Gov Bello approves N1.56bn economic stimulus for Kogi business owners

Kogi State governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello has approved th sum of 1.56billion naira for Kogi business owners as a post-COVID economic stimulus.

The deputy governor of the state, Chief Edward Onoja disclosed this on Saturday  while responding to news making around that the state government levy bakers in the state.

“Kogi State sits at the bottom of that list, and even those 5 cases allocated to us are controversial at best. To put it mildly, we have had no confirmed case of Covid-19 in Kogi State.”

He noted that apart from the governor’s  response to the disease itself, Governor Bello also made sure his government designed several homegrown post-Covid stimulus programmes to help different sections of the populace, and wondered how the same governor can turn around to afflict the same people with an alleged tax on bread.

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“About 3 months ago we rolled out the Kogi Care Initiative, for which Council approved N1.56 billion as a post-COVID economic stimulus and recovery programme customised for different sections of our people – the poor, the elderly and the MSMEs.’ He therefore rejected the notion that ‘we can now impose a tax on individual loaves of bread sold in the state.’ 

On the issue of bakers, he said  governor Yahaya Bello, has expressed intense displeasure with news that his administration has imposed a tax on individual loaves of bread to be paid by bakeries and bread sellers in the confluence state.

The statement read thus, “We have just seen a purported consultancy agreement between one of our ministries and a private firm to impose an ill-conceived levy on bread in the state.

“For the records, neither the Governor nor the state executive council has imagined or proposed such a devilish tax regime, how much less imposing same on any food or essential commodity, not to mention bread which is a table staple and the basic lifeline of many a household’, the statement read. It insisted that such a claim was ‘…in fact, an embarrassment to the state government.’

The Deputy Governor revealed that the governor  directed him to personally debunk the news to underscore how serious government considered the disinformation.

His words, ”I am directed by His Excellency to give the lie to news of an alleged tax imposed on each loaf of bread to be sold in Kogi State. There is no iota of truth in the claims that we have approved such wickedness, because we have not and cannot.”

Onoja said he was shocked when news of the strange measure started making the rounds on media platforms, saying that it ran contrary to the widely advertised posture of the state government that the people of Kogi State must not be subjected to any act or policy that will increase their pains in this Covid-19 season.

”It is well-documented in the media that Governor Yahaya Bello has fought powerful forces, more than any other governor perhaps, to keep his people safe. As CoviD-19 ravaged the country and the world he has mobilised them for lifestyle changes that defeated the virus in the state.

“He spared them lockdowns and the inherent disruptions to their lives and livelihoods characteristic of covid responses in other places.

“He scrupulously obeyed WHO and NCDC guidelines to provide testing to high risk individuals. He relied on pioneering use of Rapid Test Kits for the coronavirus long before they became mainstream. He responded swiftly with contact tracing and quarantines on all suspected cases’. 

Chief Onoja noted  that though widely excoriated in those early days Governor Yahaya Bello remained undaunted because of his desire to protect his people at all costs.

The Deputy Governor said that no extra financial burden will apply for the time being on citizens and assured that ‘any business which has met the regulatory requirements for doing business in Kogi State including payment of routine tax is entitled to operate freely, and that includes bakeries and bread traders.’

The statement also promised that the Kogi State Government will deal decisively with any person who tries to extort the public now the same way it dealt with those who tried to collect money from places of worship and residences for an ‘alleged official fumigation exercise’ early in the covid cycle.

Chief Edward Onoja therefore urged everyone to disregard the alleged bread tax as not only improbable but impossible in Kogi State under the current administration.

‘We will not tolerate our own officials trying to profiteer off our people in any way, or even acting ill-advisedly in manners that cause them any form of distress’.

Recalled that the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mr. Kingsley Fanwo on Friday in a statement issued gave reasons why the state government imposed levy on bread in the state.

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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