Yesterday, Nigeria’s former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), cautioned the Federal Government against increasing the pump price of fuel.
The Chairman of the National Peace Committee (NPC), who ruled Nigeria between 1998 and 1999, said this at the 19th Daily Trust Dialogue with the theme: ‘2023: The Politics, Economy and Security.’
According to him, the rise in petrol price now will push more Nigerians deeper into poverty.
Abdulsalami warned that if the rise in fuel price pushes more Nigerians deeper into poverty, it might result in another nationwide conflagration, worse than the 2020 #EndSARS protests against police brutality.
“All of these tend to have negative effects on security. In fact, Nigeria now faces a food security crisis that is compounded by COVID-19 pandemic and banditry in many states in northern Nigeria.
These have disrupted the fragile value chains across the country and negatively impacted the ability of Nigerians to produce, process and distribute food. The result is a continuing rise in prices of food items beyond the reach of many families.
On top of all these, fuel prices are expected to rise significantly in the coming months as announced last November. When this happens, as the government has planned, it will push many millions deeper into poverty.
“Young people and women are the demographic groups most affected by the country’s dire economic outlook. For example, estimates by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows that while the national unemployment rate stood at 33 per cent by the end of 2020, unemployment for young people between ages 15 and 34 years was 10 per cent higher at 42.5 per cent.
“If not carefully managed, the frustrations of these groups could easily boil over into a national conflagration worse than what we saw months ago during the #EndSARS protests. However, these are not doomsday predictions, but a warning to which all stakeholders must pay heed.”
Speaking on insecurity, Abubakar stated that the situation has overstretched the country’s security forces and has led to the death of thousands.
He went on to state that major cause of insecurity is the proliferation of all calibre of weapons in Nigeria in particular, and in the West Africa sub-region generally.
Quoting the Global Conflict Tracker report compiled by the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, Abdulsalami said some 350,000 persons have been killed and three million displaced directly or indirectly in the conflict in the Northeast since 2009.
“I have not seen this country in serious challenges of its existence as seen at this time. I have witnessed the Nigerian Civil War and not even that was so much a threat to our existence like we are witnessing today.
“And of course all attention is focused on the political class. The solutions to all the problems that have been highlighted particularly security and economy are problems the politicians are expected to solve.” He said.