Youth Party has demanded that the APC led Government provide palliatives to the masses from the 30% increase in FAAC disbursements to the 3 tiers of govt to avert the impending NLC strike. Youth Party noted that despite the increase in the monthly revenue of the govt since June, the government has applied a slow and unserious cosmetic “rice sharing” approach to a situation that demands a robust sustainable economic way forward.
It is pertinent to state that the FAAC disbursement was N786.16bn in May and N1.11trn in August, 2023. The disbursements have witnessed a steady increase since the removal of fuel subsidy upon assumption of office of the current administration. It went from N786.16bn in May to N907.054 bn in June, N966.12bn in July and N1.11trn in August, 2023. An increase of over 30% from the pre-subsidy removal FAAC shared revenue. These increases are a direct savings from the removal of the fuel subsidy that used to gulp about 400bn per month before the removal of the subsidy. Unfortunately, the savings have not translated into any serious effort towards an affordable public transport, education or public health systems for the masses.
The proposed NLC industrial action to pressure the Government to act and protect the masses from economic impact of the policy is an action supported by the Youth Party. However, we caution the NLC to take a creatively pragmatic approach that would not compound the economic hardship currently being experienced by the masses. We frown at an indefinite strike.
Sadly, the President Tinubu led administration removed the petrol subsidy without any plan to protect the young, poor and vulnerable from the economic impact of its said policy on 29th May, 2023. First, the APC Government took about 80 days to announce palliative measures on 17th August since 29th May, 2023. The Government had no plan for the masses before the removal of fuel subsidy. Period. The policy was an afterthought at best as the Government merely gave an unserious 5billion Naira loan to each state, which in turn as led to a rice sharing galore across the the Country. Removal of petrol subsidy by the Government without any plan to cushion the blow on the masses has led to intolerable hardships. Petrol is part and parcel of the Nigerian way of life. Small businesses, homes, hospitals, school children and individuals are dependent on petrol for their day-to-day activities in the absence of constant power supply. Today, President Tinubu failed to appeal to NLC to call off the impending bstrike in his independence speech or state quantifiable and time bound interventions that can address the current hardship faced by Nigerians. The N25,000 to the lowest grade of civil servants excludes majority of poor Nigerians. No time frame or urgency was spelt out for the promised affordable CNG buses.
The President mentioned the procurement of buses but failed to provide crucial details. Nigerians deserve to know how many buses will be procured, how they will be deployed, and when they will hit the road.
The State Support Infrastructure Fund raises several questions. What does this fund entail? What kind of infrastructure does it target? Who decides which infrastructure projects to fund, and do states receive a flat rate? Furthermore, how will this fund be financed, especially considering the potential impact of subsidy removal?
How this cynical proposals assist the workers monthly ‘take home pay’ to actually ‘take them home’ remains to be seen. Workers now sleep in offices since their ‘take home’ salary can no longer “take them home”. Parents now struggle to afford transport fare of their wards to schools. The cost of food stuff has skyrocketed on the back of over 300% increase in petrol cost without any efforts to reduce the cost of public transports as it is done in other market driven economies
This solution portrays how disinterested the APC Government is from the reality plaguing Nigerians and its lack of empathy. It is also obvious that the APC Government has adopted the failed ‘neoliberal economics’ or ‘trickle down economic theory.’ How does rice or the money to low grade civil servants fuel buses or generators? Once the rice is consumed, will another batch be shared? This tokenism policy does not address the major issues of hyper food inflation and public transportation which has become expensive for the masses.
The Government recently claimed to cut down the cost of governance by directing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to freeze the processing of visas for all Government officials seeking to travel to New York for the United Nations General Assembly, while going to the G20 summit with a large Entourage. This is tantamount to painting a donkey as a zebra when very clearly the moment it rains the reality will be revealed. It’s shows lack of seriousness and playing to the gallery . The failure to reduce the number of ministries shows the Government’s true intentions, which is party over country. The Senate and House of Assembly have equally showed no intention in cutting down the cost of governance. The number of ministers appointed is the largest so far in the history of Nigeria.
The Youth Party has at various points have proposed a more be pragmatic approach to dealing with the pain points of Nigerians. The focus on public transportation to reduce cost of living should be immediate. The distribution of 100-seater buses across states the country with the aim of keeping prices as low as possible is a first step. Perhaps 100 buses for each state within the next 3 months. Secondly, Nigeria’s gas remains untapped. The transition to compressed natural gas (CNG) and converting petrol or diesel engines to CNG should be fast tracked . This is a policy that should be expedited. The FG should engage NURTW on how the cost of transport can revert to pre-subsidy rates. Public transport should be subsidized as it’s done all over the world.
The idea that the govt Nigeria can operate on purely free market principles is untenable. Masses cannot be subjected to the vagaries of the market. Market has its limit. Free market in the West does not usually extend to public transport. Public transport is not for the powerful and wealthy. The masses need to be protected. Neoliberal economics or trickle down or elite consensus that champions deregulation and privatization without serious public action protecting the masses is not an end in itself and would not work. The economy should benefit the ordinary worker.
Also, the Youth Party would like to call on the NLC and it’s allied unions to apply the pressure of their actions with a human face, as their ultimate goal should reduce the hardship being faced by Nigerians and not to worsen it. An indefinite strike would worsen an already bad situation.