Cost of living: Don’t ignore protesters, APC chieftain advises Tinubu

Former member of the National Working Committee ( NWC) of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Salihu Lukman, has advised President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the national chairman of his party, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje not to ignore rising protests against economic hardship in the country.

He also called on the presidency and the party to seek initiatives to mitigate the economic hardship, to stem down possible spread of protest to other states in the country.

Lukman while reacting to a statement by APC National Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka accusing opposition parties of masterminding the Minna and Kano protests on Monday against the rising cost of living in the country, said the action was sincere and genuine.

The former APC National Vice Chairman (North West) in a statement tagged, “Renewed Hope Exchanging for Renewed Anger”, said the protests were genuine reactions to the removal of fuel subsidy and floating of the Naira which he noted have created serious economic dislocations and rising inflation in the country.

“If the truth must be told, there is hunger in the land! As a committed member of APC, it is very depressing that this is happening under the leadership of our party. Even more depressing was the statement issued by Mr. Felix Morka, our National Publicity Secretary alleging that opposition parties are behind the protests. For Mr. Morka to issue such a very dishonest statement points to only one thing the leadership of our party has completely lost it and at this rate their political utility value is zero. This suggests that even the old pretences about being progressive have been thrown to the dogs.

“How can we be talking of opposition sponsoring protests in the strongholds of the APC? Both Minna and Kano are strongholds of APC. In the case of Minna, Niger State, APC is the ruling party. Kano is the home state of Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, the APC National Chairman. To suggest that any opposition party could mobilise citizens to our government is already defeatist.

“The hard reality is that these protests are logical responses to the realities facing Nigerians. If these realities continue unattended, these protests will spread like bushfire across every part of the country within a very short period. No one should be deceived, these are justifiable protests, which are the responsiveness of our party, our leaders and above all our democracy. APC and President Asiwaju Tinubu may wish to ignore them at their peril.”

Calling for a solution to the rising crisis, the former Director Director, the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF) urged the Presidency and the National Secretariat of the party to seek initiatives to mitigate the economic hardship to prevent further spread to other states in the country.

“Withdrawing subsidy without addressing the question of what needs to be done to guarantee local production of petroleum products is bound to have the current mess of skyrocketed increase in prices of petroleum products. Similarly, floating the Naira against other major currencies without taking the needed steps to reduce imports will also produce what we have today whereby the value of the Naira is permanently on a downward slide.

“Once government is unable to settle these issues, it is predictable that the cost of living will continue to go up. Once prices of necessities are beyond the reach of ordinary Nigerians, citizens will respond in the streets to compel our leaders to do the needful. This is the value of democracy. Instead of blaming some imaginary opposition parties, our party’s leadership and our government should simply take responsibility. It is quite heartbreaking that we appear to be almost back in the old politics that characterises military dictatorship. Instead of calling meetings of organs of the party to initiate strategies of mobilising all governments controlled by the APC to coordinate responses to democratic demands of citizens, all we want to do is to criminalise the protests.”