President Bola Tinubu is set to distribute N8,000 (roughly $10) per household in monthly support to twelve million families across the country, describing it as an effort to ease the nationwide hardship inflicted on the country following his unilateral removal of subsidy on petroleum products.
Mr Tinubu said in a letter to the House of Representatives read by Speaker Tajudeen Abbas during plenary on Thursday that lawmakers should promptly approve about $800 million in loans to finance the national social safety net program.
According to Mr Tinubu, the cash distribution will have a multiplier effect on about 60 million individuals, and its transparency will be ensured via direct bank transfer to beneficiaries.
The program was first proposed by former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, but the Ninth Senate could not review the request because the session was already in its last days.
How Mr Tinubu would implement the policy remains unclear, as questions about who would qualify can be difficult to determine in a country without adequate data on citizens and household income. A spokesman for the president did not immediately return a request seeking comments.
The president removed the subsidy on petrol days after assuming office six weeks ago, cutting a policy that has served for decades as a crucial pillar of economic support for millions of citizens.
Mr Tinubu argued that the subsidy regime was benefitting affluent citizens more than their poor compatriots. But social analysts argued that was not a tenable ground to plunge millions further into poverty.
Fuel prices immediately witnessed a mult-fold jump from about N200 to over N550 per litre, with citizens groaning of steep effects of the changes on their ability to survive.
Whereas the N8,000 is equivalent to only 14.5 litres of petrol, some families are nonetheless looking forward to it, hoping it would help cover some expenses as the country’s N30,000 (roughly $37) minimum wage becomes increasingly insufficient for most workers. The government has yet to publish figures of savings from subsidy removal since June 1.