By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari has assured that the Federal Government would not inflict hardship on citizens, but rather keep seeking ways to ameliorate their suffering and create more enabling environment for everyone to thrive.
Buhari stated this when he received the new executive of Trade Union Congress (TUC), led by its President, Mr Quadri Olaleye, at the State House, Abuja on Thursday.
The president, who was reacting to Olaleye’s presentation bordering on national issues, said: “On fuel prices, I agree with you on the need to eliminate corruption and inefficiencies in the sector.
“I want to assure you that as an administration, we have no intention of inflicting any additional hardship on Nigerians,“ he said.
According to him, the Federal government remains committed to the implementation of the national minimum wage.
He said that the inaugural Federal Executive Council meeting held on Wednesday, focused on the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework which includes discussions around the new minimum wage.
“During our first term, we secured the nation’s territorial integrity and continued to protect the lives and properties of our citizens.
“We introduced various economic stimulus packages that support businesses and traders at all levels, promoted backward integration programmes, especially in the agricultural sector, to enhance our food security while creating jobs.
“We embarked on the most ambitious infrastructure development and rehabilitation projects this country has seen in decades. We also introduced the largest Social Investment Program in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Although these programmes, and many more, successfully lifted Nigeria out of recession the full impact is yet to be felt.
“In the next four years, we shall sustain this momentum and by the grace of God, lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty.’’
The President, who noted that his administration would work hard to improve the livelihood of citizens, said most of the inherited challenges were avoidable, if some previous governments had been keener on investing on infrastructure and human capacity.
“The points you raised are all interconnected. The lack of power and infrastructure due to decades of under-investment led to the closure or inefficient operations of a number of factories across the country.
“This meant the private sector was unable to create jobs, fast enough to cope with our increasing population.
“You will agree with me that all these challenges and many more, were long ago left unattended to thereby leaving the country in the mired state we inherited.
“You all will also testify to having seen and experienced what we have put in place as an administration to address these challenges.’’
In his remarks, the President of TUC advised the Federal government to pay more attention to the welfare of Nigerians by avoiding increase of fuel price and ensuring implementation of the national minimum wage.
The implementation of the national minimum wage is being delayed by negotiations on the consequential adjustments.
“We are, however, disturbed that the enthusiasm is turning into a nightmare,“ the TUC leader said
He urged the President to focus on poverty reduction and improving security.
Olaleye assured the President that TUC would support the government as it tackled challenges facing the country.
He commended the president for increase in Internally Generated Revenue, steps taken on the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa and the signing of African Continental Free Trade Agreement.