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‘You were elected to end poverty, not to increase it,’ Atiku tells Tinubu

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Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has told President Bola Tinubu that Nigerians elected him to end, or at least, reduce poverty in the country and not increase it.

Atiku, who was the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 presidential election, was reacting to Tinubu’s Sallah day comments that Nigeria was not the only country undergoing poverty and suffering, urging Nigerians to stop complaining.

Tinubu, who gave the admonition when he recieved a delegation of members of the National Assembly led by its leadership, Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, Deputy Senate President, Senator Jibrin Barau and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Benjamin Kalu.

While addressing the delegation who came to felicitate with him on the occasion of Eid-el-Kabir, Tinubu said:

“Yes, there is poverty; there is suffering in the land. We are not the only people facing such but we must face our challenges,” the President said.

“We must find a way to eliminate banditry and terrorism so that farmers can bring out food from the farmlands.

“If you do not have good roads to bring the food to the population, even if you grow the food and you are losing 60-70 per cent to damage, you will pay the price,“ he added.

But the comments from President Tinubu has continued to elicit strong criticism from Nigerians who believe the President should concentrate on revamping the economy instead.

In his reaction to the comments, Atiku said Tinubu was elected to tackle, instead of amplifying poverty, and should stop making excuses for inflicting multidimensional poverty on Nigerians.

In a statement through his Special Adviser, Paul Ibe, Atiku said:

“There’s a saying that the baby goat watches the mother goat eating grass and consequently learns to eat grass.

“There are little or no values nurtured and promoted by Tinubu and his administration. What Nigerians are seeing manifest is insensitivity, bigotry, nepotism, corruption, and wastefulness.

“For the President to speak about us finding a way to eliminate banditry and terrorism is an acknowledgement of failure.

“What we expect to hear from him are the measures and the strategy to deal with the menace and not to regale us with the problems we are all well aware of.

“The poverty in Nigeria is multi-dimensional. It was exacerbated by the policies of the Tinubu administration that did not prioritise production and cutting costs.

“Policies that were not well-thought-out and are only aimed at pauperizing the citizens. Tinubu’s trial-and-error policies have continued to dig the country deeper into economic degradation.

“His government is characterised by a lack of transparency and accountability. For example, his administration is paying for subsidy, contrary to the claims that it is gone for good.

“According to his minister of finance, last year (the very same year they allegedly stopped payment of subsidy), Tinubu paid a subsidy of N3.6 trillion and this year, he is projected to pay a subsidy of N5.4 trillion.

“Why are they lying about this other than to divert money away from the federation account? Truth be told, Tinubu is the one causing the deepening poverty in the country.

“May be this administration needs to be reminded that it was elected to reduce if not eliminate poverty, hunger and disease but what we have seen is an obsession with opulence.

“We are yet to get over the billions appropriated for the renovation of the President and Vice President’s lodges, now we hear they want new jets to join the Presidential fleet.

“Our schools and health institutions are on their knees, the same government claims it cannot afford to pay public servants a living wage but has enough to make itself comfortable at the expense of the suffering masses.

“Mr. President, we implore you to uphold the constitution you swore to protect. The constitution says the security and welfare of the populace shall be the primary purpose of the existence of your government. Enough of this mockery.”

Metro

Over 10 million people displaced by Sudan war— IOM

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The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported that as the world’s worst displacement crisis worsens in Sudan, almost 10 million, which is about 20% of the country’s population, have been forced from their homes since the conflict there started.

This is the most recent alarming estimate from the nation in East Africa, which has been destroyed by fighting that started in April 2023. The majority of the nation, around 50 million people, are now in need of humanitarian help and half of them are experiencing starvation as a result of the war.

According to a bimonthly report from the IOM, since the start of the conflict, over 2.2 million people have fled to foreign nations and about 7.8 million have sought safety within the nation. Previous conflicts in the country have already resulted in the displacement of an additional 2.8 million people.

When fighting broke out between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in the capital city of Khartoum last year, it soon spread to the west throughout Darfur, with the RSF seizing control of most of the major cities.

Some UN experts have argued that the main cause of migration from Darfur—where it is impossible to provide aid—is now hunger rather than conflict.

“All refugees I met said the reason why they fled Sudan was hunger,” said World Health Organisation country director Dr. Shible Sahbani to reporters after visiting refugees from Darfur, the source of half of the displaced population, in Chad.

“A woman who just reached Adré reported that all food they used to produce locally in Darfur was taken by the fighters,” he added.

More than 150,000 people were displaced from Sennar state as the RSF extended its reach in the southeast of the nation in recent weeks, according to the IOM. Many of these individuals were relocated for the second or third time following RSF attacks on houses and marketplaces in the state’s minor towns and villages.

The RSF blames the activities of rogue actors and disputes that it has harmed civilians.

RSF forces have conducted incursions in Gedaref state, home to 668,000 people who are facing heavy rains and no shelter. This state is currently hosting a large number of displaced persons.

Human Rights Watch issued a warning last week about the risk of the RSF expanding into the Gedaref for the 40,000 Ethiopian refugees, most of whom are Tigrayans, who are alleged by the RSF to be fighting alongside the army.

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Nigerian govt to spend N3tn on new minimum wage, pensions, gratuities— Minister

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Nigeria’s Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Atiku Bagudu, on Friday, disclosed that the Federal Government would spend N3 trillion on the new minimum wage as well on payment of pensions and gratuities.

The minister made the disclosure during a meeting with the Senate Committee on Appropriations chaired by Olamilekan Adeola, while presenting the general principles of the newly amended 2024 budget to the committee at the meeting.

During the meeting with the Committee, Bagudu highlighted that the new budget additions would not be funded by loans but by an already reserved profit.

He further explained that priorities were given to projects that would open up roads for investments and emergencies, while other road projects would be addressed in subsequent batches.

He also stated that the country’s historical underinvestment in infrastructure was a root cause of recent problems and commended President Bola Tinubu for addressing the infrastructure deficit.

Bagudu told the Committee that the recurrent budget of N3tn will fund the minimum wage, pensions, and gratuities, while the capital component of N3.2tn will augment existing road projects on state and federal routes, including coastal roads, the Sokoto-Badagry road, railway construction, and dam irrigation.

Recall that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had on Thursday, accepted the N70,000 minimum wage proposed by Tinubu, saying it was an act of solidarity.

The union, in a statement signed by its National President, Joe Ajaero, at the end of its National Executive Council meeting, affirmed that the NLC would continue to defend the rights of Nigerian workers at all times.

“NEC-in-session concluded that this decision, though challenging and far from our initial demand, was made in the spirit of solidarity and sacrifice for the Nigerian masses to avert a threatened further hike in the price of petrol, which would inflict more hardship on the already suffering masses.

“Once again, NEC-in-session restates the commitment of the NLC to continue standing resolutely in its mission to defend and advance the rights of Nigerian workers and the Nigerian people at all times.

“It therefore calls on all Nigerians to unite in this cause and to hold our leaders accountable to the same standards of sacrifice and service.”

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