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FG’s N5bn To States Won’t Translate To N1,500 Per Person – NLC

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The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Joe Ajaero, says the N5 billion approved for each state and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to cushion the impact of fuel subsidy removal is inadequate to impact on the people.

Ajaero, who was a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Friday, said that if calculated, the N5bn will not amount to N1,500 per person.

According to him, it is unclear whether the money is a loan or a palliative to the states or to Nigerians.

“But whichever might be the case, let’s assume that it is palliative; you would agree that it is difficult to feel the impact of such an amount at a time like this.

“The [National] Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has come out to say that over 133 million Nigerians are multidimensionally poor. You start to wonder about the impact of N185 billion to 133 million people by their admittance.

“And from the time this report was released and now, in fact, the first increase in the pump price of petroleum products and the last one, moved a lot of people from the borderline to a very high level of poverty.

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“Now if you calculate it, you will discover that this will not translate to N1,500 per person and you ask: is that the impact? Is that really what we want to achieve? Let’s assume it’s a loan. What is really going to happen? Is it garbage in, garbage out?

“If it is N5 billion, I think the organised labour would want anybody to do the calculation and tell us how it is going to impact Nigerians on what is happening currently. If it is a loan then it is too bad,” the NLC President said.

Speaking after the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting on Thursday, Governor Babagana Zulum said the state governors are to use part of the money from the Federal Government to procure 100,000 bags of rice, 40,000 bags of maize, and fertilizers.

He noted that 52 per cent of the funds were given to the state governments as grants with 48 per cent as loans.

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The Street Reporters Newspaper recalls that the Federal Government had approved the disbursement of N5billion to states, local government councils and the FCT to cushion the effects of the subsidy removal on petrol.

This was disclosed by Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State at the end of the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting on Thursday in Abuja.

He said that the fund was for the purchase of 100,000 bags of rice, 40,000 bags of maize as well as fertilisers.

Governor Zulum had further disclosed that the funds was on basis of 52 per cent grants and 48 per cent as loans to be repaid to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) within 20 months by the states and local councils.

He said that the council commended President Bola Tinubu and the CBN for the various efforts aimed at reducing the impact of the removal of the subsidy on the citizens.

Zulum noted that the federal government had sent food items to states bordering Niger Republic to mitigate the influx of refugees coming into the states.

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The states, he said, were also given five trucks of rice each by the federal government last week for distribution to vulnerable Nigerians in their domain.

“Furthermore, Council has noted the package that was announced by the president in order to cushion the effect of subsidy removal, amounting to about N500billion.

“This fund has to be distributed to the following sectors MSMEs, industrial sector, about N125billion will go to cash transfers, agricultural sector as well as gas expansion for buses.

“Because of the increasing cost of fossil fuel, the federal government intends to establish more gas stations in Nigeria, procure more gas powered buses, CNG buses, as well as electric buses in order to cushion the effect of the subsidy removal.”

The states, he added, has also been directed to negotiate with the labour unions leadership on the palliatives, adding that a committee of governors had been set up for this purpose.

He said that council recognised that these interventions were short term solutions, adding that long lasting solutions were being worked out.

Comrade James Ezema is a veteran journalist and media consultant. He is a political strategist. He can be reached on +2348035823617 via call or WhatsApp.

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