Scores of students, workers, and civil society groups stormed the streets of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, yesterday, to express displeasure with the hike in the price of petrol and the increase of electricity tariff.
The protesters gathered at the Awolowo Junction, Bodija, chanting anti-government and solidarity songs before moving to the Federal Secretariat, Ikolaba, Ibadan.
They described the recent increment in electricity tariff and hike in fuel price as wicked and one that lacked sound judgment. They vowed to paralyze the economy if the government failed to reverse the price and tariff.
President, National Association of Polytechnic Students (NAPS), Benedict Olalere, who spoke with journalists, said: “We are giving the Federal Government a seven-day ultimatum to reverse the pump price and electricity tariff. Failure to do so, we will shut down and paralyze the economy. If they want to arrest us let them do so. I am ready to die. The masses cannot be sacrificial lambs because they want to take care of political officeholders. They should cut down their expenses.”
Also, Chairman, Joint Campus Committee of the National Association of Nigerian Students, (NANS), Mayowa Opakunle, emphasized that students in the state totally reject the increase.
On his part, the Convener of All Workers’ Convergence (AWC) and former Chairman of Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Oyo State, Andrew Emelieze, said: “The policies of the current government are inimical to Nigerians and are making life difficult for Nigerians. By illegally increasing pump price and electricity tariff, life has become miserable for Nigerians. They promised to build refineries. Where are the refineries?
IN the same vein, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and rights activists during a protest in Osogbo gave the Federal Government a three-week ultimatum to reverse the hike, saying that the policies by the current leadership have brought untold hardship to the citizens.
The protest was organized by NANS, Action Front (JAF), and Amica Ideological School Movement ( ACIS-M).
One of the stakeholders, Kola Ibrahim, who is the Secretary of JAF, said: “Our aim is to resist all anti-people policy of the Buhari-led government and its surrogates across the states.”
A Lagos-based socio-political activist and critic, Chief Adesunbo Onitiri, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to reverse the recent hike of electricity tariff and petroleum pump prices without further delay to save the poor masses from economic strangulation.
He described the development as most wicked, unfair, and totally unacceptable to the Nigerian people.
In a statement in Lagos, Onitiri said the anti-people’s policies were ill-timed, coming at a time the COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a dastardly blow on the country.
He, therefore, urged the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to wake up from its slumber and save the poor masses, especially the workers. It should protect and defend the weak and feeble Nigerian masses.
MEANWHILE, the Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Otunba Gani Adams, has cautioned the Federal Government against pushing Nigerians to a point where they would opt to react violently to its obnoxious and hard policies like the recent increase in the prices of fuel and electricity tariffs.
The National Co-ordinator of the Yoruba militant organization, Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), while describing the new policies as repressive, suppressive, and a demonstration of insensitivity on the part of the government and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the plights of Nigerians, who are just emerging from the harsh economic consequences of the COVID-19 lockdown, said that the decision should be retracted with immediate effect.
In a statement yesterday, Publicity Secretary of OPC, Mr. Yinka Oguntimehin, described the increase as an attempt to push Nigerians to the wall, saying that the Federal Government is sitting on a time bomb.
In another development, the Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) have said that the new tariff hike, which took effect from September 1, 2020, will also affect those that had recharged their unit in advance without recourse to what they had been charged.
The Ikeja Electricity Distribution, Eko Electricity Distribution, and Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company spokespersons, Felix Ofulue, Godwin Idemudia, and Busolami Tunwase respectively, who spoke with The Guardian, said that the increase would only be for bands A-C.
But the National Co-ordinator, All Electricity Consumers Protection, Adeola Ilori, said that the firms did not consider the plight of prepaid meter users before the increase