Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has said the poverty situation in Nigeria is getting deeper daily. Speaking during the ministerial retreat, where ministers gave account of their performance in the last one year, Osinbajo, who said the coronavirus pandemic has affected the living standard of Nigerians, charged ministers to expedite action on the ₦2.3 trillion stimulus package designed by the government to mitigate the effect of the crisis on the economy. Osinbajo said the FG has enumerated four million farmers under the mass agriculture programme. He also said the government will build 300,000 homes across the country under the mass housing programme, adding that the prices of the houses will not exceed ₦2 million each.
The FG will no longer release guiding price bands for the sale of petrol. Since March, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, has released bands showing upper and lower limits for the pump price of petrol monthly, an action that some operators faulted, saying it did not speak well of a deregulated downstream oil sector. The PPPRA, however, did not issue price guidelines for the months of August and September and declared on Tuesday that it would not provide such guiding prices anymore, adding that full deregulation was now in force. The Executive Secretary of the PPPRA, Abdulkadir Saidu, said that going forward, petrol price would be determined by the forces of demand and supply and the international cost of crude oil. On whether the PPMC was now the sole determiner of petrol price being the only importer of the commodity, the regulator insisted that other marketers were free to also import petrol. Saidu, however, could not provide the details of the elements that made up the cost of a litre of petrol, as was usually published in the pricing templates of the PPPRA some months ago.
There have been large protests in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital over the hike in price of petrol and increase of electricity tariff. The protesters gathered at the Awolowo Junction, Bodija, chanting anti-government and solidarity songs before moving to the Federal Secretariat, Ikolaba, Ibadan. They described the recent increment in electricity tariff and hike in fuel price as wicked and one that lacked sound judgement, and promised to paralyse the economy if the government failed to reverse the price and tariff. Benedict Olalere, the president of the National Association of Polytechnic Students gave the FG a seven-day ultimatum to reverse the pump price and electricity tariff. Mayowa Opakunle, the chairman of the Joint Campus Committee of the National Association of Nigerian Students emphasised that students in the state totally reject the increase. On his part, the convener of All Workers’ Convergence, a former chairman of Trade Union Congress in Oyo State, Andrew Emelieze, said: “The policies of the current government are inimical to Nigerians and are making life difficult for Nigerians. By illegally increasing pump price and electricity tariff, life has become miserable for Nigerians. They promised to build refineries. Where are the refineries?” There were similar protests in Osogbo, Osun State, where the protesters gave the FG a three-week ultimatum to reverse the hike, saying that the policies by the current leadership have brought untold hardship to the citizens. The Osun protest was organised by NANS, Joint Action Front and Amica Ideological School Movement.
In his closing remarks at the end of the two-day ministerial performance review retreat at the presidential villa, Abuja, President Buhari revealed that US President, Donald Trump accused him of killing Christians when the pair met at the Whie House in April 2018. Buhari said he told his American counterpart that the problem between herders and farmers is not religious but cultural. Buhari applauded the first republic leadership, accusing subsequent administrations of not handling herder-farmer crisis properly. “The first republic set of leadership was the most responsible leadership we ever had. I asked the Minister of Agriculture to get a gazette of the early 60s which delineated the cattle routes where they used meagre resources then to put earth dams, wind mills even sanitary department,” he said. “So, any cattle rearer that allowed his cattle to go to somebody’s farm is arrested, taken before the court, the farmer is called to submit his bill and if he can’t pay, the cattle are sold, but subsequent leaders, VVIPs (very very important persons) they encroached on the cattle routes, they took over the cattle rearing areas. So, I tried and explained to him, this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing which the respective leadership was failing the nation.”