President Tinubu announces wage increment, social safety net expansion and CNG buses in Independence Day speech

Written by Benjamin Adewumi

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has announced a series of measures to cushion the impact of the recent reforms in the country, including a provisional wage increment for low-grade workers, an expansion of cash transfer programmes for vulnerable households, an infrastructure support fund for states, and a deployment of cheaper and safer Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses across the country.

The president made these announcements in his nationwide broadcast as part of the programme of events marking Nigeria’s 63rd Independence anniversary celebration on Sunday.

He said that for the next six months, an average low-grade worker would receive an additional N25,000 per month, based on the talks with labour, business and other stakeholders. He said this was to enhance the federal minimum wage without causing undue inflation.

He also said that commencing this month, the social safety net was being extended through the expansion of cash transfer programmes to an additional 15 million vulnerable households. He said this was to provide relief packages against the impact of rising food and other prices.

He added that the government had set up an Infrastructure Support Fund for states to invest in critical areas to ensure better grassroots development. He said states had already received funds from this initiative.

The president also said that the government had opened a new chapter in public transportation through the deployment of cheaper, safer Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses across the country. He said these buses would operate at a fraction of current fuel prices, positively affecting transport fares.

He said new CNG conversion kits would start coming in very soon as all hands were on deck to fast track the usually lengthy procurement process. He said the government was also setting up training facilities and workshops across the country to train and provide new opportunities for transport operators and entrepreneurs.

He said this was a groundbreaking moment where Nigeria embraced more efficient means to power its economy. He said in making this change, Nigeria also made history.

The president further said that his administration was providing investment funding for enterprises with great potential to boost employment and urban incomes. He said the government was equally increasing investment in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

The president restated the reasons behind the ongoing reforms in the country, appealing for more understanding from citizens. He said bold reforms were necessary to place Nigeria on the path of prosperity and growth. He said he announced the end of the fuel subsidy on September 1 because he was not a man to erect Nigeria’s national home on a foundation of mud.

He said reforms may be painful, but it was what greatness and the future required. He said Nigeria was now moving towards a future where the abundance and fruits of the nation were fairly shared among all, not hoarded by a select and greedy few; a Nigeria where hunger, poverty and hardship were pushed into the shadows of an ever fading past.

He said he was attuned to the hardships that had come with the reforms. He said he had a heart that felt and eyes that saw. He said he wished today’s difficulties did not exist. But he said Nigerians must endure if they were to reach the good side of their future.

On his pledge of a thorough housecleaning of the den of malfeasance at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), President Tinubu said, “That housecleaning is well underway. A new leadership for the Central Bank has been constituted.”

He added that his special investigator would soon present his findings on past lapses and how to prevent similar reoccurrences, stressing, “Henceforth, monetary policy shall be for the benefit of all and not the exclusive province of the powerful and wealthy.”

The president, who said his administration shall always accord the highest priority to the safety of the people, stated that inter-service collaboration and intelligence sharing had been enhanced.

He said service chiefs had been tasked with the vital responsibility of rebuilding the capacities of our security services.

Tinubu also commended security forces for their gallantry.

The president congratulated the National Assembly for its role in the quick take-off of his administration through the performance of its constitutional duties of confirmation and oversight and the judiciary as a pillar of democracy and fairness.

He also thanked members of civil society organisations and labour unions for their dedication to Nigeria’s democracy, saying, “We may not always agree, but I value your advice and recommendations. You are my brothers and sisters and you have my due respect.”

He urged Nigerians to remain united and patriotic, saying Nigeria’s independence was not just a date on the calendar, but a state of mind and a way of life. He said Nigerians must always cherish their freedom and defend their sovereignty. He said Nigerians must always work together for peace, progress and prosperity.

He congratulated Nigerians on their 63rd Independence anniversary, saying he was proud to be their president and their fellow citizen. He prayed for God’s blessings on Nigeria and its people.

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