As Tinubu prepares to step into the presidency, he must brace himself for a host of pressing problems that have been cooking for generations of presidents
As the president-elect, Bola Tinubu, gears up to take the reins from President Muhammadu Buhari, he’s about to inherit a truckload of problems that could make even the most seasoned politician break into a cold sweat.
From the never-ending labour strikes to a debt burden that could sink a battleship, join us on this rollercoaster ride of challenges that Tinubu will be oh-so-lucky to inherit.
ASUU: Broken promises and lingering agreements
ASUU strike illustration
For over two decades, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has been locked in a perpetual battle with successive Nigerian governments. The primary bone of contention has been the government’s consistent failure to fulfil its agreements.
In 2009, a new agreement was reached, promising funds for university revitalisation and the payment of earned academic allowances. Regrettably, these commitments remain largely unfulfilled, with only a fraction of the promised funds disbursed and the unpaid allowances.
The renegotiation of the 2009 agreement and the adoption of ASUU’s University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) instead of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) still need to be solved.
Adding to the list of complaints, the government has neglected its statutory duty to conduct timely visitations to universities, as mandated by the law. Thus, as President Buhari inherited these mounting issues, they will inevitably pass on to Tinubu as he steps into the presidential office.
Debt: A burden passed down the line
During Olusegun Obasanjo’s presidency, Nigeria managed to alleviate a significant portion of its external debt through debt relief programmes. However, the nation’s debt has again ballooned through the roof since then.
Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, which commenced in 2015, inherited a colossal liability of ₦12.1 trillion in public debt and raised it to ₦46.3 trillion, as of December 2022.
And now, projections by the Debt Management Office (DMO) indicate that Tinubu will bear the weight of an estimated ₦77 trillion in debt by the time Buhari leaves on May 29. This mountainous burden poses a significant challenge for the incoming president, potentially hindering development and stifling the nation’s progress.
All-time high unemployment rate
Unemployment rate under President Muhammadu Buhari
In the year 2014, the unemployment rate in Nigeria reached a distressing level of 9.7%, marking an unprecedented “all-time high” in the nation’s history. Alas, the subsequent trajectory of Buhari’s administration suggests that this record was child’s play.
Notably, a sharp and disheartening escalation in the unemployment rate occurred from 18.8% in 2017 to a staggering 23.1% merely a year later. The NBS reported that by the end of 2020, in the wake of the global pandemic, the unemployment rate surged to 33.3% from the 27.1% recorded in the second quarter of the same year. This disconcerting statistic indicates that a staggering number of approximately 23.2 million Nigerians find themselves without gainful employment.
To compound the already troubling situation, esteemed global audit and tax advisory firm, KPMG, has projected Nigeria’s unemployment rate to rise further to an alarming 40.6% in the year 2023, surpassing the already disheartening estimated figure of 37.7% in 2022.
133 million poor Nigerians
Nigeria is anticipated to experience a population boom by 2050. This can take poverty rate much higher [Daily Nigerian]
In 2014, the World Bank released a disquieting report, shedding light on the grave state of poverty in Nigeria. The report indicated that the national per capita poverty rate exceeded a staggering 60% of the population, encompassing approximately 179 million individuals. Consequently, President Jonathan handed over 107 million poor Nigerians to President Buhari.
Regrettably, as of November 2022, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed that the number of Nigerians grappling with poverty has continued to rise as 63% of the nation’s total population is reportedly poor. Hence, President Tinubu will now assume responsibility for 133 million poor Nigerians.
20 million out-of-school children
Recess time for childeren in primary school, photographed in 2014 [Weebly/Ima Elijah]
In 2014, during the Jonathan administration, a disheartening report revealed that out of the 10.5 million children in Nigeria who were not attending school, a significant proportion of 60% were girls residing in the northern regions. UNICEF, a reputable organisation focused on children’s welfare, diligently reported this distressing reality.
Fast forward to the present day, and the situation has regrettably worsened. Recent data released by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), employing an improved and refined methodology, indicates that Nigeria is now confronted with the alarming reality of approximately 20 million children deprived of education.
The underlying causes for this unfortunate circumstance were multifaceted, with violence and security challenges, predominantly prevalent in the northeastern part of the country, being cited as primary culprits.
Opposition and Insecurity: A Nation on the precipice
IPOB has been recognised as one of the deadliest terror groups in the world. (Guardian)
From one presidency to the next, Nigerian leaders have faced a barrage of opposition groups and security threats that have put the nation’s stability at risk. Under previous administrations, President Obasanjo included, militant groups like MEND arose, challenging the marginalisation of the Niger Delta region through acts of sabotage and violence. During Yar’Adua’s tenure, Boko Haram emerged as a radical Islamist group, unleashing terror through suicide bombings and abductions.
For President Buhari, the challenges were equally formidable. Secessionist movements like IPOB and Oduduwa Republic sought independence in the southeast and southwest regions, respectively, testing the unity of the nation.
Buhari’s leadership style faced intense scrutiny, with heavy political opposition from parties such as the established People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and, more recently, the Labour Party, which held the government accountable and presented alternative governance visions that resonated with citizens.
The 2020 EndSARS movement, which Buhari and even Tinubu failed to appease, further demonstrates the nation’s deep-seated frustrations. The movement served as a rallying point for the “Obidients,” becoming a nightmare for the ruling APC.
Obidients rally in Ibadan, Oyo State. [Twitter:shoutouttvgist]
These multifaceted opposition and insecurity challenges underscore the formidable task that Tinubu will inherit, requiring deft leadership and strategic solutions to navigate Nigeria’s turbulent landscape.
As Tinubu prepares to step into the presidency, he must brace himself for a host of pressing problems that have been cooking for generations of presidents.