Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki’s criticism against the administration of President Bola Tinubu, over the government’s inability to plan and effectively respond to the fuel subsidy removal has met with a response by the Federal Government. Obaseki had noted that the poor management of the subsidy removal has further impoverished Nigerians, inflicting hardship and suffering on the people,
Mohammed Idris, the Minister of Information and National Orientation said Obaseki’s comments overlooked the broader economic picture.
“It’s well documented that Nigerians, State Governors across party lines, and global institutions—including the World Bank and IMF—along with various economic experts, have consistently advocated for the removal of fuel subsidy because of the fiscal distortions and burden it has placed on the economy.
“This burden includes many months of zero accretion to the Federation account by the NNPC which left states and local governments with less money from FAAC, as a result of payment for fuel subsidy, which the national oil company regularly charged to the Federation account.
Obaseki in Benin City on Wednesday described the federal government’s palliative concept as fraudulent, saying his administration would implement measures to “support” Edo people.
Obaseki’s comments came as the Katsina State government, on Wednesday, refuted a report that it had received N5 billion from the federal government as palliatives to mitigate the effect of fuel subsidy removal on the citizens.
Benue State Governor, Hyancith Alia had also denied that the stats had received N5 billion palliatives, and had clarified that only N2 billion had so far been received by his administration for palliatives
Obaseki said the country’s situation was taking a turn for the worse due to bad policies by the government at the centre.
The governor said, “I have always warned. I warned Nigerians during the last May Day this year. I told them that we have come to the end of the road and that the old economic order in Nigeria is gone and we have to come up with a new economic order and stop deceiving ourselves as a nation.
“Now the subsidy is gone; the exchange rate is being aligned. The era of free money has almost come to an end. The consequence is that the weakest and most vulnerable in our society, unfortunately, will carry a huge part of the burden of these policies.”
He stated, “I am shocked that people who campaigned around the country, saying that they will remove subsidies, had no clear plans on what to do after subsidy removal. They don’t know what to do and how to support those who will be victims of subsidy removal.
“I am shocked and scared of what we are passing through today, where the government doesn’t seem to have a plan or solution on how to respond to the consequences of the policy measure put in place by their administration.”
Obaseki added, “With the way they have mismanaged our national economy, we have to deal with inflation, between 20 and 25 per cent. It means that the people will feel more pain, especially the weak and vulnerable in the society, particularly our pensioners, as whatever they get as their entitlement will do only little for them.”
Reaffirming his government’s commitment to the welfare and well-being of Edo people, the governor said, “For us in Edo State, we would not abandon you. We don’t like the word palliative because it is deceitful as we would rather use the word ‘support’. We would support those who are already victims of this policy measure.”
But Idris, in his Thursday statement said: “For perspective, Edo State, under Governor Obaseki’s leadership, has notably benefited from the fuel subsidy removal, which is evident in the more than doubling of the FAAC allocation between June and July 2023 to Edo State – more than it had ever received pre-fuel subsidy removal.
“Our advice? Rather than delving into narratives which do not provide the complete picture, the focus should be on how the Edo State Government will be using available resources to drive impactful projects that genuinely uplift the people of Edo State.
“Nationally, decisions led by President Tinubu are based on foresight, with the primary aim of engineering a resilient and sustainable economy. This vision is consistently echoed within the National Economic Council, where significant economic decisions are made.
“We want to clearly state that Edo State, alongside other 35 States plus FCT, can access more FAAC revenue, due only to the bold and courageous economic decisions taken by President Bola Tinubu since he assumed office. These decisions have been applauded across the globe because they are the decisions that needed to be taken to reposition the national economy for better output.
“We are still at a loss on what could be the trigger for Governor Obaseki to issue such blatantly false accusations against the Federal Government.
“Constitutionally, Governor Obaseki is a member of the National Economic Council (NEC) where far-reaching decisions were taken on the issues he talked about, in his media address by his colleagues, while sitting in-Council with the Vice President, Senator Kashim Shettima. Even as Governor Obaseki will have an explanation to make to the people of his state on why he was absent at the two NEC meetings under the current administration, we will like to inform him that his colleagues praised President Tinubu for finding the courage to remove the ghost of fuel subsidy which crippled the finances of the 3 tiers of government for decades. It would be helpful if Governor Obaseki participated in these meetings to provide insights and align with the collective vision.
“At the last NEC meeting which took place last week, the council took far-reaching decisions on many interventions to help households, contrary to the wrong impression being created by Governor Obaseki. One of the decisions was an approval for the immediate disbursement of N5billion to each of the states to procure food items for onward distribution to families, while the states are working to clean up the social registers for cash transfers that will benefit up to 20 million of the most vulnerable Nigerians. The NEC also constituted a committee to negotiate a new national minimum wage with the Labour Unions and the general upward review of salary for public sector workers as part of plans to address the rising cost of living and help working people to maintain a decent living standard. This is apart from ongoing plans to provide 11,500 CNG powered mass transit vehicles for affordable public transportation, supply of fertilizers to farmers, and support for farmers to cultivate 500,000 hectares of arable land to plant staple crops for consumption and industrial use.
“The Federal Government understands the current difficulties Nigerians are facing and is working very hard with the states and local governments to bring succour to our people. President Tinubu is guiding our country through very challenging times. We are supremely confident that we will soon turn the corner into a prosperous future.
“What is required at this time is for leaders at all levels to cooperatively bind together to make life better for Nigerians, not to play cheap politics that serves no better purpose.
“As President Tinubu has admonished, the time for politics and politicking is over. We are now in the season of the serious business of governance to build a stronger, more viable, socially cohesive and more prosperous Nigeria.”