•Police stop rally in Borno
•Atiku seeks explanation for increment
There were protests on Tuesday in Oyo, Lagos, Osun and Ondo states on the increases in the pump prices of petroleum products, electricity tariff and subscription for cable television services.
Most of the protests were led by students of higher institutions with support from workers, and civil society organisations (CSOs).
In Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, the protesters said they would not allow the latest hike in the price of petrol and electricity tariff to sail.
The protesters carried placards with various inscriptions to convey their disapproval.
They chanted anti-government songs as they gathered at the Awolowo junction in Bodija area of the state capital.
The protesters condemned the policies of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, saying the increases showed wickedness as they lacked sound judgment.
The Joint Campus Committee of the National Association of the Nigerian Students (NANS) Chairman Mayowa Opakunle said: “We are out on the streets to register our grievances and show our displeasure at the wicked policies and unjust treatment of Nigerians by the Federal Government.
“We say no to fuel price hike and electricity tariff increment at this period when many people have lost their jobs, many have not even been paid salaries for the past six months.”
A former Chairman of Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Oyo State, Andrew Emelieze, also said the increases would further impoverish the masses.
In Lagos, members of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) embarked on a peaceful demonstration on the increases.
The protesters converged on Akoka, Yaba, and moved to Bariga.
They called for a 35 per cent increase in budgetary allocation to the education sector, a return to the old stamp duty price, increment in the healthcare allocation, a 100 per cent cost of study allowance, among other demands.
“Today, education underfunding has become a norm; healthcare under the pandemic is undergoing cuts officially from the government at all levels, while the rich run to private hospitals and dash abroad in chartered flights, leaving the plebeians to self-medicate,” NANS spokesman Olalekan Gani Israel said.
In Osogbo, the Osun State capital, NANS members also protested against the hike in electricity tariff, petrol pump price, cable TV subscription, among others.
The protesters converged on the Nelson Mandela Freedom Park at the Old Garage around 9:30 a.m. Security operatives, including those of the Directorate of State Services (DSS), the police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), were on the ground to maintain law and order.
The students were joined by members of the #RevolutionNow movement to call for a reversal in the increases.
The protesters chanted anti-government songs and carried placards with different inscriptions, such as: “NANS says no to hike in PMS pump price”; “No to hike electricity tariff”; “Don’t ruin our democracy”; and “Reverse PMS price,” amongst others.
Security operatives were in their patrol vehicles as the protesters marched from Freedom Park and passed through MDS to the popular Ola-Iya Junction before they terminated the rally at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Correspondents’ Chapel at Fagbewesa.
In Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, protesters described the increments as arbitrary and anti-masses.
The students, who took the IBB Boulevard leading to Oke-Mosan Governor’s Office, chanting anti- increments slogans, also described the Federal Government action as inhuman.
The students also expressed disappointment in Governor Dapo Abiodun’s position backing the Federal Government’s “anti-masses” policy, saying Abiodun aligned with the Federal Government in his interest and not that of Nigerian masses.
The students demanded that the governor withdraw his statement supporting the increments.
The students, in their hundreds, protested under the aegis of National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Ogun Joint Campus Committee (JCC) and National Association of Ogun State Students (NAOSS).
In Borno State, the police stopped the protest so as not to disrupt the “hard-earned peace in the state”.
DSP Edet Okon, the command spokesman, in a statement in Maiduguri, said
“The Commissioner of Police Borno State, CP Mohammed Ndatsu Aliyu, wishes to state that such protest will not be condoned by the command as this may sabotage efforts of the federal and state governments and that of the security agencies to ensure that the emerging peace and security in the state is sustained.
”All prospective protesters are by this release warned to steer clear of Borno State and respect the laws of the land,” Okon said.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said Nigerians cannot survive the latest hike in the cost of fuel and electricity.
In a statement on Tuesday by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party said: “Our party stands with Nigerians in insisting that there is no way our compatriots can survive a N162 per litre fuel price and a N66 per kw/h of electricity in a country which, in the last five years, ranked as the poverty capital of the world, with a frightening 23 per cent unemployment rate; where over 90 million citizens live in abject poverty and many more living on less than N500 a day.”
Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, in a tweet yesterday, urged the government to explain the hike in fuel price at a time countries, such as the United States, have reduced the price of the product.