JUST IN: Letter to President Tinubu on cost of living

Your Excellency, this open letter is neither on personal sentiment nor a criticism of your administration but a gospel truth. It’s undeniable that the present administration inherited a bankrupt country by the manner the Muhammadu Buhari administration badly managed the economy and left the country neck-deep in local and foreign debts<<<READ FULL ARTICLE>>>

But in fairness, the current hardship being experienced by the citizens is largely caused by the removal of petrol subsidy at once.

Since then several attempts have been made to cushion the effect, but all in vain. As it is now, over 2/3 of the population is in dire need of food on the table as each day the suffering reaches an unbearable point and leaves impoverished citizens resorting to looting trucks of foodstuffs in parts of the country.

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Mr. President’s intention to ease the suffering of the citizens through rolling out many palliative measures in his July 31 broadcast to the nation is commendable. He announced the first set of N500bn palliative plan that included N100bn to acquire 3,000 units of 20-seater CNG-fuelled buses, N200bn to boost agriculture production, N75bn for manufacturers, and N125bn for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, and the informal sector. The administration also pledged to invest N50bn each to cultivate 150,000 hectares of rice and maize. Unfortunately, these have not yielded any impact.

Some weeks ago, the president ordered the distribution of free grains from the Strategic Food Reserves but civil servants forgot to brief him that the reserves are empty. Instead of toning down the agony of Nigerians the efforts seem like chopping off a person’s legs without giving them anesthesia or providing drugs to prevent inevitable infections.

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Each passing day Nigerians express deep anguish and frustration regarding the exorbitant cost of living in our beloved country. The struggles ordinary citizens face in affording necessities are becoming unbearable, and urgent action is needed to alleviate their suffering.

Mr. President, the high cost of living has permeated every aspect of our lives. From the soaring food prices that leave families struggling to put meals on the table to the astronomical rents that make finding decent housing a distant dream for many, the burden is weighing heavily on Nigerians. We are caught in a vicious cycle where the more we earn, the more we spend to survive, leaving us trapped in a never-ending struggle to make ends meet.

With the removal of fuel subsidies, more monies are being shared by the federal, state, and local governments and some of these monies are changed to dollars at the parallel market. BusinessDay has asked us to open our eyes from now on the price of dollars one week before FAAC allocation, check back the price after the allocation and you will see the difference.

Mr. President and his appointees need to understand that subsidies are at the foundation of the Western economy and its sustainability. Just recently the US allocated over $300b on fuel subsidies and the UK spends 23% of its public expenditure on subsidies.

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Not the other way round as the country’s political elite are miseducated to believe subsidies were charity paid by governments, instead of an insurance policy to demobilise potential revolutions against the ruling class. Little do they know that from the 1940s the Western capitalist nations had to spend money they didn’t have on consumer subsidies to avoid a Russian-type revolution.

The present administration believes in economic liberalism and market forces. But they forget that even advanced countries subsidise the basic needs of their citizens. Based on this belief, the administration ended fuel subsidies, and soon electricity subsidies will be removed while Ghana reduces electricity charges to its citizens.

Inflation has exceeded 30%, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS. In the foregoing situation, Nigeria is facing one of its worst economic crises, in years the country’s currency hit an all-time low and Nigerians never witnessed how our currency floated like now. The administration wanted to restructure the economy, but it seems the policies are not being implemented with a human face.

I wonder why in the 21st century, Nigerians are talking about daily survival when Ghanaians and Beninese have passed the level of hunger and can afford three square meals per day. Nigerians are crying about food prices beyond their affordability. A mother whose children are hungry does not stay long in the kitchen. There is a need for the administration to expedite action to ensure that the food is ready to calm hungry citizens’ nerves.

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President Tinubu needs to strive for good governance and ensure progress in five core principles of good governance that cut across transparency, accountability, participation, anti-corruption efforts, and the rule of law. No one is above the power of government and if the administration has a genuine intention to ease the hardship it can do it by shifting gears from total economic liberalism and free market forces.

Government should force the local rice, sugar, and spaghetti industries and merchants to stop manipulating the situation and ensure those people who hoard foodstuffs are brought to justice .

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With all sense of respect for you and your office, there is a difference between admitting the problems and bringing a lasting solution. Taking personal responsibility for the pains poor people are going through is courageous but offering lasting solutions towards alleviating the problems is most needed. Mr. President and his appointees should have it at the back of their minds that “A hungry man is an angry man”. Nigerians want to have genuine solace, not the president’s acknowledgment of the hardship the citizens go through<<<READ FULL ARTICLE>>>

Abba Dukawa,