Apex Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, has spoken out against what it calls the “insensitive policies” of President Bola Tinubu’s administration, including the “sudden” elimination of the country’s petrol subsidy.
In a statement released on Friday, Afenifere Secretary General Sola Ebiseni said the country’s economy is “reeling under the crushing impact of hyperinflation, unemployment, mass hunger and poverty foisted by the gross ineptitude and incompetence that characterised the watch of eight years” and that the next six weeks “are looking like an episode drawn straight from Dante’s Hell.”
They stated they could not “fold their arms or be seen to maintain silence, neutrality or ambivalence in the face of this latest body blow on an already traumatised citizenry,” after having endorsed Tinubu in the election on February 25, 2023.
“It is feared that this latest gross act of thoughtless policy implementation and its unintended consequences will further push Nigeria’s economy down the slope as Nigeria has officially overtaken India as The New Poverty Capital of the World,” Afenifere warned
Tinubu removed the petroleum subsidy during on the 29th of May, 2023 during his official inauguration as president.
Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as petrol, skyrocketed from N184 a litre to N500 and then over N600, owing to soaring food prices and hefty transportation costs.
The Tinubu administration also floated the naira against the dollar and other foreign currencies, with one dollar reaching N850.
According to Afenifere’s statement, there is widespread agreement that the petrol subsidy regime as it had been managed, particularly in the last eight years, was proving disastrous to the economy and could no longer be perpetuated.
“No one, however, expected that the subsidy would be removed in the sudden manner it was done: a seeming off-the-cuff declaration of the removal of the subsidy, totally ignoring the impact on the people and the economy,” the statement partly read.
“Such a huge economic decision with clear potential for serious deleterious impact on disposable incomes of the already impoverished citizens should never have been made in the cavalier manner as was witnessed.”
Afenifere went on to say that the government’s planned cash distribution of palliatives “suggests a total ignorance of the current realities and the enormous remedial needs of the populace.”
“Rather than pay cash that will evaporate and provide only momentary relief to a minuscule few, effective plans ought to be put in place to provide facilities that will ameliorate the suffering of the masses right across the country in a sustainable manner,” it said.