…By Jack Sylva for TDPel Media.
President Tinubu’s rollout of a N500 billion palliative intervention to offset the impact of fuel subsidy removal has faced strong criticism from Nigerians.
Prior to implementing the removal, Tinubu did not put adequate measures in place to alleviate the subsequent inflation and rising prices of goods and services.
The announcement that N500 billion would be spent on 12 million poor households, while N70 billion would be allocated to the National Assembly, further ignited public anger.
Each federal lawmaker stands to receive between N140 million and N150 million, while vulnerable households receive only N8,000.
Request for Budget Amendment and Public Reaction
In a letter addressed to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tinubu sought an amendment to the N819.5 billion 2022 supplementary budget.
He requested N500 billion for palliatives and N70 billion to support the working conditions of new members in the National Assembly.
The House of Representatives and the Senate swiftly approved these requests.
However, Nigerians expressed their dissatisfaction with the intervention, highlighting concerns about the insignificant amount given the hardships endured and the lack of trust in ensuring the funds reach those who need them.
Inflation and the Impact of Subsidy Removal
The World Bank’s Nigeria Development Update revealed that poor households experienced a monthly income loss of N5,700 due to inflation resulting from fuel subsidy removal.
The decision to end PMS subsidy payment was made in President Tinubu’s inaugural address, as the 2023 budget did not allocate funds for it.
Subsequently, fuel prices increased by 300%, affecting the prices of goods and services across the country.
The World Bank also warned that even with cash transfers to 10 million vulnerable Nigerians, the country would still see a net increase of 5.4 million extremely poor individuals.
Ensuring Transparent and Accountable Distribution
President Tinubu expressed optimism about his plan to ensure that the palliatives reach vulnerable Nigerians and not fall into the wrong hands.
Nigerians demand transparency, accountability, and equitable distribution of the palliatives.
The past prevalence of corruption and suspicions surrounding the social register system raise concerns among citizens.
To restore faith in the government’s efforts, pragmatic steps must be taken to ensure transparency and fairness in the distribution process.
National Assembly’s Approval and Calls for Scrutiny
Naija News regrets the National Assembly’s hasty approval of the President’s request without adequately addressing Nigerians’ concerns about the palliatives.
A thorough debate and scrutiny of the supplementary budget amendment would have provided clarity on how the N500 billion will be distributed.
The lack of specificity and details on the allocation, spending, and utilization of the proposed amount may violate constitutional provisions.
The Akpabio-Abbas-led National Assembly is urged to assert its power of appropriation and demand comprehensive information for vetting before granting approval.
Expanding the Scope of Palliatives and Focusing on Development
While the disbursement of N500 billion to 12 million poor households for six months may provide some relief, it is considered inadequate given the widespread poverty in the country.
This is an opportune moment to focus on industrialization and make significant investments in transportation infrastructure, education, power supply, healthcare, and public utilities.
President Tinubu’s pledge to improve the lives of Nigerians should be fulfilled as a means of repaying them for the fuel subsidy removal.
Nigerians require sustainable investments that will have a lasting impact on their well-being.
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