By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
As Nigerians continue to get frustrated daily by the harsh economic situation, Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, Monday, expressed sadness over high cost of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, Diesel, poor power supply, and soaring food prices coupled with depreciating security situation in the country.
Speaking with Vanguard, the CSOs including Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, One Love Foundation, OLF, and Concerned Nigerians, CN, said Ngerians are currently at the lowest ebb as more are being pushed into poverty and misery
Nigerians’ plight at lowest ebb, not burden to FG-CISLAC
The Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, said, “The socio-economic costs of the electricity and petrol issues in Nigeria cannot be over-emphasized.
“The woes of Nigerians have increased daily as the government continues making apologies and empty promises, while paying a worrisomely great deal of attention to their future political interests.
“It is alarming that at this perilous time for Nigerians, the government of the day seems to be more worried about their political party conventions, amongst other equally irrelevant concerns.
“It is sad that while there is erratic power supply despite the “failed” privatization process, the only alternative means of individual generation of power, petrol and diesel is not available. The double crisis has greatly affected costs of production, consequently increasing the costs of almost everything at a time when our currency is at its ebb.
“This holds the risk of increasing the poverty rate in a country that is facing grave challenges, including worsening insecurity. The level of productivity of the labour force has reduced as man-hours are lost in endless petrol station queues. Companies especially MSMEs which are the engine room of any economy are being crippled by the unimaginable costs of operation.
“Larger businesses are also experiencing forced downtimes considering these operation costs and this threatens many jobs in a country with an already high unemployment rate. With already limited spending power, Nigerian citizens now have to face increased cost prices to afford and access goods and services. Millions are struggling to keep up with their daily activities and businesses as both issues have direct impact on the activities of individuals and businesses, equally.
“Needless to say, electricity is considered a major determinant of economic development as access to electricity is expected to catalyse nations in the drive for industrialisation, supply to homes and businesses remained dismal in Nigeria on the backdrop of a flawed privatisation exercise.
“Despite a Service Based Tariff late 2020 on the promise that electricity supply would improve, the prevailing situation created a worse experience for consumers. Nigerians are currently witnessing poor power supply in addition to the burden from the removal of the electricity subsidy. It is worrisome that the government allowed the DisCos to raise electricity tariffs amid dwindling power supply witnessed by consumers across the country.
“Moreso, with huge debt and equity servicing challenges, operation and maintenance barriers, dearth of new investments, poor credit rating and poor business viability image to investors, the dismal outlook of the power sector and other challenges may persist.
“It is abominable that Nigeria, an oil-producing country still imports most of its petrol products and has no functional refineries, while all oil-producing countries have shifted from the ownership of gigantic and expensive refineries to functional and manageable modular refineries built across their countries.
“The current scarcity is a hang-over of the recent issue of importation of off-spec fuel which is yet to be addressed by bridging the supply gap and whose perpetrators are yet to be brought to book. It is not enough to apologise to Nigerians. As the minister of Petroleum, the President bears full responsibility for the untold hardships Nigerians- citizens and businesses, are currently facing.”
However, CISLAC proffered recommendations as way out of fuel crisis; Firstly, those responsible for the importation of the off-spec fuel must be brought to book and measures must be taken to prevent it in the future through thorough quality audits along the supply chain.
“Furthermore, stopping fuel importation, subsidy removal and reducing domestic petrol consumption are paramount to significantly addressing the sector issues as it directly affects Nigerians and businesses.
“To this end we need to commit to the establishment of local and modular refineries in the country to reduce reliance on imports. By improving and expanding public transportation system and the power sector, we can reduce the domestic consumption of petrol and reduce subsidy costs.
“Subsidy removal must be done under certain conditions and through a certain gradual process, including the petroleum consumption auditing to ascertain and track petroleum consumption before introducing the above-mentioned petrol consumption reduction measures.”
On power shortage it states, “There is a triple challenge of providing reliable power supply, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and keeping energy affordable to consumers. A number of stakeholders have rightly lent their voices in suggesting measures to address this perennial power sector issues.
“Moving forward, there needs to be an evaluation of privatization exercise, as well as synergy across the market, especially in the area of electricity generation.
“Likewise, solutions focused on optimising the utilisation of installed and available generation capacities, renewed focus on closing the gap between installed and available capacity, benchmarking of capacity along with performance monitoring and tariff development, development of multi-year models/framework, focused on tariff certainty, market stability, contract effectiveness could effectively improve the power supply.
“There needs to be a monthly indexing to adequately reflect cost movements, using simple transparent formulae, key performance indicators (KPIs) and reports should be published widely, while adopting a continuous and equitable review. Lastly, it is imperative that transparency and monitoring in cash flows into and out of DisCos, TransCo, GenCos asnd GasCos as well as clear delineation of Ministries department and agency and working groups/committees/panels is conducted.
“The government needs to be more sensitive to the plight of Nigerians and live up to its primary responsibility of safeguarding the welfare of its citizenry, only through sincere demonstrations and actions.”
The economy in bad shape-CN
The Convener, CN, Comrade Deji Adeyanju, said, “This is the longest fuel scarcity we have had in the history of the country, and it is negatively impacting the economy. The issue is government should ensure the stability of prices of diesel and petrol because the economy is petroleum products dependent.”
Nigerians more impoverished since 2015, suicide soaring daily-OLF
The Founder and Global President of One Love Foundation, OLF, Chief Patrick Eholor, said, “The issue of power of supply in Nigeria is totally shameful and embarrassing. Nigeria’s power supply is one of the worst anywhere in world. It is a sad reality that a nation as big as Nigeria is still struggling with electricity.
“Most cities in Nigeria including the FCT are experiencing total blackout, which has affected businesses and, in most cases, lost of jobs.
“The unsavoury impact of the energy crisis on the Nigerian masses is more worrying. The ugly phenomenon has made the cost of living to skyrocket. While public electricity supply has defied all logic despite over $16bn investment in the sector, the inability of Nigerians to access petrol for their cars as well as other commercial and domestic uses has made life unbearable.
“These have made many small and medium enterprises to collapse thereby compounding the worsening unemployment situation in the country.
“Those entrepreneurs whose businesses are tottering on the verge of collapse are finding it difficult to pay workers’ salaries even after rightsizing and downsizing their work force.
“Government workers are not faring any better. Many state governors and local government chairmen owe their workers a backlog of salaries all because of the fall in the price of crude oil in the international market.
“The economic distress has concomitantly led to social dislocation with many marriages on the verge of collapse due to the breadwinners’ inability to cater for their families.
“Many children have dropped out of school. Many avoidable deaths are happening because people do not have the financial wherewithal to access health care services.
“The phenomenon of suicide is also on the increase. High dependency ratio by the few who are working has worsted lives of average Nigerian employees. Man-hours are lost at filling stations queuing for petrol. Unwholesome storage of petroleum products by end users has equally led to many fire incidences with human casualties.”