The Transition Monitoring Group, a coalition of over 400 civic organizations working to promote democracy and good governance in Nigeria, has strongly condemned the increase in price of petrol, saying the move has exposed President Muhammadu Buhari as an “insensitive and out of touch” leader.
In a statement signed by Ibrahim Zikirullahi, the group’s chairman, on Monday, TMG said Mr. Buhari’s measure is “ill-timed and badly advised”.
“To say the least, this imposition portrays the government as insensitive, and out of touch with the daily unbearable plight of the ordinary Nigerian. Coming at a time when the implementation of the recently signed 2016 Budget, is yet to take off, the hike in the face of groaning and pains, is ill-timed and badly advised.
“It is tantamount to killing a willing horse to ask the Nigerian people, who are already carrying the heavy burden of the failure of governance over the years, to take on one more load of extreme economic hardship, as represented by the imposed price of petrol,” TMG said.
Mr. Zikirullahi also said that TMG’s support for Mr. Buhari is contingent on the effect of his administration’s policies on Nigerians.
“As a grassroots coalition, which has tried to rally patriotic support for the anti-corruption crusade and other government initiatives, which we believe would make the lives of Nigerians better, we must stress that our support of the government is conditioned by the impact of its policies on the long suffering people of this country.
“Our allegiance is to the Nigerian people, and whenever they come under the hammer blows of insensitive policies, we are duty-bound to speak up in defence of ordinary citizens. As is the case with this latest hike, we must place it on record that it is absolutely anti-people,” Mr. Zikirullahi said.
Mr. Zikirullahi also expressed TMG’s intention to coordinate its resistance to the increments with the organised labour.
“TMG will join forces with Labour and other activists to resist this hike. With the many economic woes afflicting the country, including job losses, massive unemployment and galloping-inflation, the least we expected the government to do was to give Nigerians a breather, and allow some form of recovery to take place through a stimulus package injected into the economy to rev it back to life before placing any further burdens. To our utmost disappointment however, ordinary Nigerians have been hung out to dry, and left at the mercy of shylock fuel importers.
“These importers who can mobilize funds to import petrol, but cannot invest in refineries, are the ones being given a free rein to exert profit from the blood and sweat of ordinary citizens.”