By Victor Ahiuma-Young & Luminous Jannamike
OUTRAGE yesterday greeted Wednesday’s recommendation by the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, that the pump price of petrol be N385 per litre.
The governors had in their last virtual meeting on Wednesday night, made case for full deregulation, recommending N385 per litre of petrol
However, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Trade Union of Nigeria, TUC, Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, and umbrella body for pro-labour civil society organizations, Joint Action Front, JAF, reacted angrily to the development yesterday, accusing the governors of living in a fools paradise.
They also accused the governors of failing to appreciate the suffering and the hardships across the country, and warned that the recommendation of the governors would cause socio-economic upheaval if accepted and implemented by the federal government.
Recall that the NGF, after considering the report of its committee headed by Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, accepted the recommendation that backed full deregulation of petrol, and recommended that the pump price of PMS should hover around N385 per litre.
Reacting, CAN’s Vice Chairman (Northern Region), Reverend John Hayab, said: “Where will the Nigerian masses run to? It’s shocking to note that in spite of the prevailing hardship the people are facing, governors are seeking to double the cost of fuel.
‘’Does the NGF really care about the pains and suffering Nigerians are experiencing at all? The governors should not fund their respective budgets by making things difficult for the people.”
He also said the federal and state governments should look inwards and effect the necessary adjustments to boost the economy rather than support the hike of the pump price of petrol by over 100 per cent.
“So, the various governments should look inwards and make adjustments that will help the economy instead of seeking to increase the pump price of petrol, because doing so will only add to the misery of the masses.”
Recommendation inhuman, unacceptable —TUC
On his part, President of TUC, Quadiri Olaleye, said: “The recommendation is unfortunate, preposterous and inhuman. To consider this at a time most state governments cannot even pay N30, 000 minimum wage and workers are losing jobs is inexplicable.
‘’It took torganised labour years to negotiate the new wage that has been eroded by inflation. The cost of living has become astronomically high, to the extent that a large number of Nigerians cannot feed.
‘’It is obvious in our streets as houses are daily being burgled and kidnapping has become an industry. There is hunger in the land.
‘’Farmers cannot go to their farms due to the insecurity challenge and hunger is staring us in the face. This economy can be better managed if only government can shun politics and be open to ideas from patriotic Nigerians who are not members of the ruling party.
‘’We reject the N385 pump price a litre governors’ recommendation and want to seize this opportunity to warn that the pressure being put on the masses is becoming unbearable. Nigerians are overstretched and it is dangerous for the country.
It can’t fly — PENGASSAN
Also, reacting, the General Secretary of PENGASSAN, Lumumba Okwugbawa, said: “Their recommendation will not fly because nobody understands the template they used in arriving at their recommendations. For example, what is the landing cost of the imported PMS?
“PENGASSAN has always supported a deregulation based on local production. Any deregulation based on or driven by importation is bound to cause serious challenges because we are not in control of the fluctuations of oil prices and exchange rates.”
Govs’ proposal unreasonable –CNG
Also reacting yesterday, the Coalition of Northern Groups, CNG, said it was unreasonable for the Nigerian Governors’ Forum to propose an increase in the pump price of petrol from N162 to N385 at a time the country was in dire economic situation.
CNG spokesman, Suleiman Abdul-Azeez, said such a proposal was inauspicious at a time the nation was struggling to pull itself from the brinks, adding that what the country needed was improvement in the quality of life of the people.
Abdul-Azeez, who noted that the coalition had placed all its affiliates on notice of an impending mass action to force an unconditional reversal in the event of any hike, said: “Our reaction as usual is that the proposal of the governors is unreasonable as almost all their decisions on major national issues have been. The only remaining option is for Nigerians to mobilize and reject any further increase in fuel pump prices.
“On our part, we have placed all our affiliates on notice of an impending mass action to force an unconditional reversal in the event of any hike.
“Meanwhile, we condemn the Governors’ proposal as insensitive and completely unacceptable. No responsible government would think of adding to the present dire situation of a country that is already at the brinks.
“It is an irony that a government that came to power on the back of promises of improving the quality of life of the people would within a few years assume the reputation of being the worst in the history of Nigeria. Buhari’s government that has lost its courage and necessary capacity to secure its citizens is certainly a failed administration.’’
We support full deregulation — NECA
Meanwhile, Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, NECA, said while governors’ position was just a recommendation, it was in support of full deregulation of downstream sector of the petroleum industry to allow market forces prevail
NECA’s Director-General, Dr. Timothy Olawale, told Vanguard that the governors’ view “is a proposal and every Nigerian is entitled to their opinion. ‘’NECA supports the full deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry, in which case market forces should be allowed to prevail
“We reiterate our call to the government to revamp our refining capacity by rehabilitating existing refineries, encourage the thriving of modular refineries and encourage massive investment by the private sector in product refineries through incentives. This way, the pain associated with deregulation will be assuaged.”
We remain opposed to deregulation, privatization — JAF
However, Secretary of JAF, Abiodun Aremu, said in his reaction: “Our stance remains struggle to defeat the neo-liberal policies of privatization and deregulation which should be anchored on agenda of system change.
“What do we mean by system change? Nigeria is rich. The wealth belongs to the people. Most Nigerians are hungry, have no jobs, no education, no healthcare, no potable water, no electricity supply and no affordable transportation.
‘’Most Nigerians cannot feed their families or educate their children. Those who are lucky to have jobs are not much different. They also cannot afford a decent living for their families. On the other hand, there is a very tiny group of Nigerians who have cornered the wealth that belongs to the working people and the poor, who are in the majority.
“They loot the treasury and use their stolen wealth to sustain themselves in power through their political parties. They use their power to get richer and richer when the poor get poorer and poorer. This is a system of exploitation and oppression.
‘’It is the system that brings out the army and the police to kill poor people when they protest against oppression and exploitation. We want to change that system and replace it with a system where the working people and the millions of people who are sufferings under the system of exploitation will win power and ensure that the wealth of Nigeria is used to ensure a good life for majority of the people who are now exploited and oppressed.”
Proposal unreasonable – CNG
The Coalition of Northern Groups, CNG, on Thursday said it was unreasonable for the Nigerian Governors’ Forum to propose an increase in the pump price of petrol from N162 to N385 at a time the country is in a dire economic situation. CNG spokesman, Suleiman Abdul-Azeez, said that such a proposal was inauspicious at a time the nation is struggling to pull itself from the brinks, adding that what the country needed was improvement in the quality of life of the people.
Abdul-Azeez, who stated this in an interview with Vanguard in Abuja, said that the coalition has placed all its affiliates on notice of an impending mass action to force an unconditional reversal in the event of any hike.
“Our reaction as usual is that the proposal of the governors is unreasonable as almost all their decisions on major national issues have been. The only remaining option is for Nigerians to mobilize and reject any further increase in fuel pump prices.