Tinubu: A President In Hurry To Revive Nigerian Economy

By Suleiman Umaru

 President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who incidentally was governor of Lagos for eight years where he has made appreciable impact appears to be in a hurry to succeed as President of Federal Republic of Nigeria in repositioning the country’s economy. 

Worried at the free fall of the naira at the official and parallel, popular, black markets foreign exchange market which had made a mockery of the naira over the last five months. The pressure on the local currency had worsened over the last three weeks at the black markets, particular, as the North American country of the United States, US, dollar, was sold for high as N1310. 00, for the first time in Nigeria.

Worried by the unequal  foreign exchange rate between the naira and other major currencies in the world which had worsened the country’s economy with the  prices of goods and services rising on a daily  basis  may have informed why  the Lagos state born Nigerian President had told the ministers, Permanent Secretaries  and other political appointees, including Olayemi Michael Cardoso, governor of Central Bank of Nigeria , CBN, with a mandate of implementation of the country’s monetary and fiscal policies  at a two-day retreat  at the Presidential Villa on Wednesday , November 1, 2023, that ‘’with forward determination  to embark  on a very strong  , bold economic initiative  to rebuild  the country’s battered economy ’’The Nigerian President  who could not hide his feelings was said to have made it clear to the ministers , top government officials and  other  political  appointees under the present government , describing them as ‘’ the best brains , the best hands brought together to navigate  the future of the country’’ that he will not hesitate to sack anyone who under performs .

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Ministers, Presidential Aides And Top Government Functionaries After Retreat

The Nigerian President who was said to have read the riot Act to the ministers, particular, members of the Economic Management Team, and other top government officials   was said to have made it clear to them that he is not looking backwards and cannot ‘’ compare or take any excuse from anyone of them for non- performance’’.

He was said to have laid much emphasis on performance when he declared to the hearing of the ministers, top government functionaries and other political appointees at the all-important retreat that those performing have no cause to fear of being relieved of their appointments but the ones who had missed the objective and could not deliver on their mandate that would go.

Cardoso, who incidentally had served as the Commissioner of Economic Budget under Tinubu, as governor of Lagos state and a- one – time Head of Citibank in Nigeria, may have read the President’s body language   that he had solicited the support of the staff and Management of the apex to succeed in delivering on his Presidential mandate as the governor.

Cardoso” Governor, CBN

Ging by the CBN Act  of 2007  which charges  the bank,   with the overall control  and administration  of the country’s monetary  and financial sector policies  of the government to ensure  monetary and foreign exchange price stability,  issue legal tender currency  in Nigeria,   maintain the country’s external reserves  to safeguard international  value of the naira, promote  sound financial system  in the country  and act as  banker  and provide  economic and financial services to the government, may have encouraged the CBN , to work in achieving the mandate.

As a prelude to halting the free fall of the naira in the official and the parallel foreign exchange markets in the recent time   the apex bank was said to have commenced   payment of the outstanding matured  $7.6 billion US dollars  owed various creditors , with three banks , Citibank,  Stanbic  IBTC  and Standard Chaterd  Bank, particular,  receiving full  payments of debts owed them. At present, there are 36 Money Deposit banks operating in the country.

 Stanbic IBTC bank, one of the banks which had receive full payment of the backlog of the foreign currency owed while some other Commercial banks were said to have receive between $100 million and $200 million.

Already, Stanbic IBTC, which was said to have receive full payment of its backlog of foreign exchange arrears had confirmed that it has started  clearing the backlog  of outstanding  Retail   MIS obligations. CITI bank, which had said that the CBN, has got it right was said to have enjoined its customers to begin to speak   with their respective Relationship Managers or Trade service Professional for further clarification and additional details on the foreign exchange matter.

Note that that the apex bank ‘s accumulation of forex demand on the official financial market, over the last eight years of former President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration   may have informed why individuals and companies operating in Nigeria were forced to return to the parallel foreign market to get their dollars to fund their educations and businesses.

Data from the CBN, has shown that Nigerians aiming for admissions into foreign Universities spent a total  of $340.84 million  funding their applications  between January  and June 2023. The bank had revealed that in April alone, barely two months to the end of the Buhari’s Administration, $40.54 million was spent on foreign education, which was said to have been quickly followed by another expenditure of $48. 81 million in May, 2023.

There is no gain saying the fact that the drop in US dollar flows in the eight years of the Buhari’s Administration may have contributed the decline in foreign investment in the country and a decrease in Crude oil exports which make up over 90% of the nation’s export income but more expenses in funding foreign educations within the eights of the immediate pat Buhari’s Administration.  

Suffice it to say that there was a lack of significant reciprocation in the form of money following into   the local education sector from foreign sources, despite the money being sent to the foreign universities and other foreign Institutions. This may have informed why Tinubu could open up at the recent ministerial retreat attended by other political appointees a d top government officials at the Villa that he could admit that the Administration accepted the assets and liabilities of the previous Administration, which many believe is currently telling on the government.   

Oyedele: Heads Presidential Committee On Fiscal Policy And Tax Reforms

  Taiwo Oyedele, Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Fiscal Committee on Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms in the country, who appears to have won the ears of the President   can now heave a sigh of relief.  This is because the government has accepted some of its recommendations meant to halt the continued depreciation of the naira in the official and parallel markets forex markets.  There are indications that the government is considering beginning   the imposition of excise tax penalties on foreign exchange transactions done outside the official bank window as part of the moves to discourage  multiple foreign exchange rates in the country  to halt the depreciating value of the naira.

There are indications that the government will move a step further to stop the payment of taxes in US dollars in Nigeria to stop the rush for the foreign currency.  Oyedele, the Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms, was said to have told the Nigerian President that there was no basis   for Companies doing business in Nigeria or individual   in naira to be forced to pay their taxes in US dollars instead of the country’s currency which is the naira.

The Presidential Committee Chairman on Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms was said to have made the Nigerian President and other policy makers to understand that the demand for world major currencies like the US dollar, United Kingdom, UK, pound sterling and the Union, EU, euro, to pay taxes in Nigeria which uses the naira as legal tender is putting more   on the demand for foreign currencies in the country.  

Oedele may have gladdened the heart of operators of Companies doing business in Nigeria that the whole idea of paying levies and taxes in foreign currency will come to an end this 2023. Given an insider information, he had said that the recommendations which was made by the Presidential Committee the government aims ‘’to tackle urgent economic concerns in the country, such as foreign exchange management, the consequences of removing fuel subsidies, controlling inflation and promoting economic growth.

The era of ministers, top civil servants and other political appointees, behaving anyhow in office, which was said to have affected the running of the previous administration is over as Tinubu was said to have made it clear to participants at the two-day retreat at the Villa that the government has established the delivery unit, meaning that at the end of the retreat, the ministers, the Permanent Secretaries and himself would sign a bond of understanding for proper monitoring.

This is an opportunity for Hajia Hadiza Bala Usman, a former Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, who had running battle with Rototimi Amaechi, a former governor of Rivers state and minister of Transportation under Buhari’s Administration, described as ‘’a very dynamic Lady’’ by the Nigerian President to prove herself as a Leader who can perform to prove Amaechi wrong as Head of the Tinubu’s Administration’s Delivery unit.

Appealing to those who have complaints against her to him and those who are ready to work with her to stay there, he was said to have made it clear to them delivery of the mandates cannot be compromised, insisting that the Administration must fulfil its electioneering campaign promises for the sake of the millions of Nigerians.

He may have sent a message to the ministers and other political appointees that nobody is an island as ‘’ the nation described as the biggest intellectually sound country in the African Continent have’’ great talents around the world’’, meaning that anyone of them can be replace at any time for non-performance.   You are appointed ‘’to serve in the present government to help me to succeed’’, Tinubu had reminded the ministers and the other political appointees of the government including the top government officials.   

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