President Muhammadu Buhari has assured that the government will not inflict additional hardship on citizens.
He promised to keep seeking ways to ameliorate their sufferings and create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
He also pledged commitment to the implementation of the national minimum wage.
Buhari stated this after widespread criticism over the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved an increase in value added tax (VAT) rate from five per cent to 7.2 per cent.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, quoted Buhari as saying this when he received the Trade Union Congress (TUC)led by its President, Quadri Olaleye, at the State House, yesterday.
“I want to assure you that, as an administration, we have no intention of inflicting any additional hardship on Nigerians. On fuel prices, I agree with you on the need to eliminate corruption and inefficiencies in the sector.
“During our first term, we secured the nation’s territorial integrity and continued 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.
“We embarked on the most ambitious infrastructure development and rehabilitation projects this country has seen in decades. We also introduced the largest Social Investment Program in sub-saharan Africa.
“Although these programs, 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,” he said.
Buhari, who said his administration will work to improve the livelihood of citizens, said most of the challenges facing the counter would have been avoided if previous governments had invested on infrastructure and human capacity.
“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.
Olaleye, in his remarks, advised the Federal Government to pay more attention on the welfare of Nigerians by not increasing of pump price of fuel, and ensuring the implementation of the national minimum wage.
The TUC president assured that the union will support the government as it tackles challenges facing the country.
He commended Buhari for working to increase the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) as well as addressing the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and signing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.