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UPDATE: President Tinubu gets Reps, Senate approval to share N8,000 to the poor as Twitter users kick

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The House of Representatives on Thursday granted accelerated approval for the request of President Bola Tinubu for the sum of N500 billion to roll out palliatives, following the removal of subsidies on Premium Motor Spirit (petrol).

The Senate also speedily approved the President’s request to borrow $800 million from the World Bank to help cushion the impact of high fuel prices after ending a popular but costly petrol subsidy.

“The purpose of the facility is to expand coverage of shock responsive safety net support among the poor and vulnerable Nigerians,” Tinubu said, adding that 12 million poor households will be paid 8,000 naira ($10.32) per month for six months, “with a multiplier effect on about 60 million individuals.”

Breakdown of the funds being requested is; Subsidy Palliative: N500 billion. Ministry of Works: N185 billion Ministry of Agric. : N19.2 billion National Judicial Council: N35 billion. FCT Roads: N10bn. National Assembly: N70 billion.

President Tinubu had requested the National Assembly to approve the sum of $800 million loan from the World Bank to fund a social program aimed at easing the impact of high fuel prices after the removal of a popular but costly petrol subsidy.

The president proposed to distribute N8,000 out of the proceeds of the loan monthly for the next six months to 12 million vulnerable Nigerians as part of a palliative to cushion the effect of the fuel subsidy removal on the populace.

The loan was previously approved by the government of former President Muhammadu Buhari to help scale up the National Social Safety Net program, the presidency said in a letter to lawmakers.

“The purpose of the facility is to expand coverage of shock-responsive safety net support among the poor and vulnerable Nigerians,” Tinubu said, adding that 12 million poor households will be paid N8,000 naira for six months, “with a multiplier effect on about 60 million individuals.”

The government also plans to raise the minimum wage, with details expected to be finalized next month when talks with the main labor unions are expected to be concluded.

Tinubu, who is embarking on Nigeria’s biggest reforms in decades to tackle issues such as a high debt burden, scrapped the fuel subsidy when he took office at the end of May.

The subsidy had kept prices cheap for decades but became increasingly expensive—the government spent $10 billion last year—leading to wider budget deficits and driving up government debt.

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The House of Representatives, the lower chamber of parliament, also approved on Thursday Tinubu’s request to amend the 2022 supplementary budget to allow the government to spend N500 billion to “cushion the effects of the removal of fuel subsidies.”

The changes will allow the government to redirect spending previously budgeted for other projects.

However, many Nigerians on Twitter are doubting the capacity of the government to judiciously manage the resources and ensure that the targeted populace is reached.

Akorede Omo Oba said, “This is not a good idea. Someone close to him is already giving him bad advice. Nobody needs cash palliatives at this point in their lives. I thought he was going to do better than this.

A Tweep with the name KSO said, “In light of President Bola Tinubu’s statement regarding the transfer of funds to 12 million poor and low-income households, there is a valid concern about ensuring accurate targeting and preventing the money from reaching those who do not require it.

“It is crucial for the Nigerian government to clarify the modalities used to determine the eligibility of these households, especially considering the absence of a comprehensive database.”

“By outlining the transparent criteria and assessment methods, the government can ensure that the funds reach those who genuinely need assistance, effectively supporting the most vulnerable individuals in the country.

While John Samuel wrote, “This money will go to the north mostly… This money will still be hijacked in some ways. Somebody somewhere will think, Even if I remove N1000, it may go a long way.”

(omayowa@globalfinancialdigest.com; Newsroom: +234 8033 964 138)

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