CISLAC tasks govt on measures to cushion effects of PMS price, electricity tariff hike

By Chimezie Godfrey

The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), has called on the Federal government to provide measures that will cushion the effects, which the hike in price of PMS and electricity tariff will create on Nigerian citizens.

A statement by its Executive Director, Auwal Rafsanjani on Friday, the Centre expressed disappointment over government’s increase of cost of living despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Nigerians.

“It is a very big disappointment to see Nigerian Government increasing the cost of living despite the ongoing unprecedented socio-economic impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic that has continued to render many individuals and households incapacitated to finance basic needs, as necessitated by resultant job losses and imbalance in the foreign exchange.

“Apart from the recent announcement by the Electricity Distribution Authority to increase electricity tariff without an iota of intervention by the Federal Government, the latest Government’s pronouncement to increase fuel pump price are clear indications of total disconnect between Government and the people.

“We are surprised that in spite of whopping unaccounted domestic and foreign donations to support and rescue the country, as well as reported repatriation of huge looted sums to the nation’s treasury, the Government has not devised adequate measures to mainstream the funds in re-financing deficit in its budget.

“Also, we have, on several occasions drawn the Government’s attention to the existing loopholes in the petroleum industry which have not tampered with neither the law nor the structure of governance in the sector. 

“It becomes a thing of worry what the basis of these regulations being churned out by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) are based upon.

“We expected that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic would provide the Government with a much-needed lesson towards holistic innovative thinking, like every other civilized nation, to block and harness these loopholes to mitigate people’s socio-economic plight,” Rafsanjani lamented.

He pointed that the biggest challenge with political office holders in Nigeria is the ability to recognize the fact that they are serving the people, the citizens and that the positions they hold is on trust. 

He added that since they fail to recognize this fact, they go ahead and churn out instructions, policies and regulations as if Nigerians are in a military junta. 

Ragsanjani also decried the fact that no explanations are made on why some of these decisions were taken, adding that this makes even the best of these decisions to seem anti-people because the people do not relate with such.

He noted the government cannot sustain some wasteful subsidy regime adding that the toll that the pandemic has taken on the world economy is unprecedented.

The Executive Director, also expressed worried that government have not deemed it necessary for a rethink of the system of governance in Nigeria. 

He pointed out that the cost of governance has not changed a bit, maintaining that it is still business as usual for the political office holders. 

According to him, there have been no noticeable adjustment in governance to face the new reality.

In the light of the foregoing, he urged the government to cut down on cost of governance, among other critical steps.

“We therefore call on the government to cut down on the cost of governance at all levels of government.

“We ask that the government put measures that will ensure prudent use of the borrowed resources.

“The government should take time to relate with the people with explanations of some of these policy directions, their relevance and contribution to the entire citizens at large.

“The government should also seek expert advice, especially from the private sector who has the wherewithal as to better ways of tackling some of these economic issues and not depend on political advice that will only seek to patronize the ego of the party faithfuls. 

“This is the time for efficiency and effectiveness, nothing less,” he stated.