• Thursday, April 18, 2024
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Arewa Economic Forum calls for reversal of subsidy removal policy as hardship persist

Northern agenda tops Arewa group’s demand to support any presidential candidate

Arewa Economic Forum (AEF) has called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to reverse the subsidy removal policy, which according to them has created a hyperinflation and increased hardship in the country.

Ibrahim Dandakata, the chairman of the forum made this call during a press briefing in Abuja on Thursday, stating that many Nigerians have become impoverished due to rising cost of living in the country, due to fuel subsidy removal.

“Today’s address is coming at an auspicious time for the people of our great nation as they can hardly feed, buy drugs and other essentials. Due to hyperinflation caused by fuel subsidy removal and free fall of the Naira, our people have to pay more for everything with money that is not even there.

“To be fair to him, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu made it unambiguously clear during the electioneering campaign that he would remove fuel subsidy if he won the election. What he didn’t however warn Nigerians of is the unprecedented hardship this singular decision will cause for our people.

“We are therefore using this platform to call on President Tinubu to reverse the subsidy removal policy and use the extra money FAAC has been giving to the states to resume paying subsidy on PMS. The President should do this urgently if he knows he can’t find a way within the limit of his constitutional powers and political influence to make the governors more accountable to the people,” he said.

Dandakata, who noted that the subsidy removal policy had resulted in increase in the monies shared to state governors at the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) meetings, questioned the use of allocation.

He decried that the FAAC allocations were not trickling down to the masses, alleging that the governors were not investing in areas that will reflate the state economy.

“We at the AEF have found out that the huge sums of money available to state governors are not trickling down because the governors are not investing in areas that will reflate the state economy and are not committed to providing palliatives for the people.

“A check we conducted on recent FAAC allocations has shown that some of the states have had their allocations increased by up to 90 percent with little or no improvement in the lives of the people. The percentage increase in the allocations to states after fuel subsidy removal is humongous.

“We are also calling on the federal government to put together a proper social register that can be used to distribute food items to Nigerians without the involvement of the state governments,” he said.

Speaking on the government’s move towards establishing state policing system to combat the rising insecurity in the country, Dandakata feared that the move will empowerthe state governors with a tool they are most likely to use for political witch-hunting.

He however proposed that federal government should revive and expand the Police Constabulary and provide for it the logistics needed to support security agencies to combat crimes at local levels, adding that state governments, who are desirous of such policing at their level, should be made to provide the missing logistics for it to function well in terms of operational costs and allowances.

“We are also of the opinion that the federal government must summon adequate political will to arrest the free fall of the Naira compared to the rising dollar. Dollar is not a legal tender in Nigeria. The government should therefore ban the practice of keeping dollars at home or in offices, and clampdown on all hoarders of dollars.

“The government should also investigate why dollars go up after every FAAC meeting. Relevant government agencies should also ban the practice of paying for goods and services online in dollars. Everything must be in Naira as far as it is done by a Nigerian in Nigeria. If we don’t stop our obsession with the dollar, our Naira will never rise.

“All agricultural facilities are within the grasp of the state governments including dams and the land. But the state governments are doing nothing in the area of irrigation and provision of lands for beneficial farming. The states have to do better.

“The federal government should also ensure that in its agricultural development plans, the emphasis is on semi-mechanised farming that creates job opportunities for the unemployed and not full merchanised farming that will just render our people jobless and redundant.

“We know that mining is on the exclusive list as the federal government has absolute powers on everything below the surface. But the present administration is yet to come up with any clear cut plan on artisanal mining which is an untapped area for real, massive job creation. Government should concentrate on developing artisanal miners and not just the big companies.

“Education is the bedrock of society and we need to now focus on teaching our young ones both the hard and soft skills that can give them real sustenance and make them useful to the economy. We need to also revert to the use of local languages in teaching. Skills rather than mere certificates should be the priority,” he said.