Vice-President Kashim Shettima has appealed to Nigerians to protest the current economic challenges in the country “in a responsible and mature manner.”

He said the economic policies and choices adopted come with challenges and difficulties which would be “more telling on the poor.”

Shettima spoke in Lagos during the 29th pre-Ramadan lecture organised by the University of Lagos Muslim Alumni with the theme, “Economic Reforms for Nigeria: Challenges and Prospects for the Future.”

Represented by his Special Adviser on Political Matters, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the Vice-President also hinted that the forthcoming Ramadan would come with “severe” challenges for many Nigerians

Reports have it that the removal of subsidy from petroleum and the floating of the naira by the present administration have triggered hyperinflation and the rise in cost of food items.

There have been protests across the country over hardship in the land even as the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu continues to assure that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

Tinubu recently hit at the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) which recently protested over hardship in the country, saying it is not acceptable to declare strike when the administration is barely a year.

Reiterating, the Vice-President said the reforms might be challenging but the government has no intention to punish Nigerians.

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.”

March 3, 2024

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