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‘Nigerian govt will go after economic saboteurs,’ Information Minister vows

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The Nigerian government says it will go after saboteurs of the country’s economy in the face of challenges which have led to hardship, poverty and escalating cost of living.

Minister of Information and Culture, Mohammed Idris, who made the vow in a statement on Friday, said the resolve of the government was to prevent enemies of the country from derailing the President Bola Tinubu’s administration’s reforms from yielding the required fruits.

“Since the removal of the petrol subsidy, petrol importation has dropped by fifty percent, amounting to one billion liters monthly, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics.

“On a related note, crude oil production is rising steadily, increasing to an average of 1.55 million barrels per day in Q4 2023, from 1.22 million barrels per day in the preceding quarter.

“Also, monthly receipts by States from the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) have surged since the subsidy removal, giving governments at all levels billions of Naira in extra headroom to deliver the dividends of democracy to Nigerians.

“It is instructive that the removal of the petrol subsidy was one policy decision that all the three major candidates were unanimous on, in their campaign messaging. It is therefore mystifying to see people who had argued stridently for the removal, now pretending to be against it today. This insincerity does not bode well for our country and our democracy.

“Relevant regulatory and security agencies have been directed to remain vigilant to ensure that malpractices capable of undermining our currency are averted and that those engaged in these acts are brought to book. The government will not allow its efforts to be jeopardised.

“President Tinubu’s second most far-reaching pronouncement was his promise that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) would work towards a unified exchange rate.

“In line with his vision for a more transparent and equitable monetary policy, yet without jettisoning its operational independence, the CBN took the very bold step of loosening control of foreign exchange rates, allowing access to foreign exchange to take place at market rates determined on the principle of ‘willing seller willing buyer.’

“As a government, we are not under any illusion that these policy moves are silver bullets, or that nothing else is required. We understand that these are foundational fiscal and monetary policy moves, upon which we must now build the superstructure of true economic growth and prosperity.

“As respected economists and experts have acknowledged, these foundational reforms will be difficult and painful for Nigerians in the short term.

“The problems that we are solving are no doubt multifaceted, intertwined, and deep-rooted, requiring creative, strategic, decisive, and multi-pronged solutions. These bold moves being implemented are in full alignment with what is required.

“Nigerians should rest assured that the government will continue to take further steps to stabilize the naira and safeguard our economy.

“We will continue to seek the patience and understanding of Nigerians as we push through these difficult times, into a season of abundant benefits and truly renewed Hope. As the President never fails to emphasize, these headwinds we are facing are only temporary, and, collectively, we will surely overcome them.

“The President and his team are and will remain resolutely committed and focused on the task of bringing immediate relief and enduring prosperity to all Nigerians.

“The CBN has been proactive, initiating a comprehensive strategy to enhance liquidity in the forex market. In addition to unifying the rates, the bank has also cleared a significant amount of outstanding Forex obligations, and outlined new operational mechanisms for commercial banks, Bureau De Change (BDC) operators and International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs).

“It is heartwarming to note that we are starting to see the results. Indeed, the naira is stabilizing, and the foreign exchange market is seeing a surge of inflows.

“Sadly, as with any effort to reform and sanitise a system entrenched in long-term malpractice, the CBN’s efforts have been met with ferocious resistance from speculators and other unscrupulous players within and outside our country, who profit from dysfunction and opacity.”

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President Hichilema pledges support for Zambian SMEs

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Zambian President, Hakainde Hichilema, has pledged his government’s commitment to support the country’s small and medium scale enterprises as well as the principles of solidarity, equity and inclusivity in his administration’s development agenda.

Hichilema who made the pledge during the 2024 Micro Small Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and Co-operatives Indaba in Lusaka on Wednesday, said his government was committed to promoting the growth of in the country.

The President who was represented at the event by the Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Elias Mubanga, stated that his administration had already embarked on the journey because of the important role MSMEs played in national development.

While delivering a speech on the theme “Harnessing the power of collaboration in fostering Micro Small Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and Cooperative growth for sustainable economic development”, Hichilema noted that this would be achieved by providing MSMEs and Co-operatives genuine engagement in decision-making processes and capacity-building programmes can boost their creativity.

“Inter-connection and inter-independence collaboration stand as a cornerstone of growth across all sectors of the Zambian economy particularly among MSMEs and Cooperatives.”

He added that this can also boost the resilience and entrepreneurial drive of small businesses in order to stimulate development.

“Government is focusing on MSMEs and cooperatives’ engagement, as well as strengthening policy execution to promote and facilitate advanced investments for the nation’s long-term growth.”

He further added that government was engrossed with the participation of MSMEs and Co-operatives and strengthening the implementation of policy to promote and facilitate increased remittances and investment for the nation to attain sustainable development.

Hichilema stressed that in 2023, government, through the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprise Development launched the Revised National MSME Development Policy and its Implementation Plan (2023-2028).

“This underscored government’s commitment to creating an enabling environment for MSMES to thrive,” the Head of State said.

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In Sallah message, Tinubu charges Nigerians to have faith in his reform agenda

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President Bola Tinubu has once again urged Nigerians to have faith in his “bold reforms” and the commitment to his administration’s “Renewed Hope Agenda.”

Tinubu, who gave the reassurance in his Eid-el-Fitr message to the nation on Wednesday, praised Nigerians for their resilience, sacrifice, and endurance in the face of the hardship they are going through as a result of the policies of his administration.

The President who observed his Eid-el-Fitr prayer at the Dodan Barracks in Ikoyi, Lagos State, also urged Nigerians to defend the integrity of the country at all times.

In a chat with journalists after the prayers, President Tinubu said called on Nigerians to imbibe the spirit of the recently concluded Ramadan fasting.

“Today marks a significant day in Islam as Muslims worldwide commemorate the conclusion of Ramadan and the Eid-el-Fitr festivities,” he said.

“Moreover, let us perpetuate the spirit of compassion and support for one another, as demonstrated during the month of Ramadan, and extend assistance to those in need.

“The kind of resilience, sacrifice, endurance that we have, we should preserve that for the country. Be a kind and cheerful giver, love our country better than any other country – that is the only one that we have.

“And we must continue to protect the integrity of our government and leadership. The new hope is alive, well and fine and Nigerians should continue to be very hopeful.

“Without hope there is no salvation, without hope, there is no development, without hope, there is no life,” Tinubu said.

The President went further to state that the Renewed Hope Agenda would result in a better Nigeria in the shortest possible future.

“Renewed hope is very much alive, Nigerians should be hopeful,” he added.

Shortly after he assumed office on May 29, 2023, President Tinubu had assured Nigerians that his Renewed Hope Initiative would be a culmination of his government’s commitment to ensuring that Nigeria and Nigerians fulfill their potentials.

“The Renewed Hope Agenda of my administration is defined by our commitment to unleashing our country’s full economic potential, by focusing on job creation, access to capital for small and large businesses, inclusiveness, the rule of law, and the fight against hunger, poverty and corruption,” President Tinubu had declared during his inaugural speech.

But almost a year after that speech and declaration, Nigeria has been plunged into economic crisis occasioned by high cost of living, inflation, and hardship due to the policies of the government.

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