The tension and anxiety that built up in Benin City, the Edo State capital yesterday (Monday) following protests over escalating prices of petrol have blown away.
The city returned to calm Tuesday, with children returning to school after staying away yesterday, for fear of a backlash. Pockets of businesses that shut down yesterday also reopened Tuesday and people went about their businesses without let or hindrance.
This followed the display of maturity on the part of the protesters and the intervention and goodwill of the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, in engaging with the protest leaders.
The price of petrol had gone on the upward spiral in Benin as in other parts of the country over the past eight weeks.
In Benin City however, prices escalated to as high as N550 per litre , as against the officially approved price of N165 per litre.
This prompted the prices of other goods and services to rise, resulting in the protests in which teeming masses of people marched around the city carrying leaves and placards.
The leaders of the protests made their grievances known to government officials. They claimed that the fuel price hikes were fraudulent, contrived and unbearable. They further asked the state government to intercede with the Federal Government to ease the burdens of the people.
Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has disclosed plans to set up a committee to monitor the distribution and pricing of petrol, in order to ensure that shylock marketers do not take advantage of Edo citizens.
In a statement Monday, Special Adviser to the Edo State Governor on Media Projects , Mr Crusoe Osagie, said the governor would in the next 24 hours, schedule a meeting with all stakeholders in the product distribution value chain to deliberate on the issues responsible for the distribution hurdles and price hike and find lasting solutions to the matter.
“The government acknowledges the plight of the Edo people who have had to endure grueling experiences accessing petroleum products, as well as the exorbitant prices the product is sold for in the state in the last few days.
Osagie added, “The government thanks all Edo people for being law-abiding and also appreciates the protesters for being peaceful, even as we work with all concerned to ease the situation and build a progressive state together.”
In a telephone discussion with the Nigerian Observer on Tuesday, Comrade Osunbor Kelly Omokaro, President Faculty of Peace Organisation, which led a peaceful protest to Edo State Government House on Monday, said the protest which was supposed to continue Tuesday, had been put on hold for the next 24 hours to give the state government ample time to execute its promise of setting up a committee to tackle the petrol price hike in Edo State.
He added, “Meanwhile, we want to call on the good people of Edo State to go about their normal and lawful businesses.