As rumours of the proposed petroleum pump price hike spread, a coalition of civil society groups in Edo State on Friday took to the street to protest against the proposal, calling on the Federal government to shelve the idea.
The group in their large numbers, marched round the city centre (Ring Road) with their banners, having inscriptions thus: ‘No to more hardship’, ‘No to rise in fuel price’, ‘End poverty in Nigeria now’, ‘Refine Nigeria oil in Nigeria’, etc, before the protesters returned to the National Museum ground.
Addressing journalists, South-South Coordinator, People Alternative Movement, Dr Osagie Obayuwana, said the current system operated by the government has entrusted the wealth of the nation into the hands of the few by trying to privatize the refineries rather than building more and refurbishing the moribund ones.
Actually, the mess we find ourselves in this country is the greed of the few.
“The Petroleum Industry Act will facilitate the domination of the Nigerian petroleum industry by a few. In fact, that is one of the reasons that they are hesitant to get the refineries working because what they have in mind is privatization.
“A few individuals will own the wealth that this country has been blessed with.
“That is not going to result to redistribution of the wealth of Nigeria rather it further polarizes, the rich will be getting richer and the poor will be getting poorer.
“We have unions in the industry. PEGANSAN is one, NUPENG is one. They know what the challenges are in the oil industry but their positions are not taken into consideration in the formulations of policies.
So, we cannot talk of whipping away unemployment, homelessness and hunger in Nigeria by handing over the oil deposit of Nigeria to a few. That will be more demoralizing.
“Is it possible to abolish poverty? Is it possible to abolish homelessness? Is it possible to abolish unemployment?
Obayuwana reiterated that what the nation needs at the moment is an institutionalized partnership between labour, civil societies, professional organizations and the people as a whole, to collectively manage the affairs of this countryside by side with those who temporarily are occupying public offices.
He said the system right now, is that those who have been elected from 1999 to date, have used governmental processes to create business opportunities for themselves instead of creating for the masses.
The former Edo State attorney general insisted that the protest must continue until the federal government renege on their proposed petroleum pump price increment.
Speaking also, immediate past Public Relations Officer, Edo Civil Society Organization (EDOCSO), Osazee Edigin, said, the proposed increment of fuel is uncalled for in a period most Nigerians are struggling to feed themselves.
He added that it is an act of insensitivity on the path of the federal government in collusion with their state governments counterparts just as he insisted that it would be resisted by all meaning citizens as the votes for the present administration is not for it to kill everyone with hunger.