Our land soaked in blood, gloom, South-East Bishops wail

…accuses FG of wasting $17bn on moribund refineries since 2012

…as Nigeria still 95% dependent on imported PMS …alleges failure of Jonathan, Buhari govts spent over N2.7tn to boost GENCOs, DISCOs

By Gabriel Ewepu

ABUJA-AS Nigerians continue to struggle in surviving amidst harsh economic realities, a coalition of CSOs under the auspices of The People’s Alternative Political Movement, TPAP-M, weekend, expressed readiness to mobilize Nigerians to resist hikes in gas, Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, also called fuel and electricity. 

This was contained in a statement read by Comrade Jaye Gaskiya of TRAP-M Secretariat, along with Head of the Secretariat Collective, TRAP-M, Prof Omotoye Olorode, with subject ‘Energy Price Hikes: Building the Resistance and Preparing for Occupy Nigeria Phase 2’ during a press conference held in Abuja.

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According to the statement, the combined implication of all of these is that Nigerians would be further impoverished, businesses – in particular small and medium scale businesses will struggle to survive, will lay off staff and even close up. Big businesses will also struggle with rising production costs, and those who can manage to stay afloat will do so at the expense of their workforce (many of whom will be laid off) and of ordinary citizens (to whom they will shift the cost).

It also maintained that the public meetings earlier held are part of the ongoing consultations being undertaken by TPAP-M and her allies, which are aimed at launching and undertaking a sustained and comprehensive struggle and campaign to “Resist Hardship in our country Nigeria: Hardships that have come to be characterized by mass misery, mass poverty, endemic insecurity, and unbearable conditions and costs of living for the overwhelming majority of Nigerians.”

The statement also explained that in initiating ‘Resist Hardship Struggle and Building Momentum for Mass Resistance’ is to enlighten the masses and the populace on their reasons for embarking on resistance and rejecting the energy price hikes.

The coalition also made its observations known which it pointed that the root of the energy crisis is the crass incompetence of ruling class regimes over the past three decades, as well as the tragic failure of leadership and administrative incompetence of the current regime.

The statement reads in part, “The People’s Alternative Political Movement (TPAP-M), a coalition of individuals and organisations committed to the emergence and building of a Mass Workers Party, and the Socialist Transformation of Nigeria, and her allies have organised two separate public meetings on the deepening energy crisis in Nigeria, occasioned by rising gas prices and impending hikes in price of fuel and electricity tariff. 

“The first public meeting was organised on Sunday, 12th of December 2021, and focused on building consensus on our rejection of the price hikes; while the second public meeting was convened on Friday, 7th January, 2022, focused on building the coalition to wage the Resist Hardship Struggle. 

“Nigeria is the only OPEC member country that imports more than 90 to 95% of refined petroleum products to meet its domestic consumption. For other OPEC member countries, the reverse is the case – virtually every other OPEC member country meet their domestic needs for refined petroleum products through domestic refining. Consequently most other OPEC member countries depend on less than 20% imported refined petroleum products to meet domestic needs.

“Another reason given by the regime, and all previous regimes is the narrative around the price of fuel being much cheaper in Nigeria than in neighbouring countries, due to subsidy, and that this encourages fuel smuggling across the borders. This regime even suggests that the scale of smuggling has increased so much that it now hovers around 50 million liters per day.

“Only recently, a further $1.5bn was appropriated by NASS for the repair of the PH refinery complex; and again with nothing to show for it.

“Yet despite all of these investments totalling approximately $17bn in the refinery sector since 2012, we still as a nation cannot boast of any domestic refining capacity, we still do not have any functional domestic refinery – public or private, and we are still more than 95% dependent on imported refined petroleum products to meet domestic needs. 

Focusing on electricity tariff hike the statement further reads, “With respect to the electricity crisis, nothing exposes the failure of the so-called privatisation of the power sector, than the continuing pricing crisis. 

“The recent situation with AEDC involving the sack of the management and the take over of the major share holding in the company by the Bank (UBA) – the bank which had advanced the loan with which the consortium bought AEDC during the privatisation of the power sector; is the biggest insight and corroboration yet of the widespread believe that the privatisation exercise was fundamentally faulty; that the power sector was sold to political jobbers without technical competence, and who also syndicated the loans through which they bought the generation and distribution companies, which were sold at pittances – from our local banks; loans which were guaranteed by public institutions. 

“In the Years since the privatisation of the power sector, and with gross deterioration in services provided, Nigerian governments under Jonathan and Buhari have disbursed more than N2.7tn in so-called intervention funds to support the GENCOs and DISCOs, and all without anything to show for it.

“Additionally, to underscore the significance of energy cost and energy accessibility to the polity and national economy, we note that according to the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), energy costs in Nigeria have consistently constituted a disproportionate and increasingly unbearable component of production and manufacturing in Nigeria, rising from 38% of production cost in 2020 to 45% of production cost in 2021 (a 7% increase over a one year period).

“We also observe that increasing levels of hardships, the rising costs of living, and the intensifying inhumane conditions of living of the working people and toiling masses is at the root of the intractable nature, character, dimension and scale and scope of insecurity in the country; And that rising energy costs and prices are significant contributors to this rapidly deteriorating conditions of living and endemic insecurity.”

Meanwhile, some their demands include; That we reject in its totality the hike in the price of Gas, and the impending hikes in the price of fuel and electricity tariff; Nigerians cannot and must not be punished for the failures and incompetence of the ruling class and this regime in ensuring access to affordable energy and adequate security and protection; past and present managements of the NNPC and the four moribund refineries should be indicted, prosecuted and brought to book for their crass incompetence that has resulted into the failure since 2012, at least, to turn around the fortunes of the refineries and make them work at optimum capacity, thus contributing significantly to Nigeria’s inability to acquire adequate domestic refining capacity.

“We demand that all political office holders who have had responsibility for oversighting – in executive or legislative capacity, the petroleum sector should be investigated, indicted and prosecuted.

“We demand the complete reversal of the power sector privatisation, and the renationalisation of the power sector, bringing it under the control and management of key stakeholders, including workers, and electricity consumers.

“We demand the recovery of all looted and misappropriated public funds pumped into the petroleum and power sectors (towards improving domestic refining capacity, increasing domestic production of LPG, or towards improving service delivery in the privatised power firms), etc.

“We demand that the recovered funds should be utilised to build new public refineries, improve domestic LPG production, and improve service delivery in the renationalised power sector.

“We demand the publication of different categories of electricity tariff rates as at September 2020, as well as the rates for the same different categories of January 2022, in order for citizens to be able to make a determination as to whether the tariffs have been or are being surreptitiously and marginally increased without public knowledge.

“Similarly, we reject the continued practice of estimated billing, whereby as of January 2022, only 41% of electricity consumers supplied by the national grid are metered. As The estimated billing system has been shown to be arbitrary, exploitative of citizens who are being ripped off, and fraught with corruption and fraudulent practices; we therefore demand a program and investment plan that will ensuring the metering of all electricity consumers within the next 12 months. Heads must roll for failure to achieve past targets, while people must be held accountable for failure to meet this new target”, it added.

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