- Tinubu promises to implement minimum wage, salary reviews
President Bola Tinubu has again pleaded with Nigerians to continue exercising patience with him following the economic challenges they are experiencing as a result of petrol subsidy removal two months ago.
In a nationwide broadcast to Nigerians on Monday night, Tinubu defended the need to eliminate the fuel subsidy, as it had become a burden on the nation’s finances.
“In a little over two months, we have saved over a trillion Naira that would have been squandered on the unproductive fuel subsidy which only benefitted smugglers and fraudsters.
“That money will now be used more directly and more beneficially for you and your families”, the President stressed.
He explained that the funds saved from the subsidy removal would be channeled to critical sectors like public transportation, healthcare, education, housing, and national security.
The President expressed his concern about the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few individuals, which posed a significant threat to the nation’s democratic governance and economic fairness.
To combat this, he urged for greater sovereignty of the people over the influence of money.
President Tinubu highlighted his commitment to long-term economic reforms, which include ending the multiple exchange rate system that had facilitated currency speculation.
He underlined the importance of addressing major imbalances in the economy to secure the future of Nigeria.
He said: “For several years, I have consistently maintained the position that the fuel subsidy had to go. This once beneficial measure had outlived its usefulness. The subsidy cost us trillions of Naira yearly. Such a vast sum of money would have been better spent on public transportation, healthcare, schools, housing and even national security.
“Instead, it was being funnelled into the deep pockets and lavish bank accounts of a select group of individuals.
“This group had amassed so much wealth and power that they became a serious threat to the fairness of our economy and the integrity of our democratic governance.
“To be blunt, Nigeria could never become the society it was intended to be as long as such small, powerful yet unelected groups hold enormous influence over our political economy and the institutions that govern it.
“The whims of the few should never hold dominant sway over the hopes and aspirations of the many. If we are to be a democracy, the people and not the power of money must be sovereign.
“The preceding administration saw this looming danger as well. Indeed, it made no provision in the 2023 Appropriations for subsidy after June this year.
“Removal of this once helpful device that had transformed into a millstone around the country’s neck had become inevitable.
“Also, the multiple exchange rate system that had been established became nothing but a highway of currency speculation. It diverted money that should have been used to create jobs, build factories and businesses for millions of people.
“Our national wealth was doled on favourable terms to a handful of people who have been made filthy rich simply by moving money from one hand to another. This too was extremely unfair.
“It also compounded the threat that the illicit and mass accumulation of money posed to the future of our democratic system and its economy.
“I had promised to reform the economy for the long-term good by fighting the major imbalances that had plagued our economy. Ending the subsidy and the preferential exchange rate system were key to this fight. This fight is to define the fate and future of our nation. Much is in the balance.
“Thus, the defects in our economy immensely profited a tiny elite, the elite of the elite you might call them. As we moved to fight the flaws in the economy, the people who grow rich from them, predictably, will fight back through every means necessary.
In response to the current economic hardships faced by citizens, the President outlined various interventions.
He signed Executive Orders to provide relief to businesses and the working class by suspending and deferring some taxes.
Furthermore, he said substantial financial support will be provided to the manufacturing sector and micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises.
He said “already, the Federal Government is working closely with states and local governments to implement interventions that will cushion the pains of our people across socio-economic brackets.
“Earlier this month, I signed four (4) Executive Orders in keeping with my electoral promise to address unfriendly fiscal policies and multiple taxes that are stifling the business environment.
“These Executive Orders on suspension and deferred commencement of some taxes will provide the necessary buffers and headroom to businesses in the manufacturing sector to continue to thrive and expand.
“To strengthen the manufacturing sector, increase its capacity to expand and create good paying jobs, we are going to spend N75 billion between July 2023 and March 2024.
“Our objective is to fund 75 enterprises with great potential to kick-start a sustainable economic growth, accelerate structural transformation and improve productivity.
“Each of the 75 manufacturing enterprises will be able to access N1 Billion credit at 9% per annum with maximum of 60 months repayment for long term loans and 12 months for working capital.
“Our administration recognises the importance of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and the informal sector as drivers of growth. We are going to energise this very important sector with N125 billion.
“Out of the sum, we will spend N50 billion on Conditional Grant to 1 million nano businesses between now and March 2024. Our target is to give N50,000 each to 1,300 nano business owners in each of the 774 local governments across the country.
“Ultimately, this programme will further drive financial inclusion by onboarding beneficiaries into the formal banking system. In like manner, we will fund 100,000 MSMEs and start-ups with N75 billion.
“Under this scheme, each enterprise promoter will be able to get between N500,000 to N1million at 9% interest per annum and a repayment period of 36 months.
“To further ensure that prices of food items remain affordable, we have had a multi-stakeholder engagement with various farmers’ associations and operators within the agricultural value chain.
In a bid to maintain food affordability, President Tinubu revealed plans to release grains from strategic reserves and distribute them across the country.
Additionally, he said investments in agriculture, including the cultivation of rice, maize, wheat, and cassava, will further bolster food security.
The President also announced an Infrastructure Support Fund for states to invest in critical areas such as healthcare and education.
Furthermore, he pledged to provide affordable mass transit solutions through the acquisition of CNG-fuelled buses.
“Part of our programme is to roll out buses across the states and local governments for mass transit at a much more affordable rate. We have made provision to invest N100 billion between now and March 2024 to acquire 3000 units of 20-seater CNG-fuelled buses.
“These buses will be shared to major transportation companies in the states, using the intensity of travel per capital. Participating transport companies will be able to access credit under this facility at 9% per annum with 60 months repayment period.
For workers, President Tinubu promised a new national minimum wage, showing appreciation for private employers who have already implemented salary reviews.
“In the same vein, we are also working in collaboration with the Labour unions to introduce a new national minimum wage for workers. I want to tell our workers this: your salary review is coming.
“Once we agree on the new minimum wage and general upward review, we will make budget provision for it for immediate implementation.
“I want to use this opportunity to salute many private employers in the Organised Private Sector who have already implemented general salary review for employees.
President Tinubu urged Nigerians to have faith in the government’s ability to deliver positive outcomes and assured them that Nigeria would emerge from the current economic turbulence stronger and better equipped for the future.
Tinubu acknowledged the challenging period the country is facing and urged citizens to look beyond the temporary pains and focus on the larger picture.
Assuring the public that the government has effective plans in the works, President Tinubu called for faith in their ability to deliver and concern for the well-being of the people.
He said the removal of fuel subsidy has led to significant savings of over a trillion Naira in just two months.
Previously, he said these subsidy only benefitted smugglers and fraudsters, but now the saved funds will be redirected to more directly and beneficially support the citizens and their families.
President Tinubu also emphasized the government’s commitment to making education more affordable for all Nigerians.
Promising to provide loans to higher education students in need, he assured that no student would have to abandon their education due to financial constraints.
The President acknowledged the impact of exchange rates and inflation on gasoline prices and assured that the government would intervene as necessary to mitigate their effects on the people.
Despite the unavoidable lag between subsidy removal and the full implementation of their plans, President Tinubu expressed confidence in the nation’s ability to overcome turbulence and emerge better equipped to embrace the future.
President pledged to continue working tirelessly to realize the vision of a new and glorious dawn for Nigeria.
He said the commitment remains unwavering, with a focus on promoting the greatest good for the greatest number of the Nigerian people.
“Our commitment is to promote the greatest good for the greatest number of our people. On this principle, we shall never falter.
“We are also monitoring the effects of the exchange rate and inflation on gasoline prices. If and when necessary, we will intervene.
“I assure you my fellow country men and women that we are exiting the darkness to enter a new and glorious dawn. Now, I must get back to work in order to make this vision come true,” he said .