May 18, 2024

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Fuel Price: Osun Civil Societies Threaten Mass Protest, Gives One Week Ultimatum

The Osun Civil Societies Coalition, OCSC, an umbrella body of pressure groups in Osun State, has threatened to organize a massive protest if the Federal Government does not address the economic hardship facing Nigerians.

Reacting to the recent petrol subsidy removal, naira float and other reforms of the President Bola Tinubu led administration, the group in a statement signed by its Chairman, Comrade Waheed Lawal, on Thursday, recommended a pause in interest rate hikes to relieve the pressures on economic agents.

The group urged the government to implement fiscal measures such as reducing/removing the tax on basic food items to protect the most vulnerable as well as spur demand side growth.

OCSC also implored the government to hasten the provision of the anticipated palliatives to lessen the impact of the rising trend in prices on economic agents.

The civil societies coalitions, however, stated that they will lead mass of the people out on the street for a protest if the government fails to resolve all issues with one week.

According to the statement, “It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to this State of the Nation Address by Osun Civil Societies Coalition (OCSC), an umbrella of pressure groups working hard to ensure that Osun State and Nigeria continues on the path of sustainable development and positive growth.

“We have stayed committed to this endeavour for many years and ensured that we did not fail in holding government accountable both at the state and the federal level.

“This address becomes imperative given the state of things in the nation and the groaning of the people we represent. We believe this is a time to speak up and address critical issues lest we have on our hand, a March of the people for freedom and emancipation that may be worse than what we witnessed at the ENDSARS revolt.

“Many Nigerians who are feeling the pinch of economic reform have complained that politicians have shown no signs of cutting down the cost of governance and share in the pain. As a matter of fact, the common people have lost confidence in the leadership of political functionaries.

“Dear friends, the last few months have not been pleasant for majority of Nigerians. Hitherto, Nigerians have been struggling to survive. However, the subsidy removal, naira devaluation, and the implementation of a value-added tax on diesel imports are causing further spikes in the prices of goods and exacerbating a cost-of-living crisis in Africa’s biggest economy.

“It is getting difficult daily for Nigerians, especially with the recent petrol subsidy removal and naira float and other reforms the Tinubu’s led-government is doing.

“They are good reforms but they are seriously hurting Nigerians and businesses. Many families can’t even afford to eat twice daily anymore as prices keep soaring. The fuel subsidy removal is already having a killing effect on the common people.

“The effects of the inflation scourge are more evident on the poorest of the poor of the country where malnutrition and hunger rates are surging daily as millions of children roam the streets in search of food.

“The worsening cost-of-living crisis is causing a decline in living standards, which is hurting physical and mental health and worsening existing conditions.

“The renewed pressure is not only felt by households but also businesses, as the recent reforms are already taking their toll and threatening to keep many out of business.

“As civil society organisations, we take cognizance of the ride of the people by the government and the seeming insult of the people by the so called intention of payment of N8000 to the poor people of this nation. While we commend the ongoing negotiations between the government and the labour force, we are particularly bothered by the fate of ordinary Nigerians who feel more, the pain of the policies, than the civil servants that have hope. The ordinary Nigerians are the most hit of the current economic hardship. They are hopeless in an administration with renewed hope mantra.

“Last year, the World Bank said Nigeria’s accelerated inflation growth had eroded the N30,000 minimum wage by 35.5 per cent and widened the poverty net with an estimated five million people in 2022.

“The report highlighted that the country’s minimum wage, which was $82 in 2019, had dropped to $26 owing to accelerating inflation.
Nigeria’s inflation at 22.41 percent in May has outpaced wage growth, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics, with several analysts projecting a higher double-digit rate in coming months.

“Food prices are up by over 150 per cent, and transportation costs have almost doubled respectively year-on-year, according to BusinessDay’s market checks.

“The current economic realities have sparked more calls for the government to ease the nation’s cost-of-living crisis and put the brakes on rising prices by cutting down on the cost of governance.

“The Nigerian government must move quickly to set up shock absorbers to cushion the people’s pain. It is just a mere emphasis to state that there is poverty, hunger, confusion and frustration in the land. Anger is bottling up and the gunpowder that Nigeria is sitting on may explode anytime.

“The recent hike in cost of fuel is damning. People of Osun State particularly trek and those that have vehicles can’t even afford to fuel them for use. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu should not drain Nigerians’ blood for reform or development of any form.

“We recommend a pause in interest rate hikes to relieve the pressures on economic agents. We also urge the government to implement fiscal measures such as reducing/ removing the tax on basic food items to protect the most vulnerable as well as spur demand-side growth.

“We also implore the government to hasten the provision of the anticipated palliatives to lessen the impact of the rising trend in prices on economic agents. We can’t continue to wait on promises for palliative. The time is NOW!

“We wish to state that while we demand speedy response from the federal government on the roll out of palliative to cushion effect of the removal of subsidy and biting economic reality, we also demand that the Osun State government go beyond empathy and promises to rolling out measures to make life liveable for the people as several other states of the federation has done.

“Without intention to threaten, we want to state categorically that failure for the issues raised above to be looked into between now and the next one week, and the needful done, we shall be leading the mass of the people out on the street for a protest and nothing shall deter us till we achieve victory since that seems to be one language that the government understands.

“We appeal to our people to remain calm and resilient with hope that these pains shall bring forth joy and Nigeria shall rise again.”