• Tony Igele

Osinbajo To Protesters: We Hear You Loud and Clear

Abuja - Acting President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday told Nigerians that the Federal Government was addressing Nigeria’s “serious economic situation”.

To those who protested, he said: “We hear you loud and clear”.

Recalling a similar remark by President Muhammadu Buhari a few months ago, Osinbajo said he had gone round the country and the complaints of the people on the economy were similar to what the protesters complained about.

According to him, the rot of many years could not be addressed overnight. But he said the government remained committed to turning around the trend and placing Nigeria on the path of growth. There were protests against the hardship being experienced in the country in Lagos, Abuja and Ibadan.

In Abuja, a group protested in support of the government. In Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, the protesters failed to gather at the advertised venue.

Minister of Transportation Chibuike Amaechi, also yesterday, said Nigerians should be patient with the government as it had four years to deliver on its promise. Speaking during the opening ceremony of the consultative forum between the Economic Management Team and the Private Sector on the Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP) at the Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja, the Acting President said: ”We are in a serious economic situation and the President was particularly concerned about the lot of the common man.

“And I quote him, “Recession today for many… for some its means not being able to pay school fees, for others not being able to afford high cost of rice and millets and for most of our young people recession means joblessness.

“I for one have been across the states and even today some people are out on the streets, protesting that things are difficult. What we are saying to every Nigerian is that ’we hear you loud and clear’, and we are determined to recover the economy. You have a right to demand for a better economy and we are committed to see it happen. “Years of deterioration cannot be reversed overnight. Again, it has to be said that it’s our business, it’s our duty to ensure that we put the Nigerian economy on the track of recovery,” he said Osinbajo spoke of how the government had intervened three times to assist states in the past 18 months to pay salaries.

He added: “And the last intervention was in December when we paid the Paris Club refund to the states. This are funds that the Federal Government had been owing states since 2005. This was to enable states pay their workers and we tend to believe that this is what is being done.”

The Acting President also spoke about the social intervention fund.

This, he said, included payment of N5,000 monthly to the poorest citizens, the home grown feeding programme in several states, and the credit facility to 1.6 million traders and artisans.

Stressing the importance of engaging the private sector in the economic recovery plan, Osinbajo said that the government could not do it alone.

“Your participation is your own commitment to the future of our country and to those coming behind us,” he said. In Ilorin during the North Central Town Hall meeting by the Federal Government, Amaechi said the All Progressives Congress (APC) government did not promise to fix Nigeria’s problems within a year. He urged Nigerians to wait till the end of four years, adding that the government heard the cries of Nigerians.

“We did not promise you that those challenges will be solved in one year. If we promise you that those challenges would be solved in one year you would have given us one year but you gave us four years mandate; so wait till the end of four years,” Amaechi said.

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