Without mincing words, the embarrassing but totally preventable flip-flopping of the Tinubu administration is becoming truly unsettling. Tinubu since his first day in office as president has proceeded to announce unpopular and anti-people policies without tact or even thinking through.
First it was the callous or rather casual announcement of the withdrawal of subsidy payments for imported petrol into the country. This singular act by a man who has been canvassing that the poor should be allowed to breathe saw the price of petrol move from N195 per litre to N550 and now N610 per litre and maybe still counting.
As said by the President, expected savings from this decision will be used to strengthen other socio-economic services in the country. “In a little over two months, we have saved over a trillion Naira that would have been squandered on the unproductive fuel subsidy which benefitted smugglers and influential fraudsters…..”
Just as it was unravelled that there was never any subsidy payment to any importer but rather NNPC and some people in and around the presidency just paid themselves trillions of Naira from our commonwealth, Nigerians expected Tinubu to go after those who collected the monies since 2015 or are there no records of payments and/or bank statements?
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) recently revealed that the anticipated four hundred billion or three trillion Naira to be saved and applied to cushion the “effect of subsidy withdrawal” was just a mere baseless political statement and that the money does not exist anywhere.
It should be glaring to Tinubu that his policies within his first two months in office are beginning to unite opposition groups in Nigeria to stand as true Stakeholder groups to defend a common cause on the national economy and social equity? Even those who voted for him are today being vocal against his policies. He’s becoming very unpopular by the day. And this is just two months in office!
What of the case of the ministerial nominee from Kano, Maryam Shetty who was not aware that she has been dropped until she arrived the Senate for her screening. How do you explain that? Was that not a blunder and clear case of dysfunctionality at the Presidency? How did her name get into the nominees list in the first instance and why was she not informed that the president has replaced her at least that could have stopped her from the embarrassment at the Senate?
Then as a way of image remedy, the logic of the system has carried Mr President to show courage in ECOWAS matters.
Starting a war could be a life jacket strategy to keep Mr President in power: who wants to remove an ECOWAS Chairman that is fighting a war? But this strategy could back-fire in dramatic loss of credibility and even acceptance.
Unfortunately the case in Niger has exposed Tinubu’s election and policies to scrutiny by ECOWAS member states.
Now, what face will he have after this is over? ECOWAS will likely be factionalised, going forward. Thanks to Tinubu!
What will Nigeria look like when Niger can stand to tell our President and his ECOWAS support faction to go to hell?
Perhaps Nigeria under Buhari was subsidising the government in Niger with infrastructure such as rail line and refinery projects, security vehicles and an open border.
As said, sadly it would seem that these socio-economic leverages from Nigeria which were arbitrarily deployed only helped to sustain oppression by a few elite in power.
It is clear that whatever Nigeria did for them, did not primarily benefit ordinary citizens of Niger or a broad- based stakeholder pool in the country. That is the only way the military in Niger has treated Nigeria with such shoddiness.
The intention to intervene militarily is not backed by any law; in fact it is prohibited in the 1945 UN Charter and Article 4 of African Union Charter. Furthermore, there are other implications such as the impact of the war.
There are over 300,000 Nigerian refugees in Niger, about 50 percent of the businesses in Niger are owned by hausas and other ethnic immigrants from Nigeria, four states in Nigeria namely Sokoto, katsina, Kano, zamfara that are neigbouring Niger have their businesses intrinsically linked with the country.
When war starts, the issues mentioned above will be let loose, anarchy, destruction will set in in unimaginable proportions.
Tinubu’s Niger Republic showboating is nothing short of a foreign policy miscalculation and a strategic blunder, earning him the contempt and hatred of the Niger Junta and anti-French masses without corresponding benefits whatsoever for Nigeria.
In case of the cutting of power supply to Niger, the President should have first looked into the reason(s) why Nigeria agreed in the first instance to supply power to Niger. The electricity supply arrangement was a legitimate and bilateral trade agreement.
It should be born in mind that any decision taken by Mr President, no matter how minute, it should be grounded in conventions and laws to avoid embarrassment and being ridiculed.
A lot of people are ignorant of the fact that it is a convention adopted by United Nations that no development can be embarked on international waters without the consent of other countries that share the water.
River Niger goes through Benin, Cameron, Chad, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso (they are referred to Riparian States, thus the word will be used to refer to all the states in the post).Since all the aforementioned countries are fully aware of the UN convention on utilization international waters, the countries came to enact an act known as” act regarding the navigation and economic cooperation between the states of river Niger Basin. “It was adopted on 24th of October 1963.They followed it up with an agreement concerning the river Niger commission and held on the 25th of November 1964.”
These are things that the president should be in the know before taking decision: the law on use of river Niger as enacted in 1963 which prohibits unilateral action without the approval of Riparian states as was the case with the disconnecting of electricity to Niger.
You have no idea how long the Niger people will nurse this ill-feeling towards a brotherly African neighbour with longstanding ethnic, religious, historical, commercial and diplomatic relations, a friendly country harbouring Nigerian refugees and with whom we’ve never had border conflict. Cutting off electricity to an impoverished African neighbor was monumental stupidity.
Hope this and future generation of Niger people will remember the majority of Nigerians stoutly opposed Tinubu’s very unpopular actions against them. God bless Nigeria!
Mr. Izeze is a National Daily Columnist and can be reached via [email protected]; 234-8033043009