A coalition of civil society groups, under the aegis of The People’s Alternative Movement, on Friday in Benin, Edo State capital, protested against the Federal Government’s planned hike of petroleum products.
The group earlier warned that it would mobilise the masses to protest against what it termed continuous impoverishment of Nigerians by the government using fuel subsidy removal and increment of electricity tariff as tools. It said the protest would continue on January 27.
The protesters, carrying placards with inscriptions like ‘Nigeria belongs to us all’, ‘Support the people’s alternative movement’, among others congregated by 7am at the King’s Square (Ring Road) before taking to the street.
The South-South coordinator of the movement, Dr Osagie Obayuwana, said the protest was the beginning of the campaign for an end to hardship in Nigeria, noting that an increment in the price of petrol would worsen people’s suffering.
He added, “Life in Nigeria is that of hardship; you can understand that a lot of Nigerians are leaving Nigeria on account of this hardship, but the time has come for the issue to be resolved on an ongoing basis, and any policy that presents a hardship to Nigerians, we will rise against it.
“We are building more links and movements like this can only succeed when we come together. Do you know that not all states are obeying the new Minimum Wage Act and do you think of the hardship it imposes on the lowest among us?
“To end the problem in the petroleum industry, Nigerian oil should be refined in Nigeria. The Petroleum Industry Act is anchored on the privatisation of the industry and the mess we found ourselves in this country today is on account of the greed by a few. “
The Coordinator, Justice Development and Peace Commission, Catholic Church, Revd. Fr. Benedict Onwugbenu, said the President was doing what he led a protest against some years ago.
Meanwhile, wheelbarrow pushers have protested against the extortion by revenue collectors in the state.
The youths, who said they paid up to #500 to the revenue collectors daily, vowed not to go back to work until the harassment stopped. One of them, Nura Kano said, “Every day, the revenue collectors come to us to collect N200; another group collects N200 and another group collects N100, making N500. Sometimes we pay more than that even when they didn’t make up to N500.”
He said he wouldn’t return to his business until the extortion stopped.