Thursday, July 18, 2024

Subsidy, Forex Crises: Tinubu adopted solutions promised by Obi, Atiku during campaigns, says Shettima

“Those who attempted to eat their words were instantly proven wrong by data, history, and their antecedents…,” Mr Shettima said.

• May 2, 2024
Peter Obi, President Bola Tinubu, and Atiku Abubakar
Peter Obi, President Bola Tinubu, and Atiku Abubakar

Again, Vice President Kashim Shettima has implored Nigerians to be patient with the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as he steers the ship of state through the economic turbulence and storm he met on ground on assumption of office.

“Soon, Nigeria’s economy will experience significant growth once we’ve overcome these sacrifices. Positive changes will soon be evident across all economic indicators – inflation, per capita income, GDP numbers, poverty reduction, food security, and all aspects close to the hearts of our people,” he declared.

Senator Shettima made the appeal on Thursday during the 2nd Chronicle Roundtable organized by 21st Century Media Services, publishers of 21st CENTURY CHRONICLE, as part of its public service enlightenment series, at Ladi Kwali Hall, Abuja Continental Hotel, Abuja.

The Vice President who was the Guest Speaker at the roundtable explained some key policy decisions taken by the Tinubu administration as well as its Economic and Social Agenda, including the removal of subsidy on petroleum products, which he described as the ‘biggest elephant in the room’ before President Tinubu took charge.

Appealing for patience and time to address the serious challenges he said they met on ground, especially the nation’s ailing economy which was already tottering towards an eclipse, Shettima said, “We look forward to the positive impact on the economy that will be brought by some of our new initiatives in the oil and gas sector, creative arts sector, the newly rejigged steel and solid minerals sectors, our housing sector, the blue economy, and the digital sectors, to mention but a few.

“There is no doubt that there’s a time to plant and a time to reap. In between those times, we appeal for patience and seek collective sacrifice from all, especially from us. We wish there were a way to treat this ailment without surgery.”

While delivering his speech titled, “Because These Shortcuts Are Not The Right Ways,” the VP noted that though the decision to remove fuel subsidy was quite tough considering its negative impact on the lives of the citizens, it became an inevitable option when it was discovered that the immediate past administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari did not make provision for it in the 2023 budget.

He explained: “His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, chose the option that would save the life of the nation, instead of one that would merely prolong its imminent and predicted economic death. Before we took charge, the biggest elephant in the room was the question of fuel subsidy removal.

“We understood why our predecessor made the decision to remove it and refused to budget for it in their final fiscal year. The year before we took office, Nigeria’s debt service-to-revenue ratio had grown to 111.8%. The anticipated debt crisis may sound like fancy economic jargon to the man on the street, but you and I are in a better position to understand how such miscalculations have played out in other countries. It’s an economic death sentence.

“In plain terms, our debt servicing was such that if you earned, say, N100,000, the entirety of the money wasn’t only paid to your debtor; you were forced to borrow an additional N11,800 to pay the debtor. How do you intend to survive this, and how many more loans before you become a pariah?

“We are not even discussing the nation’s budget deficits, diversions of resources from critical sectors of the economy, and corruption masterminded in the subsidy regime.”

Acknowledging that government is a continuum, the VP said whoever had “succeeded the previous government would have either chosen to steer the ship through the storm as President Tinubu is doing or jumped ship and let the country implode.”

He observed that those who contested the presidency with President Tinubu did not feel morally justified to question the decision to remove fuel subsidy because it was part of the solutions they also tabled before Nigerians.

“This was because, whether in handling the subsidy matter or the forex crisis, they had also promised the solutions we had adopted. Those who attempted to eat their words were instantly proven wrong by data, history, and their antecedents—those emotionless reality checkers,” he pointed out.

Senator Shettima regretted that for long Nigeria had endured economic sabotage, leading to the resolve by Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Yemi Cardoso, and the National Security Adviser, Malam Nuhu Ribadu, “to take matters into their hands to neutralise the overpowering influence of currency manipulators who had conspired to frustrate our reforms.

“Today, I stand proud to say that their interventions have translated into desired results, and Naira’s pushback against all odds is an inspiring journey that doesn’t have to be learned in Buenos Aires, as some would want us to do,” he added.

Earlier in his opening remarks, chairman of the Ministry of Finance Incorporated and former Finance Minister, Dr Shamsudeen Usman, praised the content of the Renewed Hope Agenda of the Tinubu administration, describing it as one of the most detailed and carefully crafted policy document in the history of the country.

He stressed the need for the Renewed Hope Agenda document to be reviewed and integrated into the medium and long-term development framework of the country, noting that policy consistency with a long-term vision to transform critical sectors of the economy, is the way to go.

Dr Usman also commended the administration’s establishment of a central coordination delivery unit to track the performance of programmes, policies and key interventions of the Federal Government, insisting that the monitoring of key performance indicators in the policy document was critical to the success of the government.

On his part, the CEO of 2nd Chronicle Newspaper, Malam Mahmud Jega had while welcoming guests to the event, said the need to critically analyse government policies and programmes was not just an expectation from the media but indeed borne out of the necessity to collectively contribute in shaping the nation’s development trajectory.

Also present at the event were the Minister of Information, Alhaji Mohammed Idris; Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Dr Hakeem Baba Ahmed; Chairman of 21st Century Chronicle, Amb. Gbara Awanen; notable leaders in the media industry, Dr Ishaq Moddibo Kawu; Mallam Garba Shehu; Mr Segun Adeniyi, and Malam Mahmud Jega, among others.

Stanley Nkwocha

Senior Special Assistant to The President on Media & Communications

(Office of The Vice President)

2nd May, 2024

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