Tinubu did not foresee the enormity of Nigeria’s challenges – Onanuga

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President Bola Tinubu did not foresee the enormity of Nigeria’s challenges before taking over in May 2023, according to his Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga.

In an exclusive interview with BusinessDay’s editorial team, Onanuga shed light on Tinubu’s grasp of Nigeria’s economic landscape and ongoing efforts to address pressing issues.

Reflecting on Tinubu’s initial days in office, Onanuga acknowledged the President’s realization of the profound hurdles facing the nation upon assuming leadership. He emphasized Tinubu’s swift action, notably the removal of oil subsidies, as a response to the dire financial situation. Despite a degree of anticipation regarding existing issues such as the National Nigerian Petroleum Corporation’s financial strain, Tinubu’s comprehensive understanding only crystallized upon assuming office.

Onanuga attributed part of the challenge to Tinubu’s succession from the same political camp, which potentially obscured the full extent of Nigeria’s financial predicament. The transition, though expectedly smoother due to shared party affiliations, was marked by internal party dynamics and strategic maneuvers, indicating complexities beyond party alignment.

Addressing concerns about transparency, Onanuga underscored the government’s commitment to openness. He highlighted efforts to convey the realities of Nigeria’s financial state, notably the staggering debt servicing burden inherited from the previous administration. Despite inheriting a landscape predominantly marked by liabilities, Tinubu’s administration swiftly moved to confront these challenges through supplementary budget allocations and fiscal adjustments.

Regarding economic policies, Onanuga emphasized Tinubu’s multi-faceted agenda, spanning sectors such as agriculture, infrastructure, and security. Notably, he pointed to initiatives promoting backward integration in industries and emphasized the imperative of local resource utilization to bolster resilience against external economic pressures.

In response to currency devaluation and inflationary trends, Onanuga outlined strategies aimed at stabilizing the exchange rate and curbing speculative activities. He advocated for a shift in consumer behavior, urging Nigerians to explore domestic alternatives for education and tourism, thereby alleviating pressure on foreign currency reserves.

On the issue of state police, Onanuga reiterated the government’s commitment to exploring decentralized security mechanisms, stressing the urgency of addressing insecurity as a foundational challenge.

Regarding the minimum wage discourse, Onanuga acknowledged fiscal constraints while underscoring the government’s commitment to fair compensation. He emphasized the need for prudent financial management and suggested collaborative efforts to mitigate inflationary pressures on workers’ purchasing power.

In conclusion, Onanuga painted a comprehensive picture of the Tinubu administration’s response to Nigeria’s multifaceted challenges, emphasizing resilience, and proactive measures aimed at steering the nation towards economic recovery and stability.

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