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Time to Halt Dangerous Slide in the Fortunes of the Nation: CHRICED Declares Total Support for General Strike

At the moment, Nigeria is only working for a few political and economic elite, who will always want the crisis in the country to remain because it currently benefits them. But we know that as things stand, the country is drifting dangerously, and the ship of state is stranded in very stormy waters. The teeming masses of the citizens of this country continue to groan under the pressure of bad governance. Unfortunately, the many problems faced by the ordinary citizen has been accentuated by the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At a time CHRICED and other citizen groups were working to mobilise citizens to ensure accountability in the use of public resources for key services like maternal health, education and infrastructure, the outbreak of COVID-19 has disrupted progress, just as it inflicted extreme poverty, suffering and death on vulnerable people. We recall the sad stories of many citizens, especially pregnant women and new born children who lost their lives during the COVID-19 lockdowns, when all hospitals were shut and there was no access to health services. This was at a time government in its panicky reaction restricted movements without creating alternatives for situations such as health-related emergencies. This resulted in deaths of expectant mothers and new born, many of who today belong to the terrible statistics of death and misery, which have been inflicted on our country by bad leaders.

As if these challenges and deprivations were not enough; this difficult time is when the cold-hearted and insensitive government decided to impose unjustified and extortionate charges for key services. The hikes in electricity tariffs, value added tax (VAT), and the pump price of petroleum products constitute another brazen assault on the welfare and prospects of economic survival of the people of Nigeria. It is very pathetic that the poor who voted in President Buhari in the hope he will alleviate their suffering, are the ones being punished with insensitive and harsh policies. As the government is using its discredited policies to make life harder for citizens, the shylock companies like those in telecommunications and banking are busy ripping off citizens with extortionate charges that do not reflect services rendered. The reality is that the Nigerian people are on their own, without any protection whatsoever from the government.

There is therefore no doubt that the current government at the federal level alongside many of its counterparts in the states, have lost legitimacy on account of their willful steps to punish the poorest of the poor with their policies. It is also clear that at a time government in sane countries are using their resources to help the poor and most vulnerable, Nigerian government officials used the suffering of the people during the COVID-19 as an opportunity to steal the country blind. Most of the procurement, which happened during the period was done under emergency procurement, thereby bypassing rules to ensure transparency and accountability. The palliatives, which were supposed to reach the poor and vulnerable never got to them. Yet the government continues to punish the people with harsh and inconsiderate policies.

In the face of these clear attacks on the welfare of citizens, CHRICED wholeheartedly supports the total shut down as planned in the general strike, which has been called by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and their Civil Society affiliates. We believe the general strike, if well executed with strategic intent, commitment and sincerity will send a clear message to the government that it needs to take its knee off the neck of Nigerians who can no longer breathe under the strangulating policies. However, beyond reactive measures such as strikes and protests, CHRICED believes there is a need for strategy and clear thinking to mobilize the people to get involved in the governance of their country with the goal of changing the current course of the nation. There is a need to educate the teeming mass of our people to let them know that the power to determine the destiny of this country is in their hands. This is what CHRICED in its own little way has been trying to do. We will be coming forward with more initiatives along these lines shortly. However, it is pertinent to state that these modest civic efforts of CHRICED would not have been possible without the unwavering support of our partners who are committed to safe motherhood, eradication of forced child begging, transparency and accountability in the governance process, as well as promoting quality basic education and citizen participation in our dear country. CHRICED look forward to working with well-meaning individuals and organizations to bring about the new dawn in Nigeria.

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