“EvEry day, as I travel round the country to meet our people, I see on their faces evidence of pains and trauma they are going through. I have heard the anguish and cries of our people in various town meetings that I have addressed”. These were the words of Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, during the South West Conference of the All Progressives Congress, APC held at the Premier Hotel, Ibadan, recently. This is actually not the best time for majority of Nigerians, especially the masses as they currently face the worse economic hardship in the history of the country. There is so much hunger, anger, restiveness, violence, killings and other crimes in the land, most of which have links to the hardship being faced by the people. Many Nigerians overwhelmingly backed Catholic Priest and Spiritual Director of the Adoration Ministry, Enugu State, Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka, for his blunt message to President Muhammadu Buhari that Nigerians are presently living in hell due to the economic hardship. He warned the President that Nigerians will not vote for him in 2019 if he does not address the high level of hunger and suffering in the country. In the message, Mbaka noted that there was too much suffering in the country, and faulted the President for not appointing the right people. He also accused the President of listening to the wrong advice. “There is hunger everywhere. Landlords are crying; tenants are lamenting, sellers are crying, buyers are lamenting – there is hunger on the streets. I can’t keep quiet when things are going wrong. “I am telling the President to look around him and know those who are advising him rightly and those who are telling him that there is no trouble. The President should know that there is trouble. If things continue like this, in the next election, nobody will vote for him”, the message partly reads. While agreeing with the clergy, former governor of Kaduna State, Baralabe Musa, said “If the challenges facing Nigeria are not addressed, Buhari will lose in 2019 except he rigs the election. And that will be dangerous for the country”. Also, the President of Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Yerima Shettima, said the President was fast losing the goodwill that gave him electoral victory last year. He noted that the Buhari administration had lost focus, which had led to abject poverty and suffering for Nigerians. He said, “The level of poverty is extremely high and it is worsening. People have advised him, but he refused to heed good counsel. His goodwill has nosedived. “What we have seen is different from the expectations of the masses. People sacrificed so much to ensure that he emerged victorious at the poll. But what we have seen is appalling. Personally, I have stopped advising him because he does not listen”. However, it is good to note that Muhammadu Buhari administration has admitted that just a little over a year ago of its inauguration, majority of Nigerians are already fed up with the direction that the seemingly rudderless ship of the Nigerian state was headed. It is also gratifying to note that the government is aware of the hardships facing the people, and according to Osinbajo, President Buhari feels the pains that the people feel, and reassured that a glorious dawn awaits them. The federal government had on many occasions pleaded for greater understanding and patience of Nigerians in the face of biting economic headship in the country. “As you all may well know, the
people’s confidence in the government. Not only Osinbajo and Buhari, but many other notable Nigerians have pleaded for patience and understanding with the present administration to fix the economy. But all the masses are saying is that they have shown enough of that with the government and wanted all the electoral promises that made them voted for change fulfilled for better life. “We seek your continued trust and ask you all to join hands with the government as we tackle the challenges ahead. Change is not easy, but, we are not relenting until we achieve a better life for all Nigerians. The change that we advocate will be irrevocable when we are finally done”, the vice president said. Osinbajo, who was represented at the event by the Special Adviser (Political), Senator Babafemi Ojudu continued: “Nigerians who desired
darkest part of the night is the period before the dawn. Nigeria’s dawn is about to break. We are determined to turn things around, so that, once more, our people will begin the real impact of government in their lives”, the vice president assured. Though it is agreed that change is not easy, majority of the masses who supported and voted for the APC-led federal government in particular, expected a positive change that will make life worthy of living for them. But after a year in power by the party, majority have expressed their disappointment in the government, especially with growing hunger and other hardships in the land. It is however a known fact that the federal government has not been relenting in its efforts to address the challenges, but as political and economic analysts said, while the war against corruption is going on, there is need to put in place measures that would cushion the effects on hardship being faced by the people. This, they noted if it is done will further boost the the needed change that we promised voted for our great party in their millions. That confidence reposed in us by millions of Nigerians is what we have come to renew. Since we have savoured the sweetness of that electoral victory, we cannot afford to betray the trust that paved the way to usher in change from the ineptness of the past. When we took over the reins of governance, we knew things were bad. What we did not realise, however, was just how bad they really were. Now we know better! “We have since been working extremely hard to remedy the rot and malaise that pervaded our dear country. The current pains and sufferings that our people are feeling today are the results of yesterday’s mismanagement of the commonwealth of our great country. “Our plea to our people is for greater understanding and patience even as we forge ahead to continue the work of making the lives of all Nigerians better again. We seek your continued trust and ask you all to join hands with the government as we tackle and surmount the challenges ahead. Change is not easy, but we are not relenting until we achieve a better life for all Nigerians…” As part of efforts to remedy the present situation, especially at the states level, the federal government had last year gave bailout to the state governments who are worse hit by the crisis. Unfortunately, most of the 23 states that got the bailout cash for the settlement of arrears of workers’ salaries and emoluments diverted the funds for other purposes, thereby defeating the purpose of the federal government’s effort to provide succour for the workers. A comprehensive analysis carried out by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission, ICPC, in conjunction with the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC revealed that many of the states deliberately lied that they owed their workers huge debts when the reverse was the case. A major feature of the analysis released by the ICPC and signed by its Commissioner for Public Enlightenment, indicated that many of the states failed to apply the amount received from the federal government to settle their indebtedness to their workers, leaving them enmeshed in huge arrears of salaries to the staff despite collecting the bailout cash. Again, the federal government has made moves to rescue state governments with another bailout. State governments had last year received N713.7billion bailout from the federal government to pay workers backlog of salaries, but they are still grappling with the same challenges due to Nigeria’s dwindling oil revenues. The federal government has now decided to give out another N90 billion loan, which it believes will help the states in their bid to be less dependent on the monthly handout from the federation account. The loan, according to the Federal Ministry of Finance, will be given over one year and will be extended to the states after they have met 22 conditions. Meanwhile, some states have agreed to the new conditions for future bailout funds. The conditional Budget Support Facility to provide financial relief to state governments is being finalised by the federal government, according to the Ministry of Finance has said. The ministry explained that the proposed facility, aimed at providing support to overcome the current financial challenges faced by several states, would be subject to the states meeting a stringent 22-point reform agenda called the Fiscal Sustainability Plan, FSP. It disclosed that the FSP was unanimously agreed by state governors during the National Economic Council, NEC meeting held on May 19and it encompasses a framework of reform measures including the requirement to publish audited financial statements and budgets, biometric and Bank Verification Number, BVN payroll review exercises to sanitise payroll costs, as well as limits on recurrent expenditure levels. “On its part the federal government has agreed to develop IPSAS-compliant software for states to use, and to develop new bond issuance guidelines to ease access to the capital market for states wishing to fund developmental projects. “Disbursements will be conditional upon states meeting their agreed targets and will be subject to monitoring and evaluation by independent monitoring agents. States that fail to meet the agreed reform targets will be excluded from further funding. “The FSP mirrors the public financial management reforms currently being pursued at the federal government level and is expected to set the states on a path towards long-term fiscal sustainability”, the ministry added.

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