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Hardship: Nigerian govt to resume direct cash transfers to 12m citizens

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Nigeria’s Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Wale Edun, has revealed that the federal government will resume direct transfer of cash to 12 million indigent citizens to cushion the hardship they are currently going through.

The minister, who made the announcement in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State in southern Nigeria on Wednesday during a retreat organised by the ministry, said the direct cash transfer would be for the poorest and most vulnerable Nigerians.

Edun said, presently, about three million Nigerians were recipients of the programmes but due to the escalating cost of living, the “government anticipates that an additional 12 million households could qualify for these direct payments.”

“The presidential panel on the social investment programmes have prepared to go to Mr. President with an internal recommendation to restart the direct payments to the poorest and the most vulnerable. Everything is being done to ease the pain,” Edun said.

“We know that there’s been about three million beneficiaries now, but given the way the rates have gone, there are probably another 12 million people, households that can benefit from that payment.”

He further noted that the expansion of the direct cash transfer is projected to reach a wider population who are currently struggling with the economic situation and to put more money directly in the hands of those who need it most, allowing them to prioritise their needs and alleviate poverty.

“The decision to inform the President of the Panel’s decision before the final report is completed is to keep the President abreast of developments,” he said.

“The only thing delaying that is not waiting for the end of the report. It is something that the intervention is meant to happen immediately.

“We have experts in technology, the commitment was to make sure that we use technology to ensure that we have a seamless payment, a seamless movement between the registered and the direct beneficiaries, without any manual processes in between. So it’s taking time to automate that process immediately that direct payment will resume.

“The goal is to put food, to put feed into the mill, into the market, in an attempt to drive down the cost of food and make food available. Right now, that is the key priority in terms of the fiscal side, in terms of the government side.

“History has shown, evidence has shown that when you pay someone directly, you put money in their hand. It reduces poverty because they decide where the shoe is pinching most.

“So it is a direct benefit, it has a direct effect on poverty. It alleviates, and there’s a commitment to immediately start that process. So that is, as far as these interventions are concerned and the landscape which we as a team are facing, we have a commitment to help to bring down inflation.

“Growing the economy, creating jobs and lifting millions and millions of Nigerians out of poverty, that’s the ultimate goal of President Bola Tinubu and his economic policies.”

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‘Reconsider your anti-people policies, they are causing hardship, insecurity in Nigeria’— PDP tells Tinubu

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Nigeria’s main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has called on President Bola Tinubu to consider what it calls his anti-people policies that are causing hardship and escalating insecurity in the country.

The PDP, which made the call on Thursday during the party’s 98th National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting held at its National Secretariat in Abuja, also urged the President to urgently convene a special National Security Council (NSC) meeting to “proffer a holistic solution and measures to curb the disturbing insecurity in the country.”

In a Communique issued at the end of meeting and signed by the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Debo Ologunagba, the party said it was worried by the anti-peoples policies of President Tinubu-led All Progressives Congress (APC) administration.

The former ruling party it was difficult to understand why Tinubu has not reconsidered some of his policies, “which had led to worsening insecurity, harrowing economic hardship, soaring unemployment rate, high cost of food and other necessities of life with pervading misery and despondency across the country.”

“NEC expresses concern over the ill-implemented policies of the insensitive APC administration, leading to worsening insecurity, harrowing economic hardship, soaring unemployment rate, high cost of food and other necessities of life with pervading misery and despondency across the country,” the communiqué reads.

“NEC expresses serious apprehensions over the spate of acts of terrorism and violence including the escalated cases of mindless killings, mass abduction of innocent Nigerians and marauding of communities in various parts of the country.

“NEC condemns the insensitivity, nonchalance, incompetence and arrogance in failure of the APC administration which continues to conduct itself in a manner that shows that it has no iota of interest or commitment towards the wellbeing of Nigerians,” the PDP added.

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Zambia asks EU to help strengthen its democratic initiatives ahead of 2026 elections

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The Zambian government has called on the European Union (EU) to help in strengthening democratic initiatives in the country as it prepares for general elections in 2026.

Justice Minister, Mulambo Haimbe, who made the request when EU Ambassador to Zambia and COMESA, Karolina Stasiak, handed over the 2021 elections report to him in Lusaka on Wednesday, said the project which came to an end in 2021 contributed greatly to the smooth electoral processes which saw the election of President Hakainde Hichilema into office.

“We are live to the fact that the strengthening democracy in Zambia played a very crucial role in the run up to the 2021 general elections and we want a similar process in the run up to the 2026 general elections,” Haimbe said during the meeting.

Haimbe, who is also the acting Foriegn Affairs and International Cooperation Minister, stated that the Zambian government had projected mid 2025 to close up areas that had been identified in the electoral and legal reforms.

He noted that government had given itself mid 2025 as the timeframe of significant steps in the electoral reforms with some of the steps achieved already, like the passing of the Access to Information law.

“The others we have discussed include some of the low hanging fruits like the amendment to the electoral Act and amendment to the Constitution which we consider at the Executive as non contentious to foster democracy,” Haimbe stated.

The minister also pledged that government would continue to work with various stakeholders like the EU, to further improving the democratic space in the country.

Speaking during the handover ceremony, Stasiak said the report was an independent expert report and not necessarily the views of the EU in Zambia.

“It is an assessment done at expert level comparing to international standards on electoral process and reforms and they have formulated this report also comparing to the recommendations made by the missions in 2021,” she stated.

Stasiak further highlighted that the report noted improvements which had been made in the electoral reforms such as the implementation of the Access to Information law and the removal of the Defamation of the President from the Penal Code.

“Zambia is a very good example, an important example within the region to demonstrate that democracy can go hand in hand with sustainable development,” Stasiak emphasized.

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