Opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday continued with their brickbats on the hike in price of petrol and electricity tariff.
By Gbade Ogunwale and Jide Orintunsin, Abuja
While the PDP warned that the Muhammadu Buhari administration is risking the anger of the people with its policies, the APC accused the PDP of hypocrisy.
It recalled that the opposition and its presidential candidate in the 2019 election – former Vice President Atiku Abubakar — campaigned vigorously on deregulation policy only to turn around to criticise the policy when it was introduced by the Buhari government.
PDP National Chairman Prince Uche Secondus, who spoke at the PDP campaign headquarters while addressing a group of party faithful who staged a peaceful protest against the petrol and electricity rates hike, said: “They made several promises, including reducing the pump price of fuel and allowing the refineries to work. They made firm commitments and promises to the people.
“They also promised that the naira will be equal to one dollar. They made all kinds of promises, including creating employment for all our youths and that power problem will be a thing of the past within six months. I don’t have to go on and on, you are all aware of all the promises they made.
“I want to ask Nigerians whether they have fulfilled their promises or not. It is a colossal failure. Every responsible government must be very careful in making promises.
“They made these promises in 2015 when a bag of rice was 8,000 naira. Today, a bag of rice is 35,000 naira. Are we better off? Have they improved on the economy? The situation in Nigeria is pathetic, it has worsened.
“They have no idea at all, there is no hope. Only yesterday (Tuesday) they gathered and called the ministers together. And Nigerians were watching and thought that they would profer a solution and give hope to the people. But like the story of the lizard, Nigerians are in pain, but we watched them clapping for themselves.
“On the issue of the insecurity, by 2015 it was only the northeast. But today, insecurity has engulfed all sections of this country.
“Our people are dying, no more farmlands, our people are dying of hunger, poverty, from herdsmen, the crime rate has risen to the highest level.”
The PDP chairman said the party’s position represents the position of the ordinary Nigerian people, the silent majority.
Secondus called on the government to stop propaganda, and face governance, saying that “if they continue this way, they will see the anger of the people”
He urged the administration to allow the private sector drive the economy because the government has failed to deliver.
“That is what is happening in other countries. All civilised countries in the world, it is the private sector that drives the economy.
But the APC described the condemnation of deregulation policy of the Federal Government by the PDP and Atiku as the height of hypocrisy.
The party noted that Atiku’s outburst portrays him “as a man that should never be trusted.”
APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, in a statement said: “as genuine patriots, reputable groups and organisations, make honest contributions to the reactions about the deregulation of electricity and petrol prices, we receive with some amazement comments attributed to the PDP, and Alhaji Abubakar, condemning the decision of the Buhari administration to deregulate the PMS sector.
“The PDP and Atiku’s reaction to what has been adjudged an inevitability by many experts clearly depicts the height of hypocrisy demonstrated by them on many issues relating to the progress and wellbeing of Nigeria.
“Worrisome is the action of the PDP’s presidential candidate in the 2019 general election
“Atiku’s comments clearly reveals his two-facedness and portrays him as a man never to be trusted. This stems majorly from the fact that he was part of the government that created the “corrupt petrol subsidy” monster and also the chaos in the electricity sector.”
The ruling party also noted that Atiku promised to deregulate the downstream petroleum sector by privatising the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) during the electioneering campaign of 2019.
According to APC, ”Atiku made the sale of NNPC to his friends and the deregulation of both the PMS and the electricity sector the hallmark of his 2019 presidential election misadventure.
“Atiku argued at different fora in 2018 and early 2019 that the NNPC and the power sector must be disbanded through privatisation if they must be efficient.”
It quoted Atiku as saying: “Privatising NNPC would be to our advantage. We are not going to lose anything, but we will rather gain a lot,” according to The Guardian story of January 17, 2019.
It also recalled that during the campaign Reuters reported on November 19, 2018, that “Abubakar said he would eliminate subsidies on imported fuel and let the market determine the price.
“Again, his campaign platform, during the electioneering also disclosed: ‘The liberalisation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry to, among others, allow market-denominated prices for Premium Motor Spirit and eliminate subsidies for its consumption.”
APC further noted that in June, Atiku, in a tweet, hailed the Buhari administration’s drive to remove subsidy on petrol, saying that “the stoppage of subsidy and price-fixing is a right move, although it should have come earlier when the economy was stronger.”
It was added that Atiku said “Federal Government and state governments should proceed to remove other impediments and roll out incentives to spur investments in the sector, especially the numerous refineries that have been licensed but yet to be built. Then ensure the quality of fuel meet set standards.
“Describing the deregulation of the price of petrol by the APC-led government as callous and cruel is rather sarcastic and tongue-in-cheek, given the pain and anguish suffered by Nigerians on long queues at petrol stations when the PDP-led government presided over a very corrupt subsidy regime.
“It is therefore laughable that the same set of people will turn around and condemn decisions taken to fix the mess they created in the system. The PDP’s outburst indeed exposes once again its real fraudulent character and plot to patronise Nigerians and make them suffer in perpetuity by keeping a fraudulent subsidy arrangement that feeds a few individuals at the expense of the masses.
“Judging from the foregoing, the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, and comments attributed to them should not be taken seriously as they simply lack the decency required to guide Nigeria and Nigerians to the path of prosperity and progress.”