The speech is undoubtedly due to the resistance of Nigerians to the unreasonable increase in PMS (petrol) prices and the planned national strikes scheduled to begin on Monday January 9, 2012. So the Presiden having to address Nigerians, is the first gain of the planned protests.
But the President’s address follows the pattern of other documents( like the SURE Programme) by his administration; long in rhetorics and short on basic issues. For instance, the major anchor of the broadcast is that salaries of political office holders are to be cut by 25 per cent. But he failed to tell us how much this will amount to. Is this a mere symbolic gesture or a fundamental contribution to economic recovery?
He also talked about his administration holding meetings with transporters to reduce fares. We see this as a populist statement that has no foundation in reality. If a transporter who used to buy petrol at N65 per litre now buys it between N141 and N220, what appeal can be made to him not to increase his fares by a high percentage? How do you “deregulate” the economy and hope to regulate transport fares by private operators?
In any case, transport fare is just one of the items that shot up. Prices of basic commodities like food have also increased, and there is a fuel price hike-engineered hyper inflation in the country.
The President should have reversed the price of PMS to N65 which would have automatically reduced rising tension in the country.
The President also promised the completion of rail lines and infusion of buses in to the transport system. It is like putting the chart before the horse; these measures should have been put in place before the astronomical increase in petrol price.
We reiterate that Nigerians cannot afford the high fuel prices and will not accept the hyper inflation this misguided policy has created.
President Jonathan lost a great opportunity in his broadcast by sticking to his guns; that the unreasonable increase in fuel prices will remain.
The Labour Movement and its allies on behalf of the Nigerian populace reiterate that the broadcast has changed nothing and that the indefinite strikes, rallies and mass protests scheduled to commence nationwide on Monday 9th January, 2012 will go on.
The will of the Nigerian people must prevail over that of any government in power.
Owei Lakemfa John Kolawole
NLC Acting General Secretary TUC Secretary General
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