Nigeria: Senate Summons Economic Team Over Hardship

The Senate has summoned the economic team of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu over Nigeria’s poor economy, hunger and depreciation in the value of Nigeria.

Last Friday, the Senate invited the Central Bank governor, Olayemi Cardoso, but after he appeared before the House of Representatives members, the Senate shifted the invitation and asked that the entire President Tinubu’s economic team should appear on Friday.

The members of the economic team are: Minister of Finance, Olawale Edun; Minister of State for Budget and Economic Planning, Atiku Bagudu; CBN Governor Cardoso; Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Zacch Adedeji and Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, among others.

The chairman, Senate Committee on Banks, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, Senator Adetokunbo Abiru, who was part of the people that designed Tinubu’s economic policies, said the panel’s scheduled meeting with the CBN Governor for yesterday could not hold because of Cardoso’s engagement at the House of Representatives.

The panel took the decision after one hour of waiting for Cardoso to no avail.

LEADERSHIP reports that Cardoso was at the chamber of the House of Representatives where members interrogated him in an open plenary.

“To that extent, it will appear that on our part, we’ll have to adjourn until Friday the 9th of February.

“The reason, too, I think I should explain, is that tomorrow there is a session with the Service Chiefs, and of course that might extend till Thursday, because they are issues of very serious concern to us.

“So, in order to play safe and have enough time to also interact properly with the economic team in this instance, meaning that we might extend the invitation beyond the governor to also include members of the economic team,” Abiru said.

Meanwhile, the former chairman of the Interparty Advisory Council (IPAC), High Chief Peter Ameh has said that the fuel subsidy removal is behind Nigeria’s hardship.

According to Ameh, hunger, depression, and crime have taken over Nigeria as a result of the fuel subsidy removal without any plan to cushion the effect.

“The rich are not cutting back on unnecessary government spending, flying private jets, globetrotting at the expense of the poor and living luxurious lifestyles while they tell the poor to tighten their belts.

“What the federal government has done is akin to robbing Peter to pay Paul: removing the only rare benefit the poor gets from the rich and transferring the same to the rich. Ever since the removal, transportation has quadrupled, and the cost of goods and services have all also quadrupled,” he said.

Finance Minister Defends Economy Under Tinubu

The minister of finance and coordinating minister of the economy, Wale Edun, has said the economy is far better now than how President Bola Tinubu met it in May 2023 on takeover of government.

The minister made this claim during an interactive session by the House of Representatives with some members of the Economic Team, which he leads, where the state of the economy was the topic.

Edun appeared before the lawmakers alongside CBN Governor Yemi Cardoso; Ayo Adedeji, chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) as well as Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, minister of Budget and Economic Planning.

“We are in a much better place,” Edun said to the lawmakers who were trying to get answers on behalf of Nigerians about the current economic hardship.

He said, for instance, that oil production which went as low as below one million barrels per day sometime last year had come up to about 1.65mbp today and is rising. This he attributed to ongoing efforts at tackling oil theft in the Niger Delta region.

And, according to him,”This is the quickest way to give relief.”

He further noted that the bold measures taken by President Tinubu’s government since assumption of office are already resonating around the world.

“We go to the IMF meetings, UNGA meetings, G20 meetings, and there is nothing but pride and admiration and deep respect for the courage that has been shown economically in Nigeria,” he stated.

He also mentioned that fuel consumption had also reduced appreciably by about 20 million litres on the back of fuel subsidy removal, which also halted petrol smuggling.

He mentioned that a lot was also being done in terms of agriculture and food production, which would help tame food inflation and overall headline inflation.

According to him, during his recent meeting in Nasarawa with all the stakeholders in the agricultural chain, he was assured of a very good dry season harvest.

Edun reiterated FIRS chair’s earlier plan for an Aggressive Domestic resource mobilisation with the application of technology, and that this strategy will help ramp up government incomes.

He pleaded with citizens for a little more patience and understanding, while giving assurance that the measures already being taken will soon crystallise into better outcomes for the economy.

Edun admitted that the cost of living had spiked as a result of inflation but attributed the country’s woes to series of bad economic policies over the years.

PDP, Labour Party Blast APC For Politicising Hardship

The opposition yesterday lambasted President Bola Tinubu-led All Progressives Congress (APC) government for attempting to politicise the protest by Nigerians against the current economic hardship and worsening insecurity in the country.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party, in separate statements, said the protest was caused by the anti-people policies and alleged corruption of the Tinubu-led APC administration.

The APC and the presidency had accused the opposition of instigating the recent protests in Kano and Niger states over the hardship in the country.

In his response, the national publicity secretary of PDP, Hon Debo Ologunagba, said the APC showed insensitivity by threatening Nigerians for exercising their democratic and constitutional right to protest in the face of misrule, agonising poverty, hunger, killings and other harrowing experiences under the Tinubu administration.

He said that instead of listening to the people, APC was by pushing Nigerians to the wall and daring them to do their worst.

On its part, the Labour Party (LP) said the ruling APC is the originator and the sustainer of sponsored protest in the country.

According to LP, the allegations by the APC that opposition parties were behind protests against the current economic hardships was laughable.

The national publicity secretary of LP, Obiora Ifoh, in a statement, said every right thinking Nigerian knows that the APC is the originator and sustainer of sponsored protests.

“For the party to now suggest that Nigerians who are at the verge of losing it all because of bad policy choices of this administration were sponsored is to say the least laughable.

“Those who took to the streets in Minna, Niger State, a state controlled by the APC went to the streets not as members of opposition parties but as citizens bearing the brunt of this administration’s ineptitude and lack of preparation for governance.

“Irrespective of party affiliations, religious and ethnic creed, we all go to the same market where the prices of goods and services have skyrocketed. Our children have had to stay home because their parents can no longer afford their school fees. Because of lack of planning, the federal government is yet to pay January salaries.”

The Labour Party advised the APC to look for solutions to Nigeria’s problems, especially the economic ones it created instead of this propaganda parade.

FG Sets Up Committee On Food Crisis

Meanwhile, the federal government yesterday held an emergency meeting to address the critical issue of food shortages and high cost in the country.

The special presidential committee is mandated to find solutions to the lack of affordable and available food impacting millions of Nigerians.

This was only the first of several meetings planned for this week on the food crisis.

Speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting, minister of information, Mohammed Idris expressed deep concern at the severe hardships citizens are facing, especially after yesterday’s incidents in Minna where desperation over food accessibility boiled over.

He said potential relief measures discussed included releasing stockpiles from the National Food Reserves around Nigeria and negotiating with major commodity traders and millers to open up their own food stores.

Northern Elders Protest Inflation Rate

Meanwhile, the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has expressed concern at the unchecked rise in inflation in Nigeria, which is posing a significant threat to the well-being of the citizens.

In a statement by the director publicity and advocacy/spokesperson, NEF, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, the Northern elders said the cost of living has been steadily increasing, particularly in terms of food prices, leading to widespread hunger and malnourishment.

It said this alarming situation demands immediate attention and action from the government.

According to NEF, it is disheartening to witness the disconnect between the reality on the ground and the actions, or lack thereof, of our leaders.

“While millions of Nigerians are struggling to put food on the table and make ends meet, those in power seem to be living in isolation or denial. This indifference to the suffering of the people they are meant to serve is deeply troubling,” it said.

“The consequences of this unchecked rise in inflation are devastating for ordinary Nigerians. Families are finding it increasingly difficult to afford basic necessities, as the prices of essential commodities such as rice, beans, and cooking oil continue to skyrocket. This dire situation has resulted in a rise in malnutrition, particularly among children, as families are forced to prioritize their limited resources.”

The elders said in light of these challenges, it was demanding urgent measures from the government to address this crisis before it plunges the nation into greater conflict and chaos.

It called on the government to take decisive steps to curb corruption and wasteful spending, adding that the mismanagement of public funds only exacerbates the inflationary pressure and erodes the trust of the people. It said that transparency and accountability must be upheld at all levels of government to restore confidence in the leadership.

FG Plans To End Food Importation

Amidst the hunger in the country, the federal government has said it will ensure that, henceforth, Nigeria will consume her products as well as produce what it consumes with a view to removing the country from the list of dumping nations.

To actualise this, the federal government has commenced engagement and support for the local governments across the country on good governance as cardinal to the attainment of Nigeria’s development agenda to achieve the food security agenda of the present administration.

The secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), Senator George Akume, revealed this at the ongoing two-day sensitization workshop on the role of the local government at enhancing the capacity of the grassroots to maximize the benefits of the federal government food security emergency programme in Abuja.

The SGF maintained that the federal government is not unaware of the challenges faced by Local Governments across the nation with regards to agricultural resources.

The chief Executive of SEGNIP Promotions Limited, Engr Kayode Adegbayo, organizing partners of the on-going workshop, maintained that the local government is the bedrock of agricultural resources and the moment the government gets it right with the local governments, the country would have set itself up for huge agricultural success and effortlessly end food importation.

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