Economic hardship: Take cues from Argentina’s reforms, Atiku tells Tinubu

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Atiku

The 2023 Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, has urged President Bola Tinubu to learn from the approach to economic reform taken by Argentina’s President, Javier Milei, for Nigeria’s economic reforms.

In a statement titled “Argentina’s Javier Milei approach to reforms should serve as a lesson for Tinubu,” Atiku emphasized on Sunday that Tinubu and Milei inherited a disoriented economy, but each applied different measures for recovery.

The ex-vice president clarified that during the final quarter of 2023, both Argentina and Nigeria encountered economic declines.

Furthermore, he noted that while Nigeria saw a new government take office around mid-2023, Argentina’s new government assumed power in December.

He said, “Both leaders inherited a disoriented economy, but both applied different measures to recovery. President Javier Milei of Argentina was sworn into office on 10 December 2023. He inherited a worse condition than Nigeria’s. But what he did to return his country to a place where investors are ‘starting to believe’ should serve as a lesson to Nigeria’s Bola Tinubu.”

Atiku, who attributed the hardship in Nigeria to President Tinubu, pointed out that, unlike his Argentine counterpart, the Nigerian President has refused to roll up his sleeves and do the work he signed up for.

The former Vice President stated “Nigeria is where we are today simply because of what Tinubu has done or did not do. His shifting the blame on the opposition and, even ridiculously, his predecessor is needless and myopic. Market forces don’t play politics. They respond to your actions and inactions.

“President Milei’s major campaign promise was to reposition the Argentine economy after years of slow growth, high debt levels, triple-digit inflation (160 per cent when he took over the Presidency in December 2023), and a 40 per cent poverty rate. His first task was to begin implementing measures to achieve greater macroeconomic stability and promote higher global competitiveness.”

Atiku explained that President Milei entered office with a comprehensive stabilization plan aimed at implementing far-reaching measures within the context of a market-oriented economy.

“He started off cutting government expenditure by cutting the size of government and wastages; blocked stealing of government funds, and attracted Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) through concessions, tax holidays, and improved ease of doing business,” Atiku stated.

The statement read in part “Argentina’s Milei did not build the largest government like Tinubu did at a time when our economy was and still on its knees. The examples set by President Milei are the requirement of leadership in a time when the economy has begun to fail the expectations of the people.

“The reforms so far implemented by the Tinubu administration are ad hoc and hurriedly put together without proper review. Ours is unlike Argentina’s Milei, who is sequencing his reforms. President Milei anticipates the after-reform shocks and admits that things will be tough for the people. But he is fully prepared for the aftershocks and has in place mitigating pills. He walks the talk. He sacrifices himself by giving up the perks of office.

“Conversely, Tinubu in Nigeria increased the number of ministers and ministries and is spending enormous resources renovating houses for himself, his deputy, and the first lady. That is nothing short of Nero playing the fiddle while Rome is on fire!

“Worse still, Tinubu has refused to roll up his sleeves and do the work that he signed up for. Instead, he and his team are preoccupied with behaving like Napoleon and Squealer, characters in the satire book Animal Farm, who made it a state policy to scapegoat Snowball (the opposition) for their own failures arising from their ill-advised policies.

“I am attracted to the reforms in Argentina because Javier Milei’s stabilisation plan bears a similar emblem to my Recover Nigeria Plan. It is a plan that I am more than willing to disclose details of its workings with the current government in order to take Nigeria out of the depth of hunger and anger that we find ourselves in.

“Unless, and until there are clear-cut policies and pathways to economic rejuvenation predicated on a leadership-led sacrifice, there will be discontentment, especially among the youths, which may find expression in protests and for which it will be silly to continue to blame the opposition for.”