The statement credited to Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, which was used as the lead front page story in Thisday Newspaper of today (Thursday, August 24, 2023) did not come to anyone as a surprise. However, it is essential to clarify certain narratives for a more informed public discourse.
Governor Obaseki has, in recent times, 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 Peoples Democratic Party. While it is common for leaders to have divergent views, it’s crucial to align criticism with reality, and to premise discourse on tangible results.
Governor Obaseki’s comments regarding the APC-led Federal Government’s decisions on fuel subsidy 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 subsidy because of the fiscal distortions and burden it has 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 payment for fuel subsidy, 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 which 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.
Nationally, decisions led by President Tinubu are based on foresight, with the primary aim of engineering a resilient and sustainable economy. This vision is consistently echoed within the National Economic Council, where significant economic decisions are made.
We want to clearly state that Edo State, alongside other 35 States plus 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 decisions that needed 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.
Constitutionally, Governor Obaseki 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 3 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.
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 up to 20 million of the most vulnerable Nigerians.
The NEC also constituted a committee to negotiate a new national minimum wage with the Labour Unions and the general upward review of salary for public sector workers as part of plans to address the rising cost of living and help working people to maintain a decent living standard.
This is apart from ongoing plans to provide 11,500 CNG powered mass transit vehicles for affordable public transportation, supply of fertilizers 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.
What is required at this time is for leaders at all levels to cooperatively bind together to make life better for Nigerians, not to play cheap politics that serves no better purpose.
As President Tinubu has admonished, the time for politics and politicking is over. We are now in the season of the serious business of governance to build a stronger, more viable, socially cohesive and more prosperous Nigeria.
Mallam Mohammed Idris
Minister of Information & National Orientation
August 24, 2023