ActionAid Nigeria (AAN), an international not-for-profit organisation, has condemned the hike in electricity tariff by almost 100 per cent and the increase in fuel price amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
It said the hikes are not only ill-timed but also counterproductive.
This was part of the observations made by the organisation on Saturday at its 42nd meeting held virtually to review the ‘State of the Nation’
According to a release by its Board of Trustees, AAN lamented the privatisation of the electricity sub-sector which seven years down the line, has not yielded the anticipated positive results.
“This is because, through the privatization process, the entire sector was sold at about N400 billion. We are also surprised that the government within the last four years injected N1.5 trillion over and above the amount that accrued from this important asset and Nigerians are still being made to pay more.”
It also observed that lack of proper accountability mechanism for the disbanded Police Special Anti-Robbery Squad(SARS) and responsiveness of government over the years metamorphosed into a force associated with harassment of innocent citizens, extortion at gunpoint, and extrajudicial killings of suspects, innocent Nigerians, and foreigners.
The organisation said the brazen impunity of the controversial police unit was what triggered the #ENDSARS protests across the country with violent and devastating consequences.
It said the federal government and ASUU’s prolonged failure to reach a mutual agreement invariably strengthens the decay in education to the disadvantage of the entire country.
“The unimplemented 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement remains a setback. ASUU kicked against the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) because it undermines university autonomy and is grossly incompatible with the university system.
“The University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) which it believes is fraud and corruption-proof is at the final stage of integrity test. Going back to initiate a new platform that offers a similar service is perceived as both a waste of time and resources. The continued strike is not unconnected to the increasing youth restiveness witnessed in the country”.
It raised concerns about the country’s limited testing capacity for COVID-19 and the increase in the cases of rape and other forms of Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) since the COVID-19 lockdown and the cases of attacks in the Northeast.
“The attempts by the federal government to encourage local farmers and food producers over imports is commendable, however, Nigeria is currently dealing with the twin crises of flooding and food shortage. This is threatening to push Nigeria into a devastating food crisis”.
AAN recommended that those who ordered the Lekki Tollgate shooting, and the officers who fired at peaceful protesters must be brought to book openly.
It also advised that those who sponsored hoodlums to disrupt the peaceful protests, attack their fellow citizens and destroy properties must be identified and made to face the wrath of the law to pass a clear message that elites should desist from using young Nigerians for political gain.
“We call on the Federal Government to ask the Central Bank to unfreeze the accounts of EndSARS promoters without delay.
“We call on the Federal Government to rethink its stand on the IPPIS and pay the salaries of ASUU members and implement the FGN/ASUU agreement.
“We implore the Federal Government and sub-national governments to investigate the other myriads of problems raised with the outset of COVID-19, with a view to resolving all pending issues so as to maintain industrial harmony and avoid needless sufferings and death of Nigerians. It will also be an opportunity to strengthen our under-funded health facilities.”
It said the increase in electricity tariff and hike in fuel price has eroded the purchasing power of Nigerians.
“We recommend the reversal of the fuel price and electricity tariff and request that meters be provided for all electricity consumers.
“Sexual Gender-Based Violence response services should be a basic and accessible service in every state of Nigeria.
“The mitigation, prevention, and response standards will enable states to ensure access to reproductive health services for SGBV survivors, including clinical management of rape, distribution of dignity kits, and effective referral systems to facilitate access to psychosocial support, safety and security, justice and legal aid, and socio-economic support; while the coordination and operational standards will enable states to conduct SGBV assessment, coordination, advocacy and communications, and secure human and financial resources in emergencies”.
AAN urged the Federal Government to engage with key international actors including the United Nations, United States, and the United Kingdom in providing support for the Nigerian forces & Multi-national Joint Task Force, MJTF in countering and ending insurgency in the Northeast.
It said Nigeria should consider looking inwards for its own solution to end the growing insecurity in the country.
“To avert the looming food crisis, financial inclusiveness should be encouraged through increased access to low-interest credit by the small-scale farmers, especially smallholder women farmers who produce over 70% of food consumed in the country,” it said.