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What To Expect From President-elect Bola Tinubu

Bola Ahmed Tinubu thanks his supporters after he was declared winner in Nigeria’s presidential election, at the Party’s campaign headquarters, in Abuja, Nigeria March 1, 2023.
Reuters

Nigeria’s president-elect Bola Tinubu has promised to tackle a litany of problems, including escalating violence, double-digit inflation and industrial-scale oil theft.

His supporters portray him as an effective administrator who improved roads, trash collection and other services in the chaotic city of Lagos during his tenure as governor from 1999 to 2007. Opponents are sceptical: many of Nigeria’s problems worsened under outgoing president Muhammadu Buhari, on whose party ticket Tinubu ran.

Here is what Tinubu’s win could mean.

HOW DOES HE PLAN TO FIX THE ECONOMY?

Tinubu says he will build on Buhari’s public infrastructure programme to create jobs and remove legal limits on government spending.

Nigeria’s revenue-to-GDP ratio is the lowest among its peers, according to the World Bank. Tinubu says he will reduce corporate tax to attract investment and plug tax loopholes to boost revenue.

A popular fuel subsidy, which cost $10 billion last year and is driving up debt, will be phased out and the money channelled to infrastructure, agricultural and social welfare programmes.

So too will a system of multiple foreign exchange rates that the International Monetary Fund says is subject to abuse and makes it difficult for investors to repatriate their money.

Any new foreign borrowing will be used to fund projects that generate revenue from which debt can be repaid, Tinubu says.

WHAT ARE HIS PLANS FOR THE OIL SECTOR?

Crude oil theft is the biggest headache for oil companies, which have seen production tumble. Oil majors are selling shallow-water projects, mainly due to the theft and vandalism of pipelines, and shifting offshore.

Tinubu says he will set up a surveillance unit to protect the country’s pipelines and attract new investors with tax incentives.

Africa’s top producer of crude oil depends on imported refined fuels, something Tinubu wants to end by increasing domestic refining through joint ventures with private investors.

HOW WILL HE DEAL WITH INSECURITY?

Spreading insecurity is a major concern for Nigerians and foreign investors, from kidnappings for ransom in the northwest to a 13-year Islamist insurgency in the northeast, separatist violence in the southeast and decades-old ethnic tensions between herders and farmers in the north-central region.

Tinubu wants to recruit more soldiers and police officers, while paying and equipping them better.

He says there will be “anti-terrorist battalions” and special forces to fight jihadists and armed gangs but also wants the military involved in community initiatives to “win hearts and minds.”

WHAT ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS?

Human rights groups and media outlets including Reuters have documented abuses on all sides of the conflict in the northeast and elsewhere.

The International Criminal Court prosecutor concluded in 2020 that grounds existed to open an investigation into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity by both Nigeria’s security forces and insurgents, but the court has not opened one.

Tinubu casts himself as a champion of human rights, pointing to his time campaigning against Nigeria’s former military rulers in the 1990s when he was forced into exile.

But critics question whether he will hold authorities to account after he suggested that protesters who were shot at during anti-police brutality protests in 2020 should explain why they were in the locations where security forces opened fire.

IS DEMOCRACY UNDER THREAT?

This year’s election marked nearly a quarter century of democracy in Africa’s most populous nation, and many hoped that it would be its most credible yet thanks to an increasingly professional electoral commission and measures to curb fraudulent practices rife in many previous polls.

But malfunctions in new equipment used to verify voters’ identities and transmit results, along with instances of violence and disruption of voting in some areas undermined confidence in the process.

Tinubu’s closest challengers, Atiku Abubakar from the main opposition People’s Democratic Party and the Labour Party’s Peter Obi, rejected the result as fraudulent.

Tinubu was declared the winner with 37% of the vote and turnout was just 29%, according to results released by the Independent National Electoral Commission.

“Mr Tinubu’s narrow victory is bittersweet, as his historically low support in the polls could lead some to question his legitimacy as president,” the Oxford Economics Africa consultancy said in a note.