It is no longer news that in less than 100 days, the President’s approval rating has plummeted abysmally. This is obviously as a result of the twin policies of fuel price increase and the free float of the Naira!
These two policies have led to a more than 300% increase in cost of living since May 29th 2023, when the president was sworn in. Many Nigerians who bear the brunt of these policies have in reaction heaped their distaste for hardship at the doorsteps of Mr. President thus giving him the lowest approval rating so early in his administration.
In political science, the first few months of every new administration is considered a honeymoon period. A period wherein the new officials are given a benefit of the doubt. Rarely do you find an elected official losing popularity so soon after assuming office!
Indeed, just four weeks after President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, was sworn in, a survey done by Dr. Malcolm Fabiyi, and published in Sahara Reporters on July 4, 2023 gave Tinubu 45 percent approval rating.
Despite the anguish and frustration over impacts of some of the new administration’s policies, a newly introduced Stears Approval Rating (SAR) claimed that President Tinubu’s policies have received twice as many approvals from respondents compared to those of the previous administration.
That is, however, different from what this column got by random sampling of Nigerians from all walks of life who rated the president less than 20 percent in the light of the current hardship all over the country, a hardship that is spreading poverty faster than anything this country has ever seen.
Nigerians were randomly asked to rate the Tinubu administration performance from 0-100% and what we found out should be of concern to every Nigerian! Only one in ten persons interviewed had a good word to say about the Tinubu administration. Clearly, the approval rating is plummeting so fast that it is leaving pundits dizzy from the rate of fall!
Ordinary Nigerians, taxi drivers, brick layers, teachers, traders, professionals such as doctors, lawyers, civil servants among others are groaning.
When asked about this administration and its policies, they unanimously rated this administration low. Some even rated it lower than Buhari’s. The president needs to do things differently in order to regain the confidence of Nigerians.
Most Nigerians are of the opinion that it was wrong to jerk up fuel prices without putting in place palliative and remedial measures. As everyone knows, the Nigerian economy is an economy powered by petrol. From the grinding engine to the barber, from the printer to the market artisan, all rely on petrol powered engines for their business and their livelihood.
So, the multiplier effect of a fuel price hike is expectedly damaging. Add this to the fact that there is virtually no government sponsored public transportation in Nigeria! 95% of Nigeria’s transport is run by petrol. Clearly a hike of such an item ought to have been well considered before implementation. That singular policy of President Tinubu created about a 300% price hike in transport fares and food items.
Obviously, no Nigerian is left out of this horrendous situation other than those in public offices. There is no one who suffers these sudden dislocations that will have a favourable opinion of the Tinubu Administration. Already, decades of poor governance and failure of successive governments have made most Nigerians distrustful of political leaders. Tinubu’s case was made worse by some of the fallouts of
his decisions since coming to power. That abrupt removal of fuel subsidy, as courageous as it was, has worsened the economic state of the country to the level that some Nigerians are even beginning to say that they are missing former President Muhammadu Buhari.
The same Buhari that superintended over Nigeria when we were crowned the poverty capital of the world, increased our domestic and foreign debts! Even the inflation he met at 9 percent, Buhari left it at 22 percent, yet, some Nigerians say they fared better under his administration!
President Tinubu can and should be able to make this country better than he met it, but to do that he has to change strategy. He must learn to carry the people along in his policies and programmes!
It is his actions that Nigerians consider anti-people that are largely responsible for his poor rating so far. The situation is not helped by his inability to stabilize the naira against the dollar, especially as the naira is on a free fall because of the floating of the Nigerian currency. Already there are fears that fuel prices will soon peak at over 750 naira per litre or more following the fall of naira at the forex market where it now exchanges at N954 to the dollar as I write.
We all know the consequences of further increase in the price of fuel and other essential commodities in the country.
President Tinubu is also planning on joining ECOWAS to embark on a rather unpopular war in the Republic of Niger because of the military coup that took place there. The president’s move seems quite unpopular with the generality of Nigerians! Most Nigerians interviewed prefer that Nigeria keep out of Niger’s internal affairs.
Moreso, most citizens feel that we have too many internal upheavals that the President should concentrate on at this moment. The Northern Senators Forum also kicked against the Niger adventure, noting that seven northern states bordering Niger Republic would be adversely affected by any hostilities. The opinion across the length and breadth of Nigeria is that no war should take place between Nigeria and Niger.
Piqued by the president’s disregard to Nigerian voices against planned hostilities with Niger, protesters hit the streets of Kano State on Saturday. They were protesting Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) planned deployment of a standby military force in Niger.
The protesters embarked on a demonstration to show their displeasure at the President Tinubu’s posture on Niger Republic internal affairs! They chanted, “Nigeriens are our brothers; Nigeriens are also our family. “Niger is ours; we don’t want war; war against Niger is injustice, a plot by the Western forces.”
In the streets of Kano and elsewhere in the country the President’s push for military action in Niger has also contributed to his very poor rating. Added to the aforementioned reasons for his poor rating is the profligacy of elected officials none of which has attracted any censure from Mr. President.
Recently, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) accused President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, of appointing persons believed to be corrupt or under investigations by anti-graft agencies into leadership positions.
CISLAC, in a joint statement with Transparency International (TI) Nigeria, said the appointments spread across political party level, the executive and the legislative arms of government.
The statement by the Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, expressed worries about the effect such actions would have on the morale of anti-corruption agencies in the country. According to
the statement, “A scenario where an individual who has very substantial corruption allegation against him is made to lead the ruling political party is worrisome. These are happening despite ongoing investigation by anti-graft agency both at the state and federal level against some of these individuals.
“We find it appalling that some of the names sent by the president to the National Assembly to be screened for ministerial positions have corruption related cases to answer with the anti-graft agencies.
“Going by this list, the president would correctly be perceived as shown lack of care about integrity in governance and turn a deafening hears to public outcry on key issues especially the fight against corruption,” Rafsanjani said.
He noted that the Ministerial list sent to the Senate proves that Nigeria is reversing the gains made in its anti-corruption efforts since the return to democracy in 1999.
For a country like Nigeria where the majority of the population are aware that corruption is the cause of the country’s underdevelopment, any leader with scant regard to this cancer eating through Nigeria’s development will not have the desired high approval rating. The President’s failure to speak out against the humongous amount allocated to government officials at the expense of the suffering masses is also another cause of poor performance rating.
With Tinubu doing nothing about the profligacy in the system, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has gone to court to put a stop to it.
The group urged the Federal High Court in Lagos to restrain the National Assembly from spending N40 billion on 465 exotic and bulletproof cars for members and principal officials, and N70bn as ‘palliatives’ for NASS members.
SERAP in an order of mandamus asked the court to direct and compel Senate President, Godswill Akpabio and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, to review that spending until an assessment of the socio-economic impact of that expenditure on the 137 million poor Nigerians is carried out.
The civil society organisation is further seeking an order restraining Akpabio and Abbas from demanding or receiving the N40 billion to buy 465 SUVs and bulletproof cars.
SERAP is also seeking an order of mandamus to direct and compel Akpabio and Abbas to repeal the Supplementary Appropriation Act 2022 to reduce the budget for the National Assembly by N110bn to reflect the current economic realities in the country.
The action of SERAP is a welcome development, however, much more confidence can be built in his administration if these issues are addressed by the President himself.
With the present economic climate, many Nigerians are hungry, angry and frustrated! Citizens who are hungry and angry can never give a good approval of an office holder or a set of office holders that the citizens hold responsible for their perilous predicament!
|The president can regain the support and high approval rating of Nigerians if and when he addresses the immediate and long term needs of the people. Until then, he will be considered worse than even his bungling and clueless predecessors! I|
First Published in Leadership Newspaper