Finance Minister absent as Daily Trust dialogue x-rays Tinubu’s Economic Reforms
* Nigerians are the losers - NLC President * Tinubu upholds press freedom - Malagi * Economic horizon is bright - Dr. Akai
By George George Idowu
Nigeria’s Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr. Wale Edun was absent as Nigerians debated President Bola Tinubu’s economic reforms.
The Minister was said to have been invited as a keynote speaker at the 21st edition of Daily Trust newspaper’s annual dialogues held at the NAF Conference Centre in Abuja yesterday.
The Chairman of the Board of Media Trust Group (publishers of Daily Trust titles, TrustTV and Trust Radio), Malam Kabiru Yusuf, said he spoke with Mr. Edun, who accepted the newspaper’s invitation to grace the event themed, “Tinubu’s Economic Reforms: The Losers and the Gainers.”
Many participants at the event, graced by Students of Baze and Nile Universities, expressed disappointment at Mr. Edun’s absence attributing it to usual scant disregard government officials have for the citizens.
However, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Mohammed Idris Malagi, spoke on the strides being recorded by the Tinubu administration.
He reiterated that media establishments in Nigeria are free to practice journalism without interference from the government.
Former Minister of National Planning, Shamsudeen Usman, defended current economic reforms, citing short-term benefits like the removal of fuel subsidy.
However, concerns lingered over rising inflation and uncertain winners in the economic landscape.
Usman said: “I don’t know the reason behind the choice of the topic, particularly the emphasis on gainers and losers. Before the removal of fuel subsidies, the importers of petroleum products were the winners.
“Immediately after the removal, the winners were the average Nigerians, and the losers were the importers and members of the fuel syndicate. But can we point out the winners now given the inflationary trend?”
On the part of the President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Joe Ajaero, he lamented the plight of Nigerian masses, branding them as “losers” due to pervasive suffering and soaring costs of living.
He highlighted fuel prices skyrocketing from N187/litre to N700/litre, emphasizing stagnant wages amidst economic turmoil.
Dr. Victoria Akai, former Director General of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), provided insights into potential solutions.
Quoting figures from the National Bureau of Statistics, she emphasised tax reforms, economic diversification, and human capital development as some of the highlights of reforms being undertaken by Tinubu’s government.
According to her, “Presidential reforms have yielded gains, with the Nigerian economy growing at a faster pace of 3.3% compared to population growth.
“Opportunities for growth in Nigeria’s potential have been harnessed through strategic initiatives, such as leveraging preferential trade agreements like the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. Sectors ripe for exploration include mining, agriculture, and the creative economy.”
Former senator Comrade Shehu Sani echoed Ajaero’s sentiment, likening Nigerian citizens to “guinea pigs” subjected to erratic economic experiments by successive governments.
He criticized leaders for unfulfilled promises and perpetual economic failures.