TWO DAYS AFTER ELECTRICITY INCREASE, with about 300 per cent, Nigerians woke up to another stark reality – INCREASE IN PETROL PRICE, to N162 or more. Reactions have trailed the saddening increases. At this time when Nigerians are sprawling in abject poverty and reeling in pains. Reactions to the increases seemed to indicate that storms are gathering. Blotch of darkness hovers the nation.
Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, absolves itself and blame Nigerian government for the increase. It said government was toying with petroleum subsidy. Minority House of Representatives caucus said the increase was unacceptable. Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and Trade Union Congress, TUC, plan mass protests to fight back, and drive home their rejections of the increases.
Major opposition political party in the country, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, described the increases as “callous and cruel punishment” to Nigerians. Socialist Party of Nigeria, SPN, described the increases, as one too many. And added that the action portrays government as “obdurately anti-poor capitalist regime”, that has made it clear to everyone that it is “desperate at offloading economic catastrophe on the heads of working class and poor Nigerians.”
Advocacy for Integrity and Economic Development, AIED, said the increase was “draconian anti-masses policy by heartless administration”. Urged government to revert to old price and tariff. ActionAid Nigeria, non-governmental humanitarian organisation, said the increase could further “heighten insecurity in the country, and explosion of crisis”.
Nigerian government remains adamant. Minister of State for Petroleum, Timiprye Sylva, said government lacked funds to continue to subsidise the cost of petrol. That government has saved about [N1 trillion Naira] since the introduction of deregulation policy. “It became necessary that the country cannot sustain subsidy payments, hence the decision to deregulate. Government has stopped subsidising petrol at the pump”, Sylva said.
Perhaps, few in corridor of power, see what others are not seeing. Fewer, still, attach any meaning or importance to the hardship the increase in electricity consumption tariff, and the increase in petrol pump price portend for Nigerians. Uneasy political, economic and social atmosphere hover in the country.
Political, economic and social analysts, seem to state, that President Buhari’s government has no friends, and insensitive to the plight of suffering Nigerians. The government rode to power on mass goodwill of the people, and proclaimed itself friends of the people. They said the reverse is the case. Rather, the government has advanced “anti-people and anti-poor” policies, as well as antagonizing the people and advancing poverty in the country.
The life of public duty, especially, as president and governor, they stated, is the advancement of citizens welfare. Not for the affliction of perpetual hardship on the people. Government’s programme, in the past five years, they observed, has inflicted more hardship on Nigerians, than providing democracy dividend.
The way forward. The center piece of democratic governance is the PEOPLE. Welfare of the people. The negative trends in the policies of Buhari’s government, against the citizens, in the past five years, according to analysts and obverses, need to be reversed. Of immediate concern to Nigerians, however, are the reversal of the recent increases in PETROL PUMP PRICE and ELECTRICITY CONSUMPTION TARIFF.
President Buhari needs to regain the confidence of Nigerians that elected him as their president – first and second terms in office. He needs to serve their interest. Not the interest of selected few. And not to punish and impoverish the people for casting their votes for him. There is the need for the president to take charge of governance of the country, and fulfill the electoral promises he made to Nigerians for earning their votes.