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Tinubu’s bold agenda: Revitalising Nigeria, promoting sustainability

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By Rafael Agbajo

President Bola Tinubu’s assumption of office on May 29, 2023, came at a critical juncture in Nigeria’s history, characterised by a multitude of challenges. His bold inaugural declaration, “Subsidy is gone,” heralded a significant departure from previous policies, signalling a pivotal shift in the nation’s economic strategy. Determined to confront these challenges head-on, Tinubu’s administration wasted no time in initiating a series of essential reforms aimed at stabilising and propelling Nigeria towards sustainable development. The one year has been marked by a resolute commitment to addressing Nigeria’s pressing challenges and steering the country towards a brighter future

Despite the commendable progress made by the preceding administration under President Muhammadu Buhari, particularly in infrastructure development, economic reform, security, and anti-corruption measures, Nigeria continued to grapple with persistent economic challenges that threatened its growth and development trajectory. Recognising the pressing need for decisive action, Tinubu swiftly identified the urgency for bold economic interventions to rescue the economy from further decline.

In his inaugural year, Tinubu pursued a bold agenda focused on comprehensive economic reform, infrastructure development, and governance enhancement. Key among his administration’s initiatives were the removal of fuel subsidies and the unification of the exchange rate, both of which were pivotal steps towards fostering sustainable economic growth and stability. These decisive measures aimed to address longstanding economic distortions and restore investor confidence in Nigeria’s economy.

As Nigeria undergoes the process of adapting to these transformative changes, Tinubu’s administration remains steadfast in its commitment to instilling hope and ensuring the country’s continued advancement on the global stage. With a vision centred on the concept of “Renewed Hope,” Tinubu campaigned on a platform dedicated to addressing the nation’s economic challenges, enhancing security, and improving governance.

At a ministerial retreat convened to delineate the administration’s core priorities, Tinubu outlined a comprehensive framework aimed at driving progress across various sectors. By January 15, 2024, the administration redefined its goals, articulating eight priority areas in a circular issued by the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. These areas encompassed economic reform, national security, agriculture, energy, infrastructure, education, healthcare, social investment, industrialisation, digitisation, creative arts, manufacturing, innovation, and governance improvement.

Approaching the one-year milestone of Tinubu’s administration presents an opportune moment to assess its achievements and impact. As Nigeria navigates through a period of profound transformation, Tinubu’s leadership and decisive actions stand poised to shape the nation’s trajectory towards sustainable development and prosperity for all its citizens.

President Tinubu’s administration, at inception, placed significant emphasis on economic reform and development, implementing various initiatives over the past year to stimulate growth and stabilise the financial environment. One of the most notable actions was the removal of fuel subsidies at the beginning of his tenure, aimed at reducing government expenditure and reallocating funds to critical sectors like infrastructure and social services.

Despite facing initial resistance, this policy shift is intended to establish a more sustainable economic framework and has paved the way for innovative solutions such as the introduction of electric and Compressed Natural Gas-powered vehicles to the economy.

Since June 2023, there has been a notable improvement in the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC), with states and local governments receiving increased allocations to meet their financial obligations. Under Tinubu’s leadership, no state has reported difficulties in paying salaries.

For instance, in May 2023 when he assumed office, the total disbursement from the FAAC stood at N976.34 billion, but after the removal of subsidies, it rose significantly to N1,134.03 trillion in June 2023. This trend has continued, with a total of N1,208.081 trillion shared among the Federal Government, states, and local government councils in April 2024, reflecting increased revenue generation.

Another bold move by President Tinubu was the unification of the exchange rate, aimed at attracting foreign investment and enhancing economic transparency. Despite facing challenges initially, such as the Naira reaching an all-time high of nearly N2,000 to a dollar due to speculative activities and cryptocurrency trading, the government successfully clamped down on speculators, including platforms like Binance and others engaged in Peer-to-Peer trading. As a result, the Naira has experienced more stability, and in April, it emerged as the best-performing currency globally, bolstered by positive sentiment from leading international investors.

Furthermore, President Tinubu’s administration has prioritised infrastructure development, particularly in the transportation and energy sectors. Projects such as road network expansion, airport modernisation, and improvements to the national power grid have been undertaken to ensure a more reliable electricity supply and enhance connectivity across the country. These infrastructure investments are vital for facilitating economic growth, attracting investment, and improving the overall quality of life for Nigerians.

On security, which has been a major concern in Nigeria, President Tinubu’s administration has made strides in improving the security situation in the country. Banditry and kidnapping were the order of the day in the days before his swearing-in. On assumption of office, the president has been able to pull his weight as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Today, the security situation is improving, as the administration keeps getting applause from both local and international observers. Not that it is yet Uhuru, but the approach by the security apparatuses had given hope of better days ahead. The speed at which those kidnapped were being rescued showed that intelligence gathering has been improved upon. The military too is making more efforts in decapitating the remnant of the insurgents. If the tempo is sustained, Nigeria is on its pathway to greatness.

On infrastructure and transport, the third agenda of the administration, the President Tinubu government has kept improving the infrastructure it met on the ground. Kudos must be given to the immediate-past administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari for the construction of the Second Niger Bridge, dualisation of the Lagos-Ibadan highway, Abuja-Kaduna road, among many others and the revival of the train services on the Lagos-Ibadan, Abuja-Kaduna, and Warri-Itakpe route. On assuming office, the president told the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, that he would like to ride the Abuja Metro Line. On May 29, the rail line would be officially flagged off for commercial services. On road construction, President Tinubu meant business. Aside from the Lagos-Calabar coastal highway, a massive ambition of the administration, the government is launching big on the reconstruction of roads across the country. Also, the government continued with the projects inherited from the previous administration. The Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy was created for another infrastructural growth.

On the diversification of the economy, the government is setting its focus away from oil, by boosting businesses and industries. Recently, the management of the Chinese giant, CCECC, was in the State House and discussed venturing into Lithium extraction and production. There is a Lithium factory in Nasarawa State at the moment. Also, the government is looking into other sources of income for the economy, to boost the economic growth of the nation.

For the Energy and Natural Resources, the government has reiterated its commitment to the turnaround of the refineries. Both Kaduna and Port Harcourt refineries are coming on stream. The government has also invested so much in the security of its pipelines and this has helped oil production in the country. Also, the government is diversifying and getting more focus on gas. With the removal of subsidy on petrol, the government has launched many gas projects across the Niger Delta area, to help its consolidation plan for the era of gas in the country. The government is investing to make available Compressed Natural Gas, Liquefied Pressure Gas, and others, to aid transportation and boost the economy. Many CNG stations are springing up and the government during the first anniversary is distributing gas-powered vehicles to states. The Executive Order on Oil and Gas is also yielding results.

Agriculture and Food Security, the Nigerian government signed a memorandum of understanding with John Deere on the supply of around 2,000 tractors yearly for the next five years. This will increase agricultural productivity. The tractors will be sold under a financing agreement, allowing farmers to acquire them. Also the introduction of Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones to concentrate agro-processing activities within areas of high agricultural potential to boost productivity and the grant by the African Development Bank of $134m to Nigeria to cultivate rice, maize, and others. These initiatives will contribute to improving food security in the country. The government is massively cultivating wheat at the moment. Then, there is the fertilizer fund by the Central Bank of Nigeria to help farmers.

On education, as promised, President Tinubu has facilitated strategies to improve the standard of our educational institutions. There is an ongoing school census, for primary and secondary education, to know the state of the facilities. Also on Friday, May 24, the much-anticipated Student Loan Scheme came alive. The scheme will help the students to get tuition as a loan and repay after graduation. This will help concentration on studies. On health, the government is revamping the health sector with massive funding. The government is also looking at the welfare of the health professionals. On Social Investment, the government launched various schemes to cushion the effects of the petrol subsidy removal. Grants to SMEs, and business loans, among others are examples of such benefits. The Federal Government, through the Ministry of House, also launched the Renewed Hope Home Scheme. As a Nigerian, you can apply to own a house from the numerous sites where the scheme is taking place. To improve affordability, it is also possible to apply for the release of 25 percent Pension fund for those in the Contributory Pension Scheme.

On Improved governance, President Tinubu has brought the government closer to the people. A recent example is the outcry over the inauguration of governing boards of tertiary institutions in the country. The president ordered the review of the boards, after halting the process. Also, the administration is planning to streamline the ministries, departments and agencies, to make room for robust participation in government. In addition to economic reform and infrastructure development, President Tinubu has placed a strong emphasis on improving governance and transparency. Recognising the importance of accountability in fostering public trust and confidence, his administration has taken steps to strengthen institutions, streamline bureaucratic processes, and combat corruption at all levels of government. These efforts are essential for creating an environment conducive to investment, entrepreneurship, and sustainable development.

Moreover, Tinubu’s administration has demonstrated a keen awareness of the interconnected nature of global challenges and opportunities. By actively engaging with the international community on issues ranging from climate change to trade, Nigeria, under his leadership, is positioning itself as a responsible global actor and seeking to leverage its influence for the benefit of its citizens.

As President Tinubu approaches the one-year milestone of his tenure, the nation stands at a critical juncture poised for transformative change. While significant progress has been made, much work remains to be done. However, with strong leadership, bold vision, and unwavering commitment to the people of Nigeria, President Tinubu’s administration holds the promise of delivering tangible and lasting improvements that will shape the nation’s future for generations to come.

Agbajor, a social commentator, writes in from Abuja

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Opinion

Advancements in IR Detection by Dr. Mohammad Awwal Adeshina: Addressing Global Challenges.

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By Blessing Emmanuel

Daegu, South Korea – In a groundbreaking development that could revolutionize environmental monitoring and security applications, Dr. Mohammad Awwal Adeshina, a researcher at the Division of Biotechnology at the Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST), has unveiled a pioneering innovation in infrared (IR) detection technology. His latest research paper, “Liquid Phase IR Detector Based on the Photothermal Effect of Reduced Graphene Oxide-Doped Liquid Crystals,” introduces a state-of-the-art solution that promises to significantly enhance our ability to detect and monitor environmental pollutants, hazardous materials, and potential security threats

The innovation arrives at a crucial juncture as the world grapples with escalating environmental challenges, energy demands, and the profound impacts of climate change. Traditional IR detection methods have often fallen short in terms of sensitivity, speed, and cost-effectiveness, hindering our ability to effectively monitor and mitigate these pressing issues. Dr. Adeshina’s advanced liquid phase IR detector leverages the photothermal effect of reduced graphene oxide-doped liquid crystals to achieve unprecedented sensitivity and speed, enabling real-time detection and analysis of infrared signatures with remarkable accuracy.

“The urgency of our environmental challenges requires innovative solutions that can provide actionable insights and enable proactive measures,” said Dr. Adeshina. “Our technology offers the potential for more effective monitoring and management of environmental changes, as well as enhanced security capabilities, providing a hopeful path toward a more sustainable and resilient future.”

The enhanced capabilities of Dr. Adeshina’s IR detector not only mark a significant technical achievement but also herald a new era for industries striving to minimize their environmental impact and ensure public safety. As the global community pushes for cleaner technologies, greener alternatives, and robust security measures, this innovation stands to play a pivotal role, delivering tangible benefits for both the planet and its inhabitants.

With its potential applications spanning environmental monitoring, industrial process control, security screening, and beyond, Dr. Adeshina’s liquid phase IR detector represents a game-changing advancement in the field of infrared detection. By enabling more accurate and timely detection of pollutants, hazardous materials, and potential threats, this technology could empower governments, industries, and organizations to make informed decisions and take proactive measures to mitigate risks and protect the environment and public safety.

For further details on the research or to explore collaborative opportunities, please contact the communications department of the Division of Biotechnology at the Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST).

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Breaking the cycle of national trauma

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Abiodun was raised by an alcoholic father while his mother was the subservient punching bag who could not stand up to her husband. Abiodun grew up watching his father batter his mother under the influence of alcohol, and he could not do a single thing about it, especially since his mother always defended her abusive husband. Imagine seeing your father develop a dependency on alcohol without which he could not function. How do you think you would feel every time you set your eyes on him? It was a traumatic childhood for this young boy. Perhaps he could have found solace in the company of friends, but his father never allowed him to visit friends out of fear that he might reveal what happened at home. Abiodun felt his life was like a prison. He was not allowed to spend an extra minute in school once the closing bell rang because being late immediately translated to being beaten blue-black. He was really bitter towards his father.

When Abiodun eventually had his own family, he prevented his only son, Dare, from ever visiting his grandfather. Alcohol was also banned in the Abiodun household. But Dare was a youngster surrounded by friends who drank and rolled with the ideology that drinking was a sign of maturity, so he began to secretly drink. By this time, though, Abiodun’s father had outgrown his terrible ways. He had seen how his lifestyle negatively impacted his family and hated that his only son, Abiodun, was not on speaking terms with him. He checked himself into a rehabilitation centre and had been clean for over a decade, but Abiodun had sworn never to have anything to do with his father. Dare, on the other hand, was always curious as to why his grandfather was a no-go area. He had sneaked out many times to see his grandfather and, by his own analysis, found him pretty chill. He would pay his grandfather secret visits to complain about his father’s domineering attitude. Abiodun was too blinded by his rage towards his own father to realise that he was suffocating his son. In trying to protect Dare, he made the home a psychologically toxic place for his son. Dare eventually snapped and ran away from home as soon as he could. He took to alcohol as a coping mechanism and before long became alcohol dependent.

By the time Dare began his own family, he tried to keep his children away from his “bitter” father, Abiodun, but a cycle had been established. Unless someone deliberately tries to stop this pattern, there will be a perpetual disconnect between generations, a trend we already see playing out in our dear nation, Nigeria. Perhaps, this is the root cause of our disunity as a nation. The psychological impact of bitterness and resentment can be profound. Abiodun’s unresolved trauma from his father’s abusive behaviour led him to harbour deep-seated anger and resentment, creating a psychological barrier that prevented reconciliation. This bitterness not only strained his relationship with his father but also impacted his ability to connect with his son. Dare, in turn, rebelled against this oppressive atmosphere, seeking solace in the very behaviour Abiodun tried to shield him from. This story of Abiodun’s family is a metaphor for Nigeria. The alcohol dependency speaks to the corruption perpetuity that has unintentionally become an entrenched value system. This value system has given room for bitterness and resentment to take a foothold between the older generation and the youth. Are we surprised that the disconnect between the old and the young in this game of politics and governance is fast becoming worrisome?

Nigeria as an entity has hurt its people deeply. The older generation, for example, has made mistakes, costly ones, that are almost unforgivable. Thankfully, as they age, they are forced to face the brutal realisation that perhaps, they made a mistake. While I think that some are trying to make amends, I think it is also important to remember that this unresolved trauma has lingered for many decades and has created a psychological barrier that is preventing reconciliation. This is why today we seem even more divided as a nation than we seemed many years ago. Until this trauma is healed, I do not see a way forward for this nation.

In cutting off the older generation, we may end up creating another Dare, who would repeat the mistakes of the older generation. But if we embrace in its entirety the ways of the older generation, will we not make the same mistakes they did? Is there any way out?

I think there is. In my previous article titled, “Are Youth the Panacea for Nigeria’s Problems?” I explored the potential of youth in transforming Nigeria’s leadership landscape and how important it is to allow for an integrated approach where the wisdom of age converges with the dynamism of youth. This inter-generational synergy is crucial in creating a psychologically safe nation and holistic wellness-focused people, free from the cumulative hurt and bitterness from the actions of the older generation. To address this cycle of unresolved trauma and bitterness, healing must happen, as biases formed in one generation can poison subsequent generations as has been established in Abiodun’s family and as we see in our nation today.

I think it may help for the government and other key institutions to formally acknowledge the wrongs and injustices of the past, admitting mistakes and the harm caused. While this is underway, what immediate remedies can kickstart this healing process? I think we can begin with the deliberate inclusion of youth in the decision-making process, at all levels and in all spheres, including the tripod of governance: the public sector, the private sector, and civil society. I think a policy that compels every leader of stature to have a youth shadow them may trigger the healing process that can reconcile “Dare” back to “Abiodun.” In shadowing, the youth has the opportunity to see why the older generation acts the way they do, why they think the way they do, and why they made some of the mistakes they did. It will be a hands-on experience to ensure that not only is there continuity but the possibility for forgiveness can be activated.

Time and again, organisations, both private and public, are recognising the importance of inter-generational synergy. Governments like Lagos State are establishing initiatives like the Lateef Jakande Leadership Academy, which enables youth to shadow cabinet members and Heads of Agencies. Similarly, private organisations like the Aig-Imoukhuede Foundation are offering scholarships to West African youth interested in public service careers, facilitating their pursuit of a Master of Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford. I can see a deliberateness to include the youth in the decision-making process and I commend the older generation for being deliberate about this. The journey towards a transformed Nigeria is not solely the responsibility of the “Dares” or “Abioduns” independently. It is a collaborative effort. By curating environments of psychological safety and national wellness, and by recognising and supporting intergenerational mentorship, we can create a leadership ecosystem that is resilient, adaptable, and responsive to the needs of our nation.

Temitope ‘TBOG’ Omoakhalen – Fellow, Lateef Jakande Leadership Academy

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FG, Labour tussle: The victor and the victim

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By Otuedon Vincent

There is no doubt Nigeria as a country is going through one of its toughest times economically. In the midst of the harsh economic realities, the government has increased the cost of governance and labour has also demanded for improved pay, rightfully so.

Unfortunately, the victims of the ongoing tussle between the federal government and organised labour are indifferent. For clarity, the tussle is about who takes what of our common wealth. While labour has legitimate claims, the people of Nigeria are the greatest stakeholders in this matter. The contention is between two servants over what each thinks he is entitled to, incidentally while the civil servants are direct employees of the people, politicians are supposed to be the voice of the people, chosen by the people to protect their interest. Between the two parties, (government and labour), the people are the focus or the lord.

The politicians who are supposed to be the voice of the people to determine the salaries of our employees have lost their voices due to wanton and arbitrary allotment of our commonwealth to themselves, so they have no clean hands to approach the court of equity. It is the masses, only the rise of the masses can tame this unruly evil of our government being reciprocated by the unrealistic demands of labour for its members.

It is elementary economics, that during inflation, salary earners suffer, increment of salary does not curb inflation rather it aggravates inflation, increasing spending by government skyrockets inflation. But the politicians are too guilty to drive home this point.

There are hardly organisations that increase salaries by 100 percent, even if it does happen it is when the organisations break even and decide to reward its workers not when the organisation is bleeding almost to death, though, the flamboyance by government officials does not reflect the bleeding state of the masses. There are many other ways, if we decide to reason outside the box, to cushion the effect of the inflation on the workers other than unrealistic wage demands, knowing the obvious consequences on the economy of the nation we claim to be serving. Except labour is saying, since politicians do not care, they also no longer care.

Obviously, the politicians lack the moral fortitude to confront these issues, how would the few politicians whose monthly entitlement is almost able to pay all the workers put together complain that the increase of workers salary would cause inflation? Particularly when they have not agreed that their prodigal spending has landed the nation’s economy where it is now.

The burgling question remains, if Nigerian workers receive salaries that are as high as the politicians, who suffers? What is the resolution of labour to tackle the inflation and the menace of corruption other than the increment of salary? The people of Nigeria whom they serve deserve to know.

If the government of Nigeria has money, it is only because it is not working, which pushes the burden of living above the waters on individual households and birth the need for increase in income for the home front. If we increase the earnings of households because the government is not working, it will amount to giving up on the nation because we would have shared what we were to use to build the nation to households.

I respectively submit that labour should have a rethink, we have a common enemy that has hijacked our commonwealth. We need a concerted effort to tame it but to go in the manner labour is going about it may plunge the nation into a terrible state and the people whom they serve would be the victim. I also call on the government to as a matter of duty make sacrifices by cutting down the cost of governance in order to lead by example making sacrifices in hard times where the people are already feeling the pains of economic policies.

Otuedon Vincent is a Human Right Activist and President Liberty Harbingers Network

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