Connect with us

Politics

Tinubu needs to own up to failure of his policies – SDP’s Adebayo

Prince Adewole Adebayo, a lawyer and businessman, was the flagbearer of the Social Democratic Party SDP in the 2023 presidential election. In this interview, Adebayo said the President Tinubu Administration needs to own up to the failure of his policies even as he admonished the electorate to look well enough before they leap in subsequent elections.

You said you could do better than what the President Tinubu administration is presently doing. What is your view on the present state of affairs.

I am not surprised at the state of things, but I am disappointed. I am not surprised because we predicted that this would be the outcome. It doesn’t matter whom you put out there. This will be the outcome if you adopt these policies. We were asking Nigerians to pay attention as we were debating these issues. There were three policies that we needed to deal with. What do we do with the issue of the cost of governance. Two, what do we do with the issue of subsidy. Not only petroleum but subsidy in many other sectors. Three, what do we do with the issue of foreign exchange.

On these three issues, I have fundamental disagreement with President Bola Tinubu, Vice President Atiku Abubakar, governor Peter Obi, and many other people who were on that side that these policies will not work. It has never worked in any country before, in Nigeria, in the past, including when we did SAP, it didn’t work for us. It is not about one person who is good. Another is bad. If you drag me to the villa or Eagle Square and force me to announce these policies, you will get the same result. Anyone who adopts these same policies will get the same result. Economists will ask you if there are countries who adopted these policies; are there countries within our hemisphere, countries within our state of development, countries that have our primary production sector like we have who announced these policies and it has worked, I don’t think so.

I am surprised that some personalities were talking about the Argentina model, I am very familiar with the Argentina model. If you ask an average Argentine to choose between President Javier Milei and President Bola Tinubu, they will tell you to bring Tinubu and give you Milei.

You are saying Atiku Abubakar was wrong in the Argentina model recommended to Tinubu?

I can say Vice President Atiku Abubakar may be well intentioned but is misinformed. It is an error. If you look at the situation in Argentina, we may get to that position, I hope we are not, but we are travelling in that direction, but they are ahead of us in terms of misery. They have one month of 512% of inflation. I don’t know if economists can understand the temperature of 512%. They have lost virtually all their wealth. The person there now is from the Austrian school of thought. The Argentines are complaining every day as they have had the worst economic performance since 1980.

I am not saying we should not criticise a non performance government of President Tinubu of APC but you do not say somebody complaining of too much sun should be put in the oven, that’s not the way to solve the problem.
These policies are not working. Unfortunately, Nigerians have voted these policies. We voted for these policies either because we didn’t pay attention or we didn’t understand the implications of these policies. When you decide to say you vote for a government that says it will remove subsidy day one, which was what president Tinubu said, which was what Vice President Atiku Abubakar, which was what governor Peter Obi said, and we said don’t listen to them, but people thought they have experience and may be they are more realistic than us. So, they voted that way. So, any of them that formed the government and adopted any of these policies will have, at the minimum, what we are experiencing now or even worse.

These policies are not good, not because of the parties announcing them but because structurally they are not suitable to us. Of course, they come with some benefits, and you can see the benefits. More income to the government, for example, because they are not subsidising anymore. More income from the foreign exchange differential because they are not defending the naira in the old way anymore. You also have the benefits of goods becoming cheaper, that’s why people are saying they exporting goods from Nigeria to Niger and neighbouring countries because with lower currency, our goods and any other thing we produce become cheaper, those are the advertised benefits, but we are not structurally prepared for them.

You said the policies are bad. But some informed people said the country was already in bad shape, and some of the present policies are what is needed before we can recover.

I don’t agree with any of your postulations. This is the reason why. There are arguments, but not every argument addresses the core issue. Every decision you make in economics, at least you will have two choices, sometimes like 10 choices. In our case, we have about 55,000 choices. We decide to make a world that does not require better governance that does not require people in the higher echelon losing income because you punish the person with the least contribution to political campaign. We are subsidising so many things in this country, the only one the people have some kind of participation because it is the only product we commonly use and this is where the subsidy removal started from. Secondly, there was no attempt to do auditing. You will recall that I was shouting during the election that 80% of our crude was being stolen, and I campaigned on months on that, unfortunately voters didn’t realise that whoever was able to tackle the crude oil theft should be the one to lead the country. Our problems are not difficult to solve. The problems are not insurmountable. It is just that the method to solving them will not be the continuation of what they were doing before.

Do you think we have the right economic team surrounding President Tinubu?

He has the right kind of team for what he wants to do. But what he wants to do isn’t correct. If I say we should repair a leaking house, and my senior brother says no, let us sell the house, if he has the mandate, he will bring auctioneers, valuers and estate agents to sell it when I would have brought plumbers, carpenters for repairs. I can not now say he doesn’t have the right team. He wants to sell the house. So, he has the right team to sell the house, but if I want to fix the house, I will bring a different team to fix the house.

If you were President Tinubu today, what would you be doing differently to stop the bleeding.

If I became president on the day he became president, I would not announce any of these policies. In fact, I will immediately go to the national assembly to amend the appropriation act and the petroleum industry act to remove these statutory mandates to yank off the subsidy.

But if I am becoming president today, the first thing to do is to convince the people of Nigeria and the government that these policies are not right. If you say I should advice a president who believes that the benefits of these policies are down the line, he is not going to listen to me because he is committed to the benefits of the policies are down the line. So, the first thing to do is to convince him that the benefits never came to England. England industrialised itself. These benefits didn’t come to Brazil until (president)Lula came and changed them towards social investments. I don’t know where they are getting the policies from. I suspect its from the IMF or the bankers who are contributing to their campaign, insisting on these policies, but if they are ideologically committed to these policies, then the solution they can find will be solution by palliative which is to suspend the full effect of it overtime. But what they will soon discover by that is such that the social misery will be so much, the inflation and hyper inflation will be so much that the money they saved may not be up to the money they spend on palliative. So, they need a change of direction even though I cannot guarantee that a well experienced accountant who is a cost cutter like Tinubu who has Wale Edun around him and chosen Cardoso as his preferred Central Bank Governor, I don’t think they are willing to change for now. I think they should just be a little more efficient in the macro-economy policies they have taken, and there are five measures they should have if they must take it. One of such is that they must have a way to increase their revenue, because right now, they are just collecting less than 20% of the collectibles. There are so many sacred cows they don’t want to collect money from.

Secondly, they need to bring efficiency to their accounts. Running a free market economy as they are going towards, they need more feedback, more sensitivity, and more quicker reaction time, which means they need to put more sharper and smarter people in their governance. Thirdly, they need to restructure the government spending in such a way that they separate the fiscal spending which they are controlling and let the CBN governor run his monetary policy and be banker to the country not the banker to the government alone.

Fourthly. They need to find ways to generate employment. They don’t want to spend money on social programmes as stated in Chapter Two of the constitution, which means they will be going to Qatar and other places because the sovereign investment money they need to spend to generate employment, they don’t want to spend it because they are following IMF. Now they will be begging foreign investors to come and put money in our country, money we have even within our country but they will be going out but if they are not efficient in that regard, then, they can succeed.

Lastly, they need to do something about the inflation. If they don’t control inflation by controlling their spending, increasing their revenue, by ensuring they get Nigerians to be productive.

How would you politically douse the tension in the land if you were the President?

He needs to be like head of state, like father of the nation. He needs to be less arrogant in the assessment of how righteous their polices are. They need to engage people more. However, people need to understand at the same time that you voted for these policies. It Is like people of Israel asking moses to lead them out of Egypt and on getting to wilderness they realised its was not easy place to be and they started complaining. That is a normal thing. The people of Nigeria voted for these policies even though they were not good policies. The government should use humility to reach out to the people and at the same time, show social justice to the people by making sure that the burden of this hardship is not be born only by the less privileged.

Do you think the president has what it takes to fix this country?

I have the feeling that anybody who is determined to fix Nigeria and who wants to listen to Nigerians and carry everybody along and look for the best talent and not just political party alone, we will do well. I would have preferred Nigerians voted for me, which was why I didn’t support him. I think I would have done better than him. But anybody who is put there and who is determined to use all the resources in Nigeria can succeed. Of course, the president is a Nigerian, well-educated person, quite intelligent but has wrong policies. He needs to open his mind and get ideas from other people, add to his. But there is no escaping the consequences of the policies people voted for.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *