*Afenifere, Gani Adams, Ezeife, Northern Youths, Miyetti Allah, Middle Belt Forum, ASUU, NLC, NANS warn FG, say price hike will increase hardship
Anger, rejection and frustration have trailed the Federal Government’s planned total removal of oil subsidy and increment of fuel price to N234 per litre.
Several individuals, socio-political organisations, trade unions and professional bodies across the country came together yesterday to condemn in strong terms the proposed fuel price hike, which they said would cause unimaginable hardship for the vast majority of Nigerians.
Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mallam Mele Kyari had given the hint on the increase on Thursday at the fifth edition of the special ministerial briefings coordinated by the Presidential Communication Team in Abuja. He said a litre of petrol, also known as Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) would be sold at N234 as the Federal Government could no longer sustain the monthly subsidy of N120 billion.
Following the news, tension is building across the nation with prominent groups and personalities calling for mass action and outright rejection of the plan.
Newly appointed leader of Afenifere, the apex Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Chief Ayo Adebanjo said it was obvious that the present administration lacked the capacity to proffer solutions to the problems of the country.
The elder statesman said: “The Federal Government has money to pay bandits but they do not have money to subside oil. The truth is that they have no solution to the problems of Nigeria. I believe that until they leave that place, there will not be peace in Nigeria.”
The spokesperson of the Coalition of Northern Youth Groups, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman described the plan as irresponsible. He threatened that Northern youths would embark on a mass protest if the government goes on with its plan.
President of the Middle Belt Forum, Dr Bitrus Pogu, urged Nigerians to resist the move, describing the whole issues surrounding oil subsidy removal as a total scam.
He said the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government have never been sincere about the fuel price issue.
“The whole thing is a total scam meant to line the pockets of some few individuals,” he said.
Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland and National Coordinator, Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), Iba Gani Adams warned that the increase would lead to chaos in the country and discourage investors.
“It will cause inflation and eventually collapse the economy entirely. It will lead to a situation that people will pick food from dustbins and our naira will not have value.
“Those who don’t have a livelihood will engage in criminal activities and at the same time, it will discourage investors because most them use generators since the government could not supply power. Most of the people who do business in Nigeria can’t afford such cost of production. The implication cannot be quantified. Within six years in power, this government has increased fuel six times. I appeal to President Buhari to caution NNPC and consider what his own legacy will be after leaving power,” he stated.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) also vowed to resist any further increase in the price of petroleum products. NLC President, Ayuba Wabba insisted that the position of the body had remained constant, noting that any further increase would compound the sufferings of Nigerians.
He said a fuel price hike would not only lead to hyperinflation, but will equally erode the purchasing power of every Nigerian.
“More so, the cost of goods and services will go up, transportation, rent etc. It will further push many Nigerians into poverty. So basically, this is why we have remained constant to say that if the policy of deregulation is based on importation, definitely we are in for a very vicious cycle. We are not going to accept it.”
Former governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, noted: “I think we should refine our own fuel and put only a small margin in the cost of doing that. Now that Dangote fuel is about to come out, the proper price should be the cost of refining plus a small margin,” he said
He cautioned against allowing what is happening to the cement price to repeat itself with the fuel price. “The price of cement is going to high heavens and we shouldn’t allow that to happen to the fuel pump price,” he warned.
President, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Asefon Sunday, said the speculated move to increase fuel price was unacceptable to Nigerian students, insisting that such a move would be strongly resisted.
He promised that NANS would vehemently mobilise its organs and other labour unions against the action with a nationwide mass action.
National President, Nigerian Youth Union (NYU), Chinonso Obasi, also said the proposed hike would be resisted by Nigerian youths.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) advised the NNPC not to contemplate any further increase in the pump price of fuel. They said doing so will generate ripple effect on the economy.
The branch chairman of ASUU, University of Lagos, Akoka, Dele Ashiru, said subsidy has become a recurring dismal in the country. He recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari, told Nigerians that there was nothing like fuel subsidy and that fuel could be sold at lower prices and wondered why his administration is now doing the opposite.
The National Public Secretary of COEASU, Dr Lawan Bazza, said the implication of any increase in fuel price to N234 would result in inflation while essential goods and services would be out of the reach of millions of Nigerians.
The National President of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Alhaji Bello Bodejo called on the Federal government not to attempt any increase in the pump price of petrol.
According to him, the suffering in the country is so much, and anything that will worsen the situation should be discouraged.