The decision by the Federal Government to provide financial assistance to 12 million households, aiming to alleviate the impact of fuel subsidy removal, has sparked mixed reactions among the populace.
Chronicle News recalls that during a session with the National Assembly to seek approval for an $800 million loan from the World Bank, the President disclosed his administration’s plan to transfer N8,000 monthly to 12 million low-income households over a period of six months.
In a letter presented by the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, the funds are set to be directly deposited into the beneficiaries’ bank accounts and mobile wallets. The President emphasized that this initiative would stimulate economic activities in the informal sector and enhance the overall well-being of the households.
This move was prompted by the significant increase in the prices of essential commodities and services, including food items and transportation fares, following the fuel subsidy removal.
A recent market survey conducted by Chronicle News in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, revealed a surge in frustration among Nigerians due to the soaring prices of staple food items. For instance, the cost of a bag of Garri has skyrocketed from N8,000 to N22,000, while Nigerian rice has experienced a price hike from N15,000-N20,000 to N35,000 per bag. Foreign rice prices have also risen from N30,000 to N44,000 and above.
To address the growing concerns, President Tinubu obtained approval from the National Assembly to borrow $800 million from the World Bank. As part of the proposed palliative, 12 million vulnerable Nigerians will receive a monthly stipend of N8,000 for six months, aiming to alleviate the adverse effects of the subsidy removal.
However, this development has sparked controversy, with skeptics expressing doubt about the effectiveness of the program. Some stakeholders perceive the proposed N8,000 as insufficient, considering the prevailing inflationary trends in the country’s economy. They believe that this initiative may not effectively address the economic crisis faced by Nigerians.
Diran Onifade, the Head of Media and Communications of the Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Council, criticized the decision as a means to settle election expenses at the public’s expense. Onifade highlighted concerns about the credibility of such programs, citing previous instances where promised benefits failed to reach households in need.
Goodluck Ibem, the President General of the Coalition of South East Youth Leaders, also expressed skepticism, emphasizing that N8,000 would not alleviate the hardships caused by the subsidy removal. Ibem pointed out that the increase in food prices has adversely affected families, and he drew parallels between the proposed palliative and previous unsuccessful programs.
Similarly, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) criticized the plan, considering the proposed N8,000 as merely a drop in the ocean. The NLC spokesperson, Benson Upah, highlighted the rampant inflation that has crippled the country’s economy, stating that the proposed amount would have minimal impact on the lives of Nigerians.
In response to the growing concerns, Mr. Thomas Terlumun, an All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain in Benue State, urged Nigerians to remain patient and assured them that additional palliatives would be implemented to mitigate the effects of the subsidy removal. He mentioned the potential reduction in transportation costs through the production of affordable buses and emphasized that President Tinubu has the best interests of Nigerians at heart.
Amidst these diverse viewpoints, Nigerians are eagerly anticipating the rollout of further measures by the government to address the current economic challenges. Patience remains key as the administration strives to alleviate the impact of subsidy removal and enhance the welfare of the citizens.