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The Director-General of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Segun Ajayi-Kadir, has disclosed that electricity distribution companies have disconnected over 100 manufacturing firms.

In an exclusive interview with The PUNCH at the annual general meeting of the MAN’s food, beverage and tobacco sector, on Thursday in Lagos, he revealed that 10 of the association’s members had been disconnected in Kano.

“We do not favour legal action against the Discos and NERC. We do not want to go there. One of our branches has done so, and that subsists. The Disco in Kano is still disconnecting our members despite the injunction. As an association, we do not want to engage in such (legal action) but it comes as a last resort.

“You can imagine that as of today, more than 100 of our members have been disconnected, which means that their workers have been asked to go home. It means that their production processes have been halted. It means that they are not able to fulfil their obligations to their suppliers, and they have started to lose money,” he explained.

According to the MAN DG, the crux of the matter is that manufacturers are asked to pay electricity bills that will take manufacturers out of business.

“A company told me that it was paying N7-8m before, now it is paying N32m. The calculation is that the profit you could have made, you are not able to make it. So, you need to decide to go ahead and produce and pay an electricity bill that is more than the profit you would have made or shut down.

So, we are gradually seeing a situation where more and more industries are shutting down, because if you disconnect an industry that does not have an alternative source of power, it practically goes out of business,” he declared.

Meanwhile, the immediate past Chairman of the Food, Beverage and Tobacco Sector of MAN and Managing Director of Intercontinental Distillers Limited, Patrick Anegbe, stated that the spate of insecurity in the country was hampering backward integration in the food industry.

“How do you backwards integrate when you are talking about insecurity? The insecurity in the country poses a very serious threat to backward integration,” he averred.

He added that multiple taxes had also eaten deep into the profit margins of manufacturers, noting that production costs had continued to skyrocket.

“Multiple taxation is really affecting our business. Taxes here and there. The cost of production has gone up very high to the extent that margins are so low. We are just barely surviving.

“The government should look for a way of reducing these multiple taxations and eliminating some of them,” he asserted.

He revealed that the food, beverage and tobacco sector’s production value rose by 68.2 per cent or N614.0bn in the first half of 2023 compared to N900.45bn recorded in the second half of 2022.

“The sector’s local raw material sourcing for the period under review saw a decline from 70 per cent in H2 2022 to 66.8 per cent in H2 2023, though this is an improvement from 62 per cent in H1 2022 (MAN H2 Economic Review),” he explained.

The newly elected Chairman of the sector of MAN, and Managing Director of La Casera Company, Chinedum Okereke, noted that the importance of the food sector cannot be undermined, as it guarantees the country’s food security and plays a vital role in job creation.

“We will collaborate and engage more with the government. Most time, the government may have good intentions but the lack of engagement with stakeholders is a problem. So, we will not sit back and wait for them to engage with us, but we will proactively go to them for engagement,” he stated.

The Deputy Director of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, Olugbenga Aina, who was one of the speakers at the AGM, advised manufacturers not to see regulation as a burden.

He noted that the best form of regulation is self-regulation, adding that manufacturers must be innovative.

“Fostering competitiveness in the food, beverage and tobacco industry with regards to ensuring that local content production meets international best practices for increased export demand and national revenues, is key to the Renewed HOPE Agenda and revitalising the Nigerian economy.

“The significance of the food, beverage, and tobacco sector in Nigeria cannot be overstated. Food, beverage and tobacco is the greatest contributor at N3,814.50bn or 52 per cent of the Nigerian manufacturing sector total in 2013, according to National Bureau of Statistics,” he stated.

According to Aina, aligning with global standards opens up new export opportunities and enables manufacturers to tap into new markets and contribute to Nigeria’s economic diversification.

Also, the Head of Corporate Affairs & Sustainability Rite Foods Limited, Ekuma Eze, who was one of the speakers at the event, stressed the need for food industries to invest in research and development to create innovative technologies and solutions that differentiate.

He added that they must build strong partnerships to combine strength and resources to create value-adding products.

 

Punch

Some members of the House of Representatives are seeking to limit the central bank's control over economic policy by proposing to set up a committee to coordinate monetary and fiscal policies, headed by the finance minister, according to a bill in the Senate.

The proposal by a member of the ruling party, APC, comes as inflation in Africa's most populous nation hit a 28-year high of 33.69% in April amidst sluggish economic growth and currency woes.

Under the proposed law, the central bank would be in charge of monetary policies as before, but a new committee headed by the finance minister would be responsible for coordinating monetary and fiscal policies.

Some economists said that adding a committee to coordinate monetary and fiscal policies could severely weaken the central bank. The proposal is so far backed by 32 members of the ruling party and the bill would need to be approved by the Senate and then President Bola Tinubu's signature to become law. The government has not given its view on the bill yet.

"You will have the federal government tampering with the autonomy of the central bank. You cannot have external parties making decisions about monetary policy, which is the exclusive preserve of the bank," Abuja-based economic analyst Kelvin Emmanuel said.

The International Monetary Fund has previously warned Nigeria about interfering with the independence of the central bank, arguing that it could hamper the country's ability to tackle inflation and restore stability.

The central bank governor would also serve a single six-year term instead of a maximum of two five-year terms currently.

Godwin Emefiele, who was governor until June last year, was the first to get a second term as central bank head, where he implemented currency restrictions which harmed the economy and Nigeria's ability to import goods, thereby stoking inflation.

Senators have also proposed to decrease the amount of temporary advances the central bank can grant the government as budget support. It was increased under Muhammadu Buhari who was Nigeria's president from 2015 until May last year.

 

Reuters

The Federal Government has announced the temporary suspension of the contentious $300 helicopter landing fee imposed on operators. The levy, managed by consultant Messers NAEBI Dynamic Concept Limited, sparked protests from helicopter operators.

Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, initially defended the fee, which was instituted by his predecessor, Hadi Sirika. However, in response to mounting pressure, Keyamo announced the suspension on Friday in a statement signed by Ministry spokesperson Odutayo Oluseyi.

The statement indicated that further action would be determined after a review committee submits its report. "Following a meeting with the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) executive regarding the helicopter landing levies at aerodromes, helipads, airstrips, etc., Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, has temporarily suspended the enforcement granted to Messers NAEBI Dynamic Concept Ltd by the Federal Government," the statement read.

The suspension, effective from May 30, 2024, responds to calls for a review by industry stakeholders. Keyamo has formed a committee comprising members from the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development, its relevant agencies, the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), International Oil Companies (IOCs), and Messers NAEBI Dynamic Concept Ltd. This committee is tasked with addressing the concerns raised and is expected to submit its report by the end of June 2024.

Messers NAEBI Dynamic Concept Ltd was previously granted the exclusive right to collect these levies, which many stakeholders questioned. The committee's recommendations are anticipated to provide a way forward.

Cocoa’s shortage this season will be bigger than previously expected as consumption holds up despite higher prices, according to the International Cocoa Organization.

Demand will exceed production by 439,000 tons, driven by higher cocoa grinding in consuming countries, the ICCO said in its second estimate for the current October-September year. That compares with a Februaryprojection for a deficit of 374,000 tons.

“Current available data reveal that cocoa grinding activities have so far been unrelenting in importing countries despite the record cocoa price rallies,” the ICCO said.

“As the 2023-24 season progresses, it is certain the season will end in a higher deficit than previously expected.”

Futures surged to a record of more than $11,000 a ton in New York in April as poor harvests in West Africa curbed supplies, stressing buyers and making chocolate more expensive. Still, prices have eased back below $10,000, and some analysts have said the rally has peaked.

The ICCO raised its estimate for global grindings to 4.86 million tons, from its initial outlook of 4.78 million tons. It raised its production projection by 12,000 tons to 4.46 million tons.

 

Bloomberg

Israel confirms its forces are in central Rafah in expanding offensive in the southern Gaza city

The Israeli military confirmed Friday that its forces are operating in central parts of Rafah in its expanding offensive in the southern Gaza city.

Israel launched its ground assault into the city on May 6, triggering an exodus of around 1 million Palestinians out of the city and throwing U.N. humanitarian operations based in the area into turmoil. Still, it has yet to amount to a “major operation” in the eyes of U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration, according to the State Department.

Biden said Friday that Hamas is “no longer capable” of carrying out another large-scale attack on Israel and urged the Israelis and Hamas to come to a deal to release remaining hostages for an extended cease-fire. He said Israeli officials have offered a three-phase deal to Hamas, adding, “Israel has made their proposal. Hamas says it wants a cease-fire. This deal is an opportunity to prove whether they really mean it.”

Cease-fire talks ground to a halt at the beginning of the month after a major push by the U.S. and other mediators to secure a deal, in hopes of averting a full Israeli invasion of Rafah.

Friday’s statement by the Israeli military suggested its forces have been operating in most parts of the city. For its first weeks, the Israeli assault focused on Rafah’s eastern districts and in areas close to the border with Egypt. Israeli troops seized the Rafah crossing into Egypt on the first day of the offensive and have since claimed control over the Philadelphi Corridor, a road running the length of the Gaza-Egypt border on the Gazan side.

Earlier this week, Israeli troops also moved into Rafah’s western district of Tel al-Sultan, where heavy clashes with Hamas fighters have been reported by witnesses.

In its statement Friday, the military said its troops in central Rafah had uncovered Hamas rocket launchers and tunnels and dismantled a weapons storage facility of the group. It did not specify where in central Rafah the operations were taking place, but previous statements and witness reports have pointed to raids in the Shaboura refugee camp and other sites near the city center.

The White House declined to comment Friday on the Israeli operations in central Rafah.

Israel has said an offensive in Rafah is vital to uprooting Hamas fighters in its military’s campaign to destroy the group after its Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel. The military has said it found dozens of tunnels in eastern Rafah, including at least 20 along the Philadelphi Corridor.

Up to around 300,000 people are believed to remain in the Rafah area, with an unknown number still in the city itself. Most have flocked to rural areas on the Mediterranean coastline west of the city, said Shaina Low, a spokesperson for the Norwegian Refugee Council, a humanitarian group that operates in the area. That area has seen deadly Israeli strikes the past week.

Palestinians who fled the city have scattered around southern and central Gaza, most of them living in squalid tent camps.

More than 36,170 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza by Israel’s campaign of bombardment and offensives over the past eight months, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. Its count does not differentiate between civilians and combatants. Israel has vowed to eliminate Hamas to ensure it cannot repeat its Oct. 7 attack, in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killing around 1,200 people and abducting around 250 others. Around 100 hostages are believed to remain in captivity in Gaza along with the bodies of some 30 others.

 

AP

RUSSIAN PERSPECTIVE

NATO moving closer to war with Russia – Orban

The European Union and NATO member states are getting “closer to war”with Russia every week, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday in an interview with local station Kossuth Radio.

He pointed to recent media reports stating that Paris intends to send French soldiers to train Ukrainian troops, as well as reports that the US has given Ukraine permission to strike targets deep inside Russia using certain weapons.

“It is absurd that instead of protecting us, NATO is dragging us into a world war. It’s like a firefighter going to put out a fire with a flamethrower,” Orban said, stressing that members of the military bloc are inching closer to full-blown war all the time.

He cited “discussion, preparation and destruction” as three key stages preceding such a conflict, saying that members of the bloc are “now completing the discussion and are at the preparation stage.”

He cited “discussion, preparation and destruction” as three key stages preceding such a conflict, saying that members of the bloc are “now completing the discussion and are at the preparation stage.”

Meanwhile, a US official told several media outlets on Thursday that Washington had given Ukraine the green light to strike targets deep within Russian territory using a certain number of weapons in order to protect Kharkov Region. Ukraine’s military is not officially allowed to attack targets far behind the front line with weapons supplied by Western supporters. However, high-ranking officials have been sending mixed messages about a change in policy in recent weeks.

Moscow has warned that any Western moves to allow Ukrainian strikes on Russian territory could trigger further escalation.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said this week that “several”members of the US-led military bloc, including the UK, have “never imposed any” restrictions on Kiev.

Orban recently announced plans to reassess Hungary’s role within the NATO bloc, citing reluctance to take part in a conflict against Russia. Budapest has opposed NATO funding and arming of Ukraine from the beginning of the military conflict in February 2022. 

The Hungarian government has opted not to supply Kiev with any weapons, and has not allowed its territory to be used for their delivery either, despite mounting pressure from Brussels and Washington. The prime minister has repeatedly called for a ceasefire and a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

** First French troops en route to Ukraine — MP

The first group of French military instructors are coming to Ukraine, high-profile Ukrainian politician Aleksey Goncharenko said on Friday.

His statement comes just days after Ukraine’s top commander Aleksandr Syrsky announced that had authorized the presence of the French personnel in the country.

“My sources informed me that the first group of French instructors is already on its way to Ukraine,” Goncharenko, a member of the Ukrainian parliament and a delegate to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, wrote on X (formerly Twitter) on Friday evening.

NATO boots on the ground is a contentious issue inside the US-led alliance, whose members maintain that they are not parties to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Moscow, meanwhile, has said that it views Ukraine’s Western backers as direct participants, stressing that Western-supplied weapons are being used to strike targets on Russian soil.

In February, French President Emmanuel Macron said that he could not rule out the possibility of NATO member states sending troops to Ukraine in the future, although French officials soon clarified that he meant non-combat personnel. Macron later argued that NATO should adopt a policy of “strategic ambiguity” towards Russia. The French leader has been working behind the scenes to forge a coalition of countries willing to dispatch trainers to Kiev, Bloomberg reported on Friday.

Syrsky, who was made Ukraine’s top general in February, said on Monday that he had signed the papers allowing instructors from France to visit Kiev’s training facilities and “familiarize themselves with their infrastructure and personnel,” and had notified French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu.

Moscow has warned that any additional military aid to Kiev amounts to serious escalation. Western military personnel are already active in Ukraine and “have been there for a long time,” President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday. “They are [foreign] specialists under the guise of mercenaries,” he told the press. He said that the deployment of Western forces to Ukraine would be “another step towards a serious conflict in Europe and a global conflict.”

 

WESTERN PERSPECTIVE

Thousands of Ukrainian prisoners apply to join army in return for parole

Ukraine recruiting prisoners to help replenish army ranks

Minister says up to 20,000 prisoners could be mobilised

Inmates taking part will have remaining sentences cleared

Certain categories of prisoner are barred from joining up

Scheme echoes similar recruitment of prisoners in Russia

In its quest to fill the dwindling ranks of its infantry, Ukraine has turned to recruiting prisoners to join the fight against Russia, and more than four thousand have applied so far.

Under a deal offered to inmates by the government, prisoners will have their remaining sentences cleared - regardless of length - if they agree to serve in the army without leave until the end of the war.

At that point they would be granted parole.

"My mother was in hysterics ... I've been here for five years – a year left and I'm going off to war," one of those who signed up, Mykola Rybalka, told Reuters in the yard of his prison in Kyiv region.

Rybalka, who said he was in for theft, is one of 129 prisoners in a colony of 700 who have applied to join the military, according to the justice ministry.

"You know, five years behind these walls leave their mark. You've seen a lot and understood a lot. You're not scared of anything anymore," he said.

Ukraine, whose population of about 38 million compares with Russia's 144 million, has struggled to recruit enough soldiers, particularly to fight in frontline positions where they bear the brunt of enemy attacks and suffer heavy losses.

Its troops are outnumbered and exhausted, and a new law has recently been signed aimed at mobilising several hundred thousand more soldiers - although it will likely take months for significant numbers of new troops to be ready.

"There is competition between military commanders to hire (prisoners) since there is a lack of manpower, so they really want to have access to these people," Justice Minister Denys Maliuska told reporters visiting the prison on Thursday.

Recruiters from Ukraine's 3rd and 5th Assault Brigades who were present at the press event both rated the motivation of the prisoners as generally high.

The 5th Brigade's representative, who introduced himself as Vladyslav, told Reuters his brigade had recruited around 90 people from the prison, and were recruiting in others.

He said those who joined his brigade would be put into separate, prisoner-only units, and that commanders would keep a close eye on them.

There was, however, little scope for them to desert considering the amount of fire Russia could aim at a disorderly withdrawal, Vladyslav added.

The 3rd Brigade's representative, Oleh Petrenko, said his brigade would not treat convicts differently to other men.

"We don't see any difference between normal mobilised (men) and prisoners."

THOUSANDS APPLY

Early on in the full-scale war, private Russian mercenary group Wagner recruited tens of thousands of Russian prisoners to fight in Ukraine, offering them a full pardon if they survived six months at the front.

Russia's Defence Ministry has since continued recruiting convicts from prisons for its own Storm-Z formations.

In Ukraine, prisoners convicted of certain offences are barred from serving. These offences include the murder of two or more people, manslaughter through drink-driving, sexual crimes, treason and corruption.

The justice ministry said 4,564 prisoners had applied to join the army so far. They need to pass medical checks and have their application approved by a court – more than 1,700 already have the green light.

The minister has previously said he expects between 10,000 and 20,000 inmates to sign up in total.

Maliuska said he hoped most applicants would be serving in about two months. Reuters was invited into a local courthouse, and saw how a judge approved the application of a man serving a sentence for armed robbery.

He appeared via video link from prison, and the process took about 10 minutes.

The judge, Dmytro Tkachenko, said the prison made sure it only sent applicants who met the law's criteria, and that he and two other judges had been hearing between 10 and 20 such cases a day over the past week.

Of about 100, two had been rejected, both due to the applicants changing their mind.

Under the new law, 782 prisoners have already been freed from prison and handed over to the armed forces.

"They (will be) in the media spotlight, and if there is a single deserter or a single crime, that would be the type of thing in the media that would be bad PR for us," Maliuska said.

Twenty-three-year-old Vitaliy Yatsenko, who is halfway through a seven-year sentence for selling drugs, said he had hoped to sign up at the beginning of Russia's invasion but had not been allowed at that point.

He has now submitted his application to join the army.

"First of all, I want to help my country. And I want society to understand that people have the ability to rehabilitate."

** Ukraine and Russia announce major prisoner swap

Ukraine and Russia announced their first exchange of prisoners of war in nearly four months on Friday, with 150 people freed after negotiations mediated by the United Arab Emirates.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said 75 Ukrainian prisoners had been returned from Russia. They included four civilians while the rest were members of the military.

Russia's Defence Ministry said Ukraine handed over 75 people in a deal brokered by the UAE, RIA news agency reported.

"After a long pause, another prisoner swap took place: 75 defenders and civilians were released from the enemy's captivity," Ukraine's Coordinating Committee on Dealing with Prisoners of War said.

Pictures released with a statement from the committee showed servicemen draped in blue and yellow national flags.

Ukrainian officials said they brought back 19 defenders of Snake Island, a tiny rocky outcrop in the Black Sea that became a symbol of Ukrainian defiance in the first days of the war when Ukrainian guards refused to surrender to Russian forces.

The committee also said that as a part of the swap, the bodies of 212 Ukrainian defenders were handed over by Russia.

 

RT/Reuters

To distract Nigerians from the first-year poor performance in governance, the President and his cronies in the National Assembly decided to divert attention from ongoing criticisms by passing and signing the Bill on reverting to the old National Anthem. Yes, another gimmick as Nigerians complain bitterly about deepening poverty, growing hunger, rising insecurity and the general nonchalance of the governing class. The old anthem would allegedly promote peace, unity, and prosperity more effectively than the one in use. Lawmakers claimed that the current anthem, introduced during military rule, does not fully reflect Nigeria’s democratic values and commitment to nationhood.

The said anthem, which speaks of a native land populated by differing tribes and tongues, is the answer to the current Nigerian crisis, they want us to believe. As my good friend, Modibbo Kawu, argued, this anthem is an: “Unacceptable, racist characterisation of colonised people that emerged from 19th-century colonial anthropology. What would be the relevance of having fought for independence if our lawmakers would be hankering for an empty and meaningless return to a past anthem that’s steeped in a very colonial anthropological source? Don’t they know? Can’t they see? Are they not thinking?”

The sole purpose is to distract people from the non-performance of the Tinubu administration. What is even more upsetting is that Nigeria is a very young nation in which 75 per cent of the population was not born when the old anthem was in use. How can we be so crass and inconsiderate as to impose colonial phraseology on them without even introducing them to the words and finding out whether it is as pleasing to them, as it is to those of us who were born during the colonial era? We await their response.

President Bola Tinubu avoided an assessment of his achievements after one year in office because he has none. The fact of the matter is that he does not even have a programme of action or work plan for his government. That is why we were subjected to long boring presentations by his ministers, claiming great achievements because they organised a series of meetings about grandiose ideas that will regenerate the economy and lead to trillions of naira worth of productions, without any information on what, how and when such projects would be implemented. The claims appear to have been directed at pleasing Hadiza Bala Usman, Tinubu’s stern monitor on performance, who would issue a report card that will determine which minister will face the sack or stay on the job. 

For me, the marker of the first year of the Tinubu presidency is the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Betta Edu, who admitted to a 20 December 2023 memo which shows that she requested the Accountant General of the Federation, Oluwatoyin Madein, to transfer public funds – N585.2 million – into the private account of an official in her ministry. The transfer contravened various sections of Nigeria’s Financial Regulations 2009, which are meant to prevent fraud and other forms of corruption. It turned out that in her first few months in office, she had simply transferred billions of naira from the Ministry’s accounts into her own private accounts and those of her cronies. That’s not the story.

The story was that when all hell broke loose over the extent of her crimes, she was simply suspended from office and nothing more was said about the case thereafter. In other words, the decision taken was not to make an example of her excessive corruption but to allow the matter to quietly fade from the news, in the hope that Nigerians would forget about it all. As we say it in Nigerian English, the body language of the administration is that the corrupt would not suffer. They will thrive.

This message is even clearer from the infamous construction of the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway, which began amid a myriad of fiscal and due process irregularities. The 700-kilometre stretch of road infrastructure, which will take eight years to complete, will gulp a staggering N15 trillion. This figure is actually mythical because the project started without the contract being written, not to talk of being signed. It was given to the President’s buddy without a bidding process and the mystery about the whole affair is still unfolding and we shall learn more.

Meanwhile, the pilot phase of the construction started at the Eko Atlantic City and it will terminate at Lekki Deep Seaport, for which N1.06 trillion has already been released. It is a highway of 10 lanes, which will cost N4 billion per kilometre, and would be the first of its kind in Africa, said the Minister of Works, David Umahi.

His zealousness in its implementation brooks no dissent, and sometimes it gets spiteful. The first set of victims, such as the Landmark hotel, whose properties were demolished to pave the way for the construction, have been weeping and gnashing their teeth.

The project did not go through a competitive bidding process, which is imperative for such a huge venture, in line with the 2007 Public Procurement Act, as enunciated in Section 16 (1) (1) and (d), to create transparency, accountability and value for money.

The minister admitted that the award sidestepped the public tender competitive bidding process. This raises the question: Is the government bidding farewell to the transparency and accountability of public tenders and the competitive bidding process? In addition, why was the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) phase of the project not done before work began? We now know for sure that it was a “project disaster” because after construction started, the government then learnt that it was impossible to go ahead as planned because it would destroy the communication cables in the sea by the shore line. It’s a very disturbing message about the future of programme implementation under the Tinubu administration. 

The other element about this government is the recurrent use of lies as a governance management policy. So many things have been said that turned out false and too many achievements claims, in terms of massive amounts of foreign investments coming in from different countries, only for the said countries to subsequently deny these. Let me be clear, governance is serious business and cannot be conducted on the basis of gimmicks and lies. Reality is persistent and will continue to show itself, so the earlier this government sits up and does its work the better for it.

** Jibrin Ibrahim, a professor of political science, is a Senior Fellow of the Centre for Democracy and Development, and Chair of the Editorial Board of PREMIUM TIMES.

Ever wondered what it's actually like to be in a coma? Well, the internet's got you covered.

In these Reddit threads by u/whatchalookingatboy, u/yummygumdrop, and u/_bread-boi_ from a while back, people shared how they ended up in a coma and what their experience was like — and let me tell you, I learned A LOT, and it's not like what you see on TV.

Here are some of the most fascinating — and wildest — stories:

1. "I was in a coma for four days. When I woke up, everyone was talking about the baby boy I had. I had lost my long-term memory and didn't even remember being pregnant. My son was at the children's hospital in the NICU. I delivered him via C-section at 29 wks. All this was due to me having Crohn's disease (which I found out after I woke up); my colon had ruptured during my pregnancy. My husband said I was talking like a child when I first woke up."

"When I woke up, I felt super tired, but then the next few days, kinda restless. I remembered one conversation my mom had with a nurse while I was under. After a couple of days, I got my long-term memory back and remembered everything up until my second surgery then nothing until I woke up. My son was my third surgery. So, my son was what surprised me."

u/PennyCundiff

2. "A friend of mine was in a six-month coma after an accident. Afterward, he made sure to tell everyone around him to talk to people in a coma because they can hear you. BUT he noted that they should always tell the person in a coma what happened, where they are, and what's happening to them because he said that his moments of lucidity were mixed with some truly horrifying dreams — and he had trouble distinguishing between what was real and what were dreams."

"He said he just wanted to be told what was real and what was happening."

u/Blameking27

3. "I spent eight days in a coma last year after a particularly traumatic surgery, my waking thoughts were wondering if I had died or made it. I couldn't open my eyes, and I was on a medical air mattress, so I felt like I was floating; this lead me to think that I had died, and I remember thinking it wasn't so bad and wondering if my dad would come find me. Once I realized that I was still alive, I thought I had been injured fighting in a war and worried that my wife might not know I was still alive. Trying to communicate with the nurses while intubated and drugged was very difficult."

"What I learned later from my wife is that she was there the whole time and while I was fighting against the doctors and nurses, I would immediately calm down and cooperate when she held my hand and sang to me. It still brings tears to my eyes to think of the love and devotion she has shown to me during this time."

u/Tinman556

4. "A friend of ours fell into a coma at age 25 (around 1992) and woke up at age 36 (around 2002). She was a Rhodes Scholar nominee (I think, second-hand information) and quite brilliant. She was still 25 mentally — as if everything was just on pause. Her body was really well-preserved; she's really fun and cool and sort of the ultimate cougar. Plus, she totally woke up to the internet."

u/horsman

5. "I was in a coma for 11 days from a severe brain injury. I don’t remember being in a coma or waking up from a coma. I lost several years of memories prior to the coma, and my brain didn’t really start to 'retain' information again until about six weeks after I came out of the coma. I’m told that my personality changed afterward. I had to rebuild most areas of my life. It sucked, but it was probably a good thing."

"Although, I’d be lying if I said I never wondered what my life would be like if I’d never had the coma."

u/heyrainyday

6. "This is really bizarre, but my uncle — a very serious, strict, and rather dry man — had an accident and went into a coma a few years back. He never believed anything he couldn't touch, no talks about souls, or anything similar. But he was in a coma for a few weeks until he woke up and had this crazy AF story. He said he saw himself in a bubble, floating around in a white place, and it was peaceful and beautiful. But then, he said there were other bubbles he could see around him, and they had other people in them. He distinctly remembered a black-haired woman singing in the bubble closest to his, until one day, her bubble burst, and she disappeared. When he woke up, he could give a very clear description of her body, age, and all that. Now here's the wild part..."

"There was a woman, one floor below him, in a coma who sadly had passed away before he woke up. You guessed it — black hair, age, body all correct. He had never met or seen this woman in his life. His whole idea of life changed after this. It still makes me think sometimes... Where was he? He thinks all the people in bubbles around him were patients in the same hospital. Could it be? We'll probably never know."

u/KayPet

7. "I was in a coma for three days after a car accident where I hit my head. Pretty much, I was driving then I saw the color purple, and then I woke up three days later. There really was nothing. It's not even like sleeping because when you wake up from sleeping, you know you were asleep. It is like blinking; one second you are doing something, then the next something totally different. I do have a vague memory of being on a table with a cute guy wiping my nose and it hurting really bad. I remember saying, 'You are super cute,' but that's all."

"I believe that was before I went into the coma after the accident. I had a brain bruise or something like that, and it caused speech problems for about six months after."

u/sharms2010

8. "My friend was in a coma about 10 years ago for roughly three weeks after a car accident. When he woke up, we visited him, and when I was alone with him, he told me it was like a lucid dream. The real world was gone, and he felt like he was in a world he could create himself for years. He was dead serious, too — he talked on and on about how he had a slight understanding that he was not in the real world anymore and that he thought he might be in heaven. He felt like he was actually dying and his last few seconds just stretched on and on forever."

"He mentioned that he could fly (in the coma dream) and that it was amazing. He spent a little while in the hospital, then went home, did physical therapy for about two weeks before dying by suicide."

u/Ask_A_Sadist

9. "I was in a coma for four days from bacterial meningitis. When I woke up, I was completely deaf! I had to communicate with my parents and doctors with a notepad and pen. Some hearing gradually returned in my left ear, but my right ear is still 100% deaf to this day."

u/austin_cody

10. "After being in a really bad accident that left one of my good friends (the driver) brain dead, they put me into a chemically induced coma for under a week to prevent brain damage due to swelling. When I first woke up, my memory was much better than it was as it gradually faded in the days to come. I have a journal my mother recorded things, and I recalled many things I shouldn’t have been able to immediately after waking up. Today, I have very little memory of it all, but I can definitely say that having positive people around you helps when you’re in a situation like that."

"If you have a friend in this situation, don’t disregard them. Even though your life has moved on, they may wake up one day, and in their mind, not a day has passed since the last conversation they had with you."

u/croatianscentsation

11. "My girlfriend of six years and sort of fiancée was in a severe car crash when she was 16. Both of her best friends died instantly. She was the only survivor, but they didn't think she would make it. She was in a coma for nine months and was in what is called a waking coma. She retained normal periods of sleep and open-eyed wakefulness, but no higher brain functions. Here are some things about her experience..."

"She doesn't have any memories of the year prior or the year and a half after her coma and obviously no memories of the car crash.

She suffered a TBI (traumatic brain injury), and when she first got out of the coma, she would get naked and sexual with people and anger very easily. These are common problems of people who suffer a TBI.

She went back to school after the coma, but her brain was still healing a lot. She was held back another year because her brain was still not retaining anything.

Today she is a wonderful, bright 30-year-old with a college degree. She has a slight speech impediment, gets frustrated easier than most, and it took her a while to get driving down. Honestly, she still scares the hell out of me when she drives, but there are worse drivers out there."

u/mortalcoil1

12. "I was in a coma for close to six weeks. When I woke up, I had to learn everything again. I had most of my speaking abilities, but my motor control was horrid. I had to figure out how to wipe my ass as well as how to walk up and down the stairs again. That took about three weeks. I had lost a ton of weight, too — I was 6'3" and weighed about 145 pounds."

u/nitzlarb

13. "My mom was in an induced coma for three months. When she woke up, she thought the hospital was trying to kill her. She tried to get out of bed, and she fell on the floor because she couldn't walk. She was mostly freaked about how her feet had lost their form. They were humped over from not being used. Every muscle, she had to learn again. She couldn’t talk well or write at all. She has different handwriting after re-learning. She said she hated how perfect her hands looked. Her nails and cuticles were perfect and clean from not being used. I remember trying to brush her hair after she woke up, and almost all of it fell out. And she almost died pretty much every day she was in her coma."

"She had sepsis from a diverticulitis surgery gone wrong. A lot of her hair has grown back, and she can walk but has brain damage that makes her seem very drunk. She is always dizzy. But it’s been five years now, and her recovery has been miraculous."

u/CherrySlusheez

14. "I held my grandfather's hand while he was comatose on his deathbed. I spoke in his ear my feelings toward him and the effect he had on my life. I swear he could hear me because he squeezed my hand during some of the more heartfelt things that I said to him. Even typing this now strongly reminds me of that experience, and it's making me cry. People can hear you. Never lose the chance to say what you need to say to them."

u/Empyrealist

15. "I was out for 45 days, no white light, no tunnel, nothing. Woke up and couldn't remember who I was. For six months, I never really fully recovered, so I just started life again. Turns out, I'm a completely different person than I was, and that is a really good thing. I get memories now and then — they aren't pleasant. A woman came and sat by my bed for six weeks, turns out she was my ex-lover. I couldn't remember her. I also didn't even recognize my mother."

u/Chris_Thrush

16. "I was in a medically induced coma (with induced, full-body paralysis) for six weeks. There were a handful of times that I distinctly remember where I 'woke up' in my head. What was the experience like? It sucked."

"When I would wake up in my head, I had no idea as to what had happened. So, I'm fully conscious, I know that I'm me, but I can't open my eyes, I can't move a muscle and I can't speak. The first time it happened was terrifying. I started to panic and for a minute there, I thought I might be dead. Then I realized that I was thinking, so that didn't seem right. I tried to move and couldn't. I tried to speak and couldn't. I tried to scream and couldn't.

The next time it happened was when my best friend came to see me. Again, I can't move, I can't see, and I can't talk. But when I 'woke up' in my head, I could feel her holding my hand and asking me to squeeze if I could hear her talking. I tried as hard as I could to squeeze my hand, and I could feel it doing absolutely nothing. When she let go to walk away, I was completely devastated. I tried to scream for her to stay, but obviously, nothing happened. However, I was so glad that people I knew were there wherever I was and that I was getting help (even though I felt completely helpless). That kind of helped. I had to calm myself down again so that I could drift off again.

When I was finally brought out of the coma, my parents were there and that didn't make any sense because my parents lived two states away at the time. I eventually learned that they had been there the entire time. They dropped everything in their lives and came to be with me and stayed there throughout the entire ordeal. After a couple of days (I think), some doctors came in and asked me a bunch of questions. The first question was what year it was — that I knew because I remembered getting sick on New Year's Eve, so I knew it was 2000. Next was who the president was. I answered Clinton, so I got that right. Then they asked if I knew where I was. I assuredly said, 'Honolulu' because in my dreams, I had been in Honolulu. When all of their faces had that confused Scooby Doo look is when I realized that wasn't quite right, so I figured that I must have been back in Salt Lake City (somehow). They appeared quite relieved when I came up with that."

u/TheOpus

17. "My dad was in a coma for about two months a couple years ago. Recently, we were talking about the whole thing, and he told me that he had 'dreamed/hallucinated' that he lived for 10 years, and did all sorts of things during that time. He said it was very vivid, and he walked across the country a couple times during it. When he woke up/got home, he said it would throw him off when he would run into people he hadn't seen since before the coma, because at first he always expected them to have aged by 10 years."

u/nitzlarb

18. "I was in a coma for about two weeks following a cardiac arrest as a teen. I was technically dead for over an hour, in fact. People often ask me if I could hear my family talking to me or if I was dreaming. The answer is 'No.' There is a huge hole in my memory beginning about two weeks before the coma through a week after 'waking up.' And waking up is in quotes because I would wake up, ask a bunch of semi-incoherent questions, fall back under, then wake up again and ask the exact same questions, in the exact same order. Repeat six or seven times."

"The coma was not even blackness. It just does not exist. I remember having the hardest time believing it was actually mid-October when the last day I remembered was late-September."

u/iwillcorrectyou

19. "I'm a burn survivor — I was in an explosion in my backyard when I was seven years old. Whilst I was in the hospital, I was in a medically induced coma to make my chances of surviving higher. I do remember a few things that happened while I was in said coma; I remember my father reading the seventh book of the Magic Tree House series to me, and I remember hearing the screams of new patients that would come in, but I couldn't move my body at all, nor could I give any signs that I could hear my family or medical staff."

"I spent two weeks in the coma and another 48 days. Today, I'm a happy, healthy 17-year-old. If I can say anything about what happened that day, it's that it changed my life for the better." 

u/XxBURNB0YxX

20. "My wife was in a medically induced coma for two weeks, about 10 years ago. When she woke up, she had very wrong memories. They were all based on conversations people had while in the room with her. For example, she thought they flew her to Washington DC for treatment. While she was in a coma, my father-in-law mentioned how he just flew back into town from DC on a work trip. Somehow, she overheard this while out and her brain interpreted it to mean she flew to DC."

"Even after we explained to her the reality of where she was, it took DAYS for her to come to terms with reality."

u/kp1877

21. "I was in a coma for three days following a serious cycling accident, medically induced. I woke up with zero recollection of why I was there or what was said while I was out. It is easily the scariest situation I've found myself in, but I can't say I remember it. I woke up to my mom and dad in the hospital with me, and my body in traction of some sort and that was way scarier to me."

u/robyr

22. "I was in a medically induced coma for two weeks, about three months ago. I had open heart surgery; it didn't go well, and I had trouble coming off the ventilator, so they just put me in a coma to try to give me time to heal. I had nightmares the entire time from the medicine they were using to knock me out. I thought I had been kidnapped by a nurse. I thought my aunt had her friends rob my sister and her husband, killing my brother-in-law and one of their children, and I thought I was constantly being grabbed by people under my bed. It was not fun."

"I can't say that I knew I was in a coma or anything. I am usually one of those people that when I have a bad dream, I can tell myself it is just a dream and wake myself up in order to end it. This was not like that. I was convinced it was all really happening."

u/senorcoach

23. "Back in the '90s, my great grandfather had a stroke. He was in a coma for three weeks, and when he woke up, he could not speak English — all he could speak was the Choctaw language. He had learned it when he was a kid, because his family lived right near a Choctaw reserve, and he played with a lot of those kids. He spoke it fluently at that time, but forgot it over his life to where he couldn't remember any of it by this time. This went on for around 10 days, and then he woke up from a night's sleep and could suddenly speak only English again, not remembering a word of Choctaw."

"He was also able to repeat verbatim every conversation that had been held in the room that he was in."

u/GoldH2O

24. "I had a seizure and was in a medically induced coma for three days when I was 17. To be honest, I don’t remember anything. I remember fading in and out of the anesthesia, trying to pull my breathing tube out, and that my hands were restrained to the bed so I couldn’t. When I woke up and was coherent; I couldn’t recall anything from actually being in the coma. They had even moved me to a hospital over 100 miles away. It was really just nothing but black. No dreams, no lights, no voices, just nothing."

u/chazzybeats

25. "My dad is an emergency room doctor and told me about this woman in a coma he saw during his residency. The experience taught him that you need to treat everyone like they're a fully aware and conscious person, even people in comas."

"He and the other residents would all do their rounds; they had regular patients at the hospital, and they would go from room to room checking on them with the attending physician who instructed them. One woman was in a deep coma for weeks or months (I'm a little hazy on the details). Every time they'd come in, he'd say, 'Hi Ms. ____, I'm Dr ____ and I'm just here to check on you!' He talked to her like she was listening to him, explaining what he was doing to her step-by-step, and a lot of the other doctors thought it was kind of silly. I mean, she's in a coma, so she can't be listening, right?

Well, time goes by and the woman wakes up, all of a sudden. They're doing their rounds, and he walks in the room and says something, and she immediately recognizes his voice; she came into the hospital in a coma and never saw the man, and never heard him talk while she was awake before that day. She immediately recognizes his voice and says "Oh, I remember you! You're the one that was so nice to me!"

That makes comas seem really terrifying to me — the fact that she was conscious enough to recognize not only a voice, but how someone treated her while she was in a coma. Still, shows you that you can't just assume someone isn't listening, just because they aren't talking."

u/noplzstop

26. "I was in a coma for nine days. When I woke up, I was still on a ventilator. When they took me off the ventilator, my body didn't remember to breathe on its own. I literally had to relearn how to breathe. It took me a few days; I had no natural sense for how deeply to inhale, how long to hold it, how long to exhale. I had to put all my mental focus on breathing. It was really weird."

"For all the people wondering how I slept, I didn't for the first couple of days. If I dozed off, my blood O2 monitor would start beeping and wake me up, then a nurse would yell at me from across the ICU to remember to breathe. I couldn't talk because I'd had the tubes down my nose and throat, but I remember one time I woke up, really exhausted, to that damn beeping. So, I started focusing on breathing again, but I was really angry about it. My nurse came running over yelling at me to breathe. I glared at her, and screamed in my non-existent voice, 'I. AM.' She must have read my lips and felt the rage because she just put her hands up and said, 'All right. All right. Good job,' then walked away. My ability to breathe normally was back within a month or so, and my health is good nowadays, so I wouldn't say it had any permanent effects."

u/DROPTHENUKES

27. "My wife was in a medically induced coma for four days. She had a reaction to contrast dye, and her heart stopped for 20 minutes. For nearly three months, she was confabulating about her long-dead parents. She would speak about them like they were in the next room. Or, she would say her daughter or brother called...but they hadn't. Over and over, she thought her mom was alive, then her dad. Drove me nuts having to (gently) correct her many times per day. She would come up with amazing tales about what people (relatives, friends, neighbors) were doing, what they said — truly creative fiction. Three months later, she began to come back."

"The confabulations stopped, and now, things are reversed. She can remember recent events, but her long-term memories are gone. I don't know what that's like, but it must be awful. She cries sometimes for her lost memories, but overall, she is doing very well."

u/urgent45

28. "About 20 years ago, my cousin had a severe head injury from a fall. He was about 20 at the time and was in a coma for almost four weeks. When he woke up, he fairly quickly discovered that his memory was eidetic. He could repeat entire conversations back word for word, and even tell you the date and time you said something. Also, he could memorize images with just a few second's glance."

"His memory is still eidetic today. It's annoying as f**k. Whenever he reminds me of something I said in the past, usually something I can't even remember, I suggest that we hit him in the head again."

u/cheezemeister_x

And lastly...

29. "I was in a medically induced coma for approximately a week due to sepsis. When I was in, I thought I was a bird with my wings outstretched that was slowly freezing to the ground. When I woke up, I thought I was in Taos, but it looked like Raton (I was in Albuquerque, in a hospital that I had worked in for years). I thought I was 10 years younger. I thought I had gotten into a wreck and that my fiancé at the time was an abusive ex-boyfriend. I thought my fiancé had found me naked on the side of I-25 and had taken me to a veterinary hospital. It took another month and a half for me to understand what happened."

"I was in and out of surgery and died a couple times in that time. Once, they were changing out my wound vac, and I looked down and saw inside of me, then things started making a little more sense. (When I looked down and saw myself open, it resembled a cheeseburger that someone had cut in half and left in a fridge uncovered for two weeks.) I still can't eat cheeseburgers."

u/Shelliton

 

Buzzfeed

  • Kimberly-Clark will soon shut down its Ikorodu production facility, citing economic challenges despite a $100 million investment two years ago.
  • High energy costs, expensive raw materials, and reduced customer demand have forced the company to reduce shifts and implement cost-cutting measures.
  • The closure reflects broader industry challenges, mirroring exits by Procter & Gamble and strategic reviews by PZ Cussons, impacting Nigeria’s drive for foreign direct investment

Diaper and sanitary pad manufacturer, Kimberley Clark will soon announce an imminent shutdown of its Ikorodu production facility two years after investing $100 million in Nigeria.  

Sources within the company informed Nairametrics that the plant has been producing below capacity from late 2023 into 2024 due to the harsh economic environment within the country.  

In 2022, the company inaugurated a $100 million production facility in Ikorodu, Lagos state to restart operations after a similar closure of operations in 2019 following a strategic review of its business.

Kimberly-Clark began operations in Nigeria in 2012 but stopped due to unfavourable economic conditions after five years in 2019 to later restart in 2021.  

The company produces Huggies diapers, sanitary pads, Kotex and other hygiene and personal care products. KC is a listed multinational on the New York Stock Exchange with the majority of its shares held by institutional investors like Blackrock Inc., Vanguard Group, Morgan Stanley etc.  

According to the source who claimed anonymity, the company since late 2022 have battled with high energy costs, raw materials and reduced demand from customers due to the prevailing economic situation.

This has resulted in downsizing and reduced production time from every day of the week to just Mondays to Thursdays.  

The company currently spends around N100 million on power generation monthly aside from maintenance costs and its monthly fixed spend on operations has risen over N500 million.  

He said, “Our first two years were fantastic in terms of sales growth and market shares within the diaper industry. Fast forward into late 2022 and 2023 was really bad years for the coy due to economic situation.”  

“Running cost is extremely on the high side. Our fixed spent on a monthly basis is above N500 million and we spent about N100 million on just gas consumption for powering the gas engine aside maintenance. The company has two assets and for last year, these assets didn’t run for like 90 days in 365 days.”  

“Earlier this year, the coy had to downsize to 2 shifts from 4 shifts. We ran 24hrs and 7days and 365 days before but currently we don’t run on Friday, Saturday and Sunday anymore because of the economic situation. There is already an embargo on external recruitment. The company is looking for ways to reduce cost since it is not making a profit.” 

Furthermore, the source noted that the high production cost stems from the increased raw material cost since it is import-based.  

At the initiation of operations about three years ago, the company set aside some money for operations which it estimated would last five years after which revenue from Nigeria could sustain the operations. 

Another source with first hand knowledge of the matter informed Nairametrics that the company is unlikely to turn to import, like its rival Procter and Gamble, suggesting it will not be officially transacting in the country.

Exit from Nigeria  

The planned closure of operations of Kimberly-Clark from Nigeria and the reasons provided are similar to those of other manufacturers who have exited the country in the past few years.

High production cost, currency depreciation affecting the import of raw materials, and weak purchasing power of the populace.  

Last year, another U.S based company in the personal care business Procter and Gamble (P&G) closed production in Nigeria in a similar fashion having invested about $300 million (the single largest non-oil investment by a U.S company in Nigeria) in a production facility in Ibadan.  

Similarly, PZ Cussons stated last month that it is evaluating strategic options for its Africa business for which Nigeria is the biggest and thinking of ways to maximise shareholder value. The company has also restarted asset disposal in Nigeria after a halt due to forex liquidity issues.  

The baby diaper industry in Nigeria is estimated at $920 million with a CAGR of about 11% between 2024 and 2028 according to Statista. Leaders in the industry include; Pampers produced by P&G, Molfix, and Kimberly-Clark’s Huggies. However, it is a hugely competitive industry with about 15 brands competing for market share.  

What this means 

The planned closure of production in Kimberly-Clark’s facility in Nigeria is a huge blow to the federal government’s drive to attract foreign direct investment into the country and mirrors the challenges faced by players in the real economy.  

Furthermore, the closure of operations means that two of the three leaders in the diaper and personal care industry in Nigeria (P&G and Kimberly-Clark) have ended production in the last one year.  

Like GSK, P&G transitioned to an import-based business model, if KC tows the same line, it could exacerbate the cost of diapers and sanitary materials for babies and households following significant depreciation of the Naira and further increase the country’s imports at a time when the drive for local production is high.  

 

Nairametrics

For visitors to Lagos, the gentle plea begins with immigration officials at the airport and is echoed across the streets of Africa’s most populous city: “Show me love.”

It is a familiar request for tips in a city of omnipresent hustle, but residents say the requests have intensified in the last year as people struggle under the crushing weight of Nigeria’s underperforming economy.

Wednesday marked the completion of the first year in office of the president, Bola Tinubu, after the disputed election of February 2023. It was also the 25th anniversary of Nigeria’s return to democracy, a promising point in a region where six out of eight coup attempts since 2020 have been successful. Official ceremonies were restrained, and on the eve of the landmark date, the national mood in the capital, Abuja, was far from celebratory.

Overall economic progress since 1999 has been hard to measure due to the many periods of growth and decline, said Bongo Adi, a professor of economics and data analytics at Lagos Business School. “The economy has moved in different directions over this period,” he said. The best era of economic welfare and sustained employment, however, was in the early 2000s under the former president Olusegun Obasanjo, he added.

Last year, Nigeria lost bragging rights as Africa’s largest economy when it dropped behind South Africa. The International Monetary Fund has already projected a further slip to fourth place behind Egypt and Algeria.

Data from the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics put the economy as growing slightly by 2.98% in the first quarter of 2024. But unemployment remains high in a country where more than 2 million people join the workforce annually.

In 2019, the monthly minimum wage was increased from N19,000 (£10) to N30,000 (£16), but many say that amount is nowhere close to enough. Workers nationwide say their living expenses have rocketed as food inflation – already in double digits – continues to rise. Electricity tariffs have surged by at least a hundred percent in the last year.

In 18 months, the price of bottled water has gone from N50 (3p) to N100 to N200. In some markets outside the big cities, yams are now also sold in huge slices, for those who cannot afford the whole vegetable. The cost of making the staple dish jollof rice has tripled in the last three years.

As a coping mechanism, analysts say young people are increasingly turning to sex work and cybercrime in small towns, especially in the south.

“The cost of living wants to kill the living,” one Nigerian lamented during a call-in show on national television.

‘Everything is really hard’

On 29 May 1999, as Nigeria transitioned from military rule to civilian leadership, Tinubu, now the president, was taking the oath of office to be the third elected governor of Lagos.

His supporters say he went on to lay the groundwork for transformation of the city’s economy and infrastructure in two four-year tenures. Today, his aides say he remains passionate about fixing Nigeria’s economic challenges.

The number of poor Nigerians “is totally unacceptable to the president … that is why it is perhaps his No 1 priority to tackle poverty, and he has a programme to stabilise and grow the economy in general,” Wale Edun, the finance minister, said last October at the launch of a welfare programme to give N75,000 (£42) across three months to each of the country’s 15 million low-income households.

From his first day in office, Tinubu began announcing textbook reforms that economists and policymakers had suggested for years: currency devaluation and cutting off a fuel subsidy that had fanned corruption for decades.

However, the changes have squeezed the economy – the naira is still fluttering and the subsidy cut tripled petrol prices – and have not been rolled out without controversy.

“Economy does not obey orders, not even military orders,” said Obasanjo, the president from 1999 to 2007, in Abuja last week, adding that the reforms were necessary but had been wrongly implemented.

In January, Betta Edu, the humanitarian affairs minister, was suspended while an investigation was launched into the alleged diversion of N585m (£329,000) in funds related to the welfare scheme. Edu has denied any wrongdoing.

A group of oil dealers and a prominent ruling party member have also claimed that the subsidy cuts have been reversed, although the junior petroleum minister, Heineken Lokpobiri, has denied this.

Tinubu’s critics have also pointed out that he has yet to appoint ambassadors but has named advisers for mundane things like national values and a personal assistant for teleprompter usage. Sources in the presidency say a cabinet shuffle could be announced in the coming days in what is being interpreted as a sign of his discontent with the current cast’s performance.

On Monday, he visited Lagos to open a controversial coastal highway stretching to Calabar, a port city in the oil-rich Niger Delta, close to the border with Cameroon. A few miles away from where he stood promising that the project would boost 30m businesses, traders in the Oniru market went about their day unexcited about the present and their future.

Chidi Obi, a 40-year-old owner of an electrical shop within the market who remembers being thrilled as a teenager in 1999, said he was “not feeling the democracy of Nigeria today” and accused unions of not doing enough to challenge the government.

“Look at fuel prices today, nobody is talking … people are dying,” he said. “The money you make in a day, one plate of food collects it all and you’re still going home to your wife and children and family. Everything is really hard.”

A refinement process

Across West Africa, there have been raging debates about whether democracy has lifted living standards as support for coups surges in Nigeria’s neighbours such as Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso.

Oge Onubogu, director of the Africa Program at the Washington DC-based thinktank Wilson Center, said citizen frustrations with democracy can, in fact, help strengthen the democratic system as long as leaders respond to them by pushing for more inclusive governance.

“For the first time in a long time, we are seeing citizens question the status quo, the state-society relationship,” she said. “People are saying it can no longer be business as usual. Citizens are rising up and questioning the way things are being done,” she added. “Isn’t that democracy itself? So maybe this provides that opportunity for us to even begin to think about how we reset.”

For many years, Nigeria was seen as the police officer of West Africa, given its outsized financial and military contributions to enforcing rule of law and fostering democracy within the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas).

Tinubu, the current chair of Ecowas, has been pushing for a return to civilian administration in Niger where a 30 July 2023 coup ignited a split within the bloc. Yusuf Tuggar, Nigeria’s foreign affairs minister, argues that democracy offers better outcomes for everyday people.

“We’re not saying that everybody has to adopt our own style of democracy or another country’s style of democracy, but at least let’s have constitutional governance,” he said on Tuesday in Abuja.

“The reason why we’re emphasising constitutional governance is it’s easier to have policy predictability, property rights, effectiveness of contracts when your system is predicated on some sort of constitution … it’s easier to tackle some of the challenges that we’re facing like terrorism.”

Still, within Nigeria, people like Obi, the electrical shop owner, remain sceptical that democracy fulfils its promise. “Military should just take over and fix the economy. We are tired.”

 

The Guardian, UK

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