As we review and evaluate President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s first 100 days in office, many may want to know the significance of a president’s first 100 days of a four-year term, where the tradition came from and why it is still relevant today. Some critics even regard it as a somewhat “arbitrary and artificial milestone” with lots of attention without much significance.
However, the practice of evaluating the president’s first 100 days in office originated from President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States who was elected during the turbulent period of the Great Depression. On assumption of office, President Roosevelt saw the magnitude of the task before him and the need to approach the solution differently from his predecessor, President Herbert Hoover, who had wanted to be involved in dealing with the overwhelming economic challenges the country was passing through at the time. Hence, President Roosevelt took several bold and new groundbreaking actions within his first 100 days in office that made him the first president ever to achieve so much within his first 100 days in office. And, according to historians, few have lived up to Roosevelt. Since then, it has become a global tradition to evaluate the performance of presidents in the first 100 days.
Early this month, precisely on September 6, President Tinubu also found it worthy to mark and evaluate his first 100 days in office. From the point of view of cynics, who often perceive every action of the present government with skepticism, such an important appraisal was not only an aberration and inauspicious, but a sheer bragging and boastfulness.
However, for the fair minded, nonpartisan political analysts and majority of Nigerians, the occasion presents a unique opportunity for the government to showcase its modest achievements in terms of deliverables as well as the unprecedented and new breathtaking actions taken by the President in the first 100 days.
These are the two sides of the same coin. Perspectives may be different but the collective aspiration of everybody is to ensure quality of life for the entire citizenry. However, we must all understand and have it at the back of our minds that there is no quick fix for the kind of socio-economic challenges Nigeria is currently facing.
Without a doubt, 100 days is too short a time for a thorough evaluation and assessment of the performance of a new president. Nevertheless, the occasion serves as a good opportunity for self-introspection as well as an analytical review of the activities of those in charge of the day-to-day running of the affairs of the country. It, therefore, goes without saying that within the limited period of three months in the saddle, President Tinubu has planted the seeds of national transformation, economic growth and all-round development in line with his blueprint and Renewed Hope Agenda.
Though there’s no denying the fact that the new regime of subsidy removal and foreign exchange rate unification coupled with the high prices of foodstuffs have made things very though for the people, yet, though as it may, the reform initiatives are the only antidotes Nigeria needs at this critical time to save the economy from the continued haemorrhage that has been on for so long. Hence, the challenges are all part of the temporary discomfort we have to endure as a people in order to get us out of the doldrums. Otherwise, we will continue to live in self-denial while some unscrupulous individuals benefitting from the old regime of subsidy payment and other haemorrhaging policies will continue to scam the country and steal the country dry.
While we patiently wait to reap the fruits of our endurance, we must also rally round the President for the full realisation of the objectives of his progressive reforms. We must commend his courage and tenacity of purpose he has demonstrated so far by making those decisions he has boldly taken to block the excess liquidity cash flowing into the individuals’ pockets for national development. Over the years, the issue of subsidy removal had remained a hard nut to crack for successive administrations. We cannot continue to do the same thing in the same old way and expect to get a different result. That would be illusory and delusional. We need a clean break from the past if Nigeria must fulfill its destiny among the comity of nations.
In our past experience, the leadership succession pattern has always been a case of the unpatriotic cultivating the unprepared. President Tinubu came in as a game-changer. He came prepared for the job and he is irrevocably committed to delivering the objectives of his Renewed Hope Agenda.
In his first 100 days in office, President Tinubu has shown tremendous leadership in his courage to tackle the challenges of the economy through aggressive tax reforms, investment drives, creation of a conducive business environment, development of infrastructure and, above all, enhanced capacity for productivity.
While announcing the subsidy removal in his inaugural address on May 29, 2023, he promised to ensure that the money spent on the scheme would be used to facilitate public transportation, healthcare, schools, housing and national security. In the immediate short-term plan, he said he would provide palliatives to cushion the pains of the removal. To this end, the Federal Government has approved N5 billion for each state and the Federal Capital Territory for the procurement of food items for distribution to the poor and vulnerable in their respective states. Already, the governors have confirmed receiving N2 billion as the first tranche. According to the government, 52 percent of the funds are given to the state governments as grants, with 48 percent as loans. In addition to that, five trucks of rice have also been delivered to each of the 36 state governors to mitigate the effects of the high cost of food items.
Similarly, in his first national broadcast, the President disclosed that his administration had made provisions to invest N100 billion between now and March 2024 in the acquisition of 3,000 units of 20-seater buses powered by Compressed Natural Gas. Before then, about 11,000 CNG buses had also been rolled out to provide affordable public transportation for the citizenry.
In keeping faith with his promise to the civil servants, the discussion is still ongoing between the Federal Government and organised labour on reviewing the minimum wage to commensurate with the cost of living.
More importantly, a new infrastructure fund to enable states to intervene and invest in critical areas like healthcare, infrastructure and education has been established by the administration. Effective utilisation of the fund will bring improvement to rural access roads for easy evacuation of farm produce to the markets.
Since the announcement of the unification of foreign exchange rates, commendations have been pouring in torrents for the President from both economic and financial experts for the courage to take the bull by the horns. The move is to address the issue of corrupt management of our exchange rates. So far, the reform has made more resources available at the disposal of the government. It is from the surplus that the administration has introduced the infrastructure fund for the purpose of bringing the much-needed infrastructural development to the states.
Prior to the advent of the present administration, most businesses had been groaning under the suffocating effect of the old regime of multiple taxes. To create an enabling environment for investment, a Presidential Tax and Fiscal Reform Committee headed by Taiwo Oyedele has been constituted to streamline the activities of the various revenue collection agents in order to end the scourge of multiple taxation, widen the tax net and make the tax collection system much more efficient. The Committee is fully at work to deepen the ongoing reforms and reposition the national economy for a long-term sustainability. The committee is expected to simplify the nation’s complicated tax system, eliminate multiple taxes, streamline regulations that negate the ease-of-doing business, and close the over N20 trillion annual tax gap.
The administration also has to its credit the composition of a new National Economic Council under the leadership of Vice President Kashim Shetima with a three-year economic recovery plan anchored on an eight-point agenda. The core mandate of the Council is to evolve and implement realisable policies, targets and timelines for the ultimate realisation of the objectives of the new economic policy of the government.
In order to ameliorate the sufferings of Nigerians, the President had earlier declared a State of Emergency on food security in the country. The highlights of the policy include the re-introduction of the National Commodity Board to review food prices; protection of farmers and farmlands; immediate release of fertilisers and grains to farmers and households to mitigate the effects of the fuel subsidy removal and inclusion of all matters pertaining to food and water availability and affordability under the purview of the National Security Council, among others. In support of the policy initiative, the Federal Government has swung into action by providing fertilizer, seedlings and other farm inputs to farmers to boost food production. Though the initiative has remained largely a work in progress, in no time, there will be an abundance of food for all, especially given the support of all the stakeholders along the value chains.
We cannot forget in a hurry the incessant strikes by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, which paralysed the nation’s ivory tower of learning for one whole session during the past administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari. Upon assumption of office, therefore, one of the first steps President Tinubu took to avoid a repeat of such an ugly occurrence was to sign the Students’ Loan Bill into law. This is to ensure that students from low-income backgrounds are not denied access to higher education. Based on public observation, machinery has been set in motion to modify the guidelines required for the ease of access to the loan.
In his drive to rejuvenate and revitalise the national economy, the President has been preoccupied with the drive to bring in investors to invest in the country. The latest effort in that regard was his recent journey to India accompanied by a select delegation of cabinet ministers and over 30 entrepreneurs across various sectors of the economy for the G20 summit. The primary intent of the trip was to showcase Nigeria’s readiness to collaborate meaningfully for sustainable economic development. In the fullness of time, all of these will come to fruition with a guarantee of a promising future.
Terrorism, banditry and other criminal activities were the major crises bedeviling the nation prior to May 29 when President Tinubu took over the mantle of leadership from his predecessor. While there are still pockets of incidents such as the one recently witnessed in Kaduna, where bandits invaded Saint Raphael’s Catholic Church in Zangon Kataf Local Government Area of the State, killing a Seminarian in the process, the overall assessment reports show an improvement in the general atmosphere of insecurity in the country as against the past experience where killings, kidnapping and ransom-taking had become the order of the day.
This achievement has been partly attributed to the balanced review of the security architecture of the country. It will be recalled that the President had approved the immediate retirement of all Service Chiefs and the Inspector-General of Police, Advisers as well as Comptroller-General of Customs from Service to restore public confidence in the security architecture of the country. To a large extent, that has contributed to the relative stability of the security sector.
Beyond that, the President has been unrelenting in his multi-dimensional approach to tackling insecurity and terrorism challenges in Nigeria. Using the occasion of his recent meetings with world leaders, Tinubu called on the United Nations to be more practical in supporting the country in the fight against terrorism.
In an audience with the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Office on Counter-Terrorism, Vladimir Voronkov, at the State House, Abuja, he observed that terrorism had consistently reversed the gains in development and increased instability in families and communities. “We know that in the face of many demands and challenges, you can still do much better. We can score you ‘A’ in collaboration but ‘B’ in physical support. You have to do more because terrorism is an effective danger to democracy; terrorism is also an effective danger to development,” he charged.
With the enormity of the security challenges facing the country, the importance of collaboration cannot be overemphasised. It is, therefore, imperative for all the stakeholders to join hands with the administration to fulfill its Renewed Hope Agenda because without peace and security, there can be no meaningful development.
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While this paper has not taken an exhaustive evaluation of the performance of the President in the first 100 days, what I attempted to do here is to demonstrate the fact that Tinubu has started well and has also demonstrated sufficient political will to effect necessary changes in the country.
As I stated in one of my previous papers, I see the President spending his first four years to focus on widespread development and modernisation of our physical infrastructure, promotion of socio-economic renaissance, enhancement of our digital economy, intentional development of science and technology, improvement of our educational system and health services, and encouragement of women and youth development, while at the same time rejiggering our security architecture, combating corruption, reforming the justice sector to protect our fundamental rights and civil liberties and preventing waste and inefficiency in government. I also believe his administration will redefine the shape and character of progressive politics and leadership in Nigeria.