August 20, (THEWILL) – The much-awaited palliatives promised by President Bola Tinubu to Nigerians to cushion the effects of the removal of subsidy on petrol are finally coming into the states across the country. Truckloads of food items, especially rice, are said to be heading to the various states in their hundreds just as the 36 state governments were also given N5 billion each to enable them to implement policies and programmes aimed at alleviating the economic hardships being experienced by residents in their various states.
Although coming a bit late, the palliatives are meant to provide temporary succour and relief from the very difficult situation the average Nigerian is currently facing, especially with the inflation rate in the country standing at 22. 41 percent as of May 2023, even as government, at all levels, appears to be helpless.
Last Friday, President Tinubu also approved the establishment of the Presidential Compressed Natural Gas Initiative (PCNGI) as part of his determination and resolve to reduce the impact of fuel subsidy removal on Nigerians by reducing energy costs which have since gone out of the reach of many Nigerians.
A statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, said the PCNGI “is poised to revolutionise the transportation landscape in the country, targeting over 11,500 new CNG-enabled vehicles and 55,000 CNG conversion kits for existing PMS-dependent vehicles, while simultaneously bolstering in-country manufacturing, local assembly and expansive job creation in line with the Presidential directive.”
According to Ngelale, the landmark initiative, which comprises a Comprehensive Adoption Strategy, will include the following: Empowering Workshops Programme/Nationwide Network of Workshops, Local Assembly and Job Creation as key points of emphasis with an initial focus “on mass transit systems and student hubs in order to significantly reduce transit costs for the general populace in the immediate term.”
We commend the Federal Government for rising up to the occasion with these developments and course of actions as we believe that they are very necessary at the moment. Nonetheless, we call for strict monitoring of the implementation of the policies and programmes to ensure transparency and equity, especially in the distribution of the food items so as to benefit the poor and vulnerable Nigerians for which they are meant.
Nigerians have not forgotten how a similar programme initiated by the immediate past government in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic was shamelessly hijacked and messed up by crooked politicians and government officials, leading to mass looting of distribution centres across the country in protest as the people for which the food items were meant to serve could no longer bear the frustration.
We also implore the Federal Government to roll out instructions for the immediate take-off of the PCNGI to enable Nigerians to benefit from the impact as further delay through bureaucratic bottlenecks and undue overbearing by overzealous officials could frustrate the objectives and good intentions of the initiative. Moreover, the initiative should not be politicised and beneficiaries must not be selected based on party loyalty.
State governments that owe workers backlogs of salary arrears have no excuse to make any longer as they now have enough funds to pay them. With a whopping N5 billion each, out of which N2 billion has already been released, no state government has any justification to deny its workers and pensioners their entitlements. We therefore call on all state governments to do the needful to justify the assistance given to them by the Federal Government.
Above all, we call on every Nigerian to support the Federal Government in its avowed resolve to put things right in view of the dire straits that the country has found itself. The support will not only assist the achievement of the goals of the government but also help to fast-track the recovery process of the nation’s battered economy.