Subsidy is the terror walking the streets in Gombe, the excuse for beneath human behavioural expression. A crowd of passengers were seen on the roof of a pickup in transit holding to nothing on Kano road and a bewildered me asked my Gombe friends what could be responsible for such unreasonable risk. I was simply told it was subsidy!
What at this time is my mission to Gombe? Bolaji Akinyemi Kingdom Outreach, BAKO, is holding a Kingdom Life Empowerment Campaign at the Christian Association of Nigeria Centre. The focus is on talent economy; harnessing what you are given by God to get what you and your nation needs for life. I must confess that our Liaison Officer here, Mrs. Melusa Danguma, a respected woman leader in the state is doing a good job of the project, “subsidy” effect on our mobilization, not withstanding.
Though difficult for a mind from Lagos to understand the dimensions of “subsidy” damage to social life in Gombe, when a 50 naira drop off distance by commercial bike is still available and a “modu” of cooked groundnut was sold for 500 naira, which the devouring efforts of our 4 adult team members couldn’t finish in one sitting, that much was the heap of groundnut sold for 500 naira only!
Our time for lunch took us to the best and most expensive restaurant in Gombe and after 4 of us with our lead were done, our bills was printed and N7,850 was it. You are wondering why I used the word expensive? If Benue is the food basket of the nation, Gombe is the pot where the food is cooked.
The subsidy removal is obviously taking its toll on the people and government of Gombe State like every other Nigerian state across the country and challenging perceptions are the real issues for the government to change!
While the perception of the ordinary people on the street is on the portion to grab out of the promised palliatives by the Federal Government, Governor Muhammed Inuwa Yahaya is rising to the occasion of presenting the reality of the economic gap and productivity as the only means of filling it!
The Governor decries Federal Government palliatives and urges his people to embrace agriculture.
His Excellency, Governor Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State has asked the people to prioritize the fertilizer bags in the palliative pack and be pragmatic with it!
According to the Governor, they have received N2 billion out of the N5 billion subsidy removal palliative set by the Federal Government.
Governor Yahaya who is also the Chairman Northern States Governors’ Forum, made this disclosure on Wednesday at the grand finale of the distribution of palliatives at the Gombe Emir’s palace ground.
The governor had last week inaugurated the distribution in Yalmatu Deba, with the formation of a committee headed by the chairman of Gombe State Emergency Management Agency that has toured the Nine LGAs sharing palliatives across households, and polling units.
Some of the items distributed include five kg of rice, two bags of fertilizers and two litres of pesticides, a carton of macaroni or spaghetti.
According to Yahaya, there won’t be a miracle as perceived by those who learned about the Federal Government’s N5b, disclosing that so far only N2b has hit the state coffers!
He said, “We have been going round distributing across the 11 Local Government Areas. This is just a step in anticipation of what the Federal Government will give in order to provide the palliative as a result of the injuries inflicted on people because of subsidy removal because there is dislocation in the country and there are problems most of which didn’t start even now but we have to address now!
“That is why I’m emphasising that people that got these must go and use it well especially if you have a farm you can use the two fertilizer bags to ensure there is productivity on your farm.
“For those anticipating that as a result of the N5b that the Federal Government is giving to the states that there will be miracle at this N2b only hit the account of Gombe State Government and we have N2b worth of rice according to the palliative committee that we can buy as the next money is disbursed to us and grains, especially maize that we received from Central Bank that is worth N1b.
“I have my doubt as to whether the Federal Government through CBN, or through any of its agencies has that much in the reserve. For instance the grain silos in Gombe which is owned by Federal Ministry of Agriculture has been leased to a private company meaning the 25,000 tons that should have been strategic grain reserve is already out of control of the government but now in the private hands.
“If you give N3b and ask that we go to the market and buy directly from the market it will add more inflation and the prices will go up again and the problem will persist,” he added.
Yahaya noted that he was not pleased with palliatives, describing them as curative measures instead of preventive maintenance which would cure hunger!
“We shall carefully look at how best to utilise our own money and ensure it gets to the correct set of people. The deputy governor will take charge of ensuring we implement the Federal Government palliatives so that it gets to the right persons.
“We have given out palliative package. I’m not happy that we are sharing palliatives. I will prefer we teach people to go back to farm so that they can produce what they eat, that is what government should do instead of sharing palliatives because we are in a situation we caused ourselves!
“We backtrack, think twice, and do the needful, and inshallah I promise that I will give that effective leadership required so that together we can move forward,” Yahaya said.
The Governor looks set to discourage what to grab mentality and fill the gaps created by subsidy removal with a productive approach through agriculture. It is left to the people to grapple with the reality of the time and follow the Governor’s leadership!