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FULL TEXT: Tinubu’s address to Nigerians on state of the nation

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I want to talk to you about our economy. It is important that you understand the reasons for the policy measures I have taken to combat the serious economic challenges this nation has long faced.

2. I am not going to talk in difficult terms by dwelling on economic jargon and concepts. I will speak in plain, clear language so that you know where I stand. More importantly, so that you see and hopefully will share my vision regarding the journey to a better, more productive economy for our beloved country.3. For several years, I have consistently maintained the position that the fuel subsidy had to go. This once beneficial measure had outlived its usefulness. The subsidy cost us trillions of Naira yearly. Such a vast sum of money would have been better spent on public transportation, healthcare, schools, housing and even national security. Instead, it was being funnelled into the deep pockets and lavish bank accounts of a select group of individuals.

4. This group had amassed so much wealth and power that they became a serious threat to the fairness of our economy and the integrity of our democratic governance. To be blunt, Nigeria could never become the society it was intended to be as long as such small, powerful yet unelected groups hold enormous influence over our political economy and the institutions that govern it.

5. The whims of the few should never hold dominant sway over the hopes and aspirations of the many. If we are to be a democracy, the people and not the power of money must be sovereign.

6. The preceding administration saw this looming danger as well. Indeed, it made no provision in the 2023 Appropriations for subsidy after June this year. Removal of this once helpful device that had transformed into a millstone around the country’s neck had become inevitable.

7. Also, the multiple exchange rate system that had been established became nothing but a highway of currency speculation. It diverted money that should have been used to create jobs, build factories and businesses for millions of people. Our national wealth was doled on favourable terms to a handful of people who have been made filthy rich simply by moving money from one hand to another. This too was extremely unfair.

8. It also compounded the threat that the illicit and mass accumulation of money posed to the future of our democratic system and its economy.

9. I had promised to reform the economy for the long-term good by fighting the major imbalances that had plagued our economy. Ending the subsidy and the preferential exchange rate system were key to this fight. This fight is to define the fate and future of our nation. Much is in the balance.

10. Thus, the defects in our economy immensely profited a tiny elite, the elite of the elite you might call them. As we moved to fight the flaws in the economy, the people who grow rich from them, predictably, will fight back through every means necessary.

11. Our economy is going through a tough patch and you are being hurt by it. The cost of fuel has gone up. Food and other prices have followed it. Households and businesses struggle. Things seem anxious and uncertain. I understand the hardship you face. I wish there were other ways. But there is not. If there were, I would have taken that route as I came here to help not hurt the people and nation that I love.

12. What I can offer in the immediate is to reduce the burden our current economic situation has imposed on all of us, most especially on businesses, the working class and the most vulnerable among us.

13. Already, the Federal Government is working closely with states and local governments to implement interventions that will cushion the pains of our people across socio-economic brackets.