FUEL, ELECTRICITY PRICE HIKE: SOCIAL ACTION demands a reversal of FG’s decision to increase costs; condemns arrest of protesters.

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The Social Development Integrated Centre, SOCIAL ACTION, condemns and rejects wholly, the surreptitious hike in fuel price and electricity tariffs across the country. Under the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, the pump price of petrol has witnessed a steady and unprecedented increase from ₦121 per litre in June 2020, to over ₦143 in July 2020, ₦150 in August 2020, and now sells for as high as ₦162 in September, 2020. Electricity tariffs were also increased by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, from about ₦30.23 per kwh (kilowatt unit of energy per hour) to as much as ₦62.33 per kwh, an astronomical increase which is meant to also affect pre-paid Meter users who had recharged their units before the policy took effect. SOCIAL ACTION wishes to state unequivocally, that such an increment is totally unacceptable and must be resisted by all well-meaning Nigerians.

The organisation therefore condemns the harassment and brutalisation of several civil society actors, students and journalists who were arrested by the Nigeria Police following a series of demonstrations across the country, against the petrol price and electricity tariff increment. It is within the rights of Nigerian citizens to publicly express displeasure with the insensitive policies of the government which are glaringly inimical to the wellbeing of the Nigerian masses. Most Nigerians are yet to recover from the economic downturn occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many lost their jobs or experienced a drastic drop in personal income, owing to the pandemic. It is therefore ill-timed and highly insensitive for the government to initiate policies that could bring more suffering upon the people, no matter the reasons proffered by the government as justification for the increment.

We therefore strongly demand for a reversal of this anti-people policy which has already brought untold hardship to many Nigerians. We stand in solidarity with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Student Union bodies, Civil Society Organisations and the Nigerian masses to call for the immediate reversal of the fuel price increment and electricity tariff hike.

We also call for an immediate end to the needless harassment of patriotic citizens protesting the hike in fuel and electricity costs, as it is undemocratic for such well-meaning citizens to be arrested on account of their legitimate stance against the suppressive and draconian policies of the government. Such arrests portray the Buhari-led government in bad light and the Nigerian Police ought to know that the people have the right to hold the government accountable by demanding for good governance and better standards of living.

In addition, we urge the Nigerian government to expedite action in revamping the moribund oil refineries in the country, and establish modular refineries as well. After several decades of importing refined petroleum products, it is high time the oil-rich nation, popularly referred to as the ‘giant’ of Africa, began to refine as much of its crude oil as is needed to meet local demand, rather than exporting it and placing the burden of these exports on the masses who are made to pay exorbitant prices to purchase the imported, refined products.

For further enquiries, kindly contact the Communications Team Lead, SOCIAL ACTION on: lillian[at]saction.org

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