Federal Government on Friday called on political leaders and stakeholders to join hands together in moving Nigeria forward.
The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Mohammed Idris, who made the appeal in Abuja, advised Nigerians to be patient with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, noting that Tinubu has great plans for the country.
Idris also listed a good number of achievements recorded by the current administration in a short time.
He also highlighted some of the President’s plans to take Nigeria to a greater height.
Reacting to the Supreme Court verdict, Idris said: “Let me start by welcoming you to this press conference, which we have put together in the aftermath of the significant rulings by the Supreme Court of Nigeria, yesterday, laying to rest the petitions filed regarding the 2023 Presidential Election that brought His Excellency President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to office.
The Courts have spoken and the President and the ruling party, the All Progressives’ Congress (APC) have welcomed this judicial victory as pronounced.
We thank the Judiciary for the painstaking work that they have done, and for rising up to the occasion in fulfilment of their constitutional mandate as the final arbiters of electoral proceedings in the country.
Now that the legal contest regarding the outcome of the Presidential election is now behind us, it is time for all of us to come together and move forward, into a season of governing that is without distraction.
Ladies and gentlemen,
These are indeed challenging economic times, not just for Nigeria, but also for many countries around the world, and all hands must be on deck to tackle the challenges confronting us. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has made it clear that he will be a President for all Nigerians: regardless of regional, ethnic, partisan, or religious affiliations.
Since he assumed office on May 29, he has been working tirelessly to actualize the Renewed Hope Agenda that formed the basis of his coming into office. He has implemented unprecedented reforms that, while tough and painful in the short term, are necessary foundations for the economic growth and prosperity that the people of Nigeria deserve.
The removal of petrol subsidies, which as you all know were already envisaged by the Petroleum Industry Act of 2021, is freeing up significant resources for Federal and State Governments to invest in infrastructure and welfare programs for the benefit of citizens.
Similarly, the ongoing liberalization of the foreign exchange regime is designed to close loopholes and gaps that have been exploited in very unscrupulous ways over the years, leading to the loss of billions of dollars in our scarce, hard-earned resources.
The combined impact of these reforms has no doubt produced pain for many of our citizens, which the President and the administration have never shied away from acknowledging these difficulties.
No serious government seeks to inflict burdens on its people. We are very clear in explaining that these pains being felt are a short-term sacrifice to make for the kind of country that we want and that we deserve.
In his Independence Day address to the nation, on October 1, 2023, President Tinubu said, and I quote: “Reform may be painful, but it is what greatness and the future require. We now carry the costs of reaching a future Nigeria where the abundance and fruits of the nation are fairly shared among all, not hoarded by a select and greedy few. A Nigeria where hunger, poverty and hardship are pushed into the shadows of an ever-fading past. There is no joy in seeing the people of this nation shoulder burdens that should have been shed years ago. I wish today’s difficulties did not exist. But we must endure if we are to reach the good side of our future. My government is doing all that it can to ease the load.” End of quote.
Indeed, the Tinubu Administration is taking all the necessary steps to alleviate these pains, and cushion the impact of the foundational reforms we are embarking on. I will now go on to outline some of the efforts so far, in the short and medium-term, to make life better for all Nigerians, even as we await the longer-term benefits of our reforms.
a. A provisional wage increment of N35,000 monthly for six months, to enhance federal minimum wage, without causing undue inflation.
b. Establishment of an Infrastructure Support Fund for States to invest in critical areas that will create an enabling environment for businesses
c. Launch of a 100 Billion Naira CNG bus rollout programme, to deliver CNG-powered buses, and establishment of a Presidential Committee to drive implementation.
d. Since he assumed office, the President has signed no fewer than five Executive Orders, aimed at improving Nigeria’s business and fiscal environment, and increasing foreign exchange supply.
e. Establishment of a Presidential Fiscal Policy and Tax Reform Committee to reform the tax system while also reducing tax burden on Nigerians. The Committee has this week presented its first set of reform proposals to the President, and Nigerians can rest assured that they will be implemented. I must emphasize that one of the primary mandates of the Committee is to reduce the tax burdens and complications faced by Nigerians.
f. We are finalizing the process for payment of a Cash Transfer of N25,000 monthly to 15 million of the poorest and most vulnerable households in Nigeria, for three months.
g. A presidential directive for the release of 200,000 Metric Tonnes of grains from strategic reserves to households across the 36 states and FCT to moderate prices, and 225,000 metric tonnes of fertilizer, seedlings and other inputs to farmers.
h. An access-to-credit programme for startups and MSMEs, that will be launched soon: providing N50 billion in Conditional Grants to 1 million nano-businesses across Nigeria between now and March 2024; and a new single-digit interest-rate Fund to provide N75 billion to support manufacturing enterprises; among others.
i. We have launched the 3MTT programme that aims to develop 3 million technical talents by 2025, in line with the President’s vision for making Nigeria a global hub for digital jobs. In just two weeks since it was launched, close to 500,000 applications have been received from across Nigeria.
j. Still in line with the jobs agenda, we have recently launched the National Talent Export Programme (NATEP), to create one million service-export jobs over the next 5 years, and make Nigeria a global business outsourcing hub; and have also launched the Nigeria Artificial Intelligence Research Scheme, to provide funding for Nigerian startups and researchers working in the area of Artificial Intelligence.
k. By January 2024, we will be rolling out the new Federal student loan program that was announced a few months ago.
Some of these programs are being delivered or going to be delivered in close partnership with the State Governments. For example, the distribution of grains and food items, cash transfers, and the deployment of CNG buses.
These are in addition to the programs and policies that the States are themselves rolling out on their own. We must always highlight the fact that the government’s contributions to solving Nigeria’s problems lie in the collective effort of Federal and sub-national governments.
We will not abdicate our responsibilities as a Federal Government, but it is also important to explain that we cannot do it alone. State and Local Governments have very important roles to play, and this is why the President has an open-door policy when it comes to engaging with State Governors, and finding ways to support them to more deliver more effectively on their mandates.
Just this week, at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Monday, Council approved a number of financing packages that will see several States receiving significant support to deliver on various programs, including access to education for adolescent girls.
Work is currently at an advanced stage on the 2024 Federal Budget. Last week we approved the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the Fiscal Sustainability Paper (FSP) that underpin the Budget. Nigerians should rest assured that this, the first Appropriation Act of the Tinubu Administration, will be one that is wholly focused on the economic welfare and prosperity of all.
Against this backdrop of multifaceted government interventions and commitment, I want to appeal to Nigerians to please exercise patience and optimism that Nigeria will emerge from this chapter stronger and more prosperous. This is our country, it belongs to all of us, regardless of who we may have voted for in the last elections.
We want a country that works for all of us, no matter what our cultural, religious or political differences might be. To guarantee this kind of country that works on all levels, for all its people, let us strive to put our differences aside, to believe the best about our country, and to support our elected leaders. Let our criticisms be constructive, let our actions be honest and patriotic.
On our part we will continue to strive to rebuild the trust of citizens in the ways and workings of Government, and boost the credibility of public information and communication.
I will close with the words of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, following the Supreme Court judgement yesterday. He said, and I quote: “Our Renewed Hope agenda for a greater and prosperous Nigeria has further gained momentum and I will continue to work from morning to night, every single day, to build a country that meets our collective yearnings and aspirations.” End of Quote.
On this note, I thank you all once again for joining us at this press conference, and I would now like to invite your questions.”