Members of Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 And Beyond (ASCAB) and the civil society organisations, including Joint Action Front (JAF), yesterday staged a peaceful protest in Ibadan, Oyo State, to demand an immediate reversal of hike in the electricity tariff and fuel price.
Membership of ASCAB involved in the protest included the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU), the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) and others. Leaders and members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Non-Academic Staff of Universities (NASU), ASCAB, JAF, including Comrade Femi Aborisade, Comrade Andrew Emelieze, Comrade Adebayo Titilola-Sodo, Comrade Rasheedat Adesina, Prof. Ademola Aremu, Prof. Deji Omole, Comrade Taofeeq Lawal, Prof. Adenike Ogunshe; market women, students and the youths also joined the protest, chanting solidarity songs. They chided President Muhammadu Buhari for compounding the economic woes of Nigerians.
Commencing the procession from the Oyo State NLC office, the protesters moved to Oje Market and landed at Beere, before heading for the state Secretariat Complex, carrying placards bearing various inscriptions such as: “Don’t destroy this country,” “Nigerians are hungry,” “Reverse all privatisation,” “Reverse pump price hike,” “What is the outcome of NDDC/EFCC probe,” “We want to sleep with eyes closed,” “We say no to corrupt leaders,” “Stop importation of petrol,” among others.
The state ASCAB Vice-Chairman, Femi Aborisade, told journalists that they were protesting unjustifiable and punitive economic measures being imposed on the Nigerian masses by the Federal Government. He said: “By Section 14 (b) of the Constitution, the essence of government is to provide the basic welfare and security for the people.
The Federal Government has chosen to wage economic war against Nigerian people. The labour movement, the market women, students and workers in Oyo State are out demonstrating against the increase in the electricity tariff and fuel price.
“As far as 2013, the Federal High Court has ordered that deregulation of petroleum products by which oil dealers will be selling oil at their whims and caprices is not only unconstitutional but also illegal, null and void. For the Federal Government to go ahead to deregulate petroleum products and allow oil dealers to increase prices at their whims and caprices shows that the Federal Government is lawless.
Nigerians are saying government should rule according to the law. “In 2016, another High Court also declared the 45 per cent increase in the electricity tariff to be unconstitutional, illegal, null and void. Up till today, the Federal Government has not brought the DISCOs to justice.
“I oppose the compromise entered into by the NLC and TUC leaderships. I oppose the resolution of betrayal of the interest of the Nigerian masses entered into by the leaderships of the NLC and TUC. We must be governed by the rule of law.
“When President Muhammadu Buhari was campaigning, he said the government of Goodluck Jonathan was fraudulent. He said when he got to power he would ensure that no increases would be imposed on the price of electricity and fuel. He has got there and started to increase the prices of electricity and fuel.”
The state Secretary of ASCAB, Prof. Adenike Ogunshe, said President Buhari, who “cried so much before becoming President,” was making Nigerians cry. She said: “Is this a country?
Mr. President speaks from both sides of the mouth. NLC, TUC may decide to suspend the strike but ASCAB says no to petrol price and tariff hike. This government is borrowing too much. Unfortunately, women are going to labour only to watch their children die.”
The convener of All Workers’ Convergence, Andrew Emelieze, said they were showing displeasure over bad governance in Nigeria. He said: “Things are getting from bad to worse and we can no longer continue in this way. We are not happy with the state of Nigeria.” Former ASUU Chairman of University of Ibadan, Prof. Deji Omole, also said the government policies did not go down well with the Nigerian masses.
He added: “If we are truly practising democracy, a responsible government will listen to its people. You don’t just gather a very few people and say that they have decided on behalf of the Nigerian people. Nigerian masses are not happy with this government and that is why we are demonstrating.”