By: Auwal Ahmed Ibrahim Goronyo
Sharing N8, 000 for six months to 12 million out of 300 million Nigerians cannot mitigate the tense of bearing poverty ravaging the country after the fuel subsidy removal, meanwhile the N70 billion meant for the National Assembly members indicates that the poor are sacrificing for Nigerian politicians.
Concerned leaders in the world reduce their salary to improve governance. In 2015, former President Muhammadu Buhari, his Vice and some governors cut 50% of their salary, and to reduce governance cost the government merged some ministries to reduce running cost.
The First Lady of Nigeria during campaign stated that her husband didn’t need Nigeria’s wealth, and with indebt loans and economic meltdown killing Nigerians not only the President but the National Assembly could also make sacrifices for Nigeria’s progress at this critical time of sacrifices.
While government could be run through sacrifices and assistance, what sacrifice the government of President Bola Ahmad Tinubu has for the masses to reduce the poverty heat of the voters that voted him to power?
In his first speech as President of Nigeria, President Tinubu removed fuel subsidy for Nigerians to buy fuel at N550. With the poverty condition in Nigeria, N8, 000 cannot make meaning to 12 million Nigerians because the previous government shared more palliatives, loan and free money but the index of poverty in Nigeria never decline, then why repeating a mistake upon a mistake?
After Muhammadu Buhari’s government, Nigerians viewed palliatives as way of aiding corruption rather than a way for reducing poverty because it gives opportunity for embezzlement.
With proposed 114% salary increment for the President, the Vice and the Nigerian law makers, Nigerians need something better to cushion the poverty heat than N8, 000 for 12 million households.
Before fuel subsidy removal, many Nigerians and economists agreed that subsidy is only for the rich, now with the present sharing formula of the subsidy fund it is clear that subsidy removal is for the politicians.
Multidimensional Poverty Index survey in 2022 revealed that 63% Nigerians, approximately 133 million people are multidimensional poor. In 2022 also, the Statistician-General of the Federation, Mr Adeyemi Adeniran said 130m Nigerians were poor. The survey was carried out by National Social Safety-Nets Coordinating Office (NASSCO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI). The report shown that half of Nigerians are below the poverty line and in abject poverty.
While inflation keep rising and dollar exchange keep dwindling to N800, after the subsidy removal Nigerians faced more hardship in 2023 than in 2022, with crumbling economy, collapsed of businesses and unemployment rate increased.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in 2022 Nigeria had 3.2 million IDPs and 84,000 refuges, with 3.2 million internally displaced persons.
However, The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) estimated that over 2 million Small and Medium Enterprises collapsed between 2019 and 2021 across the 36 states including the FCT.
With all the challenges affecting Nigerians, N8, 000 is nothing to reduce the poverty tempo in the country, rather the government should employ other strategies to create jobs for the people. With 22.22 inflation rate, Nigerians need business funding, free or non interest loan to help the economic growth.
Much water had passed under the bridge, Nigerian leaders came and gone with bunch of promises, while others performed excellently others performed averagely.
Nigeria had 14 individuals as head of state with the incumbent president, Asiwaju Bola Ahmad Tinubu as the 15 president. All the Nigerian leaders came to power with promises of making the lives of the subjects better and meaningfully.
Not going far, the previous government of Muhammadu Buhari came with many promises for the people and the nation but only few of those promises were fulfilled.
The first promise of Muhammadu Buhari on the swearing-in message in 2015 was to tackle insecurity and revamp the economy, but insecurity permeated through out the two terms of the former President with estimate of 63,111 lives been killed by insecurity. While, the economy of the country fell into recession, inflation kept rising posing unbearable condition of lives on the people.
Unemployment triumphed despite the promise to engage one million N-power graduates and skill up 10 million Nigerians in partnership with the private sectors.
With pointing fingers on some cabinet members of the previous government in President Tinubu’s government, it became clear that corruption lavishly grown fat in the past government. Nigeria ranked 150 out of 180 on Corruption Perception Index in 2022.
The previous government of Muhammadu Buhari came with 30 promises including resuscitating the Nigerian refineries, completion of Manbilla Dam and Bridge and resuscitate the Ajaokuta Steel Company and more.
The Obasanjo’s government also came with promises to revamp the economy, resuscitate the power of the country, upgrade the farming system and boost harvest but despite pumping $16bn into Nigerian power sector many industries and companies closed causing many Nigerians unemployed and destitute.
Each government had a direction and promises for the people, like the past governments; President Bola Ahmad Tinubu came with promises to make the lives of Nigerians better and distributing palliatives with the provided formula of N8, 000 will not make any poverty change for the people.
“No excuse for failure” was Tinubu’s administrative mandate to fulfill his promises, fulfilling his campaign promise of removing the fuel subsidy had changed the condition of Nigerians’ ives into desperation. The tempo of poverty had increased and its intense had multiplied.
As Nigerians are suffering, unemployment is rising and poverty is flourishing, the best thing for the government to do is to create more jobs, increase minimum wage, and inject fund in the 774 local governments of the country. There are many refugees caused by insecurity, many villages were ransacked and the localists left their regions for fear of death. Injecting money for local government development will help reduce hardship in the rural areas, providing free medication of some specific diseases will also help the poor immensely but disbursing money is not the best palliative the poor need because 8, 000 for a month is just a “pure water money” and what about the money for food and transportation?
Auwal Ahmed Ibrahim Goronyo is a lecturer of Kaduna Polytechnic and can be reached via auwalahmed@kadunapolytechnic.