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Poverty: Kwara to distribute grains, release more buses



Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on Tuesday in Ilorin, the state capital, briefed different segments of the state on developments in the country, including efforts of the government to ease things for the people.

Held in different sessions, the hours-long engagements involved labour union chiefs, transport sector leaders, artisans, leadership of the market unions, and students drawn from varying backgrounds in the state.

Different federal government committees are working round the clock to plug the spiraling fall in the value of the naira and its impacts on consumer goods, while different measures are taken to ease the effects on the public, the Governor said.

He said the government is immediately working to force down the cost of key staple foods by releasing grains from the strategic reserve and distributing same to the people at intervals.

He said the devaluation of the naira meant that merchants from neighbouring countries are mopping up grains from Nigeria because it is far cheaper to buy from the country and then resell at higher prices in their own countries, especially in the West African subregion.

Acknowledging the spike in inflation, the Governor urged the people to be patient and that the government’s investments in gas-powered vehicles will soon manifest when the vehicles are eventually distributed in the coming months, including (first) to the University of Ilorin campus and later to the other campuses.

He also commended the Kwara State University for its initiative on gas-powered vehicles, which he said the government will continue to encourage.

He said the state government will soon deploy more vehicles to different parts of the state to support people’s movement, especially students who come from different homes, while grains will soon be distributed to the people as a form of support.

“You will observe that due to the removal of fuel subsidy and the step taken on foreign exchange by the Federal government, there is inflation in the country. The government is working hard to address the resultant challenges,” he said at each of the meetings with the stakeholders.

“Our major problem is foreign exchange. We are getting US dollars from sales of crude oil, whereas we have low sales at the moment. We used to experience pipeline vandalism. But, since the assumption of Tinubu’s government, production of oil has increased. Not only that, the government realised recently that the crude oil we are, and will be, getting in the next six months or so had been sold in advance. So, they don’t get value for whatever they are selling now. But gradually, things will change, and we need your support to understand us.

“The government has started ordering gas-powered vehicles and is making serious efforts to stabilise the Naira. But more importantly now is how to address the hike of food prices. We held a meeting this afternoon. I joined them through zoom, and it is a continuation of previous meetings. The government is launching programmes to checkmate the rising food prices.”

He said the government is not taking the issue of insecurity lightly, citing the immediate arrest of abductors in Ekiti LG of the state by the combined security agencies.

AbdulRazaq appreciated the labour movement and every segment of the state for their continued understanding and dialogue, as the government strives to meet their demands in phases.

“Our main challenge now is the new minimum wage. Now that a tripartite committee has been set up at the federal level, we are looking forward to setting up our own at the state level basically to be prepared for what is going on at the federal level,” he said.

State Chairman for the Trade Union Congress (TUC) Comrade Joseph Tunde Meshach, NLC Chairman Comrade Saheed Olayinka, and NUT representative, in their separate remarks, commended the Governor for making the welfare of workers a priority, and for the ongoing efforts to relieve the pains from fuel subsidy removal.

Meshach lauded the government’s decision to upgrade Kwara Hotel to a standard that it deserves, saying the facility occupies a strategic place and deserves a top-notch upgrade the government is giving it.

“On the issue of Kwara Hotel workers, we thank Your Excellency very much for paying their (workers’) salary as and when due. We also want to congratulate you on the work being done on (Kwara Hotel) in order to give us a more befitting one,” the TUC Chairman said, acknowledging the open-door policy of the administration with the labour movement.

Olayinka, for his part, said AbdulRazaq was the the first Governor to introduce palliative as a means of reducing the burden affecting the common man, especially the fixed income earners, saying such was commendable.

The labour leaders said they want more to be done for the workers, nonetheless.

Other union and students’ leaders who attended the other sessions included the state Chairman for Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, Alhaji AbdulRazaq Ariwoola; and state Chairman Artisan Congress, Alhaji Jimoh Adesina; President National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS), Kwara State chapter, Comrade Issa Abdulgafar; President, National Association of Kwara State Students (NAKSS), Comrade Abdulwahab Habibullahi Are. They all acknowledged the government’s constant support to their groups, pledging the support of their members in this trying time.

President National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS), Kwara State chapter, Comrade Issa Abdulgafar, appreciated the Governor for his contributions to the students’ constituency and the huge investments to reposition the education sector.

NAKSS leader Comrade Abdulwahab Habibullahi Are thanked the Governor for increasing their bursary award from N5,000 to N10,000 and the constant payment of the money as well as other support for the students.

Rafiu Ajakaye
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor
February 7, 2024

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