voice echoed around the house. It was a humbling experience. He came downstairs and with a bewildered look he asked, ‘Taiwo, where are our people?’

So, now that the iron is still hot, President Tinubu needs to roll the wheels as fast as it should to get his name etched on the list of the presidents who left great and memorable marks on the sands of time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *