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Tinubu: Tackling challenges of first 100 days

Emmanuel Oladesu, Deputy Editor

September 5, 2023

Much was expected of President Bola Tinubu, following his inauguration on May 29. How has he been able to grapple with the mounting challenges? Deputy Editor EMMANUEL OLADESU examines the steps taken so far by the administration to fulfil its campaign promises in the last 100 days.

The first 100 days have been devoted to laying a strong, solid and sound foundation by President Bola Tinubu,  who is conscious of the enormity of challenges and weight of responsibility on the shoulder of his young administration.

Nigerians are in a hurry. They want quick solutions to pressing issues that have confronted the country for decades. They want magic from the three-month old administration. Thus, there is gap between expectation and reality.

It has been a learning process for an outstanding politician and statesman, whose last outing as an elected public officer at the cenre was 30 years ago, when he was just settling down as a senator.

Certain right steps have been taken to advance the cause of democracy and good governance by the President. Not unexpectedly, some avoidable mistakes may have been made. But, generally, the administration has been bold and courageous to take decisive steps, thereby stepping on some toes.

Power did not land on the palm of Asiwaju Tinubu on a platter of gold. Neither did he inherit an economically buoyant country. He had inherited a country on the edge, which should be pulled from the brink it had been boxed by some inactions of preceding regimes and unresolved challenges of insecurity, economic quagmire, depleting foreign reserve, soaring national debt, outstanding labour disputes and disunity in the country.

In a bid to bridge the loopholes and checkmate revenue loss due to fuel subsidy, the Federal Government drew the curtains on the regime of subsidy. The measure, which was grossly misunderstood, has unleashed temporarily hardship which the umbrella labour union, the representative of less than 10 percent of the entire population, has amplified as a prelude to an unwarranted strike.

The highlights of activities in the first 100 days include the inauguration of the President, where he reiterated in his inaugural speech his patriotic duty of fostering national unity, salvaging the economy and restoring security.

The President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Tinubu, took the mantle from his predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari, at the Eagle Square in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), on May 29.

It was an impressive ceremony witnessed by statesmen, diplomats and other world figures. But the euphoria quickly gave way for serious work.


Obviously, President Tinubu applied for a tedious job, which has taxed his competence and experience as a patriot, democrat and strategist.

Adorning his characteristic national outlook, the president assured the people of inclusiveness. “I will be president of all,” he said, adding: “Whether from the winding creeks of the Niger Delta, the vastness of the northern savannah, the boardrooms of Lagos, the bustling capital of Abuja, or the busy markets of Onitsha, you are all my people. As your president, I shall serve with prejudice toward none, but compassion and amity towards all.”

Consistent with his campaign promises, Tinubu laid out some programmes he would pursue in the maiden address to the nation. He spoke on his plans for the economy; business and foreign exchange; agriculture, jobs, power supply, security and, the matter of the moment -fuel subsidy removal.

The president, in the speech titled: ‘A new deal for Nigeria,’ described the peaceful transfer of power as an evidence of political stability, which he would build upon. He paid tribute to his predecessor, Buhari, saying that history will be kind to him.


Conscious of the nature of Nigeria, particularly its cleavages, he promised to unify. The country is big and there are peculiarities dictated by its ethnic composition. Therefore, in utter sensitivity to these differences, Tinubu promised to consult widely, mend fences, pursue a healing process, and foster good governance based on the rule of law.

Shortly after the change of baton, it was reported that intense bargain-hunting for Nigerian equity rallied the stock market to a net capital gain of N1.51 trillion, its highest in a day in two and half years. The Naira was also said to have recorded a marginal gain while the benchmark index for the stock market, the All Share Index (ASI), posted an average return of 5.23 per cent, its highest gain since November, last year. It has paled into artificial growth.

During the campaigns, Tinubu, like his rivals-Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi of the Labour Party(LP)-had alerted Nigerians that his administration will halt fuel subsidy. In fact, Buhari had set May as the terminal date for the regime of subsidy that had only benefitted few rich Nigerians. Reiterating his determination to do away with subsidy, Tinubu said “subsidy is gone.”

Mixed reactions have trailed the announcement. It provoked a national debate. Some stakeholders were not comfortable with the manner of announcement. Others said there was nothing wrong with the emphasis, so that Nigerians could embrace the reality.

The president received the applause of economic experts. But, the pronouncement was trailed by uproar among workers and the masses. The attempt to resist the removal began instantly. Unpatriotic petrol dealers deliberately hoarded fuel to inflict pain on innocent Nigerians. Loading of product temporarily stopped at depots. The price of fuel also went up. Many feared the impact on vulnerable members of the society.

Today, petrol pump price is between N573,000 and N600,000. It has led to high cost of living

 But, justifying the removal, Tinubu said fuel subsidy has increasingly favoured the rich more than the poor, adding that it can no longer justify its ever-increasing costs in the wake of drying resources.”

On the gains of subsidy removal, which all and not few will enjoy, the president said: “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.”

Unlike his predecessors, Tinubu broke with the tradition of instant announcements of appointments, particularly of immediate aides, including the Chief of Staff, Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), and media aides. The delayed appointments gave room for speculations. Some people invaded the unregulated social media with fake news, lying that certain persons had been appointed as aides.

Also, analysts chided the president, saying that he could not really hit the ground running.

But the effect was felt. As the controversy over fuel subsidy persisted, there was no official aide on ground until Tinubu’s Special Adviser during the campaigns, Mr. Dele Alake, who later became Special Adviser on Information,  Strategy and Special Duties, and much later, Minister of Solid Minerals Development, came on air to make certain clarifications. Later, Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) explained to reporters in Abuja that the removal was non-negotiable, if Nigeria was to be pulled back from bankruptcy. He said the Federal Government owed NNPCL N2.8 trillion – being money spent on subsidy.

On Friday June 3, President Tinubu made some appointments.  In a statement by the Director of Information, Aso Villa, Abiodun Oladunjoye, he appointed House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila as Chief of Staff, Senator Hassan Hadejia, former Deputy Governor of Jigawa State, as Deputy Chief of Staff, and George Akume, former Minister of Special Duties and governor of Benue State as Secretary to Government of the Federation.

Later, the list of some aides were leaked to the media. However, the announcement of a chief media aide was delayed. Much later, Ajuri Ngelale was named Special Adviser to President on Information and Strategy.

A day after his inauguration, Tinubu resumed office in Aso Villa. Vice President Shettima, who had resumed earlier on that day, led the Villa Staff and security men to welcome him.

During the first week, the presided waded into the face-off between the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Department of State Services (DSS) over the disputed Ikoyi office. He instantly directed DSS operatives to vacate the disputed office immediately.

On Thursday of his first week in office, the president met with the Progressive Governors’s Forum, led by Imo State Governor Hope Uzodinma. It was at the meeting that concensus was proposed for the election of National Assembly presiding and principal officers.

On Friday, three prominent PDP stalwarts, Oyo State Governor Makinde, former Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, and ex-Delta State Governor, James Ibori, visited the president. Details of their discussion were unknown.

As the president settled down, the case arising from the February 25 poll began at the tribunal. It is noteworthy that the litigation has not been a distraction. The counsel to Tinubu is led by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN). In the court of public opinion, the president has also condistently defended himself, insisting that he won in a poll that was substantially free and fair.

But, President Tinubu has had to contend with threats of strike by Labour over the high cost of fuel due to subsidy removal. The patten of threats paled, in part, to war mongering and underscored the style of current union leadership, particularly its aloofness to regular dialogue and inclination towards showmanship. On June 5, reason prevailed and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) suspended its strike. This week, the nation has another warning strike to contend with on the same vexed issue.

Tinubu, who is national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has not abandoned party affairs. In the interest of proper synergy between the Executive and Legislature, the party brokered a deal for consensus candidacy for National Assembly presiding and principal officers. That led to the emergence of Chief Godswill Akpabio as Senate President and Tajudeen Abbas as House of Representatives Speaker. So far, relations between the two organs of government have been cordial. There is collaboration that is not targeted at tampering with the principle of separation of powers and its accompanying checks and balances.

Also, following consultations with the APC governors, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party approved the nomination of Alhaji Abdullahi Ganduje and Senator Ajibola Basiru as national chairman and national secretary, following the resignation of Senator Abdullahi Adamu and Senator Iyiola Omisore.

On June 8, President Tinubu met with governors and emphasised that they should work together to promote federalism and national unity. This is significant. He acted from the vantage point of experience, having been oppressed before by federal might when he was governor of Lagos State.

On June 10, Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele was suspended by the president. He is currently facing charges for alleged money laundering and terror financing. His deputy, Folasodun Sonubi, was appointed as acting governor.

In his first June 12 message to the nation, President Tinubu, a chieftain of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), urged Nigerians to rise in defense of democracy. He also promised judicial reforms.

The presidential searchlight was beamed on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Its chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa was detained after his indefinite suspension. Many Nigerians have criticised his continued detention without trial.

In June, the Federal Government put the proposed census on hold, saying that it is not feasible this year.

Critical appointments made by the President included those of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu(National Security Adviser), Kayode Egbetokun (Police Inspector General), Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja (Chief of Army Staff), Real Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla (Chief of Naval Staff), and Air Vice Marshall Hassan Abubakar.

For tertiary students, the president unfolded student loans aimed at aiding indigent students. It is not grant, but money that will be paid once they start working. But, academic unions look forward to the resolution of issues that have led to the disruption of the academic calendar.

President Tinubu’s handling of foreign relations has been commended, although observers expressed reservation about his hasty proposal of military action for the resolution of the Niger mess.

As Chairman of the Authority of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), he has become a curator for democracy. But it is gratifying that the Senate rejected the Federal Government’s plan for military action and called for a political solution. The dialogue process is still on.

The President was at New Global Financing Pact Summit in Paris, France in June. When he returned to Nigeria, he headed to Lagos, his cradle, where he met leaders of the APC family. Hosted by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu,  his predecessors-Babatunde Fashola and Akinwunmi Ambode-were present.

The following week, the Federal Government directed that the plan for electricity tariff hike should be postponed.

The report of the 50-member European Union Observer Group on the 2023 poll was rejected. Many Nigerians believe that 50 observers were inadequate to really monitor the exercise across 36 states and Federal Capital Territory (CT).

The economy has received greater attention. To ease hardship, regimes of tax were suspended in critical sectors, including telecommunications. Also, the Federal Government announced subsidy palliatives-12 million poor households are to get $800 million cash, and N8,000 per family for six months.

More relief packages were released to cushion subsidy pain. These include N75 billion for 75 big enterprises, N225 billion for medium and small scale enterprises and 200,000 metric tonnes of grains to households across 36 states.

Many have hailed the administration over the reforms aimed at ending the yearly loss of N20 trillion to tax evasion and weavers.

The disclosure of N1.83 trillion as subsidy windfall in two months has also elicited commendation.

If the loopholes are bridged and more money saved, government will have more resources for great capital projects.

President Tinubu went to Kenya for the fifth African Union mid-year coordination meeting in Nairob, where he urged African leaders to uphold democracy and stand firm against coups.

On July 19, N1.959 trillion allocation was shared to federal, states and local governments by the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC).

On July 28, Tinubu announced the appointment of the first batch of ministers. Before the announcement, he had hired special advisers, few of who later made the ministerial list. The second list of ministers was released on August 3.

The ministerial list met the criteria of gender balance and youth inclusion, geographical spread, religious and ethnic balancing. It was a blend of politicians and technocrats. The ministers parade intimidating credentials.

That Gbajabiamila, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo and Dave Umahi, who were members of the National Assembly, have moved to the executive organ means that the electoral commission will later conduct by-election to fill the vacancies.

Before their swearing in, portfolios were assigned to the nominees after the screening hurdles. But, some critics complained that it took Tinubu almost three months to appoint ministers, despite his promise to hit the ground running.

But, certain processes were not tidy. Strange names appeared on the ministerial list. It caused commotion in Kano, where former Governor Ganduje, said the woman picked from the state was not a popular choice. She was eventually dropped after she had passed through screening.

Due diligence was also absent in the nomination of Mallam Nosiru El-Rufai and Mrs Stella Okotete, who were not confirmed by the Senate.

Appointments could have been more tidier. The reversals conveyed an impression of non-acclamatisation.

Criticisms trailed the reassignment of portfolios to ministers, barely a week. To some, the president may have approved the swap to avert some future problems. To others, the reversal meant that the president did not do his scrutiny of some of the nominees very well. There were allegations of undue manipulation and shoddy politics surrounding the inclusion of certain nominees on the list. It is debatable.

The controversy over whether a youth corps member, Hannatu Musawa, can be Arts and Culture minister has fizzled out.

But, last week, there was a row over the composition of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) board. Following protests, two names were dropped.

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