The appeal by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to the European Union to support Nigeria and other African countries to strengthen security and achieve economic development to reduce poverty could not have come at better time.
The call is quite timely and germane, considering the removal of subsidy on petroleum products in Nigeria, which has exacerbated the hardship in the country as well as the neighbouring countries of Cameroun, Chad and Niger Republic.
A statement by State House Director of Information, Mr. Abiodun Oladunjoye, said President Tinubu made the request recently when he spoke on phone with the President of the European Council, Mr. Charles Michel.
The European Council is EU’s institution that defines the general political direction and priorities of the continental union. According to President Tinubu, Nigeria and the rest of Africa will require the help and partnership of their friends and development partners, like the EU, to address the excruciating poverty in the continent.
Requesting the EU to look at specific areas of security challenge, like the Lake Chad and coastal areas, the Nigerian leader promised to remain in contact with the EU and other member-states. He said poverty and insecurity are priority areas of his administration, adding that he would do all he could to address them.
The EC president congratulated President Tinubu on his victory in the February 25 election. Pledging the commitment of the continental council towards ensuring a stronger cooperation and partnership with Nigeria, based on mutual respect and common interests, Michel said Nigeria is important to the EU and the international community. He urged the Nigerian leader to continue to work with the EU in all relevant areas.
Similarly, President Tinubu had urged governors of the 36 states of the federation to collaborate with the federal government in tackling the menace of poverty in the country, saying the level of impoverishment was unacceptable. He advised the political leaders to downplay their differences and jointly focus on alleviating the sufferings and pains of the people.
President Tinubu made the appeal while hosting members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), led by its chairman, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara state, at the State House. He said the effects of poverty on the faces of Nigerians were glaring, noting that poverty is not hereditary, it is from society. The president said government’s objective is to eliminate poverty, urging the governors to set aside partisan politics and deliberate about Nigeria and nation-building.
President Tinubu said the nation should be seen as one big family. “We are a family occupying one house, and sleeping in different rooms. If we see it that way and push forward, we will get our people out of poverty. A determined mind is a fertile ground for delivering on results. Present in this room is our diversity in culture and politics, but we are one nation. The unity and stability of the country rest upon us.
“We are in a democracy and we have to nurture the democracy. It is a hard-earned system and not easy to manage. If anyone thinks it is easy, look at other nations who are over a hundred years in democracy. We have managed ourselves very well to have a democracy. We have campaigned and arrived at our present destination. We must work for our people,” the president told the governors, while assuring them that he would maintain an open-door policy.
“What do we do in the face of crushing poverty? What do we do with our development goals? We took the bull by the horns by removing the elephant in the room, before the nation sinks.We need synergy to fight other vices like corruption. We are trying to get smugglers out of the way. How do we work together to galvanize the economy, and put resources in place? We must think and perform. After removing subsidy, there must be savings accruing to the Federation Account”.
He further said the education sector must be improved as part of efforts to reduce poverty and penury. “How do we address the unacceptable level of poverty? How much are we investing in education, which is the only tool against poverty? I am ready to collaborate with you”.
The president also drew attention to the security problems in some states, admonishing the governors that all efforts should be put in place to tackle the menace.
Responding, chairman of the NGF, thanked President Tinubu for the invitation to deliberate on the challenges of poverty and security, promising that the governors would support the federal government in its quest to meeting the targets of human development.
The governors highlighted the plight of citizens in their states, assuring the president of their support in proffering solutions through the National Economic Council (NEC). They governors expressed strong support for President Tinubu’s decision to end fuel subsidy in the country, and other early policy initiatives of the administration.
We commend President Tinubu, who clearly hit the ground running from May 29, 2023, when his government was inaugurated. It now behooves on the governors to key into Tinubu’s vision and mission to eradicate poverty from Nigeria, as encapsulated in the Renewed Hope agenda of the federal government.