Petrol, electricity hikes: Northern Group backs mass action against Buhari

[By VICTOR NZE]

A body, Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), has thrown its weight behind calls for Nigerians to reject the hike in pump price of petrol and electricity tariff announced by agencies of the Federal Government, Wednesday.

The group in a statement signed by its spokesman, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, in rejecting the increases, further demanded reversal of the increments by the government to the earlier N145 per litre and electricity tariff to N23kwh.

The group also disclosed that it had concluded plans to massively mobilize Nigerians to reject the decision by government to sanction the increases, even as it backed a mass action against the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The group in the statement said the ‘audacious impunity’ of the Federal Government ‘climaxed with hikes in fuel pump prices from an initial N87 to N151.50k per litre; electricity tariff from N22 to N66; and Value Added Tax (VAT) to 7.5% from 5%.

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According the body, ‘these unjustified and unjustifiably indiscriminate increases with  concomitant effects on life sustaining essentials like foodstuff and foreign exchange rates have resulted in exponential escalation of inflation, despair, crime and criminality.’

“From the inception of this administration, the cost of a bag of rice for instance, had risen sharply to N28,000 from N8,500; bag of maize to N21,000 from N3,000 and  fertilizer to N12,000 from N2,500. Dollar exchange rate has risen to N480 from N195; ECA to $2.5bn from $72m; external debt to $27bn from $9.6bn. Crime and criminality; insurgency and banditry; armed robbery and kidnappings; rampant rapes and sexual abuses, smuggling and corruption; poverty, hunger and destitution; IDPs; unemployment and school dropouts have thus escalated to totally unacceptable proportions.

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“External reserve; value of human life, Naira value, International respect, citizens’ dignity, standards of education, health and life expectancy have fallen drastically.

“The CNG hereby resolves to: Call on the federal government to announce an immediate and unconditional reversal of the prices of fuel to the earlier N145 per litre and electricity tariff to N23 with the assurance of regularity in quality and quantity of supply, assume full control of commodity pricing, jettison all aspects of unwarranted taxation, halt the current multi sectoral extortions by multinational service providers, banks and other financial institutions.

“Direct all our state chapters to mobilize other civil society and pressure groups in their states and address individual petitions demanding an immediate and unconditional review to their respective State Governments or Houses of Assembly for transmission to the Presidency.

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“We are strongly convinced that the President’s desperation to shift the blame for this hardship on some middlemen only confirms failure to provide leadership. We find it strange that the President would admit failure to learn from lessons of history after having made similar accusations against the same class of people over the same issue 36 years ago.

“While President Buhari may be forgiven for certain shortcomings by reason of old age and poverty of ideas, Nigerians and indeed the whole world will never forgive him for refusing to learn from lessons of history.

“We therefore warn the authorities to note that Nigerians are quite aware of the demands of the office of the president which primarily include providing economic, financial, political, social and security safeguards to citizens irrespective of class or status,” read the statement.

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