Apex Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, has decried the “insensitive policies” of the administration of President Bola Tinubu, especially the “sudden” removal of petrol subsidy and the “total” disregard for the impact of the action on the people and the economy.
Afenifere in a statement on Friday by its Secretary General, Sola Ebiseni, the group said in six weeks, “an already asphyxiating economy reeling under the crushing impact of hyperinflation, unemployment, mass hunger and poverty foisted by the gross ineptitude and incompetence that characterized the watch of eight years is looking like an episode drawn straight out of Dante’s Hell”.
The group, which endorsed Tinubu during the February 25, 2023 poll, said it could no longer “fold its arms or be seen to maintain silence, neutrality or ambivalence in the face of this latest body blow on an already traumatized citizenry”.
“It is feared that this latest gross act of thoughtless policy implementation and its unintended consequences will further push Nigeria’s economy down the slope as Nigeria has officially overtaken India as The New Poverty Capital of the World,” Afenifere warned.
On May 29, 2023, Tinubu, of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), gave Nigerians a shocking inauguration gift at the Eagle Square in his “subsidy is gone” historic speech.
Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) known as petrol immediately rose from N184 per litre to N500 and later to over N600, amid soaring food prices and high transportation cost.
The Tinubu government also floated the naira against the dollar and other foreign exchange, with one dollar hitting over N850.
In its statement, Afenifere said there is a wide consensus that the petrol subsidy regime as it had been managed, especially in the last eight years, was becoming ruinous to the economy and could no longer be sustained.
“No one, however, expected that the subsidy would be removed in the sudden manner it was done: a seeming off-the-cuff declaration of the removal of the subsidy, totally ignoring the impact on the people and the economy,” the statement partly read.
“Such a huge economic decision with clear potential for serious deleterious impact on disposable incomes of the already impoverished citizens should never have been made in the cavalier manner as was witnessed.”
Afenifere further said the planned disposal of palliatives in cash by the government “suggest a total ignorance of the current realities and the gigantic remedial needs of the populace”.
“Rather than pay cash that will evaporate and provide only momentary relief to a minuscule few, effective plans ought to be put in place to provide facilities that will ameliorate the suffering of the masses right across the country in a sustainable manner,” it said.
The group also said the sacrifices to restore the fiscal viability of the country must be made by all, especially leaders involved in the “gargantuan waste of public funds in running government with a multiplicity of agencies”.