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Things are assuming Hobbesian State of Nature in Nigeria – Arewa Economic Forum

…Challenges FG to summon political will to arrest Naira free fall, clampdown on dollar hoarders

 

The Arewa Economic Forum (AEF) has warned that at the risk of sounding alarmist, things are assuming the Hobbesian State of Nature in Nigeria where “Life is Brutish, Nasty and Short.”

 

AEF, therefore, urged the Federal Government to summon adequate political will to arrest the free fall of the Naira by banning the practice of keeping dollars at home or in offices, and clampdown on all hoarders of dollars.

The Chairman of Arewa Economic Forum (AEF), Ibrahim Dandakata who championed this cause on Thursday at a press conference in Abuja, emphasized that in line with the group’s tradition, the AEF is sincere to proffer solutions, not to heat up the polity or add to the tension already brewing in the land.

It called on the government to investigate why the exchange rate of the dollar often appreciates after every Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting, adding that relevant government agencies should ban the practice of paying for goods and services online in dollars, while everything must be paid for with the local currency as far as it is done by a Nigerian in Nigeria.

The group further called on President Bola Tinubu to reverse the subsidy removal policy and use the extra money that FAAC has been giving to the States to resume paying subsidy on premium motor spirit (PMS), if he cannot find a way within the limit of his constitutional powers and political influence to make the Governors more accountable to the people.

Dandakata said, “We are also of the opinion that the federal government must summon adequate political will to arrest the free fall of the Naira compared to the rising dollar. Dollar is not a legal tender in Nigeria. The government should therefore ban the practice of keeping dollars at home or in offices, and clampdown on all hoarders of dollars.

“The government should also investigate why dollars go up after every FAAC meeting. Relevant government agencies should also ban the practice of paying for goods and services online in dollars. Everything must be in Naira as far as it is done by a Nigerian in Nigeria”.

He warned that if Nigerians do not stop the obsession with the dollar, the Naira will never rise.

The Chairman of Arewa Economic Forum noted that Nigerians can hardly feed, buy drugs and other essentials due to hyperinflation caused by fuel subsidy removal and free fall of the Naira, stressing that the people have to pay more for everything with money that is not even there.

He contended that at the risk of sounding alarmist, things are assuming the Hobbesian State of Nature in Nigeria where “Life is Brutish, Nasty and Short,” and in line with the group’s tradition, the AEF is sincere to proffer solutions, not to heat up the polity or add to the tension already brewing in the land.

Dandakata reiterated that President Tinubu made it unambiguously clear during the electioneering campaign that he would remove fuel subsidy if he won the election but didn’t however warn Nigerians of the unprecedented hardship the singular decision will cause for the people.

According to him, fuel subsidy removal is not all about bad news, explaining that it has at least caused massive increase in the monies shared at the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) meetings with states going away with humongous figures on a monthly basis.

“But how has more money for governors to play with affected the lives of the masses? How?

“We at the AEF have found out that the huge sums of money available to state governors are not trickling down because the governors are not investing in areas that will reflate the state economy and are not committed to providing palliatives for the people.

“A check we conducted on recent FAAC allocations has shown that some of the states have had their allocations increased by up to 90 per cent with little or no improvement in the lives of the people. The percentage increase in the allocations to states after fuel subsidy removal is humongous.

“We are therefore, using this platform to call on President Tinubu to reverse the subsidy removal policy and use the extra money FAAC has been giving to the states to resume paying subsidy on PMS. The President should do this urgently if he knows he can’t find a way within the limit of his constitutional powers and political influence to make the governors more accountable to the people”.

The AEF Chairman also called on the federal government to put together a proper social register that can be used to distribute food items to Nigerians without the involvement of the state governments.

Speaking on the state of agriculture in the country, he noted that all agricultural facilities are within the grasp of the state governments including dams and the land, but the state governments are doing nothing in the area of irrigation and provision of lands for beneficial farming, stressing that the states have to do better.

“The federal government should also ensure that in its agricultural development plans, the emphasis is on semi-mechanised farming that creates job opportunities for the unemployed and not full mechanized farming that will just render our people jobless and redundant”, he added.

On mining, Dandakata said, “We know that mining is on the exclusive list as the federal government has absolute powers on everything below the surface. But the present administration is yet to come up with any clear-cut plan on artisanal mining which is an untapped area for real, massive job creation. Government should concentrate on developing artisanal miners and not just the big companies”.

He explained that education is the bedrock of society, and the country needs to focus on teaching the young ones both the hard and soft skills that can give them real sustenance and make them useful to the economy.

“We need to also revert to the use of local languages in teaching. Skills rather than mere certificates should be the priority”, Dandakata further stated.

On State Police, he said, “We have also noticed the seeming rush by the President and governors to put together a state policing system to combat the rising insecurity in the country. While we admit that state police is a good concept on its own which works for other nations, we are however against the idea of empowering our governors with a tool they are most likely to use for political witch-hunting.

“On the contrary, as concerned citizens ourselves, we are proposing that the federal government should revive and expand the Police Constabulary and provide for it the logistics needed to support security agencies to combat crimes at local levels.

“The state governments, who are desirous of such policing at their level, should be made to provide the missing logistics for it to function well in terms of operational costs and allowances”.

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