The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has asked the federal government to “immediately suspend” the recent increase in pump price of petrol and electricity tariff or face a nationwide protest.
Addressing a news conference in Kaduna on Friday, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, spokesman of the group, said the coalition would mobilise its members for a mass protest if the federal government fails to revert to the old pump price of fuel.
Suleiman said, “That the administration’s audacious impunity climaxed with hikes in fuel pump prices from an initial N87 to N151.50k per litre; electricity tariff from N22 to N66; and Value Added Tax (VAT) to 7.5% from 5%. That these unjustified and unjustifiably indiscriminate increases with concommittant effects on life sustaining essentials like foodstuff and foreign exchange rates have resulted in exponential escalation of inflation, despair, crime and criminality.
“From the inception of this administration, the cost of a bag of rice for instance, had risen sharply to N28,000 from N8,500; bag of maize to N21,000 from N3,000 and fertilizer to N12,000 from N2,500. Dollar exchange rate has risen to N480 from N195; ECA to $2.5bn from $72m; external debt to $27bn from $9.6bn. Crime and criminality; insurgency and banditry; armed robbery and kidnappings; rampant rapes and sexual abuses, smuggling and corruption; poverty, hunger and destitution; IDPs; unemployment and school dropouts have thus escalated to totally unacceptable proportions.
“External reserve; value of human life, Naira value, International respect, citizens’ dignity, standards of education, health and life expectancy have fallen drastically.
“The CNG hereby resolves to: Call on the federal government to announce an immediate and unconditional reversal of the prices of fuel to the earlier N145 per litre and electricity tariff to N23 with the assurance of regularity in quality and quantity of supply, assume full control of commodity pricing, jettison all aspects of unwarranted taxation, halt the current multi sectoral extortions by multinational service providers, banks and other financial institutions.
“Direct all our state chapters to mobilize other civil society and pressure groups in their states and address individual petitions demanding an immidiate and unconditional review to their respective state governments or houses of assembly for transmission to the presidency.
“We are strongly convinced that the President’s desperation to shift the blame for this hardship on some middlemen only confirms failure to provide leadership. We find it strange that the President would admit failure to learn from lessons of history after having made similar accusations against the same class of people over the same issue 36 years ago.
“While President Buhari may be forgiven for certain shortcomings by reason of old age and poverty of ideas, Nigerians and indeed the whole world will never forgive him for refusing to learn from lessons of history. We therefore warn the authorities to note that Nigerians are quite aware of the demands of the office of the president which primarily include providing economic, financial, political, social and security safeguards to citizens irrespective of class or status.”
Protest hits Osogbo
Meanwhile, members of the Coalition for Civil Societies in Osun State Friday morning protested against the hike in electricity tariff and petrol price.
The protesters took off from Freedom Park, Osogbo around 8:30 am.
The protesters displayed placards showing their displeasure over the increase in electricity tariff and petrol price.
The protesters lamented that approval of new electricity tariff and increment in the pump price of petrol is the highest level of insensitivity and wickedness from the ruling All Progressives Congress government.
2020 increase painful than 2012, says PENGASSAN
In another development, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) says the removal of petroleum subsidy by the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan in 2012 is better than the one done by the current regime of the President Muhammadu Buhari.
The President of PENGASSAN, Festus Osifo, said the circumstances surrounding the recent increase in the cost of fuel are far worse those of 2012
Osifo said this on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme.
It would be recalled that Jonathan had in January 2012 removed fuel subsidy which caused nationwide protests especially in Lagos where thousands of people poured into the streets to express their displeasure.
Responding to a question on Friday, however, the PENGASSAN President said removing the subsidy in 2012 was actually a better decision because it had a lesser effect on the people.
He said increasing fuel price in 2020 in the middle of the global COVID-19 pandemic and a worsening economy could worsen the suffering of the people.
Osifo further stated that PENGASSAN and other stakeholders were not carried along.
“I think the timing today is even more problematic compared to 2012 because we are battling a pandemic. I can tell you that for a lot of households their income has diminished; a lot of businesses have been shut down since March.
“I can tell you that today, Nigerians are facing hardship. I believe that 2012 was a bit better than it is today because the pandemic has ravaged the average household in Nigeria. You have seen the recent figures from the National Bureau of Statistics. We are actually in negative GDP. By the next quarter, we could be in recession. This is not the right time to have done this,” Osifo said.
“This was not the right time to do such a thing because we are battling a global pandemic. This is the era where the real wage of workers has diminished. This is an era where we are entering a recession and other parts of the world and citizens are being supported with palliatives. I think this is not the best time to have done this,” he added.