By John Ikani
Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu, in a nationwide address on Sunday, spoke to Nigerians on the occasion of the nation’s 63rd Independence Day.
This marks his first address as President since assuming office on May 29.
There has been growing dissatisfaction among Nigerians due to the declining economy and rising inflation following the removal of fuel subsidies.
Citizens of Africa’s most populous country are also concerned about the nation’s security architecture, democracy, national unity among other concerns.
Here are 7 key points President Tinubu made to address the legitimate concerns.
1. N25,000 Wage Increase for Low-Grade Workers
President Tinubu committed to raising the salaries of low-grade workers for the next six months, with an additional N25,000 per month. He stated, “Following discussions with labour, business, and other stakeholders, we are implementing a temporary wage increment to boost the federal minimum wage without causing undue inflation. Over the next six months, low-grade workers will receive an additional twenty-five thousand naira per month.”
2. Relief Fund Allocation to States
The President also mentioned the allocation of relief funds to states to mitigate the effects of subsidy removal. Recall that President Tinubu in his inaugural speech on May 29 made it clear that the petroleum subsidy regime would no longer exist, citing its absence in the 2023 budget.
According to him, funds previously allocated to subsidies would be redirected towards public infrastructure, education, healthcare, and job creation.
On Sunday he revealed that, “To enhance grassroots development, we have established an Infrastructure Support Fund for states to invest in critical areas. States have already received funds to provide relief packages against the impact of rising food and other prices.”
3. Reducing Transport Costs
President Tinubu announced that there will be an introduction of gas-propelled buses to lower transportation costs for Nigerians. He stated, “To strengthen the economy by reducing transportation expenses, we have initiated a new era in public transportation by deploying affordable, safer Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses nationwide. These buses will operate at a fraction of current fuel prices, positively impacting transportation fares.”
According to him, the initiative would create opportunities for entrepreneurs across the country. He said, “New CNG conversion kits will soon become available as we work diligently to expedite the typically lengthy procurement process. We are also establishing training facilities and workshops nationwide to train and provide new opportunities for transport operators and entrepreneurs.”
4. CBN Overhaul
The president pledged to conduct a comprehensive audit of the Central Bank of Nigeria to ensure sound fiscal policies. He stated, “I have committed to thoroughly revamp the Central Bank, which had been marred by corruption. This overhaul is well underway, with a new leadership team in place. In addition, my special investigator will soon present findings on past shortcomings and measures to prevent their recurrence. Going forward, monetary policy will serve the interests of all, not just the powerful and wealthy.”
5. Inclusive Appointments
President Tinubu also used the occasion to assure of his administration’s commitment to inclusive appointments, adhering to constitutional provisions, and considering women, youth, and the physically challenged.
According to him, “We shall continue to make key appointments in line with the provisions of the Constitution and with fairness toward all. Women, Youth and the physically challenged shall continue to be given due regard in these appointments.”
On Security, the nation’s number one citizen said “Ensuring the safety of people remains a top priority, with enhanced inter-service collaboration, intelligence sharing, and capacity building for security services.”
While commending the nation’s gallant security forces for doing their best to keep Nigerians safe, President Tinubu acknowledged that many have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
“We remember them today and their families. We shall equip our forces with the ways and means needed to perform their urgent task on behalf of the people.”
7. Democracy and National Unity
President Tinubu expressed gratitude to the National Assembly, judiciary, civil society organisations, and labour unions for their contributions to Nigerian democracy.
Acknowledging the challenges of building a diverse nation, President Tinubu dismissed doubts about Nigeria’s existence, firmly stating that the nation stands strong and united.
“Forging a nation based on the fair application of these noble principles to a diverse population has been a task of significant blessing but also a serial challenge,” said President Tinubu.
“Some people have said an independent Nigeria should never have come into existence. Some have said that our country would be torn apart. They are forever mistaken. Here, our nation stands and here we shall remain”
Highlighting Nigeria’s dedication to democracy and the rule of law, the president emphasised the nation’s track record of electing consecutive civilian governments.
“This year, we passed a significant milestone in our journey to a better Nigeria. By democratically electing a 7th consecutive civilian government, Nigeria has proven that commitment to democracy and the rule of law remains our guiding light.”