21st January, 2022
By Jethro Ibileke
Ahead of the planned hike in the prices of pump prices of petroleum products by the Federal government, hundreds of residents of Benin City, Edo State on Friday staged a peaceful protest tagged ‘End Hardship in Nigeria Campaign’.
The protesters were made up of members of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), religious leaders, market women and individuals, were armed with placards with various inscriptions as: Fix our refineries; ‘No electricity hike; Refine Nigeria oil in Nigeria; Reverse all privatisation; No to more hardship; No to rise in fuel price; End poverty in Nigeria now and Nigeria belongs to all of us.
The protest initiated by the Peoples Alternative Movement caused gridlock for hours at the King Square popularly knowns as Ring Road and its adjoining roads in Benin.
The Co-ordinator (South-South) of the Peoples Alternative Movement and former Edo State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Dr. Osagie Obayuwana, who spoke for the protesters, said Nigerians must speak up now because the situation in the country is near-disaster.
Obayuwana wondered why the government is proposing to increase fuel prices as bad as the situation in the country is at the moment
According to him, Nigerian parents struggle to send their children to school due to the hardship in the country, while there are no jobs for them after graduation.
He, however, recommended that Nigeria’s crude oil be refined in the country to make it affordable to the masses.
He said: “The Nigeria situation right now is a near-disaster. Parents are loosing control over their children. How can a parent who cannot put food on the table for his child control such.
“Out of desperation, people are traveling to all sort of countries without knowing what they are going to meet over there, because they believe that anywhere else is better than Nigeria.
“What we have agreed or resolved, is to speak out. Nigerians must speak out. If we don’t speak up, those we put in the place of authority will think everything is ok. They don’t pay for fuel, they don’t pay for electricity, this is what has led us to the present situation. And bad as it is, those in authority said they want to increase the price of fuel.
“We are saying, this crude oil is owned by us; we are saying that crude oil extracted in this country should be refined here in Nigeria. We have four refineries in the country, they should be put in shape and refine our crude oil. We say in simple term, refine Nigeria oil in Nigeria, fix our refineries and refine our oil here.”
Also speaking, Rev. Father Benedict Onwugbemi, the Coordinator, Justice Development and Peace Commission, Catholic Church, noted that the president predicament is not what President Muhammadu Buhari promised Nigerians.
“We are saying enough to the hardship in the country. It is not what Buhari promised Nigerias that Nigerians are getting today. Buhari led protest against fuel hike, but today he is doing exactly what he was against,” he said.