President Bola Tinubu on Friday said that the national minimum wage needs a review to reflect realities, assuring that improved livelihood for Nigerians remains a top priority of his administration, with more people-focused economic policies.
President Tinubu also advised national and sub-national governments to work together on the issue, which, according to him, already requires “soul searching.’’
This is as the All Progressives Congress, APC, governors under the umbrella of Progressive Governors Forum, PGF, have thrown their weight on the removal of subsidy.
Speaking when he received members of the PGF led by the Chairman, Senator Hope Uzodinma of Imo State, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, President Tinubu said that there is the need to look at the minimum wage
According to him, “We need to do some arithmetic and soul searching on the minimum wage,’’ adding, “We will have to take a look at that together, and the revenue. We must strengthen the source and application of our revenue.’’
President Tinubu urged the governors to seize the opportunity of being chosen among millions of citizens in their states to make a difference in the lives of people, adding that he will work for the benefit of Nigerians.
He said, “This meeting is not strange to me, and the content of the meeting is so valuable. The camaraderie is very stimulating. This is about the Nigerian project, not Bola Tinubu.”
He also assured that the multiple exchange rates will be streamlined, noting that governance was a continuum.
He said, “I have inherited the assets and liabilities of my predecessor. This is the first time you entered the Council Chambers, and it is my first time too for a meeting.
“As progressives and thinkers under the umbrella of the All Progressives Congress (APC), you have a role to play in educating our people and making sure we manage ourselves,’’ the President told the governors.
He further said it was a good and encouraging sign that the APC has a majority in the National Assembly and some Houses of Assembly, which will make it easier to develop policies that will directly impact the economy and the people.
“If we work together, the Nigeria of our dreams is not far away. Rest assured that we will not have multiple exchange rates anymore. You asked for this meeting, and I had to set aside time to be here.
“We have a political party that we will need to manage, whichever way, we have inherited assets and liabilities, and we cannot complain,’’ he stated.
President Tinubu said he would maintain an open-door policy, willing to entertain issues, deliberate, and collectively find solutions to the challenges facing the country, including security.
“It is in our hands, and I am ready to work and listen at any time,’’ he added.
In his remarks, the Vice President, Kashim Shettima, called on the governors to rally around the President as he tackles the challenges that stagnate the economy, like the oil subsidy and multiple exchange rates.
“Let us rally around the President and not buckle. There are vested interests that may want to resist the subsidy removal. Its removal will free resources for the development of your states,” he added.
Earlier, the Governor of Imo State pledged the support of the Progressive Governors to the President, noting that the initial decisions already foretell good intentions for the economy.
“We are here today as members of the APC to fraternize with you as our leader, and congratulate you on your election as President, and Commander-in-Chief.
“We are using this opportunity to express our support for you at this trying time in our history,’’ he said.
Uzodinma noted that the President had started well, by placing the economy and welfare of the people on a priority list, with honesty of purpose.
“We are aware of your capacity and excellent track record,’’ the PGF Chairman stated.
Speaking to correspondents later, Uzodinma, declared that Tinubu never prepared the 2023 Appropriation Act that did not provide for subsidy payment beyond June this year, and therefore, he was not the one that directed the cessation of subsidy payment.
Uzodinma, who noted that all the presidential candidates promised to remove subsidy if elected, also said that since every government must inherit assets and liabilities from preceding governments, subsidy removal was part of the liabilities taken over by the Tinubu administration.
The PGF boss recalled that even the National Economic Council (NEC) led by former Vice President Yemi Osinbajo also agreed that subsidy must go.
He said petroleum subsidy was no longer sustainable as he said it was pulling the country down.
Uzodinma noted that it has come to the point where it was either managed or it would kill the country.
He added: “If you’ll recall, government after government attempted to remove subsidy on petroleum products, right from 1999 till date and it has not been 100% successful. After all, subsidy has been removed from AGO and today, 70% of the houses in various metropolis have generators installed as source of energy.
“Now, during the presidential campaigns, the presidential candidates of all the political parties promised that when they assume office they’ll remove subsidy on petroleum products. No presidential candidate of any political party that did not make that promise as part of his campaign manifesto.
“Now what Mr. President did during the inauguration, he did not direct that subsidy should be removed, we already agreed as a government and in the National Economic Council that subsidizing petroleum products is no longer sustainable because for the past two years, we have been borrowing to subsidize and in various meetings.”
Uzodimma lamented the sudden adjustment of petroleum pump price in less than 24 minutes the President announced that subsidy is gone.
Describing it as man inhumanity to nan, the governor contended that the product that was hiked was still the old product that enjoyed the subsidy.
“I am not aware any fuel marketer has imported fuel,” he said.