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Is Nigeria moving in the right direction after one year of your presidency?

Mansur Abubakar,BBC News, Kano

The BBC sandwich seller looks into the cameraBBC

Bread seller Abubakar Sheka noticed that fewer and fewer customers could afford his loaves of bread

Nigerians love football but it is no longer the main topic of discussion for many people.

On the first anniversary of Bola Tinubu’s presidency, Abubakar Sheka, a bread seller on the streets of the northern city of Kano, said that the primary focus of customers now is what they can afford. .

“Talking about football is only sweet when the stomach is full, but right now, many Nigerians are having difficulty finding food, which makes people always talk about the economy when they meet,” the 36-year-old man said. with BBC above. the noise of morning traffic.

He also noticed that fewer people are buying bread because prices have more than doubled since May last year, reflecting a rise in flour prices, leaving many families without access to one of the basic staples. country’s version.

Inflation, along with the devaluation of the naira currency, has been a major theme over the past 12 months.

Although Nigeria has been hit by harsh economic winds like much of the rest of the world, some of what has happened is a direct result of the policies of President Tinubu, who took oath took office exactly one year ago.

The new president, then 71 years old, won a dramatic election with 37% of the vote – a result that was later disputed in court. His mission is to bring the country back to unity.

He also faces a challenging financial situation, along with concerns about kidnapping and corruption.

Reuters Nigerian President Bola Tinubu speaks after the swearing-in ceremony in Abuja, Nigeria May 29, 2023Reuters

President Bola Tinubu announced the end of fuel subsidies on the day he was sworn into office

Amid the pomp and grandeur of inauguration day sentiment, the president made an important announcement.

“Fuel subsidy is no more,” he told Nigerians, without providing a timeline for when the policy would be introduced or any measures that could soften the inevitable blow. .

This decades-long subsidy has cost the country huge sums of money which Mr. Tinubu believes would be better spent elsewhere.

“President Bola Tinubu’s inauguration speech started around 10:00 and by 11:00 there were long fuel queues across Nigeria,” said public affairs analyst Hashim Abubakar. .

“That announcement caused the price of fuel and other commodities to skyrocket immediately.”

Annual inflation is already at an 18-year high of 22% and, partly due to the removal of fuel subsidies, it has risen to almost 34%. Wages have not kept up.

The government also ended the policy of pegging the value of the naira to the US dollar, causing the currency to lose its value dramatically. While 10,000 naira could have bought $22 last May, it will now only buy $6.80.

This has made anything imported more expensive.

And all of this has pushed more people into poverty.

Abubakar Ameer distributes food to people in need in Kano. He said in the past year the number of people coming for help has more than doubled.

“We have to reduce the portions of food we usually give to others so everyone can have something to eat,” he told the BBC.

The government has provided cash transfers of up to $54 (£42) over three months to the poorest families, but this has not helped everyone.

Mr Tinubu’s ministers are aware of the hardships that many people are currently going through.

Last week, Economic Planning Minister Atiku Bagudu apologized “for the pain [the policies] there may be occasions,” but he added, “they are necessary.”

He described the measures as part of a long-overdue economic restructuring to bring about long-term stability.

It has been argued that extremely expensive fuel subsidies and an overvalued naira have hurt the economy.

“This administration has implemented important economic reforms that have stabilized our economy and promote sustainable growth”.

Reuters The Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC) protests against high cost of living and massive suffering following fuel price hike and Naira devaluation in Lagos, Nigeria February 27, 2024Reuters

Union members have protested the high cost of living

These reforms also aim to increase the confidence of foreign investors. The amount of investment flowing into the country peaked just over a decade ago and has been relatively low since then.

“I believe things are starting to pick up in terms of foreign investment in the country due to the government’s economic policies,” said Victor Aluyi, senior vice president at financial firm Sankore.

“The improvements are not huge but nonetheless improvements compared to when things were really low in past years.”

One of the other major challenges facing the president in his first year in office is security, with violent attacks and kidnappings plaguing the country under his predecessor.

When it comes to kidnappings, the northwestern region of the country is particularly hard hit. However, from its peak early last year until March, the number of kidnappings decreased in the region, according to Acled, a conflict and violence monitor.

However, two high-profile mass kidnappings in March and another last week in different parts of the country have shown that more needs to be done to ensure people’s safety.

The government has defended its record.

Defense Minister Mohammed Badaru recently said security forces have killed more than 9,300 “bandits” and insurgents while 7,000 people have been arrested over the past year.

On the fight against corruption, the president has received some praise.

Kola Adeyemi, Chairman of the NGO Anti-Corruption Awareness, said: “The Tinubu-led administration has not remained silent on the issue so far and has shown political will to confront the Hydra-headed monster”.

The suspension of Humanitarian Affairs Minister Betta Edu in January for allegedly diverting public funds was seen as a bold move. An investigation is underway and the Minister has denied any wrongdoing.

A former top official at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, speaking to the BBC on condition of anonymity, said the president needed to do more despite the initial good signs.

“Corruption has been a major problem for decades so it would be unfair to grade him based on his one year in office – there is a lot of work that needs to be done to eradicate that problem.”

In every policy area, the government will emphasize that more time is needed for people to feel the benefits of its policies.

But for Mr. Sheka, the bread seller, time is running out.

“If things don’t improve economically, I will look for something else besides this to earn more money or give up selling bread completely and find something else to do when there is a need to address.”

Getty Images/BBC A woman looking at her mobile phone and BBC News Africa imageGetty Images/BBC


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