Obaseki backs FG's cashless policy

Information Minister cautions Gov Obaseki over comments

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The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mallam Mohammed Idris, has replied to the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, on his recent comment on fuel subsidy and foreign exchange market reforms by the federal government.

The Minister said the Governor shifted focus to the nation’s economic challenges as cannon fodder to divert attention from his poor performance at the state level since his move to the People’s Democratic Party.

He acknowledged that while it is common for leaders to have divergent views, it’s crucial to align criticism with reality and to base discourse on tangible results.

Idris said Governor Obaseki’s comments regarding the Federal Government’s decisions on fuel subsidies and foreign exchange market reforms perhaps overlooked the broader economic picture.

“It’s well documented that Nigerians, State Governors across party lines, and global institutions—including the World Bank and IMF—along with various economic experts have consistently advocated for the removal of fuel subsidies because of the fiscal distortions and burden they have placed on the economy.

“This burden includes many months of zero accretion to the Federation account by the NNPC, which left states and local governments with less money from FAAC as a result of payments for fuel subsidies, which the national oil company regularly charged to the Federation account.

“For perspective, Edo State, under Governor Obaseki’s leadership, has notably benefited from the fuel subsidy removal, which is evident in the more than doubling of the FAAC allocation between June and July 2023 to Edo State—more than it had ever received pre-fuel subsidy removal.

“Our advice? Rather than delving into narratives that do not provide the complete picture, the focus should be on how the Edo State Government will be using available resources to drive impactful projects that genuinely uplift the people of Edo State”, the Minister said in a statement he personally signed.

He said decisions led by President Tinubu are based on foresight, with the primary aim of engineering a resilient and sustainable economy.

“We want to clearly state that Edo State, alongside the other 35 States plus the FCT, can access more FAAC revenue, due only to the bold and courageous economic decisions taken by President Bola Tinubu since he assumed office.

These decisions have been applauded across the globe because they are the ones that need to be taken to reposition the national economy for better output.

“We are still at a loss on what could be the trigger for Governor Obaseki to issue such blatantly false accusations against the Federal Government”, the Minister noted.

The Information Minister further stated that constitutionally, the Governor is a member of the National Economic Council (NEC), where far-reaching decisions were taken on the issues he talked about in his media address by his colleagues while sitting in council with the Vice President, Senator Kashim Shettima.

“Even as Governor Obaseki will have an explanation to make to the people of his state on why he was absent at the two NEC meetings under the current administration, we will like to inform him that his colleagues praised President Tinubu for finding the courage to remove the ghost of fuel subsidy, which crippled the finances of the three tiers of government for decades.

“It would be helpful if Governor Obaseki participated in these meetings to provide insights and align with the collective vision.

“At the last NEC meeting, which took place last week, the council took far-reaching decisions on many interventions to help households, contrary to the wrong impression being created by Governor Obaseki”, the statement said.

The Minister said one of the decisions was an approval for the immediate disbursement of N5 billion to each of the states to procure food items for onward distribution to families, while the states are working to clean up the social registers for cash transfers that will benefit 20 million of the most vulnerable Nigerians.

He also said the NEC constituted a committee to negotiate a new national minimum wage with the labour Unions and a general upward review of salaries for public sector workers as part of plans to address the rising cost of living and help working people maintain a decent living standard.

“This is apart from ongoing plans to provide 11,500 CNG-powered mass transit vehicles for affordable public transportation, the supply of fertilisers to farmers, and support for farmers to cultivate 500,000 hectares of arable land to plant staple crops for consumption and industrial use.

“The Federal Government understands the current difficulties Nigerians are facing and is working very hard with the states and local governments to bring succour to our people.

“President Tinubu is guiding our country through very challenging times. We are supremely confident that we will soon turn the corner into a prosperous future”, the statement added.

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