Nigeria: Fuel subsidies gone. I will defend the country from terror, criminality

Nigeria’s newly sworn in president Bola Tinubu has promised to “defend the nation from terror and all forms of criminality” in his first speech as president of the west African nation. Tinubu also declared that “fuel subsidies are gone” which will hike up the price of refined oil in a country in the throes of a serious economic crisis with double-digit inflation, exploding debt, poverty and unemployment.

“I will not allow my personal interest to influence my official conduct or my official decisions. That I will preserve, protect, and defend the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.” says Tinubu, the new Nigerian leader.

The 71 year old also vowed to heal the nation. “We are here to further mend and heal this nation, not to tear and injure it. We shall defend the nation from terror and all forms of criminality that threaten the peace and stability of our country.”

Tinubu became Nigeria’s president on Monday during a period of unprecedented challenges for Africa’s most populous country, leaving some citizens hopeful for a better life and others skeptical that his government would perform better than the one he succeeded.

Thousands of Nigerians and several heads of government attended the swearing-in ceremony for Tinubu in the country’s capital, Abuja.

He succeeds President Muhammadu Buhari to lead a country that by 2050 is forecast to become the third most populous nation in the world, tied with the United States after India and China.

Tinubu — the former governor of Lagos, which is Nigeria’s economic hub — has promised to build on Buhari’s efforts to deliver democratic dividends to citizens in a country where deadly security crises, widespread poverty and hunger have left many frustrated and angry.

And with his election still being contested in court by opposition parties and among many young Nigerians, Tinubu has also pledged to reunite the country.

In his first comments as president, Tinubu, also from Buhari’s party, declared that “hope is back for Nigeria” and said he would work beyond improving the economic and security conditions to unite a deeply divided nation and ensure fairness and justice for aggrieved groups.

Symbolic of a transition of power and loyalty to the new president, Gen. Lucky Irabor, Nigeria’s chief of defense staff, presented old national and defense flags of Nigeria to Buhari and received new ones from Tinubu, who is also the Chief of the Armed Forces.

Following the national elections in February, newly elected governors also took their oath of office in many Nigerian states on Monday.

At the inauguration venue, neither of the two main opposition candidates challenging Tinubu’s election in court was present and many Nigerians tweeted in protest to Tinubu’s inauguration.

The outcome of the court challenge is due in about three weeks.

If the opposition challenges are upheld, it would be the first time a presidential election would be nullified by the court in Nigeria’s history.

Tinubu’s manifesto of “renewed hope” prioritizes the creation of sufficient jobs and ramping up of local production of goods, investing in agriculture and public infrastructure, providing economic opportunities for the poorest and most vulnerable as well as creating better national security architecture to tackle all forms of insecurity.

However, Tinubu’s ambitious plans could be threatened in his first 100 days in office by a mountain of challenges, from insecurity to a fiscal crisis, poverty and deepening public discontent with the state, analysts say.

Some analysts also say the promises made by Tinubu and the hope they bring are reminiscent of when Buhari was first elected president in 2015 as a former military head of state.

His priorities were to fight insecurity and build the economy but he ended up failing to meet the expectations of many.