There is no denying the fact that a battle line was drawn between President Muhammadu Buhari’s led APC government and the Nigeria Labour Union over the latter’s proposed plan to remove petroleum subsidy with an attendant increase in petrol pump price.
According to the Federal Government, the removal of petroleum subsidies would enable it to save more money to fund critical infrastructure and boost the country’s battered economy.
Amidst the rising tension, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), under the leadership of Comrade Ayuba Wabba, had vowed to shut the entire country down, as it would mobilize Nigerians for a nation-wide protest if the government would not listen to the plight of the citizens and forges ahead to increase petrol pump price.
In the same breath, the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), and other groups, in collaboration with NLC were threatening hell, just as many aggrieved Nigerians, mostly the youth were gathering momentum to use the protest as a veritable opportunity to vent their long brewed anger against the Buhari’s government for causing unbearable hardship in the country, occasioned by rising unemployment, heightened corruption, devaluation of the naira, and faltering economy.
Truth is, the economy of Nigeria under President Buhari’s administration has not been this bad in the history of the country.
This is more frightening as the country is ignominiously ascribed an appellation as the poverty capital of the world, having overtaken India since 2018.
Suffice it to say that as the country’s shambolic economy continues unabated, the removal of petroleum subsidy would amount to a death knell in the economy, prices of commodities will skyrocket, and the cost of living will be too high to cope with.
While the citizens are cramped in this tortuous economy, it is worrisome to note that Nigerian governments (past and present) are notorious for showing the impregnable capacity for damning the plight of the citizens, even when indisputable records have noted many deaths of Nigerians due to hardship and excruciating hunger in past and recent times.
The President Buhari APC led Federal Government must be reminded that looting of the public treasury is the root cause of our economic downtown, even as the stealing spree has continued under the President’s watch.
Regrettably, those who plunder the country’s economy seem to be too powerful for the government to track and fish out.
But now that the economy is bleeding as a result of rampant corruption, the government of Nigeria is primed to compel the poor Nigerians to bear the brunt of intolerable corruption that festers in the government. Then, must the masses die for the government of Nigeria to function, and satiate the greed and entitlement mentality of Nigerian political leaders?
To state it frankly, President Buhari and his clout of defenders of removal of petroleum subsidy should know that Nigerians are demanding their right to enjoy low price of petrol, diesel, kerosene and cooking-gas because crude oil and gas are God’s given natural resources Nigeria have in abundance.
Therefore, it is the failure of past and present Nigerian governments to sincerely manage the petroleum industry and make our refineries function optimally that has landed the country in a deep mess.
Why must the Nigerian government find relief in a toxic policy of exporting her crude oil and unashamedly importing petroleum products at very high cost from countries that do not have crude oil, but simply invest in refineries?
If Nigerian leaders understood this disastrous economic policy that continually rape our home economy only to catalyse the growth of foreign economies, they would hide their heads in shame.
No doubt, the recent development in Kazakhstan, a crude oil-producing nation, presents a people that truly understand their right to enjoy the moderate price of petroleum products since crude oil is God’s given resource their country has in abundance. Prior to the tsunamic protest in Kazakhstan, the price of a litre of petrol was $10 (N55.65), but when their government increased the price of the commodity, it was met with a massive protest that brought the government to its knees.
In comparison, Kazakhstan is far above Nigeria in terms of promoting citizens welfare. In Kazakhstan, the citizens enjoy subsided housing, good infrastructure, constant electricity, functional and well-organized transport system and other social amenities.
Unlike Nigeria, the government of Kazakhstan is not adamant about the plight of the citizens, still, there was a mass protest when it increased the petrol pump price.
To rescue Nigeria from the prevailing economic miasma, President Buhari and his legion of bad advisers should look inward, plug all leakages in the economy, clamp down on corruption, and fix our refineries to put a total stop to the importation of petroleum products, and save a huge amount of foreign exchange.
This way, the price of petrol will simply crash and Nigerians will be relieved from the cramp of maddening hardship.
We hail NLC, CSOs and other groups for standing in the gap for suffering Nigerians whose pains would hardly attract the attention of those they elected into offices.
However, the good news is: Federal Government has stayed action on its proposed plan by extending petroleum subsidy for another 18 months timeframe. While that is commendable, it is imperative to call on the Federal Government to totally jettison the increase in petrol pump price; it is a bad policy that would cause more hardship to Nigerians.
On that note, we passionately call on the Comrade Ayuba Wabba led NLC, the CSOs, NGOs, and Nigerians of good conscience to always be on guard and form a common front to fight against the increase in petrol pump price when it rears its ugly head in the coming years.