PRESSURE kept mounting on the federal government yesterday to reverse the latest hike in petrol price and rise in electricity tariff with residents of Osogbo,Osun State taking to the streets to express their angst.
The Coalition of Civil Societies, Osun State and National Associational of Nigerian Students (NANS) gave government a five day ultimatum to act on its demand while the National Association of Nigerian Students (Zone D) served notice of a ‘mass action’ scheduled for Tuesday.
The zone comprises Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Ekiti and Oyo States.
The Concerned Niger Delta Youths (CNDY) fixed October 1 for its own protest.
The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) at a press conference in Kaduna threatened to mobilize for a nationwide protest should government fail to return to the status quo.
The Rivers State government declared yesterday that no protest would be allowed in the state on the strength of a court order restraining prospective protesters from taking to the streets.
The Osogbo protesters asked government to reverse the pump price to its original N130 and also annul other anti-human taxes and tariffs increase.
The chairman of Osun Civil Societies Coalition, OCSC, Comrade Waheed Lawal, who led the protest, lamented that the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari has failed Nigerians over unfulfilled promises he made during the electioneering process.
According to him, “Nigeria belongs to all and the masses voted for President Muhammadu Buhari because of the promises he made during his campaign.”
Students serve notice of protests
The National Association of Nigerian Students (Zone D) in a statement yesterday said it had commenced “mobilisation of students for a mass action next Tuesday to reject” what it described as anti-people policies of the government.
These,according to the Coordinator of NANS in the zone,Kowe Odunayo Amos ,include increment in stamp duty, PMS price, electricity tariff and the stoppage of the anti-social media bill.
He said: “Sequel to the press statement of NANS Zone D on Wednesday, 2nd of September, 2020 calling on the Federal Government to reverse the anti-people increment in stamp duty, PMS price, electricity tariff and the stoppage of the anti-social media bill amongst others, the leadership of NANS Zone D call on all Nigerian students, workers and the Nigerian people to be prepared for a mass action.
“Date: Tuesday, September 8, 2020
Lagos State, Ogun State, Ondo State, Osun State, Ekiti State and Oyo State.”
Northern Coalition demands immediate reversal
The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) joined in the agitation for the reversal of the price hike.
Addressing reporters in Kaduna yesterday,spokesman for the group, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, said unfolding events around the national economy, security, general cost of survival in Nigeria in the past few days have once again sparked serious concerns across the nation.
Suleiman said although the present administration had upon inception identified economic revival and security as the major components of the three pillars of its change agenda, its entire national economy and law and order programmes appear incapable of arresting an imminent drift towards poverty and the likelihood of the setting in of anarchy.
He said government should ,in addition to an immediate and unconditional reversal of the prices of fuel and electricity tariff,should “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.”
He added:” government’s mismanagement of an economy already adjudged in a second recession, is characterized by significant loss of output, massive youth unemployment, a rising level of poverty, instability, and irregular migration of skilled and unskilled labour.
“Despite the administration’s claims to fighting a war against corruption, the entrenchment of mediocrity has left the country worse than it was five years ago in the global corruption perception index.
“Unjustified and unjustifiably indiscriminate increases with concomitant 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.
“Government has lost the courage to assume sole responsibility for the regulation and control of market forces thereby abandoning Nigerians to the mercy of cutthroat multinational communication and sundry service providers, unscrupulous internal profiteers that infest the banking and other financial institutions and largely extortionist government policies of multiple taxation.
“This has reached a point where government looks on as oil marketers such as IPMAN become sole determinants of prices of fuel while banks impose ridiculous charges on customers at will and telecom operators extort Nigerians in exchange for low grade services.
“Whereas the accepted universal practice is for governments to subsidize costs of essentials in line with citizens purchasing power, the Nigerian government rather provokes more hardship on the population with inconsiderate, unregulated harsh economic and financial policies.”
CNG said it would direct all its state chapters to mobilize other civil society and pressure groups in their states to address individual petitions demanding an immediate and unconditional review to their respective state governments or Houses of Assembly for transmission to the presidency.
It also offered to engage the National Assembly, the federal government and all relevant national and international agencies to force a reversal of these imposed harsh realities.
Concerned Niger Delta Youths (CNDY) sets Oct 1 for own protests
The Concerned Niger Delta Youths (CNDY) said it is set for its own nationwide protest against the Federal Government on October 1.
In a statement signed by its coordinator, Comrade Israel Joe, the group noted that the increment in the price of fuel and electricity tariff would only worsen the level of suffering among average Nigerians.
Stating that the protest will be a peaceful one, CNDY emphasized that it seeks to protest against harsh economic and political policies of the federal government.
Joe said:”We had complained about the increase in electricity tariff and other domestic bills even as the Federal Government moved to stop the payment of N-power beneficiaries by throwing them back to the street as unemployed youths.
“We can no longer hold much to this bitter agonizing pains, piercing through the empty gullet of the Nigerian people”.
“The Niger-Delta indisputably is the worse hit, as the hen that lays the egg now has nowhere to lay her head, after being dispossessed of her eggs.”
You can’t protest here, Rivers Goct warns labour unions
Responding to threat by the organized labour to embark on protest in Port Harcourt on Tuesday,the Rivers State government said it had obtained a court injunction to stop workers from any such protest.
“They (labour unions) cannot go against the law, if they do anything outside what the court has said they would be infringing on the laws of Nigeria and of course you know the consequences of going that way,” Information and Communications Commissioner Paulinus Nsirim said in Port Harcourt.
He added:”It’s quite sad that we are hearing this kind of thing from Labour. The administration of his Excellency, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike is not a lawless administration and already because government wants things to be done properly, there is an interim injunction restraining Labour from any form of protest or strike.
“Now the Attorney General of the state, Dr Zacheus Adango, has gotten that injunction and those who are defendants in this matter: The Nigerian Labour Congress, The Trade Union Congress, The NLC President Ayuba Waba, Comrade Quadiri Olaleye, Comrade Beatrice Itubo and Comrade Austin Jonah.