The Minister of Finance, Mr Wale Edun, and the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Atiku Bagudu, have assured Nigerians that the high cost of living being witnessed by Nigerians is currently being addressed.
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Olayemi Cardoso, Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Zacch Adedeji, joined the ministers to allay the fear of Nigerians about the current inflation.
They all spoke when they appeared at the sectoral debate organised by the House of Representatives for the finance sector and stakeholders on the current cost of living at a Plenary in Abuja, yesterday..
Speaking, Edun, who is also the coordinating minister of the economy, said “Where we are as a nation is a much better place than we were in on May 29, 2023.”
He added that Nigeria as a country was on the road to economic disaster by way of subsidy on fuel, adding that it was expected that there would be challenges as a result of subsidy removal.
Edun said that inflation had increased and the cost of living had spiked, but stated that President Bola Tinubu was committed to protecting the poorest and the vulnerable.
“As things improve, there will be further intervention on behalf of the vulnerable to assist in the cost of living.
“Let us be confident, calm, and assured that Nigeria will change in terms of economic management and that there will be intervention in every sector.”
According to him, there is a need to tackle inflation because full inflation accounts for 33 percent of the consumer price index.
He said there was a need to return to production, adding that industry, however, required energy to function optimally and that President Nola Tinubu was also committed to using state power to subdue vested interest in the oil sector.
On his part, Bagudu said the president was committed to national development, adding that the President reckoned with the challenges of the living conditions of the people.
“What is happening in our country is obvious to someone visiting a construction site; we are very clear that we are on the right path and the challenges of the moment are being tackled.
“We are getting support from international partners, and they are all acknowledging the commendable steps that the president is taking.
“We have seen investments in the rail sector, the NNLG, and we assure you that we will overcome the challenges of the moment and sustain the economic growth as promised by the President,” he said.
In a related development, Cardoso expressed confidence that positive outcomes from the administration of Tinubu were already emerging and would further emerge in the near future.
“The concern as per the cost of living is genuine, and the urgency of the matter is not lost on us at the CBN, and we are working tirelessly to bring up a lasting solution”, he assured.
He said inflation was expected to decline in 2024, adding that this would be aided by improved agricultural productivity.
He said that the challenges of the exchange rate had been tackled, adding that they were fueled by speculation, increased forex demand, increased capital outflow, excess liquidity, and increased demand, among others.
He noted that the CBN was addressing the forex demand by clearing forex operations and adjusting the remuneration standard deposit, among others.
Speaking, the FIRS boss, Mr Adedeji, said the service was not a revenue-generating agency but a revenue-collection agency, adding that the agency was doing a lot to increase the nation’s revenue base.
According to him, the target for 2023 revenue was N10 trillion, and we achieved N12.3 trillion because of the decision taken by the president.
Adedeji said the president took the decision to rectify the distortion in the economic parameters and remove the fuel subsidy.
According to him, we have overperformance from VAT collection and company income tax. We have the target of collecting N19.2 trillion in 2024.
The chairman added that the N19.2 trillion target was based on the fact that it would not collect new taxes but bring more people into the tax rate.
He said less than 60 companies, as of today, contribute less than 60 percent to the nation’s company income tax.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Speaker, Benjamin Kalu, said it was imperative to recognize the urgency and importance of the agenda before it.
He said, “We must also confront the stark realities of the economic, fiscal, and revenue challenges that our beloved nation, Nigeria, is currently facing.
“In the face of global economic shifts and domestic challenges, it is clear that robust reform measures are not just beneficial but imperative.
“We are at a pivotal moment where the decisions we make and the policies we implement will impact the lives of millions of Nigerians”
He said the reform should not only address immediate needs but also lay a resilient and dynamic framework that would adapt to future challenges and opportunities.
According to him, these measures should stimulate growth, foster innovation, and uplift the lives of every Nigerian.
Substance Abuse Becoming Thing Of Concern -Odu
Rivers State Deputy Governor, Prof. Ngozi Nma Odu, has lauded the important role pharmacists play in the wellbeing of the society.
Odu gave this commendation while playing host to members of Association of Lady Pharmacists of Nigeria, Rivers State Branch at the Government House in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The deputy governor said while others are sleeping, pharmacists work hard “to ensure we all live in a better society, especially when you talk about the dangers of substance abuse.”
Odu stressed that, “It is really becoming a thing of great concern because of the level of children getting involved in this thing. It is even coming down to primary schools which now increases the burden of what you are doing, so we appreciate you for what you are doing for the society which we all are living in.”
The deputy governor extolled the lady pharmacists for the scholarship scheme they were sponsoring, noting that it was “amazing because when you change the narrative of somebody’s life, you become what they call a destiny helper.”
The deputy governor added, “So, for me, it is something I would encourage. Even the Bible says when you do it for them you have done unto God. It is a thing we get a lot of blessings out off, you may not see it now but some day it will definitely come.”
She expressed gratitude to them for their support for the Fubara-led administration which according to her has continued to spur them into action.
“Let me thank you for upholding the governor and myself in prayers, because without prayers we won’t be here, many people have prayed and God has heard, please do not stop, even for good governance, we need God to grant us the wisdom and knowledge of what to do”, she said.
In her remarks, Chairman of the Rivers State Branch of Association of Lady Pharmacists of Nigeria, Ebelechukwu Odom, said they were at the Government House to identify with the Governor Fubara-led administration in the ongoing restructuring of the state, and pledged their allegiance and unflinching support to the administration.
She assured that they would utilize the competences of Lady Pharmacists in Rivers State and synergize with partners for improvement in health, education, research development and socio-economic wellbeing of humanity through relevant and appropriate interventions, projects and programmes.
RSG Denies Rumours Of Cholera Outbreak In Soku
The Rivers State Government says it is not aware of any cholera outbreak in Soku community in the Akuku Toru Local Government Area of the State.
This was contained in a statement made available to newsmen in Port Harcourt by the State Ministry of Health.
According to the statement signed by the Commissioner for Health, Dr Adaeze Chidinma Oreh, the clarification was necessary following numerous enquiries from the media over a purported outbreak of cholera in Soku community.
The statement read in part, “The Rivers State Ministry of Health has received numerous enquiries from the Press regarding an alleged outbreak of cholera in Soku community in Akuku Toru Local Government Area.
“Public health teams dispatched to investigate these alleged cases and deaths have so far received no confirmation of such.”
While describing cholera as a waterborne infectious disease, the commissioner said that the disease is notifiable, warranting escalating reports from disease surveillance and notification officers at the community level.
The statement clarified that the ongoing medical outreach in Soku community is in no way related to any outbreak of cholera.
“Outreaches have always been a way of getting accessible health care to underserved and vulnerable population, however, all such outreach activities must be conducted with approval from and in collaboration with the State Ministry of Health and as such no entity should be conducting outreaches outside the coordination of the ministry”, it warned.
The ministry further said that all infectious diseases of this nature are reported, managed and escalated by the Rivers State Ministry of Health.
Dr. Oreh said the statement should serve as a strong warning to anyone conducting or planning health activities without due recourse to the Rivers State Ministry of Health.
She added that any such activities found to be carried out without the knowledge and clearance of the State Ministry of Health will be fully investigated and dealt with in order to ensure the protection of the lives of the people.
“Therefore, the general public and members of the Press are advised to disregard the rumours making the round on an ongoing outbreak of cholera and the death of some citizens of Soku community in Akuku Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State as it is presently unfounded, misguided and capable of causing panic amongst citizens and residents.
“The general public is thus urged to remain calm and rest assured that the Rivers State Ministry of Health will continue to be a veritable source of public health information in the state”, the statement concluded.
Bill On State Police Scales Second Reading
The House of Representatives, yesterday, passed for second reading a bill to provide for the establishment of state police in the country.
Sponsored by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Benjamin Kalu and 14 others, the bill seeks to alter the relevant Sections of the 1999 Constitution to pave the way for states to establish their own policing outfits.
As lawmakers took turns to contribute to the debate on the floor of the House during yesterday’s plenary, Kalu who stood in for the Speaker, Abbas Tajudeen, urged members to look beyond political ambitions and think about the safety of Nigerians and Nigeria.
Also speaking, Babajimi Benson (APC, Lagos) said, “It is the job of the police to maintain law and order. We have a population of over 200m people but we have a police strength that is less than 400,000. State Police should be created to address the internal security challenges of Nigeria.”
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