*Give FG three-week ultimatum to reverse increments
*Urge NLC, TUC, CSOs to join protest immediately to achieve results
*Threaten to go back to its revolutionary days
As the nation’s labour movement continues to foot drag on actions to take in the wake of increase in electricity tariff, price of petrol among others that have been widely condemned the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS and its allies have embarked on mass protest.
The protests which began in the South West region of the country yesterday was organised by NANS Zone D comprising of Osun, Ogun, Ondo and Oyo states.
Nigerian Pilot correspondents report that the protest was organised in collaboration with Joint Action Front (JAF) and Amica Ideological School Movement (ACIS-M) and some Civil Society Orgnisations.
However, in Osogbo, the Osun State capital, the protesting students and Coalition of Civil Societies were joined by members of #RevolutionNow movement at the Nelson Mandela Freedom Park.
The students and their allies unanimously gave the federal government a three-week ultimatum to reverse the increments, stating that another protest would be staged on October 1, 2020 if the government fails to grant their request.
Some members of NANS and other human rights groups in Osun during the peaceful demonstration expressed their grievances through protest against incessant bank charges as well as hike in petrol price, cable network, and electricity tariff.
The protesters who chanted anti-government songs, carried placards with various inscriptions such as “We condemn the insensitivity of the Buhari-led government to current hardship faced by Nigerians;” “We want palliatives not Inflation!;” “Reverse PMS Price,” “Reverse electricity tariff” and “Don’t ruin our democracy” as they matched along Olaiya Road, Osogbo yesterday morning.
One of the stakeholders, Kola Ibrahim who is the Secretary of Joint Action Front, JAF, said, “Our aim is to resist all anti-people policies of the Buhari-led government and its surrogates across the states.
“All of us are aware of the ‘devilish’ policies being doled out by the federal government vis-a-vis the increment in electricity tariff and increment in fuel price. Everybody knows the impact of this, but they don’t care. They don’t pay for fuel. They don’t pay for electricity. They are subsidised from our collective purses, and that is why they don’t care.
“If we allow these policies to be implemented, we are going to lay a basis for the ruling class to continue to attack our economic rights and democratic rights. It is for this basis that the Nigerian students have risen to say no to all anti-people policies, no to capitalist policies,” he stated.
He maintained that the government does not care for its citizens and that the only way Nigerians can protect their interest is by destroying the political corrupt structure that the government has built.
While noting that Nigeria has no functional refinery despite being the 6th largest oil-producing country across the globe, Ibrahim lamented the government’s passivity in building refineries or revamping the existing ones.
“You can imagine that in Nigeria, a country that has crude oil, the 6th biggest oil producer in the world does not have one functional refinery. In June 2020, Nigerian government said it spent billions of Naira without the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC producing a single barrel of fuel.
“We can only care about ourselves by mobilizing and destroying that political corrupt structure that they have built, and it is on this basis that I want to commend the Nigerian students. We must know that number is important, but number is not the only important factor. The quality of number is also another important factor. We are the seed of the revolution now,” he declared.
Also speaking, the Convener of JAF, Comrade Alfred Adegoke, who supported the cause of the students, said: “This struggle has just started. We must stop it. The President has said that petroleum is going to sell for N300, are you prepared to pay?
“If we accept that today, education will be more commercialized, electricity, you can’t buy, house, you can’t buy, food, you can’t buy, government cannot provide water, houses or jobs, that is the mess we have been seeing.
“We say no to all oppressive and exploitative government policies. This struggle has just started; power for the people; power for the workers and power for the students,” he added.
Echoing similar view, the Coordinator of ACIS-M, Comrade Akin Asifat noted that Nigerian students are prepared to take the future in their own hands, adding that it is time to let the government realise that Nigeria belongs to all Nigerians.
He also called upon other bodies to support the move to resist the anti-people policies of the Buhari-led government while maintaining that the government has failed in its promises to provide social welfare for all the citizens.
“Nigerian people, the poor working masses with Nigerian students are ready to take the future in their hands and say enough is enough. There is no aspect of the economy in Nigeria that the poor can hang their head. Electricity in Nigeria hiked, fuel price hiked, stamp duty hiked.
“It is time for us to say it loud and clear even when you are enjoying crumbs from the table of those at the State House, we have to let everybody know that nobody is safe in this kind of anti-people policy.
“This is just a prelude, an introduction to the big show. We shall decide on the streets. We are resuming, back to the barricade. We would show the government that this country belongs to every one of us. You can’t kill us. We will resist the anti-people policies.
“We can’t do this in isolation. Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Trade Union Congress, TUC, they have not said anything. And we know the meaning of that silence. Silence has a meaning. If they don’t want their people to stamp them to death on the street, they have to come out now and issue a statement,” he added.
On his part, the students association’s spokesperson, Kazeem Israel, told an online newspaper that the increment in the price of petrol and in electricity tariff is anti-people.
“No doubt, this government has worsened all the crises it inherited from the last administration. In fact, the Buhari government is a clear example that we the students must go back to our revolutionary days as we cannot continue to lament,” he said.
“Today, education underfunding has become a norm, healthcare under the pandemic is undergoing cuts officially from government at all levels while the rich run to private hospitals and dash abroad through chartered flights leaving the plebeians to self-medicate.”
According to him, Buhari should resign if he cannot reverse petrol price to N97 and stop the deregulation of the oil sector.
“Stop the devaluation of the Naira now, increase budgetary allocation to education to 35%, return to the old stamp duty price, give 500% increment to healthcare budget to reflect the pandemic era, pay N100,000 Cost of Study Allowance (COSA) to all students and stop the Anti-Social Media Bill Now,” he further stated.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF, according to information available to this newspaper, is expected any time from now to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari over the increment.
Governor Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State dropped the hint of NGF’s intervention. He told newsmen that the governors are highly disturbed over the uproar that has trailed the increases.
“We are soon going to meet with President Buhari over the pump price of fuel and power tariff rise and God willing, something good is coming out from the meeting,” he said.