President Bola Tinubu in his early morning broadcast on Sunday to mark Nigeria’s 63rd independence anniversary has hailed Nigerians for their courage in the midst of the nation’s economic woes, which have made life unbearable for an average citizen.
Tinubu, in his maiden Independence speech, stressed that enduring today’s pains is a panacea to a better nation in future.
He praised the labour unions as well as the civil society organisations for their support for democracy notwithstanding occasional disagreements with them.
Tinubu, was however, silent on the planned strike by the organised labour to protest the hardship being faced by Nigerians since the removal of fuel subsidy from Tuesday.
President Tinubu said: “I thank members of our dynamic civil society organisations and labour unions for their dedication to Nigerian democracy. We may not always agree but I value your advice and recommendations. You are my brothers and sisters and you have my due respect.”
He likened those who wanted to perpetuate fuel subsidies and broken foreign exchange policies to people building their mansion in the centre of a swamp adding that Nigeria’s home must be built on safe and solid ground.
He said: “I said that bold reforms were necessary to place our nation on the path of prosperity and growth. On that occasion, I announced the end of the fuel subsidy.
“I am attuned to the hardships that have come. I have a heart that feels and eyes that see. I wish to explain to you why we must endure this trying moment. Those who sought to perpetuate the fuel subsidy and broken foreign exchange policies are people who would build their family mansion in the middle of a swamp. I am different. I am not a man to erect our national home on a foundation of mud. To endure, our home must be constructed on safe and pleasant ground.
“Reform may be painful, but it is what greatness and the future require. We now carry the costs of reaching a future Nigeria where the abundance and fruits of the nation are fairly shared among all, not hoarded by a select and greedy few. A Nigeria where hunger, poverty and hardship are pushed into the shadows of an ever fading past.
“There is no joy in seeing the people of this nation shoulder burdens that should have been shed years ago. I wish today’s difficulties did not exist. But we must endure if we are to reach the good side of our future”.
On steps being taken by his government, the president disclosed that “we have embarked on several public sector reforms to stabilise the economy, direct fiscal and monetary policy to fight inflation, encourage production, ensure the security of lives and property and lend more support to the poor and the vulnerable.
“Based on our talks with labour, business and other stakeholders, we are introducing a provisional wage increment to enhance the federal minimum wage without causing undue inflation. For the next six months, the average low-grade worker shall receive an additional N25,000 per month”.
President Tinubu also emphasised that the nation’s monetary policy will henceforth be for all Nigerians and not few selected wealthy people adding that ongoing investigation into the financial transactions in the nation’s apex and, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) saying the Investigator’s report is almost ready for submission to government.
He said: “I pledged a thorough house cleaning of the den of malfeasance the CBN had become. That housecleaning is well underway. A new leadership for the Central Bank has been constituted. Also, my special investigator will soon present his findings on past lapses and how to prevent similar reoccurrences. Henceforth, monetary policy shall be for the benefit of all and not the exclusive province of the powerful and wealthy.”
The president in the speech also pledged to adhere to constitutional provisions in making key appointments and assured women, youth and physically challenged people of more patronage through appointments.
Meanwhile, some of Nigeria’s present and past leaders have commended the resilience and indefatigable spirit of Nigerians, who in the face of the current economic realities, have continued to keep hope alive as they struggle to earn a living daily.
In their separate messages, former presidents Muhammadu Buhari, Goodluck Jonathan, former vice president and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 general election, Atiku Abubakar; his counterpart in the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi; President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio; former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki; Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon. Tajudeen Abbas, and some governors have also hailed Nigerians on this year’s occasion.
Deji Elumoye, Chuks Okocha, Adedayo Akinwale and Sunday Aborisade in Abuja