Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, on Friday, called on Nigerians to be patient, saying though the economic reforms of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu might be tough and painful in the short term, they are necessary foundations for the economic growth and prosperity that Nigerians deserve.
The Minister, who spoke during a press briefing against the backdrop of Thursday’s Supreme Court judgement, said there were indeed challenging economic times, not just for Nigeria, but also for many countries around the world.
He said all hands must, therefore, be on the deck to tackle the challenges confronting the nation.
The Minister said the President made it clear that he was for all Nigerians regardless of regional, ethnic, partisan, or religious affiliations.
He said the removal of petrol subsidies, envisaged by the Petroleum Industry Act of 2021, was freeing up significant resources for federal and state governments to invest in infrastructure and welfare programmes for the benefit of citizens.
Idris noted that the ongoing liberalization of the foreign exchange regime was 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.
“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,” he said.
The Minister said as part of the measures to cushion the effects of the impacts of the economic reforms, a provisional wage increment of N35,000 monthly for six months, was provided.
He said the government had also provided the establishment of an Infrastructure Support Fund for states to invest in critical areas that would create an enabling environment for businesses.
He added, “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.
“There was 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.
“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.”
Idris noted that by January 2024, the Federal Government would be rolling out the students loan programme that was announced a few months ago.
He said some of the programmes were being delivered or going to be delivered in close partnership with the state governments.
The minister said distribution of grains and food items, cash transfers, and the deployment of CNG buses would be done in partnership with the state governments.
“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 programmes, 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,” he said.
Commenting on the Supreme Court judgement, the Minister said, “Now that the legal contest regarding the outcome of the presidential election is behind us, it is time for all of us to come together and move forward, into a season of governing that is without distraction.”