*Lashes Edo governor for alleged underperformanc
Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The federal government has called on the Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki to eschew politics in his criticism of the government, declaring that as President Tinubu has admonished, “the time for politics and politicking is over. “We are now in the season of the serious business of governance to build a stronger, more viable, socially cohesive and more prosperous Nigeria.”
The Minister Information and National Orientation, Mallam Mohammed Idris, delivered the rebuke yesterday, in response to a statement credited to Obaseki, which was published by THISDAY. He accused Obaseki of ignorance of the broader economic picture including the advocacy of World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and economic experts who had consistently advocated for the removal of fuel subsidy because of the fiscal distortions and burden it placed on the economy.
Idris, condemned Obaseki of shifting focus to the nation’s economic challenges as cannon fodder to divert attention from his alleged poor performance at the state level since his defection to the Peoples Democratic Party. He said the governor failed to align his divergent views with reality.
“Governor Obaseki’s comments regarding the APC-led federal government’s decisions on fuel subsidy and foreign exchange market reforms perhaps overlooked the broader economic picture. It’s well documented that Nigerians, state governors across party lines, and global institutions—including the World Bank and IMF—along with various economic experts, have consistently advocated for the removal of fuel subsidy because of the fiscal distortions and burden it has placed on the economy.
“This burden includes many months of zero accretion to the Federation account by the NNPC which left states and local governments with less money from FAAC, as a result of payment for fuel subsidy, which the national oil company regularly charged to the Federation account,” Idris said.
He added that Edo State, under Obaseki’s leadership, also benefited from the fuel subsidy removal, as evident in the more than doubling of the FAAC allocation between June and July 2023, to the state, which was more than it had ever received pre-fuel subsidy removal.
The minister said rather than delving into narratives which do not provide the complete picture, Obaseki’s focus should be on how the Edo State government would be using available resources to drive impactful projects that genuinely uplift the people of the state.
“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 needed to be taken to reposition the national economy for better output.
“We are still at a loss on what could be the trigger for Governor Obaseki to issue such blatantly false accusations against the Federal Government.
“Constitutionally, Governor Obaseki is a member of the National Economic Council (NEC) where far-reaching decisions were taken on the issues he talked about, in his media address by his colleagues, while sitting in-Council with the Vice President, Senator Kashim Shettima.
“Even as Governor Obaseki will have an explanation to make to the people of his state on why he was absent at the two NEC meetings under the current administration, we will like to inform him that his colleagues praised President Tinubu for finding the courage to remove the ghost of fuel subsidy which crippled the finances of the the tiers of government for decades.
“It would be helpful if Governor Obaseki participated in these meetings to provide insights and align with the collective vision,” Idris added.
He further noted that at the last NEC meeting held last week, the council took far-reaching decisions on many interventions to help households, contrary to the wrong impression being created by Obaseki.
According to the minister, one of the decisions was an approval for the immediate disbursement of N5 billion to each of the states to procure food items for onward distribution to families, while the states work to clean up the social registers for cash transfers that would benefit up to 20 million of the most vulnerable Nigerians.
He averred: “The NEC also constituted a committee to negotiate a new national minimum wage with the Labour Unions and the general upward review of salary for public sector workers as part of plans to address the rising cost of living and help working people to maintain a decent living standard.
“This is apart from ongoing plans to provide 11,500 CNG powered mass transit vehicles for affordable public transportation, supply of fertilizers to farmers, and support for farmers to cultivate 500,000 hectares of arable land to plant staple crops for consumption and industrial use.
“The federal 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 urged all leaders at all levels to cooperatively bind together to make life better for Nigerians, not to play cheap politics that serves no better purpose.
He posited that in consonance with Tinubu’s admonition that the time for politics and politicking was over, saying, “the time has come for serious business of governance to build a stronger, more viable, socially cohesive and more prosperous Nigeria.”