…Fuel Subsidy Busses
By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
President Bola Tinubu yesterday admitted that the nation’s economy is going through a rough patch and the people are being hurt due to recent removal of the fuel subsidy by his administration, stressing that, “the defects in our economy immensely profited a tiny elite.
Tinubu, who stated this in his national broadcast to the nation, said he has approved N100 billion for the procurement of 3,000 20-seater buses fueled by Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) to ease high cost of transportation caused by fuel subsidy removal.
He also said that his administration will energise micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and the informal sector as drivers of growth with N125 billion.
The President explained that out of the sum, N50 billion will be spent on Conditional Grant to one million nano businesses between now and March 2024, explaining that the government target is to give N50,000 each to 1,300 nano business owners in each of the 774 local governments across the country.
Besides, he promised to meet with the leadership of the organised labour on the increment of the minimum wage in order to meet the present economic realities in the country.
These were contained in the nationwide broadcast by President Tinubu on Monday night
He noted that few powerful cabals who have benefited in the subsidy scam had plunged the economy into bad condition, while the few beneficiaries feed fat, adding that since the subsidy payment was stopped about two months ago, the country has saved about one trillion naira.
The President in the broadcast with the title: “After darkness comes the glorious dawn,” said he had approved infrastructure support fund for the 36 states of the federation
He said it is important for Nigerians to understand the reasons for the policy measures he has taken to combat the serious economic challenges the nation has long faced.
“I will speak in plain, clear language so that you know where I stand. More importantly, so that you see and hopefully will share my vision regarding the journey to a better, more productive economy for our beloved country.
“For several years, I have consistently maintained the position that the fuel subsidy had to go. This once beneficial measure had outlived its usefulness. The subsidy cost us trillions of Naira yearly. Such a vast sum of money would have been better spent on public transportation, healthcare, schools, housing and even national security. Instead, it was being funneled into the deep pockets and lavish bank accounts of a select group of individuals.
“This group had amassed so much wealth and power that they became a serious threat to the fairness of our economy and the integrity of our democratic governance. To be blunt, Nigeria could never become the society it was intended to be as long as such small, powerful yet unelected groups hold enormous influence over our political economy and the institutions that govern it.
“The whims of the few should never hold dominant sway over the hopes and aspirations of the many. If we are to be a democracy, the people and not the power of money must be sovereign.
“The preceding administration saw this looming danger as well. Indeed, it made no provision in the 2023 Appropriations for subsidy after June this year. Removal of this once helpful device that had transformed into a millstone around the country’s neck had become inevitable.
“Also, the multiple exchange rate system that had been established became nothing but a highway of currency speculation. It diverted money that should have been used to create jobs, build factories and businesses for millions of people. Our national wealth was doled on favourable terms to a handful of people who have been made filthy rich simply by moving money from one hand to another. This too was extremely unfair.
“It also compounded the threat that the illicit and mass accumulation of money posed to the future of our democratic system and its economy,” he said.
As part of measure to define the fate and future of our nation, Tinubu said he would fight the major imbalances that had plagued it.
“Ending the subsidy and the preferential exchange rate system were key to this fight. This fight is to define the fate and future of our nation. Much is in the balance,” he stated.
Tinubu said that the defects in the “economy immensely profited a tiny elite, the elite of the elite you might call them. As we moved to fight the flaws in the economy, the people who grow rich from them, predictably, will fight back through every means necessary.
“Our economy is going through a tough patch and you are being hurt by it. The cost of fuel has gone up. Food and other prices have followed it. Households and businesses struggle. Things seem anxious and uncertain. I understand the hardship you face. I wish there were other ways. But there is not. If there were, I would have taken that route as I came here to help not hurt the people and nation that I love.
“What I can offer in the immediate is to reduce the burden our current economic situation has imposed on all of us, most especially on businesses, the working class and the most vulnerable among us.
“Already, the Federal Government is working closely with states and local governments to implement interventions that will cushion the pains of our people across socio-economic brackets.
“Earlier this month, I signed four (4) Executive Orders in keeping with my electoral promise to address unfriendly fiscal policies and multiple taxes that are stifling the business environment. These Executive Orders on suspension and deferred commencement of some taxes will provide the necessary buffers and headroom to businesses in the manufacturing sector to continue to thrive and expand.
“To strengthen the manufacturing sector, increase its capacity to expand and create good paying jobs, we are going to spend N75 billion between July 2023 and March 2024. Our objective is to fund 75 enterprises with great potential to kick-start a sustainable economic growth, accelerate structural transformation and improve productivity. Each of the 75 manufacturing enterprises will be able to access N1 Billion credit at 9% per annum with maximum of 60 months repayment for long term loans and 12 months for working capital.
“Our administration recognises the importance of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and the informal sector as drivers of growth. We are going to energise this very important sector with N125 billion.
“Out of the sum, we will spend N50 billion on Conditional Grant to 1 million nano businesses between now and March 2024. Our target is to give N50,000 each to 1,300 nano business owners in each of the 774 local governments across the country.
“Ultimately, this programme will further drive financial inclusion by onboarding beneficiaries into the formal banking system. In like manner, we will fund 100,000 MSMEs and start-ups with N75 billion. Under this scheme, each enterprise promoter will be able to get between N500,000 to N1million at 9% interest per annum and a repayment period of 36 months.
“To further ensure that prices of food items remain affordable, we have had a multi-stakeholder engagement with various farmers’ associations and operators within the agricultural value chain.
“In the short and immediate terms, we will ensure staple foods are available and affordable. To this end, I have ordered the release of 200,000 Metric Tonnes of grains from strategic reserves to households across the 36 states and FCT to moderate prices. We are also providing 225,000 metric tonnes of fertilizer, seedlings and other inputs to farmers who are committed to our food security agenda.
“Our plan to support cultivation of 500,000 hectares of farmland and all-year-round farming practice remains on course. To be specific, N200 billion out of the N500 billion approved by the National Assembly will be disbursed as follows: “Our administration will invest N50 billion each to cultivate 150,000 hectares of rice and maize.
“N50 billion each will also be earmarked to cultivate 100,000 hectares of wheat and cassava”.
He said that the expansive agricultural programme will be implemented targeting small-holder farmers and leveraging large-scale private sector players in the agric business with strong performance record.
“In this regard, the expertise of Development Finance Institutions, commercial banks and microfinance banks will be tapped into to develop a viable and an appropriate transaction structure for all stakeholders,” he said
He said how to improve the welfare and living condition of Nigerians is of paramount importance to him and that “it’s the only thing that keeps me up day and night.”
“It is in the light of this that I approved the Infrastructure Support Fund for the States. This new Infrastructure Fund will enable States to intervene and invest in critical areas and bring relief to many of the pain points as well as revamp our decaying healthcare and educational Infrastructure.
“The fund will also bring improvements to rural access roads to ease evacuation of farm produce to markets. With the fund, our states will become more competitive and on a stronger financial footing to deliver economic prosperity to Nigerians.
“Part of our programme is to roll out buses across the states and local governments for mass transit at a much more affordable rate. We have made provision to invest N100 billion between now and March 2024 to acquire 3000 units of 20-seater CNG-fuelled buses.
“These buses will be shared to major transportation companies in the states, using the intensity of travel per capital. Participating transport companies will be able to access credit under this facility at 9% per annum with 60 months repayment period.
“In the same vein, we are also working in collaboration with the Labour unions to introduce a new national minimum wage for workers. I want to tell our workers this: your salary review is coming.
“Once we agree on the new minimum wage and general upward review, we will make budget provision for it for immediate implementation,” he said.
He commended private employers in the Organised Private Sector who have already implemented general salary review for employees.
He said though the period may be hard on Nigerians and there is no doubt about it that it is tough on them, he urged everyone to look beyond the present temporary pains and aim at the larger picture.
“All of our good and helpful plans are in the works. More importantly, I know that they will work.
“Sadly, there was an unavoidable lag between subsidy removal and these plans coming fully online. However, we are swiftly closing the time gap. I plead with you to please have faith in our ability to deliver and in our concern for your well-being.
“We will get out of this turbulence. And, due to the measures we have taken, Nigeria will be better equipped and able to take advantage of the future that awaits her.
“In a little over two months, we have saved over a trillion Naira that would have been squandered on the unproductive fuel subsidy which only benefitted smugglers and fraudsters. That money will now be used more directly and more beneficially for you and your families.
“For example, we shall fulfill our promise to make education more affordable to all and provide loans to higher education students who may need them. No Nigerian student will have to abandon his or her education because of lack of money,” he said.
He said the commitment of his administration is to promote the greatest good for the greatest number of people and that he stands on that principle and shall never falter.
He said his government was monitoring the effects of the exchange rate and inflation on gasoline prices. If and when necessary, we will intervene.
“I assure you my fellow country men and women that we are exiting the darkness to enter a new and glorious dawn. Now, I must get back to work in order to make this vision come true,” he assured.
President Bola Tinubu, yesterday warned federal institutions against “arbitrary increase in sundry fees payable” amid the hardship experienced by Nigerians due to fuel subsidy removal.
Dele Alake, special adviser to the president on communication and strategy, broke the news in a statement yesterday.
Tinubu also approved the removal of all restrictions on the students’ loan to ensure it is easily accessible by students.
“In line with his promise to ensure no Nigerian student abandons his or her educational pursuits as a result of lack of money and economic circumstances of their parents, President Tinubu has also approved the removal of all restrictions on the students’ loan to make it available to any student or household that may desire it,” the statement reads.
“Similarly, President Tinubu has directed the authorities in all Federal Institutions of higher learning to avoid arbitrary increase in sundry fees payable and where possible defer further increase so that parents and students don’t face too much difficulties.
“While it is important to reiterate that President Tinubu has directed the release of over 200,000 Metric Tonnes of grains to families in 36 states and Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, the government is working to ensure that vulnerable students can also benefit from conditional cash transfers and food distribution.
“The federal government salutes the courage, wisdom and partnership of Nigerian Students as our country navigates this challenging time.
“President Tinubu will continue to prioritise education and the needs of the students, improve welfare of teaching and non-academic staff and invest in infrastructure to make our institutions of higher learning become more globally competitive.”
The University of Lagos (UNILAG) and some institutions recently increased their tuition, citing “harsh economic realities”.
The move sparked outrage in some quarters with many calling on the government to address the situation.
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) earlier threatened to stage a protest if institutions refused to reduce their tuition.
Approves Buses for Students, Removes Restrictions on Loans
President Bola Tinubu has approved the provision of buses to students of tertiary institutions across the country to “ease the burden of the fuel subsidy removal” on them.
In a statement yesterday by his Special Adviser on Communication and Strategy, Dele Alake, President Tinubu said the buses will be given to “students’ bodies of all universities, polytechnics and colleges of education” in the country.
The president said the move became imperative in the wake of the rising cost of transportation across the country.
“In furtherance of his desire to ease the burden of the fuel subsidy removal on students of higher institutions of learning, President Bola Tinubu has approved the provision of buses to the students’ bodies of all universities, polytechnics and colleges of education across the country,” the statement reads.
“The desire of the President is to see that students can access their campuses without much difficulty as a result of higher transportation cost. The provision of the buses will also remove the burden of additional cost of daily commuting on parents and guardians.”
The development comes amid concerns over some policies of the president since he assumed office on May 29.
Last week, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) gave the federal government a seven-day ultimatum to reverse all “anti-poor” and “insensitive” policies.
The government, however, said the union is restrained from embarking on any strike regarding the removal of petrol subsidy as ordered by the national industrial court.
Death Toll in Military Drone Attack on Kaduna Civilains Rises to 80
From Nicholas Dekera, Kaduna
Death toll in the bombing of civilians by the Army at Tudun Biri Village in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna has risen to 80.
Kaduna State Government has said the Nigerian Army has claimed responsibility for dropping a bomb, which left no fewer than 30 villagers dead on Sunday.
Initial reports had it that about 30 villagers were killed in the incident, which happened during a Maulud celebration around 9PM.
There were also conflicting reports on the cause of the mass deaths.
However, the Overseeing Commissioner of Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, said the General Officer Commanding 1 Division Nigerian Army and Force Commander Operation Whirl Punch, Maj Gen VU Okoro, admitted that the Nigerian Army was on a routine mission against terrorists when the incident happened.
This was contained in a statement released by the commissioner to journalists shortly after the deputy governor, Dr. Hadiza Balarabe met with Islamic clerics, traditional rulers, heads of security agencies, where “the Nigerian Army explained the circumstances which led to the unfortunate and unintended attack.”
The meeting was held at the Sir Kashim Ibrahim Government House, Kaduna on Monday. The statement read, “The General Officer Commanding 1 Division Nigerian Army, Major VU Okoro, explained that the Nigerian Army was on a routine mission against terrorists but inadvertently affected members of the community.”
He added that search-and-rescue efforts were still ongoing as dozens of injured victims had been evacuated to the Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital by the state government. He also quoted the deputy governor as having commiserated with the victims’ families while praying for the repose of the victims’ souls.
The statement added, “The Kaduna State Government has received briefings on Sunday night’s attack which left several citizens dead and others injured.
“In a meeting presided over by the Deputy Governor, Dr Hadiza Balarabe, which had in attendance heads of security agencies, religious and traditional leaders, the Nigerian Army explained the circumstances which led to the unfortunate and unintended attack.
“The General Officer Commanding 1 Division Nigerian Army, Major VU Okoro, explained that the Nigerian Army was on a routine mission against terrorists but inadvertently affected members of the community.
“The deputy governor, at the end of the closed-door meeting, conveyed the condolences of the government and people of Kaduna State to the families that lost their loved ones and prayed for the repose of the victims’ souls.
“As of the time of this update, search-and-rescue efforts are still ongoing, as dozens of injured victims have been evacuated to Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital by the Government.”
The heads of security agencies who attended the meeting included the state Commissioner of Police, MY Garba; Director of the Department of State Services, Abdul Enenche; the Chairman of the Kaduna State Chapter of Jam’atu Nasril Islam, Prof. Shafi’u Abdullahi, who led other religious leaders as well as the District Head of Rigasa, Alhaji Aminu Idris, in whose domain the incident occurred.
Finally, FG Takes Delivery of 2nd Niger Bridge From Contractors
Federal Government has taken delivery of the Second Niger Bridge from the contractor, Julius Berger.
This is seven months after it was inaugurated by the Muhammadau Buhari-led administration on May 23.
The Minister of Works, David Umahi, while addressing journalists shortly after he was conducted around the bridge on Sunday, said he was satisfied with the level of work done.
Umahi was conducted around the bridge by the Managing Director of Julius Berger, Dr Lars Richter.
The minister commended the previous and present administrations for doing quite a lot for bringing the work to fruition, described the job as “impeccable, very beautiful and well completed”.
According to him, we have light issue and we’ve put things together on how to permanently have light especially at night.
“What we have agreed is to deploy solar solution in the coming weeks so that every night we don’t have to run diesel.
“The roads are going to be completed when we have completed the two inter changes, one is taking us off from Asaba town to cut off the traffic and the other one is going to be done by Reynolds Construction Company (RCC) Ltd to avoid Onitsha town and take you straight to Obosi.
“President Ahmed Tinubu is very committed to the project and we are going to acquire more, so that we can build service stations, filling stations, restaurants and supper markets and other facilities as we see in western world.
“We are determined to do that; the need to do this with the inter changes is going to be a very smart one, so that over the years we can have a beautiful and maintained road,” he said.
The minister further assured of security with the bridge by providing Closed-Circuit (CCTV) cameras and some security personnel so that one could get security assistance within five minutes.
Earlier, the Managing Director of Julius Berger, Dr Lars Richter, said that the event was a technical handover after the project was inaugurated by the former administration.
Richter said that work was successfully completed in time and Julius Berger had delivered highest quality of work.
Also speaking, the Director Bridges Design and Construction, South, Federal Ministry of Works, Mr Bede Obioha, tasked the residents around the second Niger bridge to help secure the already installed facilities and those that are yet to be installed safe.
Bede commended the staff of his ministry and the contractors for a job well done, urged the road users and the residents to abide by the rules of the road.
Private Sector As Key to Successful Energy Transition Project -Analysis
By Tony Obiechina, Abuja
In Nigeria, desertification in the north, floods in the centre, pollution and erosion on the coast and the associated socio-economic consequences allude to the reality and grave impacts of climate change.
Consequently, the Nigerian government has undertaken the action to limit the effects of climate change and set the nation on a net-zero carbon development and resilience-building trajectory.
As such, the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) and the African Climate Foundation (ACF) held a private sector engagement towards a successful Nigerian energy transition project on 27th of Nov.
While delivering a presentation on the project overview on Private Sector Engagement Towards a Successful Nigerian Energy Transition Project, Facilitator Sustainability Policy Commission of the NESG, Dr Eugene Itua stated that the project has two components, which are energy transition and carbon finance, and that the project aims to assist in driving and encouraging energy transition, unlocking opportunities in the sector and stimulating resilience and economic development.
He noted that the private sector is at the threshold of assisting in the implementation of the energy transition and carbon finance goals as they have the capacity to catalyse required finance.
Hhe reiterated the need for collaboration to strengthen the participation of private and public sector players to create an enabling environment.
Dr Itua noted that the carbon finance and carbon trading landscape have a compliance/regulatory part mandated by law and a voluntary part open to all interested individuals.
He pointed out that the Nigerian energy transition project will develop policy briefs based on the research outcomes, using evidence-based support for ATP and carbon emission reduction in Nigeria.
Speaking in the same vein, the Facilitator of the Energy Policy Commission of the NESG, Dr Segun Adaju, while speaking on Nigeria’s Energy Transition plan stated that the commitment of Nigeria to achieve net zero by 2060, and Nigeria has launched plans to kickstart the transition.
He noted that five sectors shoulder the Energy Transition Project: power, transport, industry, cooking and oil and gas.
Dr Adaju said that for Nigeria to reach the Net Zero Plan by 2060, the Nigeria Energy Transition Plan estimates that the country needs about $ 1.9 trillion, including $410 Billion above projected usual spending and an additional cost of about $10 billion annually.
Dr Adaju reiterated that carbon finance through the carbon market is crucial and part of a more considerable global effort to raise needed funding to combat climate change and that in developing countries such as Nigeria, carbon finance is seen to contribute significantly to actions in the transition to low-emission and climate-resilient approaches.
He noted that there are a number of enabling policies, laws, strategies, and plans for net-zero transition to 2060, including the Nigeria Climate Change Act 2021, Energy Transition Plan (ETP), and the Long-Term Vision 2050 (submitted to UNFCCC in 2021) and the Long-Term Low Emission Development Strategy (LT-LEDS) which is currently being elaborated.
Thematic Lead, Climate Change, Sustainability Policy Commission of the NESG, Mrs Dolapo Kukoyi, said that the project aims to strengthen public-private engagement around implementing the Nigerian energy transition plan and support the development of the carbon market whilst supporting interventions that will drive socio-economic improvement.She also noted that policy briefs that will support the participation of solar projects, aggregation of projects for the voluntary carbon market and quality of data to ensure that adequate data is obtained, including in-country capacity for verification and aggregation, will be compiled.
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