President Bola Ahmed has called on Nigerians to join him in efforts to remake Nigeria into a better place for all the citizens.
In his nationwide address to mark Nigeria’s 63rd Independence Anniversary yesterday morning, he invited all Nigerians to join in this collective endeavour which, he said, can be achieved if they unite behind one national cause.
The president further called for unity, courage, compassion, and commitment to nation-building even as he declared his unwavering dedication to serving the nation faithfully.
In a significant move to alleviate the economic burden on low-level workers, President Bola Tinubu announced a groundbreaking provision.
He said, “For the next six months, low-grade federal government workers in Nigeria will receive an additional N25,000 per month as part of a broader effort to support the nation’s workforce during these tough times.”
He also stressed the need for economic reforms and measures to ensure that the benefits of the nation’s prosperity are shared more equitably among its citizens.
President Tinubu explained the decision to end the fuel subsidy, even as he acknowledged the hardships it had caused. He likened the subsidy regime to building a home on unstable ground and stressed the necessity of reform for Nigeria’s future prosperity.
The president outlined various measures aimed at easing the burden on citizens, including an Infrastructure Support Fund for states, and the deployment of cheaper, safer Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses to lower transport costs.
He said, “At my inauguration, I made important promises about how I would govern this great nation. I said that bold reforms were necessary to place our nation on the path of prosperity and growth. On that occasion, I announced the end of the fuel subsidy.
“I am attuned to the hardships that have come. I have a heart that feels and eyes that see. I wish to explain to you why we must endure this trying moment.
“Those who sought to perpetuate the fuel subsidy and broken foreign exchange policies are people who would build their family mansion in the middle of a swamp.
“I am different. I am not a man to erect our national home on a foundation of mud. To endure, our home must be constructed on safe and pleasant ground.
“Reform may be painful, but it is what greatness and the future require. We now carry the cross of reaching a future Nigeria where the abundance and fruits of the nation are fairly shared among all, not hoarded by a select and greedy few; a Nigeria where hunger, poverty and hardship are pushed into the shadows of an ever fading past.
According to him, while it is no joy seeing the people in difficulties, they must endure in order to have a better future.
“My government is doing all that it can to ease the load. I will now outline the path we are taking to relieve the stress on our families and households.
“We have embarked on several public sector reforms to stabilise the economy, direct fiscal and monetary policy to fight inflation, encourage production, ensure the security of lives and property and lend more support to the poor and the vulnerable.
“Based on our talks with labour, business and other stakeholders, we are introducing a provisional wage increment to enhance the federal minimum wage without causing undue inflation.
“For the next six months, the average low-grade worker shall receive an additional N25,000 per month.
“To ensure better grassroots development, we set up an Infrastructure Support Fund for states to invest in critical areas. States have already received funds to provide relief packages against the impact of rising food and other prices.
He noted that lowering transport costs will be key and that his administration had opened a new chapter in public transportation through the deployment of cheaper, safer Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses across the nation which will operate at a fraction of current fuel prices, positively affecting transport fares.
According to him, the new CNG conversion kits will start coming in very soon as all hands are on deck to fast track the usually lengthy procurement process.
The president paid tributes to Nigeria’s founding fathers and mothers, highlighting their dedication and leadership in establishing a sovereign and independent nation.
He emphasized the unity and diversity of Nigeria, acknowledging the challenges faced in building a nation with such a broad mix of ethnic groups, religions, traditions, and cultures.
He stated unequivocally that Nigeria would stand strong and united, rejecting any notion that the country should never have come into existence.
He also mentioned the ongoing probe of the Central Bank and the commitment to fair tax policies and increased support for small enterprises.
“I pledged a thorough house cleaning of the den of malfeasance the CBN had become. That housecleaning is well underway. A new leadership for the Central Bank has been constituted.
“Also, my special investigator will soon present his findings on past lapses and how to prevent similar reoccurrences. Henceforth, monetary policy shall be for the benefit of all and not the exclusive province of the powerful and wealthy.”
The president mentioned other intervention strategies his government was rolling out to improve economic conditions, including increasing investment in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to boost employment and urban incomes and extending the social safety net through the expansion of cash transfer programmes to an additional 15 million vulnerable households commencing this month.
He commended the security agencies, the judiciary, the National Assembly, civil society organisations for their roles just as he assured women, the physically challenged and other vulnerable groups of inclusion in government activities.