From Ahmad SAKA,Bauchi
The Bauchi State Governor Senator Bala Abdulqadir Muhammad has flagged off the distribution of palliatives to vulnerable population in the state to alleviate the negative impact of the removal of fuel subsidy in the country.
Flagging off the distribution of the palliatives at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Township Stadium in Bauchi, Governor Bala said that as a result of the removal of subsidy on fuel by the federal government , President Bola Tinubu promptly introduced palliative packages in the country that will cushion the effect of the removal of fuel subsidy.
He said that the removal of subsidy on fuel lead to hike in prices of commodities, cost of transportation and other services, adding that the development translated into an increase in the cost of living with more people pushed into the poverty level.
Governor said that part of the palliative intervention by the federal government include the distribution of five trailer loads of rice and N5 billion to each state in cash and in kind, adding that the palliative was made up of a grant of 52 percent with the remaining 48 percent as a loan payable over a period of 20 months to support states to provide additional palliatives.
He said that the sum of N2 billion has so far has been released from the federal government while arrangements are being made to access the remaining money in addition to more grains from the CBN and the federal government committee on palliation which will be distributed .
“In Bauchi state in anticipation of the obvious effects of subsidy removal on fuel, we introduced a number of measures including the provision of 30 new mass transit buses, operated at subsidized rate within intra-state routes, aimed at alleviating the sufferings of the people .We also constituted a committee headed by my able Deputy to handle the task of recommending immediate interventions to alleviate the sufferings of our people”
“The committee has wide spread membership comprised of government officials from the relevant MDAs, traditional institutions, religious leaders, organized labour, CSOs, Security agencies, student unions amongst others.Extensive consultations were made by the sub-commitees appointed to determine workable solutions for implementation of palliative measures with the invitations of submissions from relevant stakeholders to guide the sub-commitees in the conduct of their assignment””
“Major considerations were made along the following lines, provision of relief food commodities to enhance food security, payment of benefits to civil servants and retirees, provision of mass transportation to ease high cost, social development intervention especially with special focus on support to non-formal vulnerable groups and health sector”
The governor said that the government has been battling with accumulated gratuities inherited from the past administrations in the state, adding that despite the efforts of the government to address the lingering issue, the accumulated gratuities still remains unresolved.
“It was therefore recommended that part of the palliative fund should be made available for the provision of palliative to upset part of the unpaid gratuities.The settlement will provide immediate liquidity to the beneficiaries to mitigate the negative impact of the removal of subsidy on fuel” he said
Earlier in her speech, the State Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Hajara Yakubu Wanka said that even before the federal government palliative intervention programme, the Bauchi state government has been consistent in assisting people of the state through various humanitarian interventions such as the Kaura Economic empowerment program targeted at alleviating the plights of the vulnerable population in the state.
She said that in keeping with the policy of social inclusion, the committee in charge of the palliative distribution has put in all the necessary measures to ensure that the palliative gets to all the vulnerable groups in the state.