President Goodluck Jonathan
Davidson Iriekpen in Lagos and Chuks Okocha in Abuja
The presidency Thursday assured Nigerians that there were no plans to increase the pump price of petrol in the New Year.
Also, the Presidency said members of the opposition political parties who were in the habit of criticising President Goodluck Jonathan were not better should Nigerians vote them into power, describing them as a bunch of dishonest people.
The assurance came against the backdrop of lengthy queues at filling stations nationwide in the wake of the fuel scarcity that has lingered for months.
The fuel queues have worsened due to what many people have suspected to be hoarding by fuel marketers who intended to sell at a higher price should the Federal Government increase the price of petrol next year as it did last January 1.
Last January 1, the Federal Government had imposed a higher petrol price regime on Nigerians in the wake of the deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.
The deregulation exercise had led to hike in petrol price from N65 per litre to N141 per litre, triggering a nationwide protest led by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) as well as their civil society allies, that was suspended after the government reduced the price to N97 per litre.
However, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, told THISDAY in an interview that there was no plan for any increase in fuel price in the new year.
He also listed details of plans to combat unemployment and sustain the steady decline in security challenges in the country, especially in the North.
“I can categorically tell you that there will be no increase in the price of petroleum products. There is no plan by the Federal Government to increase the price of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol). So, those who are hoarding fuel in the anticipation that there would be increase in price should open up their stations and commence sales to the public, because there would be no increase. This, I can assure you,” he said.
Okupe, who gave insight into the improvement in the standard of living of Nigerians, said that there would be a frontal approach in tackling unemployment, adding that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture through a programme termed ‘Young Graduate Employment Scheme’ has generated more than 780,000 jobs.
He also added that the SURE-P interventionist programme would commence the provision of 5,000 jobs each in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) next January.
Okupe further explained that over 50,000 unemployed graduates had registered under another graduate employment scheme.
He said as part of the Federal Government’s decision to tackle unemployment, the Nigeria Agriculture and Rural Development Board (NARDB) has concluded plans to grant loans to farmers at a single digit interest.
On security challenges in the North, Okupe said the rate of bombing in the North had been on the decrease from January to December.
“What this means is that there is containment in addressing security challenges posed by Boko Haram. The security agencies are always ahead of their plot,” he added.
Meanwhile, Okupe, while addressing a press conference in Lagos yesterday, said it was unfortunate that people who should be in jail were the ones criticising the president and telling the government what to do.
He also denied reports credited to President Goodluck Jonathan of having admitted that his administration was slow, saying the criticisms were needless.
Okupe said there was nobody that is better equipped and better to govern the country than Jonathan based on his pedigree as deputy governor, governor, vice-president and finally as president.