The union wants to reap the effects of election in the belief that government would hurriedly release funds.
As the Christmas holiday draws close, it is evident that campaigns and, now strikes, would be in the front burner. We hear oil marketers have served notice of readiness to shut their tank farms, for those who have, and willingness to stop borrowing from the banks to sustain the importation of Premium Motor spirit to sustain steady supply for a government that would not fulfil its financial obligation to them. The irony of this matter is that the regime, in its days of opposition, insisted that subsidy was a monumental fraud, which it would not sustain when voted into power. The reality of power is stronger than hauling political stones from opposition camp. The opposition quickly come to terms with facts different from propaganda, and began to search for excuses, including heaping blames on the predecessor government. Now they know that it takes more than six months to provide electricity. The marketers know, like Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), and Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) that elections remain the best time to get the ears, and even action of politicians. The Independent marketers say government must pay them now or Nigerians would face a petrol-dry Christmas. The government has hurriedly agreed to pay N236 billion of the N348 billion owed them, although the marketers, under the aegis of Major Oil Marketers Association (MOMAN) and Depot and Petroleum (DAPPMA) said their real bill is N800 billion. They will be paid next week through promissory notes, and the balance will be paid in 2019. Now government knows that subsidy was no scam. There may have been sharp practices in the system, and the regime ought to cut them at the root given its avowed fight against corruption. Oil marketers are reaping the first fruits of election.
University dons have fired their shot, one expected to make them partake in the dividend of elections. They have walked away from the class rooms, and insisted that government must put more money into education, pay their earned allowances and settle outstanding funding matters before they return to lecture halls. Their meeting with government representatives have yielded no result. Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, who leads ASUU, has told his members to prepare for a long strike as Minister of Education, Mr. Adamu Adamu laments that the agreement to provide funding to the tune of N 1.3 trillion over a period of Six years from 2009 is no longer feasible. As he reportedly put it, ‘…the country has just recently exited recession not long ago and we are beginning to recover from the consequences of low oil prices, which are happily picking up’. ASUU says government is delaying in implementing the Memorandum of Understanding with it, which both parties reached in 2017 as against the 2009 agreement said to have been made with late President Umaru Yar’Adua. There would no point splitting hairs over who reached the agreement. Government is a continuum which is why Nigerians see the Buhari regime making a political capital of completing rail projects began by the Jonathan government. The union wants to reap the effects of election in the belief that government, not wanting to be found wanting on the heels of elections, would hurriedly release funds. But it would seem the regime sees ASUU as a lesser headache than petroleum marketers. The Union has dug in, and moved to create more embarrassment for the regime, but government seem to have weighed the options, and seen that paying the marketers would avert looming social unrest, the type that saw fuel strikes consuming Lagos , and becoming social parties, where people came to Yaba Park to listen to musicians and social critics, who had been hired for that purpose. This government knows that the opposition has learnt the trick, and could deploy it to full advantage. ASUU may indeed go through a long strike given the apparent readiness of the regime to ignore it. The leaders may have to device other means to twist government’s arm on the matter.
Elections in Lagos, Imo and Ogun present rather interesting scenarios. Lagos has been governed by Tinubu since 1999, personally for seven years, and vicariously for twelve years. He has always decided who governs Lagos. His wife is a Senator, and no one dare raise his hand to be counted for that senatorial zone. I have described him in a previous article as ‘the only cock that crows in Lagos’. Cracks seem to have developed in the wall with the resignation of a members of Governor Ambode’s cabinet. The commissioner insists that his boss was unfairly treated during the party primaries in the state. Jimi Agbaje, candidate of the opposition party, is not new in the turf. His chance to wrest Lagos from the Supreme godfather of Lagos is herculean. It is believed that his attempt that crashed in 2015, in spite of the backing of ‘Federal might’, may be repeated now since the former opposition now has the ‘ federal might’ in its kitty. Agbaje, a former Tinubu ally, says he parted ways politically with the Asiwaju because he did not like Tinubu’s brand of politics. The fact of the matter is that Tinubu has become too entrenched in Lagos. If he did not lose Lagos in 2015, when the Federal government put everything in the political struggle, the new opposition may have to look for new ways of facing the political battle.
Some politicians have tended to play Tinubu in their states, but many of them have largely failed. Power has the tendency to intoxicate, and, as the saying goes, corrupt absolutely. They fight their god fathers on getting the mantle of power. Tinubu virtually decimated those who brought him to power, back in 1999, to assert himself as the new power broker in the state. Now he is the supreme commander of Lagos politics, and has even spread his tentacles beyond the state. The likes of Governor Rochas Okorocha and Ibikunle Amosun, also feel they have exerted the kind of influence in their state to put them in the same pedestal as Tinubu and Saraki, who has also held Kwara state in a rather tight political grip. Rochas has resuscitated his Action Alliance (AA), a party he formed long ago, on which platform he made failed forays into the politics of Imo state. Uche Nwosu, his son-in-law, who he wants to bring as his successor, now flies the Alliance Party’s flag. I understand he wants to make the point that his structure in Imo state is strong enough to get Nwosu into office. There have been insinuations from his camp that national leader of the party, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, allegedly has a hand in the party conspiracy that shoved Uche Nwosu aside from the APC ticket. If Rochas pulls through that desire install his successor, then he would be on his way to being the Tinubu of Imo state. We shall make greater comments on this matter as events unfold. In Ogun state, Governor Amosun has also taken his preferred candidate to another party. A similar scenario also unfolds in Akwa Ibom state where Senator Godswill Akpabio also wants to cease the political structure of the state. We shall watch these matters with keen interest and make further comments as things unfold.