TIMOTHY AGBOR, OSOGBO
As Nigerians continue to agonise over scarcity of Naira and fuel, Members of the Osun Civil Societies Coalition and Peoples Advocates have called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the Central Bank of Nigeria to be sensitive to the plights of citizens and arrest the ugly trend.
Addressing a joint press conference in Osogbo on Monday, the civil societies announced suspension of their protest against the lingering crises, which was slated for Monday (today), and called on concerned authorities to make fuel and cash available to the masses.
In the conference text signed by the chairman of Osun Civil Societies Coalition, Waheed Lawal and the Publicity Secretary of Peoples Advocates, Emmanuel Olowu, fear of possible hijack of the planned demonstration and some intelligence report were given as reasons for its suspension.
They decried the current hardship Nigerians are battling and informed Buhari that the nation is falling apart under his administration and that if nothing urgent was done to arrest the torturous situation, they would mobilise mass protest in the state.
“While we are not questioning the sincerity of the Federal Government on the financial policy, we are constrained to give volume to the murmuring, groaning and cries of Nigerians who have been badly hit by the economic dragon. Considering the pains being experienced by the common men in getting cash for their livelihood, it would not be out of place to declare that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government is inconsiderate and insensitive to the plight of the citizens.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria led by Mr Godwin Emefiele has clearly been playing hide-and-seek game on the circulation of the new naira notes. We acknowledged the fact that there are saboteurs among the top echelon of the banking industries, but the CBN has not also released enough amount of the redesigned denominations to banks through which they can be disbursed to the generality of people. This is responsible for the ridiculous amount of cash being paid to the people over the counter,” they said.
According to the duo, the redesigning of the naira has turned to unjust punishment for Nigerians, adding that many small scale businesses have collapsed due to cash scarcity.
They said, “economically, the scarcity of cash has crippled many businesses and further push millions of Nigerians far below the poverty line. Petty traders do no longer make sales because of cash transaction which their trading depends upon. We make bold to say that this financial policy of the Federal Government is doing more harm than good presently. There should have been another way round to maintain a balance between cash control and the wellbeing of the people.
“Dear Compatriots, it is pathetic that we are experiencing a double jeopardy – a situation where there is no cash, and there is no fuel. The scarcity of fuel has been lingering for months without any end in sight. It is unfortunate that President Muhammadu Buhari who directly supervises the Ministry of Petroleum Resources has been paying lip service to ensuring that fuel is available at affordable rate for Nigerians. It equally speaks volume of a President that has been supervising everything that has to do with petroleum resources to ask for seven days to address the fuel scarcity.
“The two key issues have taken away the dignity of majority of Nigerians. We have seen videos where men and women stripped themselves naked in protest against their inability to get cash. Car owners have for long been sleeping at filling stations for fuel. Many people have been injured as a result of fights at filling stations and ATM centres. In Osun today, we have filling stations selling fuel between N350 and N400 per litre. The masses remain the end receiver of this economic mismanagement. The reverberating effect falls on the common people who goes to market to buy foodstuffs, board public transport, pay bills, etc.”
Reeling out reasons for the suspension of the planned protest, they said, “the scarcity of fuel and cash is a calamity that needed to be addressed urgently. Nigerians have been pushed to the wall, and this ongoing provocation, if care is not taken, might trigger violent protest nationwide in which #EndSARs might be a child play. It is the awareness of this fact, coupled with intelligent report that made us to suspend the mass protest that was supposed to be held today. We do not want to create platform for some elements whose only language they understand is violence. The outcome of last week protest in Ibadan and Benin is an indication that Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gunpowder. The hardship is becoming unbearable to the generality of the people.
“We are demanding that the Central Bank of Nigeria should make enough amount of the new naira notes available to the banks for onward disbursement to the general public. We call on security operatives and anti-graft agencies to go after bank managers and other officials who have been hoarding the new naira notes and sabotaging other processes of getting the new denominations widely circulated.
“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to be more sensitive to the plight of the people. May we alert him that Nigeria is fallen apart under the watch of his administration. The return of fuel scarcity is nothing but a pointer to the success or otherwise of his administrations. We demand an end to the fuel scarcity now! We need the president to be compassionate in addressing the fuel scarcity.
“While we suspend our protest for today (Monday), we will hit the street anytime soon if the cash and fuel scarcity persists.
“May we use this opportunity to call on security agencies in Osun State to arrest the growing ugly trend of thuggery, brigandage, cultism, political violence, kidnapping and insecurity generally. These forms of criminalities have been threatening the peace and safety of the people of the state,” they noted.