Adesina: Tinubu Needs Nigerians’ Support To Face Economic Challenges, His Success Is Our Success

The President of the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, has stated that President Tinubu has a lot of macroeconomic challenges like inflation, depreciation of the currency and also depletion of the foreign reserves to deal with and has called on Nigerians to give their support, rather than criticize.

Adesina made this known on Thursday, in an interview with ARISE NEWS, adding that the ‘President’s success is our success.’

“As a person I don’t spend my time criticizing people. I try my best to see what I can do working with people in any way I can help. It is not easy to be president. It is challenging to be president.

“I feel for president Tinubu on what he has to deal with on the macroeconomics side, with inflation, depreciation of the currency and also depletion of the foreign reserves, to be able to do that, I mean it is very difficult, mind you, I came here to see him on the February 14, what we need to do is to rally around him and support him because his success is actually our collective success.

“But there are a number of things we need to change. First and foremost is that in dealing with the fiscal challenges that we have today, I think the government certainly is getting our own support from the AfDB. We have a portfolio today of 4.6 billion dollars in Nigeria and this year, we expect to have series of portfolios in Nigeria that we are going to finance with 1.76 billion dollars and which will include by the way a billion dollars of support that we are designing today for consideration for our board for budget support for Nigeria and that will help a lot. You know our loans are the cheapest you can find. It is almost like grants, extremely concessionary.”

He also said there is urgent need for Nigeria to secure more concessional financing, citing the nation’s overextension in terms of external debts.

He said the concessional financing would offer a crucial lifeline, acting as a near-grant financial support.

“Nigeria needs a lot more concessional financing because the country is over extended in terms of external debts and so on and as the currency depreciates, it means that the cost of financing your debt externally is so high and don’t forget that at the same time, you still have a lot of domestic debt. I really believe that the issue is that we have to change the amount of money that is inflowing into developing countries like Nigeria and others by making sure we turn a trend that is not a good trend.

“Like in 2010, the total amount of external debt for Africa in terms of concessional debt was probably about 57%. Today it is 24%. But more worrying is the flip inside of the commercial loans. I do think that three things are fundamental as we look at the scan that we are doing. First is to mobilize a lot more resources domestically. Loans are not bad; debt is not bad, but we cannot develop by just depending on debts.

“We have to mobilize domestic resources domestically and make sure that the royalties and the taxes that all the IOCs are supposed to be paying, they are paying it. No free lunch for anybody. You can’t be giving freebies when your economy is in that kind of situation. So, that is the first thing I think that will help in the fiscal aspect.

“The other is the type of debt, having a greater share of your debt coming from concessional financing as opposed to commercial debt because commercial debt is something you get today but you’re going to pay heavily for it shortly. I think the quality of debt is also important. It is not just taking debt but taking debt for what, how is it being used? So, I think the efficiency argument is very important when it comes to the issue of debt.

“So, I think that for the case of Nigeria, I know the central bank governor is doing his best and I really commend him for what they are trying to do on the map of economics in managing inflation.”

Speaking on his Awolowo Prize for Leadership Award, Adesina said even though he has won many international awards, the Awolowo award comes personal to him because he is one of the beneficiaries of the Obafemi Awolowo free education.

“I am tremendously humbled by the award and also all the great things that Chukwuemeka Anyaku and all the selection committee had to say about me. It’s humbling to have to be in that category. This means a lot to me. By God’s grace. I have won a lot of global awards but this is the most personal for me. Personal because it is named after the person who gave many of us opportunities to be able to go to school. without papa Awolowo actually doing free education in the western region in those days when I was born, maybe I wouldn’t have been able to have education.

“It is an award that speaks to the importance of leadership, public facing, people centric, welfare policies and how that can change opportunities for people, so, this award is a home award for me, an award that brings history for me, that reminds me of what I need to do to improve the life of the people.

“I don’t think leadership is really about your head. You have your brain to think about what you have to do. Effective and impactful leaders must lead from their heart. I also really value the importance of public accountability in leadership because at the end of the day, you are given the opportunity to change and transform the lives of people. So, I think leaders do not have the luxury of resting. They have to constantly push themselves to improve the lives of people because they put their lives and livelihood in your hands. I think leadership must be about accountability. You have a responsibility of execution, delivery and impact and that was what we did.

“Lastly on leadership for me, is that leaders should always bring the future faster into the present.”

Chioma Kalu