So Much Expectations From Nigeria’s New President

President Bola Tinubu

On Monday, May 29, Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu was sworn in as the 16th president of the continent’s most populous nation. The 71-year-old is the fifth president of the nation since 1999, when military rule ended.

In a polling process marred by technical challenges, only a quarter of Nigeria’s 93 million registered voters were able to cast a ballot, and Tinubu received just 37% of the national vote.

Samson Itodo, executive director of YIAGA Africa, provided the following explanation:

“He is inheriting a broken economy, he is inheriting a broken country, very polarized around religious and ethnic lines,”

The new Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu faces a tough task of infusing stability into a society and economy in crisis — and reigniting hope in a young population that feels its voice has been ignored for decades.

The 71-year-old was sworn in as Africa’s most populous nation’s fifth president since 1999, when the country ended three decades of military rule. He succeeds Muhammadu Buhari, also of the All Reformists Congress (APC) party, who leaves with a generally criticized economic record.

In the meantime, opposition leaders Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi of the Labour Party have filed a legal petition challenging the outcome of the presidential election in February on the grounds of fraud.

Tinubu inherits an economy with record debt, inflation at a nearly two-decade high of over 22%, fuel and foreign exchange reserves in short supply, a severely devalued naira, a failing power supply, and decreasing oil production.

Tinubu was credited with modernizing Nigeria’s commercial hub and vastly expanding the regional economy while serving as governor of Lagos State between 1999 and 2007.

At his swearing-in ceremony, he boasted about his track record and promised to combat widespread insecurity, unify the foreign exchange rate, and eliminate expensive fuel subsidies in addition to expanding the Nigerian economy by at least 6 percent annually.

“I have a message for our investors, local and foreign: our government shall review all their complaints about multiple taxation and various anti-investment inhibitions,” Tinubu told the audience in Abuja’s Eagle Square, while also promising a “thorough house cleaning” of monetary policy.

Buhari, his predecessor, spooked international investors by implementing a number of protectionist economic policies. Even though he said in his speech on Sunday that many of the “tough decisions” had made the country more resilient economically, hard data showed that unemployment and poverty were growing.

The National Bureau of Statistics in Nigeria now estimates that 133 million people, or 63% of the population, are multidimensionally poor, a 10 percentage point increase from before Buhari took office in 2015. Joblessness sits at 33.3%, adding up to in excess of 23 million individuals, having risen consistently throughout the course of recent years.

Even though it is popular, the subsidy for petroleum products that has been in place for decades has been a financial drag on the government. Since it was implemented in the 1970s, several governments have promised to eliminate it but have failed to do so.

Bola Tinubu Sworn In As Nigeria’s New President

By delivering on bold campaign promises and appointing “competent people” with the necessary experience, Tinubu’s tenure would be crucial to restoring economic credibility with an electorate that has endured two recessions in the past eight years.

Nigeria’s population, which is currently close to 220 million and expected to double by 2050, is one of the fastest-growing in the world. According to U.N. estimates, it also has one of the youngest average populations in the world, with 42% of citizens under the age of 15 and a median age of just over 18 years.

According to an intelligence analyst named Durmaz,

“Tinubu’s electoral victory has further ingrained the perception among ordinary Nigerians that the political stage is a playground for wealthy old guards who place patronage at the heart of politics,”

A key question for the first 100 days in office, Durmaz suggested, will be whether the new leader has the “will and the ability” to reach out to alienated urban youth and minorities.

“Tinubu will need to promote an inclusive national identity in a deeply fractious society and eradicate the grievances felt by the majority of Nigerians on issues such as insecurity, police brutality and inequality,” Durmaz said.

Tinubu vowed to address widespread violence — including killings and kidnappings in the northwest, clashes between cattle herders and farmers in the country’s “Middle Belt” and a combination of separatist and gang-based attacks in the southeast — through sweeping reforms of Nigeria’s security services.

Nigeria’s over-stretched state security apparatus has a history of grave human rights violations and requires wide structural reforms, comprehensive training programs and modern equipment, according to economic experts.

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