Protest Against Hardship In A Responsible Manner, Shettima Tells Nigerians

Vice-President Kashim Shettima has urged Nigerians to voice their concerns about the current economic difficulties in a responsible and mature manner, acknowledging that the adopted economic policies and decisions bring challenges that disproportionately affect the less privileged.

Speaking at the 29th pre-Ramadan lecture in Lagos, organized by the University of Lagos Muslim Alumni on “Economic Reforms for Nigeria: Challenges and Prospects for the Future,” Shettima, represented by his Special Adviser on Political Matters, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, highlighted the looming severe challenges during the upcoming Ramadan period.

The removal of petroleum subsidies and the floating of the naira by the current administration have led to hyperinflation and a surge in food prices, as reported by Daily Trust. This economic strain has sparked protests nationwide, with reports of inmates revolting in a Jos prison and hoodlums looting a government warehouse in Abuja for food supplies.

Despite the unrest, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu remains optimistic, assuring the public that there is hope on the horizon. Tinubu criticized the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) for staging protests against the administration’s handling of the economic situation, emphasizing that it is premature to call for strikes when the government is still in its early stages.

Shettima reiterated that while the reforms may pose challenges, the government’s aim is not to penalize Nigerians but to navigate through these difficulties with the people’s best interests in mind.

He said, “The leadership of President Tinubu recognizes that this Ramadan will come with severe challenges for most Nigerians. The road to where we are today was long and full of missed opportunities and tragic failures to build on our great potentials.

“The consequences of our past are the stark realities we face today, such as rising cost of living and pessimism over our prospect to turn round our economy in the direction of growth and inclusive development.

“Yet, my brothers and sisters, we do not have the choice of continuing in the direction that brought us where we are today. We have to fix this country, and failure to do this is not an option. All the options we have are difficult and challenging, and they are, without a doubt, more telling on the poor. If there are easier and reliable alternatives to the policy choices we have adopted, we would have adopted them.

“Our administration does not plan to make lives of Nigerians more difficult. Nor do we intend to deceive fellow citizens that the change in direction and the expected outcome can be achieved without pain or sacrifices.

“We are also acutely aware that ours is a set of related Nigerian problems, and the solutions we seek must be genuinely informed by a Nigerian context, not the experiences of others or the preferences of special foreign interests which are removed from consequences of mis-steps or errors of judgement.

“Fellow alumni, I appeal to you to help make space for our administration to achieve the goal of turning our nation around. As products of a distinguished institution, we have learnt that progress is only possible if it is informed by criticism and critical scrutiny. We expect that Nigerians should express their feelings over our circumstances in a responsible and mature manner. We are also a deeply religious people, and we believe in the powers of faith and prayers. Let us be reminded that Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala tests His servants with ease and hardship, and He asks that we pray to Him for relief from hardship, and discipline in times of abundance.

“I join you in praying that Allah will grant us the privilege of undertaking our Ramadan fast as prescribed by Him, and we shall receive the reward.”