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Further Increase in Electricity Tariff Or Fuel Price Will Lead To Social Unrest, Rights Group Warns Tinubu

“It is truly astonishing that even after seven months, the government has failed to break free from the confines of unsuccessful capitalist economic practices…”

A human rights organization under the aegis of the Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED) on Friday warned the Federal Government against alleged plans to increase electricity tariffs and price of fuel to N1200 per litre, warning that such could lead to social unrest and instability in the country.

The organization said despite the statements issued by the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) and the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) denying any such plans, it was evident that there is no smoke without fire.

CHRICED in a statement by its Executive Director, Dr. Ibrahim Zikirullahii, said evidently, the claims and counter-arguments surrounding the alleged planned increases in electricity and PMS prices vividly illustrate the emerging failures of economic policies of the administration of President Bola Tinubu.

He said, “After seven months at the helm of the Nigerian Presidency, CHRICED is convinced that citizens should begin voicing their assessments of the harsh impact of the government’s policy choices. As it stands, the government’s ideas, which they claim will fix the problems of the country are already taking shape. The emerging outcomes neither look or feel good; and those who talk about giving the government more time do not realize that citizens are bearing the brunt. Unfortunately, it would appear that the only known strategy in the playbook of the current regime is to inflict further hardships on Nigerians while making pretentious clarion calls for the already impoverished people to make more sacrifice.

“The potential consequences of implementing further measures that exacerbate poverty and economic deprivation for the majority of citizens are truly alarming. CHRICED strongly believes that continuing with such insensitive policies could result in social unrest and instability in the country. It is crucial to acknowledge that one of the contributing factors to this challenge is the weakness of the Naira against the United States Dollar, which has been further exacerbated by the current government’s decision to “float” the national currency. It is evident to all stakeholders, including economic experts advocating for the free floating of the Naira, that the Nigerian currency has depreciated by almost 51 per cent, making it the third worst performing currency in 2023. 

“Consequently, as the Nigerian currency continues to decline against the Dollar, the prices of essential commodities like PMS will continue to skyrocket. CHRICED firmly believes that a country with 133 million people living in multi-dimensional poverty must review such a policy and come up with measures, which would arrest the current hopeless drift of the national currency. CHRICED therefore calls for economic policies that prioritize the well-being of its citizens and move beyond failed approaches.”

Zikirullahii advised that if the government is unclear about the principles, which should guide its economic policies, it should revisit Section 16 1(a) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, which mandates the state to: harness the resources of the nation and promote national prosperity and an efficient, a dynamic and self-reliant economy for every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity; and (b) control the economy in such a manner as to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity. 

He said, “Section 16(2a-d) all mandate the Nigerian State to direct its economic policy towards promotion of a planned and balanced economic development, the use of material resources of the nation as best as possible to serve the common good, and to ensure that the economic system is not operated in such a manner as to permit the concentration of wealth or means of production and exchange in the hands of a few individuals or a group. If the government sticks to these principles, it would have started the process of turning the economy around, and by extension demonstrated its commitment to the welfare and well-being of the people.

“It is truly astonishing that even after seven months, the government has failed to break free from the confines of unsuccessful capitalist economic practices driven by the so-called market forces. Regardless of whether the government intends to increase electricity tariffs and PMS prices or not, it is crucial for the public’s well-being that no additional burdens are imposed on the already traumatized Nigerians.

“It is an understatement to say that this government’s policy, aimed at generating revenue, is highly insensitive and heartless, indicating a lack of innovative strategies to revive the Nigerian economy. President Tinubu’s administration seems to rely solely on extorting the citizens as a means of revenue generation, without considering the detrimental consequences such discredited strategies may have on their well-being. The government does not even mind whether the citizens bleed to death.

“It is truly disheartening and unfortunate that while millions of Nigerians are still grappling with severe economic challenges caused by the government’s insensitive policies, all the government can think about is how to impose more hardships. 

“To make matters worse, the people are now facing the threat of additional harsh policies in the new year, despite President Tinubu’s empty talk of empathy and claims that he understands the pains of the people. The current state of the economy clearly shows that the welfare and well-being of millions are hanging by a thread, while the ruling elite indulge in extravagant and wasteful spending. It is also clear that the President’s recent signing of the N28.7 trillion budget is far from being the solution to the immense economic hardships faced by Nigerians. 

“A significant portion of the budget will be devoured or swallowed by the federal bureaucracy, the All-Progressive Congress (APC) contractors and consultants, and the extravagant and reckless desires of the National Assembly.”     

Friday Olokor

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