Labour, experts fault President Tinubu’s N8,000 transfer to poor Nigerian families
The organised labour and some economists have criticised the proposed plan of the federal government to give the sum of N8,000 to 12 million vulnerable and poor Nigerians over the next six months in a bid to cushion the effects of the removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit, popularly known as petrol.
It will be recalled that the Senate had on Thursday approved the request of President Bola Tinubu to borrow $800m loan from the World Bank. It also amended the 2022 Supplementary Appropriation Act to accommodate the provision for N500bn for palliatives to mitigate the effect of petrol subsidy removal on poor Nigerians.
The President requested the two approvals in separate letters read by the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, at the plenary.
According to Tinubu, the $800m loan will be used to cater for the welfare of the vulnerable and poor households in the country under the National Safety Net Programme,
while the sum of N8,000 will be transferred monthly to the bank accounts of 12 million poor and low income households for six months.
But as reported by The PUNCH, the Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress, Lagos chapter, Mrs Funmi Sessi, said the Federal Government’s plan was like a drop of water in the ocean.
Sessi, who disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos on Friday, said: “Looking at the money and the effect of the subsidy removal that has escalated the prices of everything in the market, I wonder what the N8,000 can do for a family in a month.
“I wonder what it can buy and the services it can render for 30 days; N8,000 cannot take care of a family for a week; it is not possible; it is going to be like a drop of water in the ocean.
“We do not know how the government is going to get clarity for those who will require it the most; how it will identify those who are most affected, and how the palliatives will get to those actually in need.
“Labour is asking for a pay rise; for those in abject poverty, we believe the government can do better for them.”
The labour leader, however, urged the President to instead provide facilities and infrastructure to make Nigerians independent to be able to provide for themselves and their families.
“It should profile those who want to do various agricultural activities, give them the resources and mobilise them, so that they can also become employers of labour,” she added.
Also speaking, the President, Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions, Mr Oluwole Olusoji, said the move was a repeat of the same old process that did not add real value.
He said: “What people need is not cash handout, but subsidised quality of service.
Subsidised education up to a specified level; access to quality subsidised health services (free for children and established indigent families); subsidised government-managed transportation and efficient infrastructure (power, roads and communication) will add better value.”
The National Deputy President, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, Mr Tommy Okon, also spoke on the issue.
He said it would be proper to allow the presidential committee on removal of oil subsidy to conclude its report and arrive at collective agreement with the organised labour before embarking on any palliative care distribution.
“Otherwise, it will amount to doing exactly what the previous administration did that yielded no positive impact on the environment and economy,” he noted.
On his part, a professor of Economics and Public Policy at the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Akpan Ekpo, harped on the fact that the conditional cash transfer would not solve the problems of poverty, but rather an investment in infrastructure through the provision of a good transport system, quality education, quality healthcare services and decent social housing would better impact the populace.
“If tomorrow, we solve our power problem, if we have 18 hours of uninterrupted power supply, it will go a long way to help those who are small business owners. It’s better than giving people N8,000 for six months or one year. I hope that’s not what they are thinking. The last administration gave people N5,000 to sell pepper, but it didn’t work.
The best thing is to invest the money in hard and soft infrastructure, and to maintain the infrastructure over time,” he said.