Nigeria is on the wrong track once again, despite all the promises made to turn things around for better. While most Nigerians believe that it is too early to start experiencing the changes, considering the fact that much harm had been done by the immediate past administration, the disbursement plan for the N500 Billion approved by the Senate for President Bola Tinubu last week as palliative for the fuel subsidy removal really leaves a sour taste in the mouth.
While many believe that palliative measures are, indeed, necessary to cushion the effects of the fuel subsidy withdrawal on Nigerians, going the unpopular money-sharing route under the guise of conditional cash transfer is highly disappointing for an administration that many expect to correct the mistakes of the past.
Despite the good intentions, the planned allocation of N500 Billion to 12 million vulnerable households at N8,000 per month for six months for each household and the planned disbursement of another N70 Billion to newly-elected lawmakers in the National Assembly are not good enough. Given the hyper-inflationary trend in the country, coupled with the drop in the value of the Naira, one begins to wonder what relief a meagre N8,000 would offer the recipients in a month.
While statistics put the number of people living in poverty in the country at about 125 million out of the over 210 million Nigerians, the Federal Government has been flaunting the palliative measures to win popular support, even as it seems to be leaving the fate of the remaining over 100 million Nigerians that are not factored into the plan to hang in the balance. Apparently, they have been left to wriggle their way out of the difficult economic challenges resulting from the subsidy removal.
The mode of disbursement of the conditional cash transfer is, in fact, suspect as we consider the whole arrangement as a charade that could turn into another scam as ”money for the boys” after the controversial election victory, which is still in contention at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
The speed at which the approval was also given by the Senate did not also come as a surprise to many since new members have also been accomodated in the distribution of the largesse, which, unfortunately, would have to be repaid through taxes and levies that are coming in torrents, by majority of Nigerians who are not even accommodated in the so-called palliative.
We are therefore not surprised that labour was quick to reject the palliative as it demanded for N300,000 minimum wage for workers in the country. While Nigerians are willing to be patient with the Tinubu Administration as his policies unfold, the President must be careful not to be misled into taking unpopular actions as Nigerians won’t really fold their hands and watch helplessly as they are being led through the same unpopular route once again.
We are very sure that the palliative Tinubu is dangling at Nigerians at the moment is not the kind of palliative they expect as this is not good enough. The palliative Nigerians need is in the areas of provision of much-needed infrastructure, especially in mass transportation like the Zamfara State Government has done.
Distributing and sharing money under any guise will only encourage corruption as the trust problem is still there, especially with politicians and the so-called community leaders who are expected to be in charge of the disbursement.
Nigerians won’t forget in a hurry the scam that the TradeMoni scheme became under the Muhammadu Buhari Administration.
The humongous amount of money the former Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, claimed her Ministry disbursed as palliatives and free school feeding for children, among others, also remained contentious till date.
We therefore call on President Tinubu to listen to the genuine concerns being raised on his palliative plan in order not to go the unpopular route Buhari took, which was faulted by most Nigerians. We however commend the president for declaring a state of emergency on food security in the country and urge him to match his words with practical actions and not mere rhetoric.
Nigerians are no doubt going through a very difficult time now, with all the sacrifices they are making in support of the new administration. It will not be fair to them if the government embarks on unpopular policies and actions that are tantamount to robbing Peter to pay Paul. Costs of governance should be drastically reduced in view of current realities instead of placing too much burden on the majority of Nigerians.