Sunday, July 14, 2024
Politics

Nigerians not feeling impact of FG’s N4.3tn palliatives – LP

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The leadership of the Labour Party has knocked the administration of President Bola Tinubu for allegedly frittering away N4.3tn on palliatives and loans ostensibly to cushion the effect of the fuel subsidy removal and other economic policies, saying it has no direct impact on the lives of the masses.

The ruling All Progressives Congress, however, disagreed and argued that unless the opposition had substantial evidence, it would be unfair to conclude that the palliatives did not reach the vulnerable people who were targeted.

The divergent views were expressed by the National Publicity Secretary of the LP, Obiora Ifoh and the Deputy National Organising Secretary of the APC, Nze Chidi Duru, in two separate interviews with our correspondent.

Following the economic hardship that trailed the removal of fuel subsidy by President Bola Tinubu, the Federal Government rolled out a number of palliative measures, including distribution of foodstuffs, cash, rebate on transport fares and acquisition of gas-powered buses, among others.

Specifically during a national broadcast on July 31, the President announced the government’s first sets of palliatives, which included N100bn to acquire 3,000 units of 20-seater CNG-fuelled buses, N200bn to boost agriculture production, N75bn for manufacturers, and N125bn for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, and the informal sector.

According to him, the move would tone down the pains being experienced by Nigerians on account of fuel subsidy removal.

However, the Labour Party spokesman told our correspondent that the rolled-out palliatives had been a mirage and had not impacted Nigerians.

Ifoh said, “It is a usual thing for this government to bandy figures around. Has it percolated down to the grassroots? That’s the question. The Statistician-General recently came up with the inflation index, which shows that it is still on the rise. The food inflation rate is over 40 per cent in Nigeria. By food inflation, I am talking about those stable foods that ordinary Nigerians depend on, such as rice, beans, garri and other grains. They are all still going up. So, I don’t know where they spent their money.

“For instance, can you, as a Nigerian living in this country, confirm that any of your family received out of the N4.3trn palliatives? We don’t even know whether all these figures are always meant to end on the pages of newspapers. I have yet to see anybody in Nigeria who benefited from that money. Even in my village, I can tell you nobody has seen a dime. So where did they spend the money? That is the issue.

“I read some days ago about the report of their NEC economic meeting that they are going to give states millions of naira to cushion the effect of the hardship. Was that not the same thing they told us about a year ago? Yet, we have not seen anything. The truth is that we are not in any way criticising this government. We are only asking this government to do something urgently before it gets to the necks of Nigerians.”

The LP spokesman said Nigerians were facing difficulties, noting that the N62,000 minimum wage being proposed for workers was grossly inadequate.

He said, “Up to this moment, they are still dilly-dallying on the minimum wage and they are saying N62,000. A few days ago, I did an analysis. An average family eats a loaf of bread that sells for about N1,600 to 1,800. If you multiply that N1,600 or N1,800 by 30 days in a month, you would have spent close to N50,000 just on bread alone. So we think they should wear a human face in this government.

“Now they are about to buy new presidential aircraft for both the President and the Vice President in this kind of economy. What we are saying is that this is not a priority. The whole nation shouted and cried over the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Road or whatever they call it. But they ignored everybody and started sinking money into that project. It is simply a misplaced priority and they are not getting their act together.

“Up to this moment, the minimum wage has not been resolved. The way things are going, there is likely going to be another implosion and nobody knows when it will clear again. We are therefore appealing to this government to wake up and do the right thing for this Nigeria to remain peaceful and enjoyable for every Nigerian.”

But the APC Deputy National Organising Secretary,  Duru, said the LP was merely exercising its right as an opposition party.

 He said, “For me, it is always important and it is the point I always make that democracy envisages opposition. Opposition is essentially meant to keep the party in government and in power on their toes, highlighting and signposting things that they think could have been done differently. This is one such and it will help us to go back to have a second look, to find out if indeed these palliatives reached the people for which they were meant.

“If this was not the case, we will go back and have a review to ensure there is no wastage in the economy. Mr President has always said that these are tough and difficult times. What he has set out to do through palliatives is to ensure that we as government and as the party in power introduce policies, palliatives and measures to address the increasing hardship in the land.

“On a final note, as I said again, it is important that the opposition plays the role that they are meant to play in a democracy and the party in power to play their role as we have also seen in any democracy.”

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