Leaders of opposition political parties on Wednesday met in Abuja to assess the state of the nation, declaring that most of the policies of President Bola Tinubu’s administration since assuming office had no human face.
They accused the government of weaponising poverty and described the 2024 Budget as theoretical.
They said the document was not tailored towards improving the lives of Nigerians.
The meeting, which was held at the National Secretariat of the Social Democratic Party, was attended by the Acting National Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Setonji Koseodo; acting National Chairman of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, Abba Kawu Ali; National Chairman, Allied Peoples Movement, Alhaji Yusuf Dantalle; and National Secretary, Zenith Labour Party, Yahaya Makam.
Others were the National Chairman of the African Democratic Congress, Chief Ralph Nwosu; and National Publicity Secretary, Young Progressives Party, Egbeola Martin.
Speaking on behalf of other opposition parties, the National Chairman of the SDP, Shehu Gabam, maintained that the government must adjust some of its policies and programmes that have no human face, adding that they must be converted to human face policies so that citizens can be relieved and have a space to breathe.
According to Gabam, the opposition parties have a greater responsibility to ensure that there is a conducive and peaceful environment for the country to move on, saying that it would amount to abdication of duties if the opposition leaders remain silent.
He said: “As patriotic citizens, we want to call the attention of the government to adjust some of the policies and programmes that have no human face.
“The policies must be converted to human face policies so that citizens can be relieved and have a space to breathe.
“We don’t want any anarchy and lawlessness in the country.
“We have identified about seven points.
“We wish the government will have more open ears so that we can have a very smooth situation.
“The security situation is a thing of concern.
“When this President was campaigning, he promised to do everything humanly possible to secure Nigerians and their properties.
“We want to tell him to do more than he is doing as the security situation is deteriorating.
“The environment is choked.
“It is not secured for investors and they need to rejig the security system.
“We have analysed the budget presented by the President and in our analysis, we believe strongly that the National Assembly needs to step in and review the budget.
“Nigeria’s budget over the years has been elitist based.
“There had not been deliberate policies that will improve the lives of ordinary Nigerians.”
Lamenting that Nigeria is over indebted, Gabam said further borrowing will kill the economy.
According to him: “We feel that the budget is not balanced.
“It is not in tandem with our national interest.
“The National Assembly must look into it passionately in the overall interests of the country.
“They are representatives of the people and they should know better what their people want.”
On the ongoing election petitions in court, Gabam urged the judiciary to exercise extreme caution in making decisions, saying that one of the reasons for a coup in a country is injustice.
According to him: “So we are urging our senior judges in the country, who have passed some of the landmark judgements that can stand the test of time, they should look at how they can save this democracy.
“They should not allow the politicians to infiltrate their ranks.
“They should pass judgment devoid of political influence.”
While slamming Nigeria’s large delegation to COP28, the SDP Chairman raised concerns that despite the rising poverty in the country, the government funded thousands of people on a foreign trip without any justification.
On the removal of subsidy on petrol, Gabam said based on statistics and what has been generated, the opposition parties have found no impact on citizens.
According to him, it has rather increased the weaponisation of poverty all over the country.
He added: “People abandoned their vehicle because they cannot afford to fall down.
“We have challenged the subsidy payment processes, we couldn’t find one.
“But what we are telling the government is that you cannot remove subsidy and at the same time you deliver the gain from subsidy to the governors that have championed the weaponisation of poverty.
“It’s not possible.
“It’s not a realistic position the government is taking.
“If the subsidy is there and you are saving it for the future of Nigeria, then it should be converted into subsidy of education, agriculture and other critical areas that will be impactful to the citizens of Nigeria.
“It means the government is not pathing away from the old practice of the former President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Our hope and expectations with the current President is that he will be a performing president.
“So he must depart from the old practices that have crippled the economy to a new generational thinking and new economic reality that will drive the country.
The NNPP acting National Chairman on his part stressed the need for the judiciary to exercise caution as it relates to the governorship seat tussle in Kano State.
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On his part, Koseodo accused those in power of trying to stifle opposition parties, saying Nigeria signed up for multiparty democracy.
According to him: “What is happening now is that people in government, whether with the knowledge of Mr. President or whatever, those in power have been trying to stifle viable opposition, but the opposition is necessary for the government to have a good direction.”