High Cost of Living: Increase Workers Salary to Stem Economic Hardship, Abejide Tells State Governors, Absolves Tinubu

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By Ralph Omololu Agbana.

Member, House of Representatives, Yagba Federal Constituency, Kogi State, Leke Abejide has said the 36 State Governors, and not President Bola Ahmed Tinubu hold the key to reducing the economic hardship ravaging the country.

Abejide who is Chairman, House Committee on Customs and Excise, spoke on Tuesday as a guest of Channels Television’s programme Lunchtime Politics

Asked if he thought that subsidy removal aftereffects could have been better managed by the federal government, Abejide said President Tinubu could not have done better. Instead, he enjoined State governors to compliment his efforts.

He said, “The first budget he is going to implement was just passed, and implementation has not even started fully because 2023 budget is still running until 31st March, 2024. So, I appreciate what the government is doing and I also pity the suffering masses. What I want to say is just to appeal to our people that this government cannot do any magic now except it is given sometime to correct the wrongs and even though when you correct the wrongs, the low hanging fruits cannot come immediately. There is nothing he can do now than what he is doing, while also assisting the state governments and the state governments have been given a lot of money, the allocation has doubled.

“They need to come out to assist the federal government so that their people can feel the impact. People are just looking up to the Federal Government alone; Federal Government alone cannot solve this problem…I agree all the leading presidential candidates said they would remove subsidy and this person came the first day and said subsidy is gone- There was no provision for subsidy in the budget”.

For those who held the views that they couldn’t see where the money saved from subsidy removal has gone, Abejide countered, “Can’t you see that allocation to the state governments has doubled. That is where the money has gone. It is now up to the state governments to compliment the federal government to make sure the money that is being given to them is being spent for the citizens of their states”.

Asked to advise the state governors on the alternatives to ad hoc measures and palliatives which have proved to be unsustainable, Abejide identified increase in workers salary and establishment of farm settlements as specific areas to which the governors should channel the state’s increased monthly allocation from the federation account.

He said, “Now that the allocation has doubled, it is expected that the salaries of the workers in the state increased because of inflation. During inflation period, these salary earners suffer because their salary has not increased and the prices of items in the market are increasing daily. So, out of this increment in the allocation, there’s need to increase the salaries of local government workers who are in the majority, there’s need to increase the salaries of the state workers as well and make provision for the households that are vulnerable in your state. Because even though you say you want to go to to farm, you can’t plant today, it matures today and then you start reaping today but before the period that we would go into mechanised farming, this is what I expect the state governments to be doing. And again, more importantly, every state government should have farm settlements where they will cultivate arable crops that can mature within the year, that can feed the citizens like corn which can be used for so many things, sesame seeds, millet, yam or cassava. This is what is expected of state governments to be doing to guide against future occurrence of this nature. So, out of the abundance of money given to them, they should start thinking this way, this is the only way out. Food importation will not help us.

Abejide disclosed that the Committee on Customs and Excise is working on the motion to help the Federal Government address issues of importation and changing exchange rates in the system.

“I moved a motion last week and by this week when the vote of proceeding is out, we’ll write to CBN Governor, Minister of Finance and Customs Comptroller General. What I expect is that it should peg the exchange rate for customs duty in the system. This will help us to (address the issues of) galloping inflation and people that are changing prices everyday in the market”, he said.


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