- N8000 cash transfer palliative sparked off huge reactions
- FG reviews the program, amidst plethora of reactions
- Enugu guber candidate, Labour leaders, others offer suggestions
Recently, the Federal government of Nigeria said it has concluded plans to make a digital transfer of N8000 to over 12 million low-income earners in Nigeria to help cushion the effect of subsidy removal which has seen prices of commodities and even services triple in recent weeks.
Following this development, there was consideration of the loan by the Committee of the Whole during Thursday’s plenary.
President Tinubu, in a letter read by Senate President Godswill Akpabio earlier during plenary, asked the 10th Senate to approve the same borrowing request.
It was gathered that the president, in the letter, explained that the loan would be used to scale up the National Social Safety Net Programme.
The letter partially read thus; “Please note that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) led by President Muhammadu Buhari approved an additional loan facility to the tune of $800 million.
“This is to be secured from the World Bank for the National Social Safety Net programme. Copy of FEC’s extract is attached.
“You may also wish to note that the purpose of the facility is to expand coverage of shock-responsive safety net support among the poor and vulnerable Nigerians. This will assist them in coping with basic needs.
“You may further wish to note that under the conditional cash transfer window of the programme, the Federal Government of Nigeria will transfer the sum of N8,000 per month to 12 million poor and low-income households.
“This is for a period of six months with a multiplier effect on about 60 million individuals. In order to guarantee the credibility of the process, digital
transfers will be made directly to beneficiaries’ accounts and mobile
This is coming in the heels of the skyrocketed price of goods and services even as many households were already at the breaking point before the subsidy removal. In any case, following this reports, thecame plethora of reactions to the program.
Expectedly, the Labour Union kicked against the program, while stressing that it looked more like a conduit pipe to further drain the scarce resources.
A labour leader, Mrs Funmi Sessi, said giving N8,000 to 12 million households for six months will be like a drop of water in the ocean.
Sessi, Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Lagos Chapter, spoke as stakeholders in the sector reacted to the government plan.
Sessi said: “Looking at the money and the effect of the subsidy removal that has escalated the prices of everything in the market, I wonder what the N8,000 can do for a family in a month.
“I wonder what it can buy and the services it can render for 30 days; N8,000 cannot take care of a family for a week; it is not possible; it is going to be like a drop of water in the ocean.
“We do not know how the government is going to get clarity for those who will require it the most; how it will identify those who are most affected, and how the palliatives will get to those actually in need.
“Labour is asking for a pay rise; for those in abject poverty, we believe government can do better for them.”
The labour leader, however, urged the president to instead provide facilities and infrastructure to make Nigerians independent, to be able to provide for themselves and their families.
“It should profile those who want to do various agricultural activities, give them the resources and mobilise them, so that they can also become employers of labour,” she said.
Also, the President, Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions, Mr Oluwole Olusoji, said that the move was a repeat of the same old process that did not add real value.
“What people need is not cash handout but subsidised quality of service.
“Subsidised education up to a specified level; access to quality subsidised health services (free for children and established indigent families); subsidised government managed transportation and efficient infrastructure (power, roads and communication) will add better value,“ he said.
The National Deputy President, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, Mr Tommy Okon, also spoke on the issue.
He said it would be proper to allow the presidential committee on removal of oil subsidy to conclude its report and arrive at collective agreement with the organised labour before embarking on any palliative care distribution.
“Otherwise, it will amount to doing exactly what the previous administration did that yielded no positive impact on the environment and economy.”
FG orders review of the program
As the reports on the said subsidy removal palliatives continued to generate sizzling divergent issues across economic, social and political spectrum, the Federal Government backtracked on the program, saying it will review initiative.
In a statement on Tuesday night, Dele Alake, special adviser on special duties, communications and strategy, said Tinubu has also directed that the whole gamut of the palliative package of government be unveiled to Nigerians.
“That the N8,000 conditional cash transfer programme envisaged to bring succour to most vulnerable households be reviewed immediately. This is in deference to the views expressed by Nigerians against it,” the statement reads.
“That the whole gamut of the palliative package of government be unveiled to Nigerians.
“Immediate release of fertilisers and grains to approximately 50 million farmers and households respectively in all the 36 states and the FCT.”
Alake said the president would always prioritise the welfare of Nigerians, adding that a number of his decisions taken so far have buttressed that position.
“You will recall that the president took a similar decision after listening to complaints from the business community/stakeholders about burdensome taxes, particularly multiplicity of taxes they are made to experience,” it read.
“This warranted the signing of four executive orders cancelling some classes of taxes, while suspending the implementation dates of
others.” However, as the nation awaits the outcome of the review of the palliatives program, many well meaning Nigerians have continued to express their concern over the scheme.
Barr. Chukwunonso Daniel Ogbe in an exclusive chat with our reporter on the issue said that “the N 8000 sought to be paid 12 million poor Nigerians by the Federal Government is an anomaly that defies logic. In the first place, there is no gainsaying that there is no reliable empirical data that gives the accurate population of the Nigerian nation today, considering the last time a population census was conducted in Nigeria.
“Likewise, I doubt if there exists any statistical data that establishes the financial standing of Nigerians at the moment. All has to do with guesswork, which is also a sad reality of a nation that does not cherish record keeping.”
Barr. Ogbe , the gubernatorial candidate of Action Alliance Party in the 2023 governorship election in Enugu said that “having said that, as a Nigerian living in Nigeria, I may not be wrong to assert that an army of poor Nigerians evolved, following the emergence of the former President Muhammadu Buhari in the year 2015 and the situation has worsened sequel to the harsh and insensitive economic policies of the Nigerian government at all levels since 2015 till date, with the latest removal of PMS subsidy by President Bola Tinubu, being the last stroke that broke the camel’s back.
“Accordingly, I may be right to posit that more than 50 million Nigerians are poor, and the middleclass is contending with the threat of extinction.”
Lamenting the poor condition of millions of Nigerians, Barr. Ogbe said “One would be keen to know the plight of the remaining poor Nigerians who would not have access to the paltry sum of N 8000 sought to be given by the Federal Government. Will they resign to fate?
“For those who will be lucky to access the money, can the sum of N 8000 prepare a pot of soup today in Nigeria? What is the purchasing power of the Naira at the moment? What problem can N 8000 actually solve in Nigeria today? The answer to these posers is not far to seek for a poor Nigerian gasping for the air of survival.
“Furthermore, corruption is still ravaging many facets of our existence, and there is no guarantee that the proposed distribution of N 8000 would not be marred by corrupt practices. Some of us are yet to forget how Covid-9 palliatives were handled and the controversies that surrounded same because of corrupt practices. Will it be different with the proposed distribution of N 8000 by the Federal Government? Time shall tell.
“More worrisome is the fact that the Government seeks to take loan to the tune of about $800m from the World Bank as subsidy loan.”
He further said that “this development is strange because President Bola Tinubu in his latest nationwide broadcast on July 31, 2023, made it known that over one trillion Naira has been saved by the Nigerian Government ever since PMS subsidy was removed.
“So, why the need to borrow money, considering the fact that the report coming from the Debt Management Office on the financial health of the country is not favourable?
“It seems we are yet to learn our lesson as a people, and our leaders have imbibed the culture of borrowing and remaining dependent on the apron strings of foreign powers. If not, it would have been expected that the cost of governance should be reduced as a matter of urgency, as many Nigerians have made and are still making sacrifices with the removal of PMS subsidy.
“Unfortunately, a critical appraisal of the circumstances surrounding the jettisoning of the PMS subsidy regime, will leave no dispassionate observer in doubt that the Federal Government is only interested in shifting the financial burden of governance to the masses, without making any corresponding effort at addressing the economic crisis ravaging the entire Nigerian nation.”
By and large, Dr. Ambrose Igboke also shared the views of many Nigerians on the program.
Dr. Igboke, Chairman Enugu state Chapter of the Guild of Public Affairs Analysts of Nigeria in telephone chat with WITHIN NIGERIA reporter said that “It is a joke. It is a cruel joke for Federal Government to even suggest this kind of palliatives. FG should have instituted a program like SURE-P which the administration of Goodluck Jonathan had when it wanted to remove fuel subsidy in 2011/12.”
He equally suggested that Federal Government should have first of all given something like one year moratorium to cushion the effects of subsidy before removing subsidy. FG should have built modular refinery.
According to him, “The N8000 is like making mockery of the sufferings of millions of Nigerians while law makers have hundreds of millions of naira for themselves.”