By Akanimo Sampson
The plural crises rocking Nigeria has taken a turn for the worse with the National Publicity Secretary of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Bishop Emmah Isong, calling for a national apology to former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Isong who is the Founder and President of Christian Central Chapel International (CCCI) in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, is wondering why the same leaders, who protested against fuel subsidy removal during the Jonathan administration should now turn around to say no going back on subsidy removal.
While decrying the fuel price increase, describing it as a policy somersault, the cleric advised leaders and those in government to be consistent in policy and have integrity especially after elections.
According to Isong who is also the Chairman of Cross River State Anti-Tax Agency, ‘’millions of Nigerians are begging for food and crying for help and urging the Federal Government to fulfill its campaign promises rather than impoverishing the populace the more by removing fuel subsidy.
“I can tell you that we were deceived and hoodwinked into believing that if Jonathan goes, heaven will come, paradise will come. All of us believed this. Today, see where we are. We are all guilty. So, we should come and confess our sins. We should apologise to Goodluck Jonathan.”
His agitation for apology is coming as organised labour, the Trade Union Congress (TUC), has given the President Muhammadu Buhari administration a seven-day ultimatum to reverse the hike in prices of electricity, petrol and all other social services.
TUC has also mandated the administration to provide adequate and quality healthcare and education for all to save the poor and the vulnerable.
In a letter to President Buhari on Monday, September 14, the Congress warned that failure to comply will leave them with no other option than to commence an indefinite industrial action, and national protest from Wednesday, September 23.
The letter is titled: “We cannot bear the burden any longer, issuance of seven days ultimatum”.
It was jointly signed by TUC President, Quadri Olaleye, and Secretary General, Musa Lawal Ozigi, and it says the decision was taken at the just concluded meeting of its organs, pointing out that the demands were made in good faith, and to save the dying masses and the vulnerable in the society.
“In the event of not showing empathy for this class of people by adhering to above demands, we shall, together with our civil societies and allies, sympathetic to the suffering masses of our people commence an indefinite industrial action and national protest from Wednesday, September 23, 2020.”
TUC says it had observed the gradual and steady annihilation of Nigeria and Nigerians in the light of government’s actions for the umpteenth time.
It said some of the issues that have become worrisome to the working class, their families and the masses included the sudden increase in pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) popularly called petroleum, without any definitive and concrete efforts to make the nation’s refineries functional, which it stated has a devastating multiplier effect on the working people and their families.
The Congress also listed the increase in electricity tariff, stating it was done without proper consultation and consideration of the effect of COVID-19, commensurate electricity supply, non-provision of prepaid meters and other biting economic realities.
Others include non-implementation of the negotiated national minimum wage by most of the states and federal governments’ inability to create and sustain salary date and calendar to ensure transparency, corruption in government agencies such as the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Federal Ministry of Health over failure to explain and lack of transparency on how funds received in the fight against COVID-19 was spent among others.
Continuing, the organised labour said there had been loss of jobs across industries, high cost of living and businesses not moving in the light of the effects of COVID-19. It also lamented the palliative that never got to those that needed them.
In the mean time, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has urged the Federal Government to listen to the voice of the people and discontinue the hike in petroleum price and new electricity tariff.
NANS Zone C Coordinator, Suleiman Sarki, told newsmen in Maiduguri during a road work to protest against fuel hike and new electricity tariff, said all the increment would lead to hikes in the process of goods and services.
The union leader said it was inhuman for the government to suddenly introduce fuel hike and new power tariff at a period Nigerians were struggling with the economic impact of COVID-19.
“The increase in petrol price could further heighten insecurity in the nation and further explosion of crisis. We call on the government to stop pushing Nigerians to the wall. This is too daring”, he says.