‘Fuel subsidy is gone’ was the biggest message of president Bola Tinubu on the day of his inauguration on May 29, 2023. The implication of his statement is multidimensional from fuel hike to all manners of hikes in the country.
As if oil marketers were waiting for the message, few moments after the fuel subsidy is gone message, the price of fuel jacked up with old stock of fuel. Imagine the profit.
The very day subsidy was removed, the country lost some oxygen to breath, the poor are not breathing, they have been suffocated under the president who is known for one of his quotes; let the poor breathe, don’t suffocate them.
However, as Nigerians cried in different tunes the impact of removal fuel subsidy with Nigerian Labour Congress protest across the country, the federal Government proposed N8,000 for two million homes as palliative. The aroma of the palliative idea was offensive. Nobody scored the idea high except the initiators -Federal Government. Sensing the displeasure of the people, the Federal Government reneged and offered and new palliative. This time five billion naira to each state.
The purpose of the 5 billion naira palliatives according to Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State while addressing journalist in Abuja on August 17, 2023 was to enable states to procure food items for distribution to the poor in their respective states, adding that the Federal Government had also released five trucks of rice each to the 36 state governors. We wouldn’t be wrong to call it food palliatives.
The formula was simple. According to Governor Zulum the state governors are to procure 100,000 bags of rice, 40,000 bags of maize, and fertilizers, noting that 52 per cent of the funds were given to the state governments as grants with 48 per cent as loans.
How are governors managing FG palliatives
Almost all the governors have got alerts of the two billion naira and five trucks of rice, but how are the apply it.
For the Benue state governor Hyacinth Alia, who has been accused of running a solo government his has prioritized to focus on purchase of buses, register WAEC and NECO for students, pay salary, than stick to the original purpose of the money.
He announced that the State Government will use the funds to achieve the following:
- Register WAEC and NECO examinations for graduating students in all government approved secondary schools in the state for the 2023/2024 academic year.
- Provide intensive computer and ICT training for 2000 youth of the state to enable them acquire jobs within and outside the state.
- Provide grants to five thousand (5000) women in the state based on revised social register of the women cooperatives.
- Purchase one hundred new buses for the state owned transport company – Benue Links to provide services to the people of the state at a subsidize rate.
- Provide shuttle buses in the three major towns of Makurdi, Gboko, and Otukpo to ease movement within the towns.
- Pay one month pension arrears to state and local government retirees.
- Provide food items like rice in large quantity to each of the 23 Local Government Areas in the state, amongst other things.
Aside being the first Nigerian governor to disclose receipt of the palliative fund, governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, of Kwara State, has been tipped most transparent governor regarding the usage of palliatives.
Upon receiving the fund, he immediately ordered the purchase of rice with the amount specified for it.
Plateau State Governor, Caleb Mutfwang said: “We were allocated 3,000 bags of rice for the State. We are mandated to use N1bn to buy rice locally, I pledge that not a single kobo of the N5bn will be misused. We have set up a committee that will bring out the possible palliative, improving bursary of students, subsidize fertilizer for farmers…”
He added that the state is planning to roll out its own palliative aside that of the Federal government.
Governor Abdullahi Sule, has flagged off the distribution of food items already the food items, comprises rice, vegetable oil, maggi and noodles, provided by both the federal and state governments, at a ceremony at the palace of the Emir of Lafia.
While some state governments are sticking to the original plan, others have chosen to go with plans they believe so fit their state. But could that be right?