The organised labour has knocked the Federal Government for releasing a N180bn palliative package to states to cushion the impact of the fuel subsidy removal.
The Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress insisted that the governors could not be trusted, noting that politicians and not the poor would benefit from the N5bn largess given to each state government for disbursement to the citizens.
The Federal Government on Thursday announced an N5bn palliative for each state of the federation and 180 trucks of rice as part of measures to assuage the pains of the subsidy removal.
The policy, which led to sharp and multiple increases in fuel pump prices, has driven up the prices of goods and services, pushing millions of Nigerians into poverty and worsening the socio-economic situation in the country.
The development also triggered nationwide protests by organised labour which insisted on the repair of refineries as a precondition for the subsidy withdrawal.
But announcing the release of the palliative at the end of the 135th National Economic Council meeting presided over by Vice President Kashim Shettima in Abuja, the Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, disclosed that the N5bn was to enable the state governments to procure 100,000 bags of rice, 40,000 bags of maize and fertilizers to cushion the effect of food shortage across the country.
He added that considering the urgency in meeting the need to mitigate the skyrocketing food prices across the country, the Federal Government had last week released five trucks of rice to each state of the federation.
Shettima explained, “NEC met today and expressed serious concerns as regards increasing cost of food items, increasing cost of transportation amongst others as a result of subsidy removal. In order to cushion the effect of subsidy removal, the federal government released five trucks of rice to each state last week.
“Furthermore, in order to cushion the effect of food shortages across the country, the Federal Government has approved the sum of N5bn to be given to each state for the procurement of 100,000 bags of rice, 40,000 bags of maize, and fertilizers.
“This funding has to be shared with a formula as follows: 52 percent of this money is given to states as grants, while 48 per cent of the N5bn is to be paid back on an installment basis within a period of 20 months to the CBN by the states and the local government areas in Nigeria.
“The council commended the efforts of the Federal Government under the leadership of President Tinubu as well as the CBN. We have also commended the efforts of NEMA in cushioning the effects of the subsidy removal.
“Council has taken bold decisions in order to ensure speedy release of grains and other items in order to cushion the effects of subsidy removal on the less privileged in the society.’’
He noted that the council took bold decisions in order to ensure the speedy release of grains and other items for immediate distribution to the less privileged in society.
Shettima added, “The council has also taken note of the $800m loan and insists that it be strictly used for the intended purpose and based on an accurate and acceptable register. The $800m announced by the president will go to Nigerians in accordance with an accurate social register.
“Furthermore, the council has also noted the package that was announced by the President in order to cushion the effect of subsidy removal, amounting to about N500bn.
“This fund has to be distributed to the following sectors: MSMEs, industrial sector; about N125 billion will go for cash transfers, agricultural sector as well as gas expansion for buses.
“And because of the increasing cost of fossil fuel, the federal government intends to establish more gas stations in Nigeria and procure more gas-powered buses, CNG buses as well as electric buses.”
He said the council commended the efforts of the Federal Government and the CBN in addressing the current situation in the country.