The Guild of Public Affairs Analysts of Nigeria (GPAAN) has observed with concern that at a time when leaders across the globe are doing everything within their power to alleviate the hardships caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on their citizens, Nigerians are being burdened with increase in the prices of utilities.
In a statement signed by Victor Anya, general secretary of the association, GPAAN condemned the recent increase in the price of petrol from N143 to N151: 52.
“Recall, towards the end of August, the price of electricity was hiked from N22 per kilowatt to N66 per kilowatt and Nigerians have not recovered from the shock caused by that increase; that of fuel was added to it within a space of one week,” it noted.
GPAAN, led by Ayo Baje as national president, also recalled that “In November 2019, Value Added Tax (VAT) was raised from 5percent to 7.5percent and in the same month, VAT was also placed on telephone communication. These burdens are too much on the ordinary Nigerians and they must stop.”
The group pointed out that Nigeria appeared different from other parts of the world, noting that “during this period of the coronavirus, leaders of other nations are providing succour to their citizens by asking them not to pay house rent for a period of time and also giving allowances to those that have lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Governments of some countries are giving grants to small business owners in order for them to remain in business. In some countries, governments are paying the salaries of employees of big corporations so that such corporations do not retrench their employees- all in a bid to mitigate the pains brought on them by the coronavirus.”
It also reiterated the fact that as coronavirus is a global problem that affects all citizens of the world, if leaders of other countries deem it fit to support their citizens, the case of Nigeria should not be different.
“In this regard, we call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to revert to the old prices of petrol and electricity- N143 per litre and N22 per kilowatt, respectively,” it said.
The group further said: “President Muhammadu Buhari should endeavour to repair the existing four refineries and also build additional two refineries to complement them so that the importation of refined petroleum products will come to an end.
“It is a known fact that the reason for the incessant increase in the prices of refined petroleum products is because we are not refining our crude oil but depend on importation of these products. Why is it so difficult for us to refine our crude oil?”
It also recalled that during the electioneering in 2015, one of the promises of President Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) was to build a new refinery each year.
“What has happened to this promise after five years in office? Has the construction of a refinery become a rocket science? Government should consider the human factor in coming up with economic policies,” GPAAN said.