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Fuel Subsidy: Tinubu Approves N100bn for 3,000 Buses

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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.

Read Also: Broadcast: Economists Applaud Tinubu on Incentives, Worry about Implementation

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.

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Investing in Davido, Meme Coins Highly Risky – SEC

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja

The Security and Exchange Commission has warned that investing in meme coins, including $Davido, is highly risky and should be done with a full understanding of the associated risk.

According to the Commission in a Circular, “The attention of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Nigeria (“SEC”) has been drawn to a meme coin known as “$Davido” allegedly linked to the popular Nigerian singer, David Adedeji Adeleke AKA Davido.

“Generally, meme coins are crypto-currencies inspired by memes and internet jokes. They are often envisaged as fun, light-hearted crypto-currencies promoted through a social media community and sometimes through celebrity endorsements”.

The SEC further stated that Meme coins are also NOT intended to serve as a medium of exchange accepted by the public as payment for goods and services, or as digital representation of capital market products such as shares, debentures, units of collective investment schemes, derivatives contracts, commodities or other kinds of financial instruments or investments.

The Commission therefore advised the general public that meme coins lack fundamental value and are purely speculative.

“The general public is further WARNED that investing in meme coins, including $Davido, is highly risky and should be done with a full understanding of the associated risk.

“Capital Market Operators are by this Notice warned not to associate with instruments that fall outside the SEC’s regulatory purview. Such instruments should not in any manner be distributed or monitored through any capital market mechanism”.

The SEC also emphasised that the Commission does not recognize $Davido as an investment product or investable asset class under its regulatory purview, as such individuals who patronize it, do so at their peril.

“The Commission will continue to monitor developments within the ecosystem and will not relent in deploying its regulatory powers as and when required” , the circular added.

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Presidency to New York Times: Tinubu Gov’t Tackling Economic Crisis

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By David Torough, Abuja

The Presidency has reacted to a report published in the New York Times criticising the Nigerian economy as facing the worst trajectory in a generation.

Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, responded on Sunday to the report by Ruth Maclean and Ismail Auwal.

According to the Presidency, the feature story, titled ‘Nigeria Confronts Its Worst Economic Crisis in a Generation’ and published on June 11, reflected the typical predetermined, reductionist, derogatory, and denigrating way foreign media establishments have reported on African countries for decades.

Onanuga stated that due to the ‘misleading’ slant of the report, the government needed to clear up some misconceptions conveyed by the reporters regarding the economic policies of President Bola Tinubu’s administration, which took office at the end of May 2023.

He noted that the report painted a dire picture of some Nigerians’ experiences amid the inflationary spiral of the last year and unfairly blamed it all on the new administration’s policies.

He argued that the report, based on several interviews, was at best jaundiced, portraying all gloom and doom without mentioning the positive aspects of the economy or the amelioration policies being implemented by the central and state governments.

Onanuga emphasized that Tinubu did not create the economic problems Nigeria faces today but inherited them.

“As a respected economist in our country once put it, Tinubu inherited a dead economy.

“The economy was bleeding and needed quick surgery to avoid being plunged into the abyss, as happened in Zimbabwe and Venezuela,” he noted.

He explained that this context led to the policy direction taken by the government in May/June 2023, including the abrogation of the fuel subsidy regime and the unification of the multiple exchange rates.

Onanuga highlighted that Nigeria had maintained a fuel subsidy regime for decades, which consumed $84.39 billion between 2005 and 2022 from the public treasury, in a country with significant infrastructural deficits and a high need for better social services.

He also alleged that the state oil firm, NNPCL, had accumulated trillions of Naira in debts due to unsustainable subsidy payments.

He noted that when Tinubu took office, no provision was made for fuel subsidy payments in the national budget beyond June 2023.

“The budget itself had a striking feature: it planned to spend 97 per cent of revenue servicing debt, with little left for recurrent or capital expenditure. The previous government had resorted to massive borrowing to cover such costs.”

Onanuga further explained that like oil, the exchange rate was also subsidized by the government, with an estimated $1.5 billion spent monthly by the CBN to defend the currency against the unquenchable demand for the dollar.

“This low rate led to arbitrage and failures to fulfil remittance obligations to airlines and other foreign businesses, drying up foreign direct investment and investments in the oil sector.

“To address these issues, Tinubu rolled back the subsidy regime and floated the naira on his first day”, Onanuga said.

Despite initial challenges, Onanuga noted that some stability is being restored, with the exchange rate now below N1500 to the dollar and prospects for further appreciation.

He cited a trade surplus of N6.52 trillion in Q1, as opposed to a deficit of N1.4 trillion in Q4 of 2023, and renewed interest from portfolio investors as indicators of improving economic confidence. Loans from the World Bank, AfDB, and Afreximbank are also contributing to Nigeria’s renewed bankability.

Onanuga highlighted efforts to control inflation, especially food inflation, through increased agricultural production and state-led initiatives to sell food at lower prices.

“The Tinubu administration has invested heavily in dry-season farming and provided incentives to farmers.”

He concluded by comparing Nigeria’s economic challenges with those faced by the USA and Europe, emphasizing that the Tinubu administration is working hard to overcome these difficulties.

“Our country faced economic difficulties in the past, an experience captured in folk songs. Just like we overcame then, we shall overcome our present difficulties very soon.”

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Eid-el-Kabir:  Tinubu, Leaders Preach Peace, Religious Tolerance

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By Laide Akinboade, Abuja

As Nigerins joined the rest of the world to celebrate this year’s Eid-el-Kabir, President Bola Tinubu, state governors, top government functionaries as well as other notable Nigerians have called for peace and religious tolerance to enhance peaceful coexistence.

The Eid-el-Kabir festival is celebrated by Muslims worldwide on the 10th day of the Hijri month of Dhual-Hijjah in the Islamic calendar.

Tinubu, the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Obafemi Hazmat, the former state governor, Babatunde Fashola, and the Chairman of Dangote, Aliko Dangote, joined hundreds of Muslim faithful to observe Eid prayers in Ikoyi axis of the state yesterday.

Other dignitaries present at the Dodan Barracks ground in Ikoyi were the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu; former lawmaker, Gbenga Ashafa, the former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji amongst others.

Accompanied by top government functionaries, the President arrived at the Eid praying ground at about 8:55 am yesterday with cheers from many worshippers who trooped to the venue to pray and catch a glimpse of the Nigerian leader.

The President enjoined Nigerians to reflect on the essence of the occasion of Eid-el-Kabir, which bears strong meaning and significance for the nation.

CAN President, Calls for Unity in Challenging Times

Relatedly, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) yesterday urged all Muslim faithful to unite in challenging times and focus on God for a better Nigeria.

President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Archbishop Daniel Okoh in his goodwill message to celebrate Eid-el-Kabir, made available to journalists in Abuja.

He appealed that everyone should set aside their differences, heed the call for unity and peace, and trust in God’s promise for a better Nigeria, because  the nation is in dire need of God’s mercy, peace, and unity.

 “As Muslims all over the world celebrate Eid-el-Kabir, a festival symbolizing sacrifice, obedience, and faith, I, on behalf of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), extend warm felicitations to our Muslim brothers and sisters.

“On this auspicious occasion, I urge all Nigerians to embody the values of sacrifice, obedience, and faith in our daily lives. Let us set aside our differences, heed the call for unity and peace, and trust in God’s promise for a better Nigeria. Our nation is in dire need of God’s mercy, peace, and unity.

“In the face of current challenges, let us unite in love, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Let us pray for divine intervention in our security, economic, and political struggles. May God’s comfort and strength support the displaced, the bereaved, and the traumatized.

“As the Muslim Ummah celebrate this festival, let us remember that our nation deeply needs God’s mercy, peace, and unity. Let us work together to build a Nigeria where all citizens can thrive, regardless of religion, tribe, or creed. Our diversity is strength, and together, we can overcome any obstacle.

“I call on all Nigerians to embrace peace, love, and forgiveness. Let us pray for divine intervention in our national struggles and strive towards building a united and prosperous Nigeria. Let us remember the displaced, bereaved, and traumatized, offering them our support and solidarity,” The statement read.

The CAN boss who prayed that God bless Nigeria and grant the nation peace, unity, and prosperity.

Almajiri Commission Calls for Enhanced Commitment to Education

In the spirit of Eid-el-Kabi, the Executive Secretary/CEO of National Commission for Almajiri and Out-of-School Children’s Education (NCAOOSCE), Dr. Muhammad Sani Idris, has called on all stakeholders to renew their dedication to education as a fundamental right for every child.

He said this in a statement issued to commemorate Eid-el-Kabir.

“Education remains the cornerstone for unlocking the potential of our youth and empowering them to contribute meaningfully to society.”

 “As we commemorate Eid-el-Kabir, a celebration of sacrifice and faith, I extend warm greetings to all Nigerians, with special recognition for the Almajiri and out-of-school children, who are central to our Commission’s mission,” he said.

While acknowledging President Bola Tinubu’s efforts to eradicate the challenges faced by Almajiri and out-of-school children in Nigeria, he said his commitment to education and human capital development underscores his administration’s dedication to the welfare of all Nigerians, especially the most vulnerable.

Looking forward, the National Commission for Almajiri and Out-of-School Children’s Education (NCAOOSCE)

The Executive Secretary reaffirmed the commitment of the commission to enrol 10 million out-of-school children in school by 2027, saying, “We are actively working to integrate Western education into the Almajiri school curriculum, ensuring a comprehensive educational experience that prepares these children for a brighter future.”

He said they would continue to collaborate tirelessly with stakeholders, including the Federal Ministry of Education, state governments, and development partners, to address the multifaceted challenges faced by the vulnerable children.

He said: “President Tinubu’s leadership and unwavering support have been instrumental in advancing our goals thus far. Together, we are confident in our ability to make a significant impact and ensure that every child has access to quality education, regardless of their background or circumstances.”

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