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Economic reform won’t stop despite hardship— Nigeria’s Bola Tinubu

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Despite mounting difficulties that have stoked popular unrest, Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu declared on Wednesday that economic reforms would go forward and pledged to quickly submit an executive bill to parliament establishing a new minimum wage.

After devaluing the currency and eliminating a long-standing gasoline subsidy, Tinubu, who took office a year ago, sent inflation skyrocketing to 33.69% in April—the highest level in over three decades—while also reducing earnings.

Tinubu acknowledged the difficulties brought about by the reforms—which also include higher lending rates and the partial elimination of electricity subsidies—during a televised broadcast on Democracy Day, but he insisted that these measures would strengthen the groundwork for future prosperity.

“Our economy has been in desperate need of reform for decades. It has been unbalanced because it was built on the flawed foundation of over-reliance on revenues from the exploitation of oil,” Tinubu said.

“As we continue to reform the economy, I shall always listen to the people and will never turn my back on you.”

Nigeria is experiencing its worst cost of living crisis in decades, and labour unions called off a walkout last week to put pressure on the government to set a new minimum wage of Naira a month.

In response to labour demands of 250,000 naira per month, the government has proposed to double the minimum salary to 62,000 nairas ($41.89) per month. Tinubu claimed his government had negotiated in good faith. In 2019, a new minimum wage was established.

“We shall soon send an executive bill to the National Assembly to enshrine what has been agreed upon as part of our law for the next five years or less,” Tinubu said.
He did not say whether the bill would contain the government minimum wage proposal or a new figure.

Before making any decisions, labour union officials have stated that they would like to hear back from Tinubu.

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The Kenyan effect? Nigerian lawmakers agree to cut salary by 50%

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Following continued outcry against the high cost of governance amid humongous benefits accruing to public office holders in the face of soaring cost of living in Nigeria, the lower chamber of the country’s legislature— the House of Representatives— has agreed to donate 50% of its salaries for a period of six months.

 

 

The position comes after a motion of urgent importance for “An appeal to the proponents of the proposed nationwide protest, to maintain peace, eschew violence and open windows for meaningful engagements with the governments at all levels in order to address their issues” was raised by a lawmaker on Thursday.

 

 

There have been reports of an upcoming statewide mass demonstration by youths to show their unhappiness with the country’s hardships, which include high living costs, food scarcity, unemployment, and other issues.A viral poster on social media announced a nationwide demonstration on August 1 about the country’s hardships.

 

 

A similar kind of protest recently broke in Kenya, forcing the government to reverse a controversial tax bill, and announcing major cuts in public offices and office runnings. But the protest wasn’t without violence and vandalism. Nigeria like Kenya can be a susceptible the same protest approach with the hunting memories of the 2020 #EndSARS protest fresh.

 

While recognizing that Nigerians had the constitutional right to seek better living conditions, the Ogun legislator encouraged the youngsters to give the government a chance to solve the nation’s concerns.

 

Isiaka said, “The citizens of Nigeria have the constitutional right to peaceful assembly and protest to address their grievances but the House is pleading for reason, understanding, and unity in the face of adversity.

 

“This honorable House appeals to the proponents of the proposed nationwide protest in Nigeria to consider a different path, a path of patience, dialogue, and collaboration, prioritise peace and open channels for meaningful engagements with the government at all levels.

 

“We urge all stakeholders to uphold the principles of democracy, respect human rights, and uphold the rule of law in their actions and engagements

 

 

The Speaker, Tajudeen Abbas, presided over the session and gave members the opportunity to contribute to the motion. When it was time for the Deputy Speaker, Benjamin Kalu, to speak, he amended the prayers by pleading with his colleagues to sacrifice 50% of their salaries to support the government’s intervention efforts to address the situation.

 

“This government is doing its best, but one year is not enough to address the challenges of this country. I want to plead with our colleagues to sacrifice 50 per cent for a period of six months.

 

 

“Our salary is N600,000 a month. I want to plead that we let go of 50 per cent of our salary for a period of six months,” Kalu said.

 

 

According to the International Monetary Fund, the general government expenditure consists of total expense and the net acquisition of nonfinancial assets. Despite its growing economic challenge and the uncharitable tag of been “poverty capital” of the world, Nigeria’s public office holders are part of the best paid across the world.

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Kenya’s Ruto sacks cabinet amidst protests in major win for protesters

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In response to pressure from widespread protests that have produced the greatest crisis of his two-year government, Kenyan President William Ruto dismissed his entire cabinet on Thursday, with the exception of the foreign minister.

After beginning peacefully, the youth-led demonstrations against the proposed tax increases descended into violence, resulting in at least 39 deaths during altercations with the police last month. A few protestors briefly invaded the parliament before Ruto decided against the new levies.

“I will immediately engage in extensive consultations across different sectors and political formations and other Kenyans, both in public and private, with the aim of setting up a broad-based government,” Ruto said in a televised address to the nation, adding that he would announce additional measures later.

In addition, he fired the attorney general but claimed that this had no bearing on the deputy president’s position.

Kenyans had been requesting significant cabinet changes, seasoned anti-corruption activist John Githongo told Reuters.

“Let us see what happens now if the new ministers deal with big issues around corruption and just the arrogance and excess of his administration and the fact that a lot of Kenyans died during the demonstrations,” he said.

“Hopefully this should temporarily calm things.”

Ruto finds himself torn between a beleaguered populace reeling from the rising expense of living and lenders like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) pressuring him to reduce deficits. He suggested borrowing more money and cutting spending in approximately equal proportions last week to close the nearly $2.7 billion budget deficit left by the removal of the tax rises.

Although the government has no outstanding debt, many claim that Kenya is likely to miss its IMF targets as a result of the tax rollback. For the fiscal year that began on July 1, the estimated budget deficit is currently 4.6% of GDP.

Dismissing so many cabinet members, according to Ojango Omondi, a community organizer from the Social Justice Centers Working Group in Nairobi, was a “move towards justice,” but activists would want to see who Ruto chooses to replace them.

“It’s one thing to dismiss, the second is to ensure that the people that will be chosen in the cabinet are accountable to the constitution and the rule of law,” Omondi said.

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