President Bola Tinubu, on Tuesday, said his administration will review its earlier plan to distribute monthly cash grants of N8,000 to 12 million households for six months as part of efforts to assuage the hardship occasioned by fuel subsidy removal.
This followed public criticisms of the policy, with the organised labour saying it falls short of the level of intervention required to ease the pains of vulnerable Nigerians.
“The President has directed that the N8,000 conditional cash transfer programme envisaged to bring succour to most vulnerable households be reviewed immediately,” a statement signed by Tinubu’s Special Adviser on Special Duties, Communications and Strategy, Dele Alake, read late Tuesday.
Alake said the new directive was in “deference to the views expressed by Nigerians against it.”
The Senate had on Thursday approved the request of President Tinubu to borrow $800m loan from the World Bank.
It also amended the 2022 Supplementary Appropriation Act to accommodate the provision for N500bn for palliatives to mitigate the effect of petrol subsidy removal on poor Nigerians.
According to Tinubu, the $800m loan will be used to cater for the welfare of the vulnerable and poor households in the country under the National Safety Net programme, while the sum of N8,000 will be transferred monthly to the bank accounts of 12 million poor and low-income households for six months.
However, the organised labour and some economists faulted the plan.
In his response, the President explained that the cash programme was not the only item in his relief package for Nigerians.
Therefore, he directed that the whole gamut of palliative package of government be unveiled to Nigerians. And for the immediate release of fertilisers and grains to approximately 50 million farmers and households respectively in all the 36 states and the FCT.
He said, “The administration believes in the maxim that when there is prohibition, there must be provision.
“Since subsidy, the hydra-headed monster threatening to kill the economy, has been stopped, government has emplaced a broad spectrum of reliefs to bring help to Nigerians.”
The President further assured Nigerians that the N500bn approved by the National Assembly to cushion the pain occasioned by the end of subsidy regime would be judiciously utilised.
“The beneficiaries of the reliefs shall be Nigerians, irrespective of their ethnic, religious or political affiliation,” he affirmed.
While reiterating the President’s drive to always prioritise the well-being of Nigerians, Alake cited the signing of four Executive Orders cancelling some classes of taxes and the suspension of the implementation dates of others.
He described the move as Tinubu’s willingness to “continue to be a listening leader whose ears will not be dull to the views expressed by the citizenry.”
“The President believes government exists to cater for the interest of the people and he has demonstrated this so clearly,” he said.