By Luminous Jannamike
The National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, has called on the Federal Government to consider the option of upgrading the country’s oil refineries to functional levels while rejecting the planned fuel price increase.
NANS President, Comrade Asefon Sunday Adedayo, who made the call while briefing journalists in Abuja, on Friday, described as “strange economics” the promise of the government to pay 40 million Nigerians N5,000 as a palliative, to cushion the effect of the astronomical increase in the price of petrol.
He said that the total amount involved in what he called an “evil proposal” was far more than the money government claimed to spend currently on fuel subsidy.
While recalling that the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Malam Mele Kyari, had announced that petrol could cost as much as N340 from February 2022; Adedayo noted that the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, re-echoed the same sentiment last Tuesday at the launch of the World Bank’s Nigeria Development Update.
In reading out the text of the briefing entitled: ‘Nigeria Will Be Shutdown, Should Federal Government Attempt Removal of Fuel Subsidy’, the NANS President said: “Let us categorically state that we reject this socioeconomic evil proposal and we shall resist it.
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“Nigerians are really suffering. We are in dire socioeconomic straits. We are weeping in our hearts and souls. We are dying in silence. We feel the agony and anguish because we are practically involved. Therefore, any attempt to aggravate the social woes and economic manacles that we already face and wear will not only be unconscionable but reckless, and we wish to warn against it. The country is very stretched and tensed.
“NANS is happy that the organised labour and civil society groups have all rejected the proposal. We shall ensure that the entire country is shut down and paralysed should the Federal Government proceed with its insensitive plan of deregulation, or even any further increase in the pump price of fuel. We have had enough.
“May we remind the Federal Government that NANS is not totally against deregulation. But they were conditions already agreed upon before any talk about deregulation can start. And none of those conditions are in place at the moment. It is therefore very strange that the Federal Government could contemplate the removal of fuel subsidy now.
“The four State-owned refineries in Nigeria are not functioning, and if they are functioning at all, it is at a near zero level. There is a zero consultation with stakeholders to even consider issues around deregulation and why it should or should not be. The survival of Nigerian workers and their wards is yet to be discussed, yet a date that may take lives out of them have been fixed.”
Adedayo, consequently, said that the contemplation by the government to increase the price of petrol by more than 200 per cent was a perfect recipe for an aggravated pile of hyperinflation and an astronomical increase in the price of goods and services.
According to him, this would open a wide door to social consequences such as degeneration of the current economic hardship.
“We, therefore, call on the Federal Government to rescind the plan till adequate arrangements like refining at home and utilizing our petrochemical by-products are made. Then after that, there will be a robust discussion by all stakeholders to deal with associated socioeconomic issues and discuss the details of the new regime. It is only on this condition that there can be a corresponding social equilibrium, economic prosperity, job and wealth creation for Nigerians,” he added.