The increment of VAT from 5 percent to 7.2 percent by the Buhari administration on Wednesday, has drawn the ire of the public who accused the president of insensitivity to the current hardship in the country and level of unemployment.
However, the president while hosting a delegation led by President of the Trade Union Congress, Quadri Olaleye, on Thursday, said the enormity of the task of fixing the challenges facing the country has made its achievements in the last four years barely noticeable.
The President however, assured Nigerians that his government would continue to seek ways to ameliorate sufferings in the country and create a more enabling environment for everyone to thrive.
“On fuel prices, I agree with you on the need to eliminate corruption and inefficiencies in the sector. I want to assure you that, as an administration, we have no intention of inflicting any additional hardship on Nigerians,’’ he said.
“During our first term, we secured the nation’s territorial integrity and continue to protect the lives and properties of our citizens. We introduced various economic stimulus packages that support businesses and traders at all levels, promoted backward integration programmes especially in the agricultural sector to enhance our food security while creating jobs,” he said.
“We embarked on the most ambitious infrastructure development and rehabilitation projects this country has seen in decades. We also introduced the largest Social Investment Programme in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Although these programmes and many more successfully lifted Nigeria out of recession, the full impact is yet to be felt. In the next four years, we shall sustain this momentum and by the grace of God, lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty.”
“The points you raised are all interconnected. The lack of power and infrastructure due to decades of under-investment led to the closure or inefficient operations of a number of factories across the country. This meant the private sector was unable to create jobs fast enough to cope with our increasing population,” he said.
“You will agree with me that, all these challenges and many more were long ago left unattended to, thereby leaving the country in the mired state we inherited. You all will also testify to having seen and experienced what we have put in place as an administration to address these challenges.”