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In Part 1 of “SUBSIDY: A PLUS OR A KILLER?” we traced the historical roots of Nigeria’s subsidy system, which emerged as a response to economic and political crises following independence. We examined how subsidies, initially introduced to provide immediate relief and promote national unity, gradually became a permanent fixture due to political pressures and public expectations.

The over-reliance on oil revenues and mismanagement of borrowed funds led to long-term economic challenges, including inflation, unemployment, and deteriorating public services.

In this continuation, Part 2 will go into the transition from the dispensation of President Muhammadu Buhari to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, exploring how their differing governance approaches have impacted subsidy policies and the broader economic landscape in Nigeria.

The transition from President Muhammadu Buhari to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has marked a significant shift in Nigeria’s political landscape. While both leaders share the same party lineage, their approaches to governance and specific issues differ substantially.

President Tinubu’s methods, particularly his cybersecurity levy, have sparked debates and raised questions about their implementation and impact on ordinary citizens.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration was characterized by a focus on anti-corruption, economic diversification, and security. Buhari, a former military ruler, leveraged his reputation for discipline and integrity to tackle Nigeria’s pervasive corruption. His tenure saw significant anti-corruption drives, albeit with mixed results.

Economic policies under Buhari aimed to reduce dependency on oil by promoting agriculture and manufacturing. However, the country faced numerous challenges, including high unemployment rates and security issues in the North.

Buhari’s policies were primarily reactive, responding to the increasing threats posed by the Insurgency. However, implementation and enforcement were often inconsistent, reflecting broader governance issues. The administration struggled with balancing national security concerns and protecting citizens’ privacy rights, often erring on the side of caution, which led to criticisms about the effectiveness and fairness of these policies.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, known for his political acumen and strategic thinking, has taken a different approach to governance. His administration has promised to build on Buhari’s legacy while introducing innovative policies to tackle Nigeria’s complex challenges.

One area where Tinubu’s methods have drawn significant attention is his approach to increased taxes and imposition of the cybersecurity levy. Tinubu’s strategy is ambitious and comprehensive; however, the method of application has been questionable, leading to concerns among ordinary citizens. Tinubu has proposed stringent measures that, if not carefully implemented, could disproportionately impact everyday Nigerians rather than the intended targets: politicians and financial institutions.

One of the contentious aspects of Tinubu’s strategy is the perceived targeting of ordinary people. Policies requiring extensive personal data collection and surveillance measures have raised privacy concerns. Many citizens feel that the government is overreaching, intruding into their personal lives under the guise of security.

This approach risks alienating the public and fostering distrust in the government’s intentions. Ordinary citizens, who may already be struggling with economic hardships, view these measures as additional burdens rather than protections.

For President Tinubu’s cybersecurity levy to be effective and gain public support, it’s crucial for his administration to engage transparently with the Nigerian people. Tinubu should openly explain the rationale behind his cybersecurity levy policies, outlining how they will directly benefit citizens and the nation’s critical infrastructure. Public awareness campaigns can educate citizens about the reason for imposition of further taxes added to the VAT for electricity, increase in fuel prices due to the removal of subsidy and the persistent rise in the dollar rate which affects costs of living. Citizens need to know how the government’s policies will benefit them with minimum wage still being what it is. Instead of this, there are other policies that can be implemented rather President Tinubu’s cybersecurity levy which would be more effective and acceptable to the public, the following recommendations should be considered:

•  Focus on High-Value Targets

Prioritize the cybersecurity levy for politicians, government entities, and financial institutions. Tailored approaches for these sectors can ensure that resources are utilized effectively to mitigate the most significant risks.

•  Minimum wage increase by 100%

Rather than the proposed yet to be approved and implemented 35% increase in minimum wage a 100% increase will help cushion the effect of the economic hardships, if the same increase is being discussed for salaries and allowances for judicial officers, then the same should be done for everyone without talks of inflation.

•  Strengthen Legal Frameworks

The Nigerian constitution should be reviewed. The principle of power-sharing should be re-evaluated to a points-based system rather than a numbers-based one, as it usually causes problems in multiple elections, as we have seen in the past. The score sheet should be based on a score out of 36. Regardless of the number of votes a candidate acquires, if they win a state, it should be recorded as one over 36, and so on.

•  Invest in Technology and Training

Invest in advanced technologies and training for the youths. Building local capacity will enhance Nigeria’s ability to respond to foreign markets effectively. There are talented youths all overlooking for a means to birth their ideas if we as a nation can focus on continuous professional development and access to the latest tools and technologies are essential for production and industrialization then we can stop being a consumer nation.

•  International Cooperation

Rather than moving around begging for loans, and be known as a loan-seeking nation, Nigeria can engage in international cooperation, it does not always have to be a big nation like the UK or US, we can partner with other smaller nations even within Africa and exchange resources, ideas, and personnel to build an ecosystem of economic growth. Nigeria can benefit from collaborating with other countries to share intelligence, best practices, and resources. Participation in international forums and agreements can enhance Nigeria.

President Tinubu’s administration must balance the urgent need for a better economy for the average Nigerian and transparent communication on how money generated from the excessive taxes are being spent, targeted policies, and international collaboration will be key to achieving this balance. As Nigeria navigates the complexities, a well-thought-out and inclusive strategy will be essential for national progress and stability.

In conclusion, subsidies in Nigeria started as a response to economic and political crises, aimed at providing immediate benefits to the populace. However, due to mismanagement and over-reliance on borrowed funds, subsidies have contributed to long-term economic challenges.

The future beyond subsidies in Nigeria hinges on the country’s ability to implement sustainable economic policies and diversify its revenue sources. The leaders of today who were the same leaders of yesterday must learn from the past to build a more resilient and prosperous economy for the future or step aside for the next generation.

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