After a weekend election preceded by a national currency crisis, ruling party candidate Bola Tinubu won president-elect in Nigeria on March 1, 2023. According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigeria’s presidential election saw Tinubu receive 8.79 million votes with the primary opposition Atiku Abubakar trailing with 6.98 million votes.
New Presidency Brings Hope
Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress party and former governor of Lagos State located in Southwestern Nigeria will take leadership of a country overrun with Islamist insurgents, conflict between livestock herders and farmers, armed attacks, kidnappings and shortages of electricity and fuel. Not to mention, the currency crisis that is contributing heavily to poverty and uproar.
According to NBC News, citizens feel that the previous ruling party had failed to handle the aforementioned issues in the past, making this election incredibly important for Nigeria’s governmental and economic systems. Tinubu, hoping to gain votes from his previous successes as governor, ran on the pretense of reducing crime and cleaning up Nigeria overall.
The 2023 Nigerian currency crisis arose when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) “redesigned the higher denomination notes — 200, 500 and 1,000 naira — to replace the dirty cash in circulation, to tackle inflation, curb counterfeiting and promote a cashless society,” the BBC reports.
Additionally, the redesign was meant to redistribute money hoarded by individuals and organizations into Nigeria’s financial system by requiring citizens to hand in old banknotes in exchange for the new currency. This new government-endorsed monetary system precipitated major protests leading up to the already tense election.
Poverty in Nigeria
Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics reported that in 2021, 63% of persons in Nigeria, equating to 133 million people, lived in conditions of multidimensional poverty.
According to a 2022 report from the World Bank, approximately about 40% of Nigerians live under the national poverty line of $381.75 per year. In Northern Nigeria, which has a much lower population density than Southern Nigeria, many people lack access to basic infrastructure like clean water, electricity and access to education.
Amid the uncertainty of what lies ahead with the reign of a new presidency, organizations are working to combat poverty in the nation. The Lagos Food Bank Initiative works to address hunger, food waste and malnutrition in Lagos State by establishing programs. The programs include a school feeding initiative, nutritious food interventions for mothers and children and family farming programs. Since 2015, the nonprofit “has served up to 160 rural and under-served communities in Lagos State and [more than 2 million] beneficiaries, especially, children between the ages of 0-16 years, the youths and vulnerable women in the rural communities.”
Tinubu’s plan for Nigeria includes using the previous president’s public infrastructure initiative to create more employment opportunities in the country. Tinubu will also close tax loopholes and lower corporate tax rates to encourage investments. “A popular fuel subsidy, which cost $10 billion last year and is driving up debt, will be phased out and the money channeled to infrastructure, agricultural and social welfare,” Reuters reports.
To address escalating rates of violence and kidnappings in the nation, Tinubu plans to strengthen soldier and police forces by increasing numbers, raising pay and better equipping these groups. He also wants to establish an organized task force to tackle terrorism and armed gangs specifically.
Tinubu, as the winner of Nigeria’s presidential election, has developed plans to strengthen the economy and uplift the impoverished while addressing other critical issues that prevent the nation from flourishing. Despite several issues impacting Nigeria, there is hope that Tinubu’s previous work of 23 years in Lagos State, though at a much smaller scale, will have similar success at a nationwide level.
– Stella Tirone