Governments Share More Money but Nigerians Experience More Pains

Governments Share More Money but Nigerians Experience More Pains

The hope 1993 campaign manifesto of Chief MKO Abiola, GCFR, was sub-themed “Farewell to Poverty”. Therefore, when President Bola Ahmed Tinubu ran his campaign on the theme of Renewed Hope, many Nigerians believed it would be a rebirth of kind of hope Abiola rekindled in Nigerians three decades ago. The word hope has both ordinary

The hope 1993 campaign manifesto of Chief MKO Abiola, GCFR, was sub-themed “Farewell to Poverty”. Therefore, when President Bola Ahmed Tinubu ran his campaign on the theme of Renewed Hope, many Nigerians believed it would be a rebirth of kind of hope Abiola rekindled in Nigerians three decades ago.

The word hope has both ordinary and spiritual definitions. The scripture defines hope as expectation and anticipation that rests in what we believe. Being a mentee and an associate of the Late Abiola, Nigerians had expectations that Tinubu will engender the kind of confidence they had in the late Abiola, such that mere announcement of his victory at the June 12, 1993 presidential elections, prices of goods came tumbling down in various markets across Nigeria. It was a sad day across Nigeria when the results of the election were annulled.

But, in less than two months, Nigerians have different tales to tell; tale of woes, despair, pains, unaffordability of basic needs of life, abandonment of vehicles, trekking long distances, ill-health and malnutrition, with more millions of Nigerians being thrown into multi-dimensional poverty. The pain is endemic and the people have resigned themselves to a situation of hopelessness; an antithesis to what MKO Abiola’s victory symbolized.

With smiling faces disappearing and the people groan in pain; news emerged that the three tiers of government – federal, states and local governments- will share more money than they’ve ever shared in recent history. Senior Special Assistant Media and Publicity to the President, Temitope Ajayi said, “that FAAC will share almost N2 trillion in this month (July) being income into the federation account in the month of June. According to him, this would be the first time in history, that the three tiers of government would earn this much revenue. He attributes this development as an immediate and major benefit of fuel subsidy removal.

The real story is that the three tiers of government will share N1.959 trillion in July 2023. This is nearly triple the N786.161 billion shared in June and more than triple the N655.93 billion shared in May 2023. Statutory collections make up N1.7 trillion of the federally collected revenues, followed by N293 billion from VAT and N12 billion from electronic money transfer charges. Allocations are usually shared from the preceding month’s revenue — meaning June will be shared in July. The sharing is usually done according to the revenue allocation formular of federal government 56%, state governments 24% and local government 20%.

Two days before the FAAC money was shared on Wednesday, two significant things happened. First, was the introduction of a new regime of fuel price. The pump head price of petrol went up by about twenty one percent from N488.00 to N617.00 per litre. This happened as Nigerians were still trying to adjust to the first astronomical price increase in June. Second, was the announcement from the presidential villa that the president was considering a review of the N8,000.00 cash transfer palliative based on persistent criticisms of its meagerness by Nigerians.

A statement issued by Mr. Dele Alake, Special Adviser on Special Duties, Communication and Strategy tried to paint the President in some form of humanitarian garb describing him as “the President covenanted with Nigerians that their welfare and security will be topmost in the Renewed Hope Agenda of his government”. That may be being economical with the truth. The welfare of the people in terms of their well being was the first casualty recorded with the removal of fuel subsidy without adequate preparations in terms of reliefs and good living conditions.

As in government’s usual afterthought, he said further that “it should be noted that cash programme is not the only item in the whole gamut of relief package of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as a listening leader who has vowed to always put Nigerians at the heart of his policy and programme, the President has directed as follows:

1. That the N8,000 conditional cash transfer programmed envisaged to bring succour to most vulnerable households be reviewed immediately. This is in deference to the views expressed by Nigerians against it.

2. That the whole gamut of palliative package of government be unveiled to Nigerians.

3. Immediate release of fertilisers and grains to approximately 50 million farmers and households respectively in all the 36 states and the FCT.

“The President further assures Nigerians that the N500 billion approved by parliament to cushion the pain occasioned by the end of subsidy regime will be judiciously utilised. The beneficiaries of the reliefs shall be Nigerians irrespective of their ethnic, religious or political affiliation.

“President Bola Tinubu has promised to always prioritize the wellbeing of Nigerians and he is irrevocably committed to the vow. A number of decisions taken so far by this Administration have buttressed this stance”.

A lot of Nigerians have known President Tinubu as an administrator who prides himself with raising revenue. That was his trademark story in Lagos state and that was one of his records touted during the presidential campaigns. But what is the purpose of improved revenue when your people are suffering? What is the purpose of improved revenue when your people have no food to eat because prices of foodstuffs are beyond the reach of an average person? What is the purpose of improved revenue that may end up in the pockets of members of the political class and not the masses of Nigerians?

Before the President put his foot into the removal of fuel subsidy, he should have thought through a whole gamut of what would bring reliefs to Nigerians. Contrary to the message that President Tinubu is the most prepared person for the position of President, his acts before coming forth with reliefs, negates that posture. President Tinubu shot himself in the foot with his infamous statement of “fuel subsidy is gone” on his inauguration day. That was a day to be likened to the day Eve and Adam ate the forbidden fruit. They suffered the consequences for their action. The consequences are what Nigerians are being made to bear now; the sufferings Nigerians are going through. It has been predicted that we are yet to get to the bottom of it, as more Nigerians would still be thrown into abject poverty and penury.

Now, there is more money for the governments to share but that is taxing the people to make government rich; taking from the poor to make the rich richer. As said by the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Joe Ajaero, “It is unconscionable that a government that has foisted so much hardship on the people within nearly two months of coming into office will make a proposal that clearly rewards the rich in public office to the detriment of the poor. What this means all this while is that the government is seeking ways of robbing the very poor Nigerians so that the rich can become richer”.

Ayo Aluko-Olokun
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