The Pan Yoruba Socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, has faulted the policies of President Bola Tinubu in the last two months in office, particularly the removal of subsidy on petrol.
Afenifere, in a statement, made available to Journalists in Akure by its Secretary General, Sola Ebiseni, lamented the abrupt increase in the pump prices of petrol from N537 to N617 and beyond in inner states and the proposed distribution of N8,000 cash palliative to 12,000 households across the country.
The statement titled: “On Petrol Subsidy, Insensitive Policies and State of Governance in Nigeria: Afenifere Speaks for the People”, the group noted that they cannot afford to fold their arms or be seen to maintain silence, neutrality or ambivalence in the face of the latest body blow on the citizenry.
The statement reads: “Nigeria is currently caught in a labyrinth of inclement weather of a convoluted election process and its unwieldy outcomes, intractable security problems and the nightmarish aftermath of a sudden and harsh removal of petrol subsidy on the other. In less than six weeks, an already asphyxiating economy reeling under the crushing impact of hyperinflation, unemployment, mass hunger and poverty foisted by the gross ineptitude and incompetence that characterised the watch of eight years is looking like an episode drawn straight out of Dante’s Hell.
“Afenifere as a political group and the rallying platform for social welfarist progressive ideals inexorably committed to the greatest good of the greatest number of Nigerians cannot afford to fold its arms or be seen to maintain silence, neutrality or ambivalence in the face of this latest body blow on an already traumatised citizenry.
“Our well informed position to tarry on comments on the governance of the federation until the final determination of the true holder of the people’s mandate through on-going judicial processes, may inadvertently be taken for abandonment of our historic role as the people’s ombudsman in the political space, acquiescence in the face of rudderless ship of the state or mistaken to have joined league with those befuddled by chauvinism in laundering incompetence and nepotism or celebrations of inanities.”According to Afenifere, more Nigerians will be plunged into poverty by Tinubu’s economic policies: “The number of extremely poor Nigerians may now be compounded by the multiplier effects of peremptory removal of petrol subsidy, intractable fall of the Naira and surreptitious increase in school fees payable in Federal Government secondary and tertiary educational institutions.
“It is feared that this latest gross act of thoughtless policy implementation and its unintended consequences will further push Nigeria’s economy down the slope as Nigeria has officially overtaken India as The New Poverty Capital of the World.“There has emerged a wide consensus that the petrol subsidy regime as it had been managed, especially in the last eight years, was becoming ruinous to the economy and could no longer be sustained. The management had been opaque, with no accountability, scant oversight and huge allowance for extreme avarice by a few privileged officials and their private collaborators.“NNPC was the sole importer of petrol and did indeed go into oil swap contracts with some foreign refiners in an arrangement otherwise called Direct Sales-Direct Purchase (DSDP) arrangement.
“Under this arrangement, NNPC supplied crude oil to these refiners in exchange for refined petroleum products in already pre-defined quantities. NNPC then supplied these products to Nigerians and paid itself huge amounts in the name of ‘petrol subsidy’. How the subsidy came about and how it was calculated was only known to NNPC whose finances and cash returns to Nigeria are not subject to any oversight by the government.”The group explained that while the top three presidential candidates in the last election agreed that the wasteful and corruption-infested petrol subsidy had to go, no one however, expected that the subsidy would be removed in the sudden manner it was done and, totally ignoring the impact on the people and the economy.
It states: “It is indeed a matter of grave concern that a party and its candidate which made subsidy removal a cardinal campaign issue, did not have a plan on ground to introduce the necessary countervailing palliatives simultaneously to protect the people and the economy. ‘Progressive’ governance, which they have always professed, would have put ahead of everything, the welfare of the citizens and should never be, or made to seem like, an afterthought. If the body is troubled by a tooth that has to be removed, only a quack dentist would dare to pull off the tooth without administering necessary painkillers before, and even after, the removal.
“Those whom our warped and strange constitution have put in the saddle while their legitimacy is yet subject of judicial inquiry are nonetheless expected to act expeditiously to restore hope to the weak in society and protect the economy by introducing quickly, the much-needed palliative measures. Hitting the ground running is more than a slogan or braggadocio declaration, the run must be well coordinated by competent hands available nationwide and not confined to actors whose efforts have only been exaggerated by the spatial limits of their past endeavours.