As the effects of subsidy removal continue to take a toll on the Nigerian populace, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State has delivered a scathing critique of the federal government’s approach, asserting that they failed to develop a well-thought-out and workable strategy for the nation’s economic stability.
Governor Obaseki’s remarks, made during a press conference in Benin City, captured the mounting frustrations of Nigerians grappling with the harsh realities of subsidy removal and harmonization of foreign exchange rates.
Conveying his “shock and fear” over the government’s apparent lack of foresight in handling the aftermath of subsidy removal, Governor Obaseki pointed out that the move had caused immense suffering, particularly for the most vulnerable citizens.
“The weakest and most vulnerable in our society, unfortunately, will carry a huge part of the burden of these policies,” Obaseki stated unequivocally.
Boldly labelling the distribution process of palliatives as fraudulent, he added: “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.”
In response to Obaseki’s stark criticism, Minister of Information and National Orientation Mohammed Idris, defended the federal government’s actions, pointing out that it had received broad support from various quarters, including Nigerians, state governors, and international institutions.
Idris noted that the removal of these subsidies was not a hasty or ill-considered move but rather a long-overdue step that aimed to rectify the chronic fiscal imbalance engendered by the subsidies.
He said: “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 need to be taken to reposition the national economy for better output”.
The Minister also highlighted the tangible benefits that Edo State, under Obaseki’s leadership, had derived from the subsidy removal, stressing that the state had experienced a substantial increase in financial allocation, which could be channelled towards critical developmental projects.
He urged Governor Obaseki to use these resources to drive impactful initiatives that would uplift the people of Edo State, rather than seek easy diversion from his own political challenges within the Peoples Democratic Party.
Idris who questioned the timing and motive behind such an attack on the federal government’s policies, noted that Governor Obaseki had been conspicuously absent from crucial meetings of the National Economic Council (NEC), where economic decisions were made.
The Minister suggested that Obaseki’s participation in these meetings could provide valuable insights and foster alignment with the collective vision for Nigeria’s economic future.
“The Nigerian 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,” Idris said.
“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,” Idris said.