The main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday joined the Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC) to reject the new petrol pump price of N143.80 announced by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), saying it was inhumane and unjustifiable and should be reversed immediately to the status quo ante.
“The actions of the APC administration have continued to confirm that the party has never been pro-poor but only relishes in imposing hardship and heavy taxes on already impoverished Nigerians, while running an over-bloated government through which resources meant for the welfare of Nigerians are frittered by corrupt officials and the cabal in the presidency,” PDP noted a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan.
The PDP took strong exception with the timing of the fuel hike coming at a time Nigerians are suffocating under the effects of the lockdown and socio-economic trauma of the Coronavirus pandemic; accusing the Buhari-administration of showing scant regard to the plights of the citizens. According to the statement, the price hike, amid the precipitous decline in the global price of crude oil was grossly unjustifiable, saying it has further exposed the insincerity of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its administration.
“Our party challenges the APC-led federal government to present to Nigerians the indices and parameters it used to determine the price increase, which obviously cannot be in tandem with the prevalent situation in the global industry,” the statement said.
Also, the NLC, in a statement yesterday by its President, Ayuba Wabba, described the fuel hike and the proposed electricity tariff hike as a “potent threat to run millions of Nigerians under… This might just be the last straw that would break the camel’s back.” Wabba berated PPPRA Executive Secretary, Saidu Abdulkadir, for the fuel hike, noting that “he did not even feign pretence that government has abdicated its responsibility to protect Nigerians from the cut-throat tendencies of neo-liberal market forces.”
“The extra costs that the PPPRA wants Nigerians to pay in order to promote ‘growth’ and ‘investment’ are actually the cost of profits made by countries that we ship our crude oil to, the cost of sea freight of the refined products, the cost of demurrage at our seaports when the refined products arrive, the cost of the frequent devaluation of our national currency, and the cost of official corruption by gatekeepers managing the downstream petroleum sub-sector,” the NLC added.
“Nigerians would recall that the last downward review in the price of petrol was at the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown. The economic benefits of the so-called “downward” review were hardly enjoyed by ordinary Nigerians who were mostly indoors. Just as the lockdown is being eased out and as soon as the interstate travel ban was lifted, the government decided to hike the petrol price. Nigerian people and workers are forced to interpret this move as grand mischief and deceit,” the NLC said.
The NLC boss attributed the crisis in the downstream sector to the refusal by successive governments to fix the nation’s oil refineries. “It is clear even to the blind that the crisis in our downstream petroleum sub-sector is ‘self’ nay government-inflicted. Government simply wants to transfer the cost of its own inefficiencies to the Nigerian people. Nigerian workers say ‘No’ to such. There is no way Nigerians would accept a situation where we are charged international rates for a product which Nigeria is the sixth-largest producer in the world,” Wabba noted.