The Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe has said that the unilateral removal of fuel price subsidy without a back-up strategy was seriously deepening the hardship in the country.
Achebe who spoke at the 22nd Onitsha Ofala festival also decried the spate of insecurity in South-East geopolitical zone.
He called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s led federal government to suggest an alternative to amilorating the hardship Nigerians currently passing through across the country as a result of the fuel subsidy removal.
“The outcome of the Presidential election which has been upheld by the Presidential Elections Petitions Tribunal (PEPT), has been further challenged at the Supreme Court of Nigeria. Furthermore, the Civil Society Organizations have announced an extended civil disobedience agenda to occupy Nigeria in protest against the non-transperency of the PEPT, in which would have been averted if INEC had convincingly conducted transperant elections with the massive resources at its disposal.
“The uncertainty has been further complicated by the continuing security concerns in most parts of the country.
“Following eight years of the previous administration, the early economic measures by the new administration, including the unilateral removal of the fuel price subsidy without a backup strategy, are seriously deepening the hardship in the country, particularly at the lower rungs of the society. In effect, the country is at a dangerous crossroads politically, economically, socially and security-wise.
“In South East, we have the aftermath of the last general elections; the complex and protracted security situation involving kidnappers, political thugs, state and non-state actors, etc, all masquerading as unknown gunmen, as well as the crippling economic strangulation of the southeast arising from the insecurity and ill-advised sit-at-home protest that has cost Ndi-Igbo incalculable losses in finance, and tragically properties and lives.
“Our community (Onitsha), is not immune to the above challenges. Our people are also hurting badly. Therefore, despite the fact that the Ofala remains a celebration, we have made a conscious decision to prune down the scope of the festival for this year to more restrained levels in line with the prevailing mood in the country.
“We hope that the situation will improve significantly to enable us to resume the festival at the normal levels in the future.
The governor of Anambra State Prof Chukwuma Soludo in his speech at the event commended Igwe Achebe for his community and youths development programed through his educational and skill empowerments.
He said that Onitsha drives other development within other communities around the city. “The touts will go in Onitsha, we shall continue to pursue hoodlums and miscreants out of Onitsha. We shall make sure that Onitsha city is being sanitized as commercial hub centre of Anambra and Nigeria at large” he said.
The Ofala festival was sponsored by Global Communication and Hero beer.