Tuesday, February 27Inside Business Africa
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I Know Nigerians Are In Economic Pains —Tinubu Speaks In Special Interview

President Bola Tinubu has dropped hints of the scope of the planned minimum wage for Nigerian workers following the rise in the cost of living.

Tinubu, voted by editors of this newspaper as Person  of the Year,says the coming wage structure will be practical, sustainable and implementable by all layers of government.

Responding to questions on his journey so far as Nigeria’s President in a Special interview, Tinubu says the economic reforms introduced by his government have been manifesting positive dividends.

Reminded about the current cost-of-living crisis in the country caused by spiraling inflation, high petrol price, and currency devaluation, Tinubu said: “As your President, I am deeply aware of the economic crisis’s severe impact on  Nigerians, and we are part of a global challenge with the rising costs of living.

“To help our  people, my administration is taking proactive steps. We are focused on providing financial support to businesses and ensuring the availability and affordability of staple foods, which are essential for every Nigerian family.

“One of our key initiatives is the provision of N25,000 monthly to 15 million households, for a three-month period. To further support food security, we’re working with our partners, local and international, to improve agricultural practices and provide essential resources to farmers.

“In addition, the National Single Window Project is being implemented to enhance international trade efficiency

Asked to respond to criticism of the cash transfer initiative of his government, which some see as  superficial and incapable of addressing  the level of poverty in the land,Tinubu insisted that he remains  steadfast in  “my belief in the efficacy of our cash transfer initiatives. “

 He said: “These initiatives are a crucial part of our strategy to target and provide relief to the most vulnerable segments of our population, especially during the last three months of the year when the prices of basic items typically rise.

“This is not just about providing temporary support; it’s about strategically delivering assistance when it’s needed most. We continue to work closely with all key stakeholders – including state governments, civil society groups, international partners, and private sector entities like telcos and fintechs – to refine these programs. Moreover, we urge all Nigerians to be mindful of the current economic situation and avoid exploiting it for abnormal profits.

“In addition to these cash transfers, my administration is deeply committed to empowering micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises, along with nano businesses. Significant financial support is being directed to these enterprises to foster human capital development, economic growth, and financial inclusion.

“For instance, through the Ministry of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, we launched the 3MTT programme,  aiming to develop technical talent across Nigeria in fields such as software engineering and cloud computing. This program is designed not just to aid businesses but also to enable our youth to participate in the global gig economy, earning competitive wages while contributing to our nation’s growth.

“Our interventions extend beyond what some may call ‘cash handouts’. They are about creating a sustainable environment where Nigerians can innovate and thrive. By focusing on sectors like digital and creative industries, we are fostering growth and job creation, harmonizing efforts between monetary and fiscal bodies to build a stronger, more resilient Nigeria.

On the planned new wage structure, why it is yet to take off and fears about the ability of some of the states to implement it when the last one has not even been fully adopted all over the country,the president  said: “I understand the concerns regarding the unveiling of the new minimum wage and how states will manage these changes, especially those with fewer resources.

“To address this, my administration has approved a provisional increase in the federal minimum wage to N35,000 per month for a six-month period, two months of which have already been paid. This decision follows extensive consultations with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC).

“In managing the situation with the states, we are working closely with them to ensure the  new wage structure is practical and sustainable. It’s important that each state’s unique financial situation is considered.

“We are focused on strategies to help states strengthen their  economies, considering factors like tax efficiency and economic diversification.

“We are committed  to ongoing dialogues with labour unions and state governments. This  collaborative approach is crucial to ensure that the new minimum wage is fair, reasonable, and implementable across all states. Our goal is to balance the economic well-being of our workers with the overall financial health of the nation.

“We ask Nigerians to rest assured that my administration will not rest until we have delivered a sustainable solution in the best interest of Nigerians.”

Tinubu,in response  to a question on the benefits of his  economic missions to some parts of the world so far,said: “ It is essential to place our initiatives within the broader context of our economic recovery and growth strategy. This strategy encompasses several key reforms, including the removal of fuel subsidies, the unification of the naira’s exchange rates, the adoption of the customs single-window, the streamlining of our tax system and enhancement and diversification of our revenues.

“These strategic moves are designed to enhance liquidity and create a more attractive investment environment for both domestic and foreign investors, thereby stimulating  sustainable growth.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)  is not ‘chicken change’. FDI is substantial, long-term financial commitments made by  serious enterprises and investors.

“What is happening right now is that Nigeria is re-engaging with the global market – both foreign and domestic investors. We are telling the story of our significant and far-reaching reforms and rebuilding confidence in Nigeria as an accessible and safe investment.

“We are clearly communicating that ‘Nigeria is open for business’ and that the direction of travel is clear and fully committed.

“So far, our pursuit of foreign direct investment has been met with positive outcomes. We’ve secured a $500 million deal with Germany to fund renewable energy projects, particularly in rural Nigeria.

“Additionally, through local enterprises, Nigeria will supply LNG yearly to Germany, starting in 2026, solidifying our role as a key global energy partner. Our focused efforts to attract European FDI are yielding fruit, notably with the $116 million French  investment in the I-DICE program, aimed at creating 65,000 start-ups and 150,000 jobs, particularly empowering women.

“As announced on the side-lines of COP28 in Dubai, we’re deploying 100 electric buses nationally, affirming our commitment to sustainable, eco friendly initiatives and creating a platform for Public-Private-Partnerships in the mass transit category.

“Since this announcement we have received serious requests for co-investment opportunities from within Nigeria and across the world – Europe, India, China and the Middle East, key global markets my administration has been energetically engaging with.”

SOURCE: SUNSHINE TRUTH

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