By Oludare Mayowa
In a bold and swift move, President Bola Tinubu ushered in a wave of economic policy reforms upon his inauguration. With an unwavering determination to steer the nation’s economy onto a new trajectory, the president left no room for ambiguity in his intentions.
The decision to eliminate fuel subsidies was the first salvo in his campaign to free the economy from constrictive measures, swiftly followed by the reform of the foreign exchange system—a move that removed exchange rate caps and embraced a floating rate mechanism.
These monumental reforms received international acclaim, with both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank applauding the president’s efforts to dismantle rent-seeking practices and combat corruption that had long plagued the system.
While economists largely agreed with the reforms’ thrust, there was a caveat—a call for a carefully managed process to mitigate the potential impact on ordinary citizens.
The consensus was that these reforms could effectively curb corruption and reduce the privileged few’s stranglehold on the system. Hopes were high that President Tinubu’s adept selection of advisors and officials would reinforce this positive trajectory and amplify further reforms.
However, the unveiling of President Tinubu’s ministerial nominees has sparked skepticism among even his staunch supporters. The list includes a mix of figures associated with past corruption allegations and lackluster governance, casting shadows over the administration’s commitment to economic revitalization.
The ruling party’s appointment of the immediate past governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, as the chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC) further cast a pall on the credibility of the president’s intention for the country.
Ganduje was captured in a widely circulated video allegedly receiving bribes from his state contractor.
The video’s authenticity remains unchallenged, yet Ganduje’s appointment as the chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC) under President Tinubu’s ruling party has sent a disconcerting signal.
Another nominee, former Kebbi Governor Abubakar Bagudu, faces allegations of involvement in embezzlement during the notorious regime of military dictator Sani Abacha.
Bagudu’s association with Abacha’s alleged looting of public funds and offshore money laundering has been spotlighted by the Pandora Papers, an international investigation into financial secrecy.
In a stunning twist, the immediate past governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-rufai also made the nominee list. El-rufai has faced accusations of advocating the entrenchment of Islamic religion as state policy and sparking divisive debates about faith.
These allegations, coupled with his controversial remarks, have raised questions about his suitability for a ministerial role.
Despite the administration’s pledge to combat corruption, the inclusion of individuals with unresolved allegations and questionable records has led to growing concerns. For instance, the Forum for Transparency and Accountability in Governance last month in a statement expressed reservations about these appointments, calling for a reevaluation of the nominees with corruption-related allegations.
The statement read: “Any government that prides itself on probity and accountability should not be seen to patronize the likes of the former governor of Kaduna State. It’s in the public domain that Malam Nasir El-Rufai is facing prosecution for N32 billion in Court.
“Also, the former governor of Kano State, Abdullah Umar Ganduje, is facing rejection over his dirty past involving dollar bribes, and what is good for Ganduje should be good for El-Rufai. We hope that President Tinubu will come out clean on the El-Rufai issue, and we also hope that he will not allow Nigerians to hit the streets before doing the right thing.”
The group further called on the EFCC and other anti-graft agencies to rise to the occasion of prosecuting former and incumbent public officers who have pending cases so that their actions would not be misinterpreted as a selective prosecution of corrupt officials of government.
Beyond the shadow of corruption, the list is laden with former governors whose tenures have been lackluster at best, leaving citizens skeptical about their ability to drive meaningful change.
Additionally, the nomination of individuals with little experience in either the public or private sectors has raised concerns about their suitability for the demanding roles.
In the face of mounting economic challenges and the imperative for progress, President Tinubu’s selection of nominees has ignited doubt about his administration’s resolve to effect real change.
The nation’s economic woes, coupled with the perceived insensitivity of expanding the ranks of cabinet members amid calls for fiscal restraint, cast a shadow on the promise of a revitalized economy and a brighter future for Nigerians.
The president’s willingness to address these concerns head-on will determine whether his administration can steer the nation toward economic renewal and prosperity or risk further disillusionment among its citizens.
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