Sunday, February 25, 2024

New era as Tinubu becomes Mr. President

  • Removes fuel subsidy, may merge MDAs

  • Fuel queues return, NNPCL cautions against panic buying

  • Buhari, family get rousing welcome in Daura

Former President Muhammadu Buhari, on Monday, handed over the constitution and national flags of Nigeria to his successor, President Bola Tinubu.

Tinubu took his oath of office as the 16th President of Nigeria, amid tight security around the Eagle Square, venue of the swearing-in ceremony.

The new President took his oath of office at exactly 10:36am, while his deputy, Kashim Shettima, took his own oath at 10:30am.

Early arrivals were thoroughly screened by heavily armed security men deployed around Abuja with multiple roadblocks.

There was also tight security around flash points with multiple checks by security operatives, drawn from various arms, including the Armed Forces, Police and men of the Department of State Services.

The same formation was placed around all entry points into the Central Business District, consisting of the major government buildings, including the Federal Secretariat, the National Assembly Complex and the access into the Presidential Villa.

As at 7:45am, entries into the vicinity of the event became virtually inaccessible as stern looking security operatives did not admit any person, notwithstanding social status, who did not come with the official invitation to the ceremony.

As at 9am, telecommunication networks around the venue were shut down.

The event was attended by notable personalities, including former President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Patience, Service Chiefs, and Chief of Defence Staff, Leo Irabor.

The event was also graced by former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, Senate President Ahmad Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

Also at the venue of the inauguration ground were dignitaries, including President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, Aliko Dangote, Femi Otedola, Abdulsamad Rabiu, and Jim Ovia.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who supported Labour Party’s candidate, Peter Obi during the election was absent.

The Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, was also absent.

The President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, that of Cameroon, Paul Biya, President of Ethiopia, Sahle Zewde, Liberian President, George Weah, were amongst the foreign leaders that attended the event

Former Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Abdullahi Adamu and the former First Lady, Aisha Buhari, also witnessed the event.

The event kicked off with the arrival of the outgone President Muhammadu Buhari.

Opening prayers were performed by the Chief Imam of the National Mosque Abuja, Mohammed Kabir who said the Muslim prayers and Stephen Adegbite, who took the Christian prayers.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Olukayode Ariwoola, performed the swearing in and administered the oaths on the President and his Vice President.

“I, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, do solemnly swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” Tinubu said, wearing his signature cap, which he said was a broken shackle but bears resemblance to a horizontal figure of eight that has become his most recognised symbol.

“That, as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I will discharge my duties to the best of my ability and in accordance with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the law,” he pledged.

The former Governor of Lagos State then inspected troops in the plaza, decked out in the colours of Nigeria’s green and white flag, from the back of an open vehicle and waved at supporters who raced forward to record the moment on their phones.

Fuel subsidy is gone

In his inaugural speech a few minutes after his swearing-in ceremony, President Tinubu said that the fuel subsidy was gone.

He also said his administration would bring down the interest rate.

“On fuel subsidy, unfortunately, the budget that is left before I assume office and what I have is that no provision is there for fuel subsidy. The Fuel subsidy is gone.

“We shall instead re-channel the funds into better investment in public infrastructure, education, health care and jobs that will materially improve the lives of millions.

“We commend the decision of the outgoing administration in phasing out the petrol subsidy regime, which has increasingly favoured the rich more than the poor,” he said.

Tinubu also noted that monetary policy needed thorough house cleaning, adding, “The Central Bank must work towards a unified exchange rate. This will direct funds away from arbitrage into meaningful investment in the plant, equipment and jobs that power the real economy.”

He described interest rates as too high, saying they “need to be reduced to increase investment and consumer purchasing power in ways that sustain the economy at a higher level.”

“Whatever merits it had in concept, the currency swap was too harshly applied by the CBN, given the number of unbanked Nigerians. The policy shall be reviewed. In the meantime, my administration will treat both currencies as legal tender,” he added.

On the economy, he assured that his administration would target a higher Gross Domestic Product growth rate, as well as significantly reduce unemployment.

“We intend to accomplish this by taking the following steps: First, budgetary reform stimulating the economy without engendering inflation will be instituted.

“Second, industrial policy will utilise the full range of fiscal measures to promote domestic manufacturing and lessen import dependency.

“Third, electricity will become more accessible and affordable to businesses and homes alike. Power generation should nearly double and transmission and distribution networks improved. We will encourage states to develop local sources as well,” the President noted.

Speaking on investment policies, Tinubu said he would work to attract more investors, both local and foreign.

“Our government shall review all their complaints about multiple taxation and various anti-investment inhibitions.

“We shall ensure that investors and foreign businesses repatriate their hard earned dividends and profits home,” he pledged.

On job creation, he assured that his administration would create meaningful opportunities for the youth.

“We shall honour our campaign commitment of one million new jobs in the digital economy.

“Our government also shall work with the National Assembly to fashion an omnibus Jobs and Prosperity bill. This bill will give our administration the policy space to embark on labour-intensive infrastructural improvements, encourage light industry and provide improved social services for the poor, elderly and vulnerable,” he stressed.

Tinubu also unveiled his agricultural policy, adding that the rural incomes shall be secured by commodity exchange boards guaranteeing minimal prices for certain crops and animal products.

“A nationwide programme for storage and other facilities to reduce spoilage and waste will be undertaken,” he said.

He further said that his administration would create agricultural hubs throughout the nation to increase production and engage in value-added processing.

“The livestock sector will be introduced to best modern practices and steps taken to minimize the perennial conflict over land and water resources in this sector.

“Through these actions, food shall be made more abundant yet less costly. Farmers shall earn more while the average Nigerian pays less,” the President added.

On infrastructure, he said his administration would continue the efforts of the Buhari administration on infrastructure, saying progress toward national networks of roads, rail and ports would get priority attention.

Fear grips civil servants

Meanwhile, palpable fear has enveloped Nigeria’s federal civil circle following plans by the Tinubu administration to implement the report of the presidential committee on the restructuring and rationalisation of government parastatals, commissions and agencies.

Indications emerged on Monday that Tinubu would take some tough decisions in order to revive the ailing economy.

Some of the decisions he is likely to take include the implementation of the Stephen Oronsaye panel’s report on the reform of the civil service, removal of fuel subsidy, job cuts, introduction of higher taxes, and privatization of public corporations and the sale of some government assets.

The Point gathered that Tinubu had impressed on his loyalists the need to take certain decisions that might be considered unpleasant in the short run, but pay off for the nation later.

A highly placed source said that the new President would merge some ministries and agencies of the Federal Government as recommended by the Oronsaye panel and would take tough decisions on other issues going by meetings that had been held by Tinubu and his core loyalists.

It was gathered that Tinubu had met with some of his trusted aides on steps to reposition the country and that one of them was to take a critical look at the Oronsaye report.

The source said the report had been gathering dust at the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, saying nothing had been done to it.

“Even President Muhammadu Buhari, who promised to cut the cost of governance, couldn’t do anything about it. But the new government is likely to take a critical look at the report. You know he (Tinubu) is an accountant and he knows how to manage resources, increase revenue and so forth.

“His meetings with trusted allies and those who are familiar with the economy will bring out the best for the country. He is not a novice in managing people and resources.

“So, I can conveniently tell you that some ministries are going to be merged. Nigeria should expect tough but meaningful decisions from the new President,” he said.

Another source said the President would appoint Nigerians from the Diaspora into his cabinet, which would likely not be populated by politicians as experienced under the previous gov

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