• Friday, May 24, 2024
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Shettima defends Tinubu’s policies, appeals for patience

Financial inclusion: Government targets 60m unbanked Nigerians with Aso Accord

Vice President Kashim Shettima, on Thursday, appealed to Nigerians to give President Bola Tinubu’s economic policies a ‘chance to mature’, saying that the nation would soon witness a positive turnaround.

Shettima, who was the guest speaker at the 2nd Chronicle Roundtable organised by 21st Century Media Services, in Abuja, said, “Soon, Nigeria’s economy will experience significant growth once we’ve overcome these sacrifices.

Speaking on subsidy removal, the vice president lamented that former President Muhammadu Buhari failed to make full provisions for fuel subsidy in the 2023 budget.

According to him, “the nation’s economy was already tottering towards an eclipse”, as Nigeria was spending 111.8 percent on debt servicing by 2022.

Shettima appealed for patience and time to address the serious challenges that the “Tinubu’s administration met on ground”.

Speaking on the topic titled, “Because these shortcuts are not the right ways,” Shettima noted that though the decision to remove fuel subsidy was tough considering its negative impact on the lives of the citizens, it became an inevitable option when it was discovered that the immediate past administration of Buhari did not make provision for it in the 2023 budget.

“In plain terms, our debt servicing was such that if you earned, say, N100,000, the entirety of the money wasn’t only paid to your debtor; you were forced to borrow an additional N11,800 to pay the debtor.

“There is no doubt that there’s a time to plant and a time to reap. In between those times, we appeal for patience and seek collective sacrifice from all, especially from us. We wish there were a way to treat this ailment without surgery”.

He explained: “President Bola Tinubu chose the option that would save the life of the nation, instead of one that would merely prolong its imminent and predicted economic death. Before we took charge, the biggest elephant in the room was the question of fuel subsidy removal.

“We understood why our predecessor made the decision to remove it and refused to budget for it in their final fiscal year. The year before we took office, Nigeria’s debt service-to-revenue ratio had grown to 111.8 percent. The anticipated debt crisis may sound like fancy economic jargon to the man on the street, but you and I are in a better position to understand how such miscalculations have played out in other countries. It’s an economic death sentence.

“We are not even discussing the nation’s budget deficits, diversions of resources from critical sectors of the economy, and corruption masterminded in the subsidy regime.”

Acknowledging that government is a continuum, the VP said whoever had “succeeded the previous government would have either chosen to steer the ship through the storm as President Tinubu is doing or jumped ship and let the country implode.”

Earlier, Shamsudeen Usman, chairman of the Ministry of Finance Incorporated, praised the content of the Renewed Hope Agenda of the Tinubu administration, describing it as one of the most detailed and carefully crafted policy documents in the history of the country.

He stressed the need for the Renewed Hope Agenda document to be reviewed and integrated into the medium and long-term development framework of the country, noting that policy consistency with a long-term vision to transform critical sectors of the economy was the way to go.

On his part, the CEO of 2nd Chronicle Newspaper, Mahmud Jega, welcoming guests to the event, said the need to critically analyse government policies and programmes was not just an expectation from the media but borne out of collective contribution in shaping the nation’s development trajectory.