Tinubu: Subsidy is Gone, Can No Longer Justify Ever Increasing Costs

Tinubu: Subsidy is Gone, Can No Longer Justify Ever Increasing Costs

•Funds to be re-channelled into better investment in public infrastructure, education, health care, jobs

•To review naira redesign policy, challenges apex bank on uniform exchange rate

•Vows to unite Nigeria, says he’ll be president for all

•Security will be accorded priority, new president declares 

•Presidents of Liberia, South Africa, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Niger, Chad attend inauguration

•US, China represented 

•UK, US, Saudi Arabia, others hold bilateral meetings with Tinubu

•Gbajabiamila: Nigeria will witness renewed hope with ex-Lagos governor

•HURIWA kicks against unilateral petrol subsidy removal  

•Tinubu’s speech didn’t inspire hope, says LP

Deji Elumoye, Chuks Okocha, Michael Olugbode, Olawale Ajimotokan, Emameh Gabriel, Udora Orizu in Abuja, and Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City

President Bola Tinubu, yesterday, took the oath of office in Abuja as Nigeria’s 16th president, and immediately swung into action, announcing, in his inaugural speech, an end to the country’s controversial petrol subsidy. The subsidy had over the years been an albatross that hindered the economy by stripping it of badly needed development funds.

The president signalled a resolve to push for economic reforms. He promised to unite the country and prioritise security.

No fewer than seven African presidents were present at the colourful inauguration ceremony.

About 10 countries, also yesterday, formally presented their goodwill messages and letters of support and solidarity to Tinubu at the State House, Abuja, while representatives of the United Kingdom, United States, and Saudi Arabia held bilateral meetings with Tinubu.

The UK government sent “warmest congratulations” to Tinubu and Shettima on their inauguration, in a statement by His Majesty King Charles III.”

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, congratulated the former Lagos State governor on his inauguration as president. Gbajabiamila said Tinubu’s tenure would mark a period of renewed hope for Nigeria.

But a civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), kicked against the announcement by Tinubu that petrol subsidy was gone. HURIWA described the announcement as unconstitutional and authoritarian.

Similarly, the leadership of Labour Party (LP) described Tinubu’s inaugural speech as uninspiring, saying it does not provide clear direction for the people of Nigeria.

However, Tinubu, in his inaugural address, gave as a reason for the discontinuation of the fuel subsidy the fact that the immediate past administration of President Muhammadu Buhari made no provision for it in the 2023 budget.

Tinubu noted that subsidy could no longer justify its ever-increasing costs in the wake of limited resources. He commended the decision of the outgoing administration to phase out the petrol subsidy regime, which he noted had increasingly profited the rich at the expense of the poor, which the policy originally targeted.

Tinubu said, “The fuel subsidy is gone. Subsidy can no longer justify its ever-increasing costs in the wake of drying resources. We shall, instead, re-channel the funds into better investment in public infrastructure, education, health care and jobs that will materially improve the lives of millions.”

The president said his administration was targeting a higher Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of not less than six per cent, which, according to him, would significantly reduce unemployment.

To accomplish the growth target, Tinubu said the new administration would institute a budgetary reform that would stimulate the economy without engendering inflation. The government will also institute an industrial policy that would utilise the full range of fiscal measures to promote domestic manufacturing and lessen import dependency the new president said.

According to him, “Electricity will become more accessible and affordable to businesses and homes alike. Power generation should nearly double and transmission and distribution networks improved. We will encourage states to develop local sources as well.

“I have a message for our investors, local and foreign: our government shall review all their complaints about multiple taxation and various anti-investment inhibitions.

“We shall ensure that investors and foreign businesses repatriate their hard earned dividends and profits home.”

Tinubu said the country’s monetary policy needed thorough housecleaning, just as he urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to work towards a unified exchange rate, “which will direct funds away from arbitrage into meaningful investment in the plant, equipment and jobs that power the real economy.”

Tinubu advocated reduction of interest rates to stimulate investment and consumer purchasing in ways that can sustain the economy at a higher level.

He excoriated the CBN’s naira redesign policy as a harshly applied policy considering the number of unbanked Nigerians. He said the policy would be reviewed while in the meantime his administration would treat both the new and old currencies as legal tenders.

The president said security would be accorded priority by his administration, stressing that neither prosperity nor justice would prevail amid insecurity and violence.

To effectively tackle this menace, Tinubu said government would reform both its security doctrine and architecture.

“We shall invest more in our security personnel, and this means more than an increase in number,” he said. He added, “We shall provide, better training, equipment, pay and firepower.”

Tinubu also said the cornerstone of his foreign policy would be the peace and stability of the West African sub-region and the African continent. 

He assured that Nigeria would work with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), African Union (AU), and willing partners in the international community to end extant conflicts and resolve new ones.

Tinubu said his administration would honour its campaign commitment of one million new jobs in the digital economy and create meaningful opportunities for the youth. He promised that the government would also work with the National Assembly to fashion an omnibus Jobs and Prosperity bill that would give the administration the policy space to embark on labour-intensive infrastructural improvements, encourage light industry, and provide improved social services for the poor, elderly and vulnerable.

He said agriculture hubs would be created throughout the country to increase production and engage in value-added processing, leading to abundant, yet less costly, foods, while farmers earn more.

 In addition, Tinubu said his administration would sustain the efforts of the Buhari administration on infrastructure; saying progress towards national networks of roads, rail, and ports would receive priority attention. He assured citizens of his unwavering confidence in them, and said he was honoured to assume the sacred mandate they gave him.

Tinubu stated, “My love for this nation is abiding. My confidence in its people, unwavering. And my faith in God Almighty, absolute. I know that His hand shall provide the needed moral strength and clarity of purpose in those instances when we seem to have reached the limits of our human capacity. This day is bold and majestic yet bright and full of spirit, as is our precious nation.

“To the surprise of many but not to ourselves, we have more firmly established this land as a democracy in both word and deed.

 “The peaceful transition from one government to another is now our political tradition. This handover symbolises our trust in God, our enduring faith in representative governance and our belief in our ability to reshape this nation into the society it was always meant to be.”

Tinubu described his predecessor as an honest, patriotic leader who did his best for the country, and a worthy partner and friend who history would be kind to.

He said his administration would mend and heal the country, not tear and injure it. He promised consultation and dialogue as well as respect for the views of persons that held contrary opinions.

The president described the election that brought him to power as a hard fought and a fairly won contest, saying since the advent of the Fourth Republic, Nigeria has not held an election of better quality.

According to Tinubu, “The outcome reflected the will of the people. However, my victory does not render me any more Nigerian than my opponents. Nor does it render them any less patriotic.

 “They shall forever be my fellow compatriots. And I will treat them as such. They represent important constituencies and concerns that wisdom dare not ignore.

 “They have taken their concerns to court. Seeking legal redress is their right and I fully defend their exercise of this right. This is the essence of the rule of law.

 “Over six decades ago, our founding fathers gave bravely of themselves to place Nigeria on the map as an independent nation.

“We must never allow the labour of those who came before us to wither in vain but to blossom and bring forth a better reality.”

He challenged Nigerians to recommit to placing the country in their hearts as the indispensable home for all, regardless of creed, ethnicity, or place of birth.

Tinubu also extended a hand of fellowship across the political divide to his opponents in national affinity and brotherhood, saying political coloration has faded away, as they are all Nigerians.

About seven African presidents were present yesterday at the inauguration ceremony.

The colourful event, which took place at the Eagle Square, which was filled to capacity, had in attendance Rwandan President Paul Kagame, his Liberian counterpart, George Weah; President Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia; President Samia Hassan of Tanzania; and President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, among others.

Vice Premier Peng Qinghua, who is Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National Peoples Congress and special envoy of the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, also graced the occasion.

United States President Joe Biden was represented by a delegation led by Secretary of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, Hon Marcia L. Fudge. Other members of the delegation at the inauguration included Mr. David Greene, Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., U.S. Embassy Abuja; Honourable Sydney Kamlager-Dove, United States Representative, California; Honourable Marisa Lago, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, U.S. Department of Commerce, and General Michael E. Langley, Commander of U.S. Africa Command.

Also present were US Hon. Enoh T. Ebong; Director, U.S. Trade and Development Agency; Hon. Mary Catherine Phee, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs, U.S. Department of State; the Honourable Judd Devermont, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs, National Security Council; and the Honourable Monde Muyangwa, Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Africa, U.S. Agency for International Development.

Those at the occasion also included Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila; former President Goodluck Jonathan; Chairman of the Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote; President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina.

The dignitaries included also Chief of Defence Staff, Service Chiefs, the Inspector-General of Police, Ministers, Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Adamu Abdullahi; traditional rulers, clergy men, among others.

The programme kicked off in earnest about 10:12am with the arrival of immediate past president, Muhammadu Buhari.

Prior to Buhari’s arrival, Tinubu, Shettima and the immediate past vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, had all arrived and settled at the State Box in readiness for the programme.

At exactly 10.36 am, Tinubu took his oath of office, accompanied by his wife, Senator Oluremi Tinubu. The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, administered the oath.  The vice president, Kashim Shettima, took his oath of office a moment earlier.

By 11am, Buhari joined Tinubu on the dais to witness the official hoisting of new National and Defence Flags to signify the beginning of the Tinubu’s administration. The new colours and instrument of office were earlier handed over to Buhari and Tinubu, who in turned passed it on to the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Iraboh.

Few minutes after, at exactly 11.03am, Buhari left the Eagles Square venue of the inauguration for Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. He left in company of some personal aides to the airport, from where he was flown to the Katsina airport where a helicopter was waiting to fly him to Daura, his hometown where a reception was organised for the 16th President of Nigeria.

UK, US, Saudi Arabia, Others Hold Bilateral Meetings With Tinubu

No fewer than 10 countries formally presented their goodwill messages and letters of support and solidarity to President Bola Tinubu at the State House, Abuja.

The letters were presented Monday to the president by the special envoys and heads of missions of the countries after his inauguration as the 16th President of Nigeria.

The countries that presented their support letters, according to a statement issued by Tunde Rahman of the president’s media office, included United Kingdom, United States, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Brazil, South Korea, Israel, Cape Verde, Somalia and Nicaragua.

While congratulating Tinubu, the new UK High Commissioner to Nigeria, Richard Montgomery, presented letters from British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, King Charles and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

The US delegation led by Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Marcia L. Fudge, paid a courtesy call on Tinubu had a brief bilateral discussion with him.

The South Korean delegation also had bilateral discussions with Tinubu.

While delivering a letter of invitation from South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol for Tinubu to visit that country soon, the delegation also sought increased relations between the two nations.

On its part, the Saudi Arabian delegation delivered a goodwill message from the Saudi Royal House to the Nigerian president.

A special envoy of the Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida equally paid a call on Tinubu and extended a hand of support and fellowship.

In the same vein, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a delegation, which met with Tinubu and expressed willingness to work with the country in the area of fin-tech.

Others who met with Tinubu and pledged cooperation with Nigeria included delegations from Brazil, Somali, Cape Verde and Nicaragua.

Gbajabiamila: Nigeria Will Witness Renewed Hope with Tinubu as President

Gbajabiamila congratulated Tinubu on his inauguration as the 16th President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Gbajabiamila hailed Tinubu for his sagacity, resilience, determination, and commitment to Nigeria’s democracy for over three decades, which were crowned by his election on February 25.

With Tinubu’s inauguration, Gbajabiamila said, Nigeria had taken off on a good footing after the Buhari’s administration.

He said the country would truly witness renewed hope as captured in the president’s campaign slogan and his inaugural speech, where he promised Nigerians that he would govern and not rule them.

Gbajabiamila noted with delight how Tinubu has resolved to unite Nigeria, coming out of a highly contested election, where he emerged victorious.

The Speaker said Tinubu and the vice president, Kashim Shettima, were well prepared for the task ahead. He said he was confident that the president would not disappoint Nigeria and Nigerians.

Gbajabiamila said, “It gives me great pleasure to join millions of Nigerians at home and the world over on this great day where a great Nigerian, a dogged fighter, a democrat, a unifier and a nationalist, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is inaugurated as the 16th President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“It has been a long walk. But with determination, resilience, tenacity, and doggedness, the Almighty God has made it possible. Nigerians have spoken on February 25, and today, we are witnessing the inauguration of one of our finest and most strategic politicians in history as Nigeria’s president.

“I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever that President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu will take Nigeria to the next level of good governance.

“I call on Nigerians, both at home and abroad, to join hands and support the Tinubu administration for a better Nigeria that works for all of us. Nigeria is the only country we can call our own. We must work together and give the new government the desired support to succeed.”

HURIWA Kicks Against Fuel Subsidy Removal

HURIWA kicked against the announcement by Tinubu that petrol subsidy was gone, describing it as unconstitutional and authoritarian.

In a statement, National Coordinator of HURIWA, Emmanuel Onwubiko, described as inconsiderate, insensitive, irrational and reckless the directive that fuel subsidy was gone.

The rights group urged the civil rights community and the labour unions to mobilise Nigerian workers and all proletarian people of Nigeria to embark on indefinite strike and civil disobedience actions should Tinubu not reverse his proposition to end the subsidy regime, “when inflation and poverty are tearing millions of Nigerians apart and sending many to their early graves due to intractable economic adversities.”

HURIWA wondered how the new president wanted to commence his government by imposition of extremely economic measure such as the draconian removal of fuel subsidy, “which will lead to the skyrocketing of purchasing prices of goods and services in Nigeria.”

HURIWA expressed shock that, “when 100 million households are absolutely poor, President Tinubu rather than ameliorate the problems has added fuel to the fire.”

HURIWA warned that the removal of fuel subsidy could snowball into popular uprising if not reversed immediately.

It queried Tinubu for allowing the Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Usman Baba Alkali, to attend the sacred oath-taking ceremony in Abuja, arguing that it was a desecration of the constitution, “and that it is a very bad sign of how President Bola Ahmed Tinubu may disrespect the rulings of courts of competent authority as recognised by Section 6 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

It recalled that Justice Riman had in the suit marked FHC/AWK/CS/58/2023, made an order restraining Alkali from further parading himself as the Inspector General of Police or exercising any form of command or control over the Nigeria Police Force.

Fuel Scarcity Resurfaces in Abuja, Lagos, Benin

Following the announcement of his resolve to end petrol subsidy, filling stations in many parts of Abuja, Lagos and Benin City had stopped selling the product in anticipation of price increase.

In Edo State, for instance, there was panic buying of petrol as motorist besieged the NNPC filling station on Sapele Road after the announcement of the fuel subsidy removal.

During a visit to the fuel station, yesterday, there were about 25 vehicles on the queue, but that soon increased astronomical after the announcement was made.

The queue stretched from Sapele Road to High Court Road with many motorists stating that they did not know what would happen now that the subsidy had been removed.

A motor driver, Idemudia Ezekiel, said he left home to join the queue as soon as the announcement was made and was surprised to meet many motorists on the queue.

According to him, “Hopefully, the removal of subsidy will affect the masses. I had to rush to the mega station to buy fuel, but I met a long queue. I was surprised to see the number of vehicles on the queue.”

Although the NNPC mega station was still selling at N187 per litre, other stations, which also had considerable vehicles on the queues, sold for between N230 and N250 per litre

Besides, many the fuel stations in Benin metropolis have shuts their gates to customers apparently in anticipation of price increase.

Inauguration: Tinubu’s Speech Didn’t Inspire Hope, Says LP

The leadership of Labour Party (LP) said the inauguration of speech of President BolaTinubu was without clear direction for the people of Nigeria.

The party said Tinubu’s speech clearly “exposed the shallowness and policy incongruity that his administration is hoping to bequeath Nigerians.”

In a statement, National Publicity Secretary of the Abure-led National Working Commttee (NWC) of the party, Obiora Ifoh, first berated the president for describing “the election that brought him to power as tough but fairly won.”

Ifoh said LP considered the “speech as defective in many ways,” pointing out,”Late President Umaru Yar’Adua, recall, on the inauguration of his government did state that the election that brought him to power was flawed and imperfect but he promised that he was going to fix the electoral system.”

LP stated, “But today, Nigerians were aghast with the boldness and glee with which Tinubu declared his election as fair. We consider this audacity as a slap on the faces of millions of Nigerians, who voted their conscience but were robbed by a collective power of state institutions and brute bringandry unleashed on them.

“Nigerians will not forget in a hurry that unction by the then presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Tinubu, to ‘grab power and run with it’, a directive that was effected on the February 25 election day.”

Ifoh said what was witnessed yesterday “was a celebration of lies and deceit, and that explains why the streets are like grave yards with no pomp and pageantry usually associated with a major feat like what we had today.”

He called on Nigerians, whom he described as the highest office in Nigeria, “not to allow this government any space to toil with the destiny of this nation again.”

UK Government Congratulates Tinubu and Shettima on their inauguration

The United Kingdom Government congratulated Tinubu and Shettima on their inauguration.

In a message to Tinubu, His Majesty King Charles III said, “Dear Mr. President, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to you on your inauguration as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and to send you every possible good wish as you assume the many responsibilities of your office.

“As Commonwealth partners with a deep bond, I look forward to building an even stronger friendship between our countries during your presidency.”

The UK delegation at the inauguration in Abuja on Monday was headed by the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Nigeria and Special Envoy on Girls’ Education, The Rt Hon Helen Grant OBE MP and the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Dr. Richard Montgomery CMG.

Helen Grant OBE, said, “My priority is to strengthen our bilateral trade and investment partnership, to the mutual benefit of our two great nations, and I look forward to working alongside the new administration to further that goal.

“In this, the land of my father, I hold a great affection for its people, and my work in ensuring every girl gets 12 years of quality education will also remain at the top of my Nigerian agenda.”

The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Richard Montgomery, said, “The UK hopes to work with the new administration as we support a more prosperous and resilient Nigeria, and strengthen our partnership on trade, development, and security.”

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