ACTIONAID NIGERIA CALLS FOR PERMANENT SOLUTIONS TO SCARCITY OF FUEL AND NEW NAIRA NOTES TO AVOID THE RIPPLE EFFECT ON NIGERIA ECONOMY
ActionAid Nigeria (AAN) has been following citizens agitation around the fuel crisis, the scarcity of new Naira notes and the alleged military invasion at the University of Benin and deemed it fit to address these issues. It is also pertinent to note that within the last one week, there have been protests in Jos, Benin, and Enugu over fuel scarcity, and in Lagos, Ondo, and Ibadan over scarcity of the naira notes and more are seemingly coming up.
Speaking in AAN's head office in Abuja, the Country Director, Comrade Ene Obi said ‘‘There are multiple issues Nigerians are dealing with right now, which are being compounded by the Government and her Agencies, like the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR). As we approach a change in administration across all levels (excluding some state Governors), it is important to know that the actions and inactions of any sector at this time will affect the economy and the 2023 general elections, which will in turn impact the citizenry.
Protracted fuel scarcity has been lingering in Nigeria since January 2022 and the independent oil marketers have said the current crisis rocking the petroleum sector is far from over. This is corroborating the Independent Petroleum Association of Nigeria's (lPMAN) assertion that the fuel scarcity is due to the unavailability of petroleum products and difficulty in accessing foreign exchange by marketers. Despite the official pump price being put between N185 and N195 per litre by the Federal Government, PMS is currently being sold for over N300 in most locations, majorly outside the cities.
Beyond the increase in the price of the PMS, the scarcity of the product has plunged Nigerians into deep rooted sufferings. The ripple effects of these are contributing to the high cost of living in the country. For instance, the quadrupled cost of most forms of transportation and the high cost of running businesses.
Consequently, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has noted that the lingering fuel scarcity may affect the movement of election materials and personnel on election days, if not addressed.’’
Commenting on the scarcity of Naira notes, Comrade Ene Obi noted that ‘‘The intention of the Central Bank of Nigeria on the redesign and introduction of the new naira note is applaudable as it is indeed reducing cash within the system while also promoting a cash-less economy. Expectedly, billions of hoarded cash are now coming back into the banking system, and this has a possibility of controlling inflation. However, the scarcity of the new Naira notes and the sudden emergence and disbursement of coins over the counter are increasingly leading to the frustrations of Nigerians. This is in addition to the sales of the new naira notes by Independent POS operators and Opportunists and an over 200% increase in charges for collection of old notes.
Worthy of note is that mobile and online transactions are unreliable on some occasions at this crucial period, as there have been recurring customer complaints about online bank transactions, and unauthorised debits from customers’ accounts. While POS operators are frustrating the efforts of those in excluded and rural communities with their outrageous charges. These are not encouraging at a time CBN is promoting a cash-less economy.’’
The Country Director also stated that the scarcity of the naira notes was a contributing factor to the assault and reprisal attack by the military on students and workers of the University of Benin. You would recall that on Thursday 2nd February, it was alleged that the students attempted to resist some Soldiers from jumping the ATM queues within the University premises, leading to an assault of a female student, and a counterassault of a lone soldier. This further led to re-grouping of the Soldiers and a reprisal attack on Students, Lecturers, University Workers and the destruction of about 34 vehicles.
Whilst the actions of students who assaulted the Soldier must be condemned, even though this was triggered by the assault on their comrade, the reprisal attack by the Military was unnecessary and despicable. The military invasion of a university, and the use of force and power on unarmed Civilians must be condemned and all those concerned should be held liable for their actions through an open and transparent process.
ActionAid Nigeria, therefore, calls on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to put in place more stringent sanctions on banks, Opportunists and POS Operators that are not complying with the CBN Regulatory Guidelines. Immediate actions must also be taken to increase the circulation and availability of the new notes in the country, within the extension period stipulated by CBN. The peculiarities of the rural and excluded communities must be specially recognised and considered in the retirement of the old notes and the accessibility of the new naira notes.
‘‘We are calling on the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) to take swift action in rehabilitating and refurbishing all the refineries across the country to spur them into production. Now is the time for FGN to stop operating an opaque subsidy regime but adopt a citizen-led subsidy administration for efficiency and transparency.’’ Concluded Comrade Ene Obi
Signed: Ene Obi, Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria
ActionAid Nigeria is a national non-governmental, non-partisan, non-religious, civil society organisation, and an affiliate member of the ActionAid International Federation with presence in 45 countries. It works in solidarity with people living in poverty and exclusion to achieve social justice, gender equality and poverty eradication towards achieving a just, equitable and sustainable world in which every person enjoys the right to a life of dignity, freedom from poverty and all forms of oppression.
Oluwakemi Akinremi-Segun - Communications Coordinator | ActionAid Nigeria Tel: +234(0)8092076904 | Email: Oluwakemi.AkinremiSe@actionaid.org | Info.email@example.com | Website: www.actionaid-ngr.org | Facebook: ActionAidNigeria Twitter: @ActionAidNG