We continue this week on the way and manner some Nigerians have since stood logic on its head and reversed their earlier stand on fuel subsidy while Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ) was president, as against now that Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) is president. For the records, many socio-economic palliatives, such as Sure-P, You-win, Labour Mass Transit, etc., were introduced by GEJ after deregulation. None at all by the PMB government. Note, the issue is not merely about increase. No. It is about breach of governance pact by the PMB government that had, during campaigns, vowed never to deregulate. As APC Senator Shehu Sani succinctly put it after deregulation, “it amounts to capitulation and outright deception for those of us, who led millions of people, out in the street, a few years ago, against pump price increase and against subsidy removal to now give economic excuses to justify same. The moral flag we raised in the past is now the scale of justice to measure the degree of our conscience in the present.”
Some reactions when gej removed fuel subsidy in 2012.
VP Yemi Osibanjo: In 2012, he fiercely opposed deregulation. Today, however, as VP preaches on roof tops and media houses about the dangerous “cost implication of subsidy removal.”
Campaign for Democracy (CD): “By suspending the strike, Labour has dealt the hopes and aspirations of Nigerians for affordable fuel, and the movement for accountable and corruption, free governance, a huge blow”. CD, your present silence is loud and deafening. Why?
Wole Soyinka: “That patient beast of burden called the Nigerian Citizen is over loaded; its knees are buckled; only its spirit refuses to be crushed. No wonder the gasp that emerges from its constricted throat is that cry of historic desperation: Enough is enough.”
Kongi, Nigerians are waiting for your grandiloquent and highfalutin grammar to describe PMB’s new onslaught against the same “patient beast of burden” of a Nigerian citizen.
Prof. Tam David-West – Punch, April 14, 2015: “I want to assure you that by the time he (Buhari) takes over, petrol will be dispensed at N40 per litre.”
Prof. West still maintains his stand. Arguing that locally refined products cannot be sold at international price, he wonders why the common man should pay for depletion of foreign exchange: “No matter the reason, N145 per litre is not justified… right now, we are interested more in businessmen making profit while they (government) turned their back to common man being exploited or suffering.” Kudos, Prof.
Oby Ezekwesili: Ezekwesili, former Education Minister under President Olusegun Obasanjo (OBJ), who kicked against deregulation is today singing a new lyric. To her, 2016 is a better year to deregulate, than 2012. Her reason? It is all about “trust.” Good God!
Babatunde Fashola, December 6, 2014: “Now, we should be enjoying cheap fuel if the price of oil has dropped globally. And even as we import the product, a major component has reduced in price. While this has reduced, the pump price of fuel in the country still remains the same. Something is wrong.
“If the price increases in the country, when the price of oil goes up globally, then it should also reduce when the price of oil drops. I understand that I am not an economist; they (Federal Government) are the economist. But I have some logic and common sense to ask critical questions. For instance, if one buys flour at N10 per kilogramme, and the bread is sold at N1 per loaf, if the price of flour drops, the price of the bread should also change.”
Is Fashola now afraid to confront PMB? Has he renounced his “logic and common sense” because it is now PMB and not GEJ?
Lai Mohammed in 2012, as apc spokesperson: “We remain on the side of the people. We feel their pulse and their pains. We believe the removal of fuel subsidy is a great misadventure, and have conveyed our stand on the issue in a letter to the president, though we never got a response.
“President Jonathan did not tell Nigerians during his electioneering that his administration would only be able to deliver the dividends of democracy by removing fuel subsidy. Therefore, it amounts to arm-twisting the people to say that funds saved from fuel subsidy removal would be used to construct roads, build hospitals and schools and other expectations from the government.
“The government should have been honest enough to say it is seeking ways to raise money for governance and Nigerians would have been glad enough to let it know how to raise money without resorting to a phantom fuel subsidy removal.
“Our message to the president is that if he feels he cannot explore other areas to raise money for development, like cutting down on government excesses, then he should say so clearly and leave the stage for those who can ensure development with minimal pains. Our party, the ACN, will provide good governance without removing fuel subsidy, and we are ready to do so today if the Jonathan government cannot.”
Honourable Minister, your party is now in power. So, why remove subsidy? Explain.
Ozekhome, Vanguard, May 13, 2016: Abuja: “A renowned human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Mr. Mike Ozekhome, has lambasted President Muhmmadu Buhari and the Federal Government of APC for unilaterally jerking up the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, popularly known as petrol to an unprecedented N145 from N86.50, saying it was unacceptable.
Speaking exclusively with Vanguard in Abuja, Ozekhome said the decision of government was insensate, unsympathetic and anti-people. He said that the APC was clueless and had reneged on all the promises it made to Nigerians during the electioneering campaign last year.
Ozekhome said that the increment had already impoverished the people, asking if it was an offence voting for the party in the last year general election.
The lawyer, who was apparently angry with the situation reminded the APC government that most of its members were opposed to the price hike by the former government of President of Goodluck Jonathan in 2012, wondering why they were favourably disposed to it. Calling for the immediate restoration of the subsidy, Ozekhome argued that Nigerians were already groaning under a grotesque 500 per cent increase in prices of food items and other consumables while the minimum wage remains static at N18, 000.”
This position, as expressed last week, is essentially the same I had canvassed on November 30, 2011, when GEJ mulled subsidy removal. Deregulation, yes, but after certain conditions precedent, which are not still there.
Ayo Opadokun, leader, nadeco – 2012: “It is a sad story that the organised labour, for reasons best known to it, threw in the towel when other groups are still willing to give their best as far as strike is concerned.”
The fiery lawyer and pro-democracy campaigner was angry at the early capitulation of the protesters.
But, egbon, I haven’t heard you speak out over PMB’s N145 per litre!
Femi Falana: As part of #Occupy Nigeria protests, he fiercely condemned subsidy removal in 2012. He has equally condemned the recent increase. But, we still await his dexterous street protest.
Ayo Sogunro: Author Sogunro is not only disappointed about the subsidy removal, he is actually very angry, because he had opposed it in 2012. In his new piece, “my dear President Buhari, shame on you,” he fumes: “As I have suspected for a while, the unsolicited trekking I undertook from Yaba to Ojota to protest the 2012 subsidy removal is now just an intensive workout session. President Buhari and his team of economic wanksters have taken a leaf from Jonathan and his team of wanksters. Worse, the new economists in town have out done Jonathan’s ambitions of N141 per litre; they have pushed the price up to N145 per litre – in spite of Fashola’s touted logic on falling crude oil prices.”
Dino Melaye: The flamboyant Kogi State senator had led #Occupy Nigerian protests to condemn subsidy removal. He still does today, giving the president seven days to reverse it. But, will he make good his threat to execute “the mother of all protests”? We are waiting.
Tolu Ogunlesi: Journalist and Special Assistant to PMB, Ogunlesi in 2012, fiercely opposed subsidy removal. He had even likened GEJ to Boko Haram, asking rhetorically: “What’s the difference between Boko Haram and GEJ? Boko Haram, at least, claims responsibility. GEJ gets PPPRA to do so on his behalf.” His lyric today is different. He now supports deregulation like Ezekwesili, because it was more about ‘trust’ than ‘economics.’ Ha! Haba!!
JAF: Like the SNG, the Joint Action Front, JAF, umbrella body for pro-labour and civil society groups in the country, in 2012 rejected the N97 fuel price and described it as imposition, which fell short of N65 being demanded by Nigerians. JAF, I have not seen you on the streets!
Ikhide Ikheloa: Lawyer and unrepentant Abacha critic, Ikhide had in 2012, led mass protests in Washington DC, to the World Bank. Laments him of the new onslaught: “after making me dance in protest in 2012 before the World Bank and IMF in opposition, APC scraps petrol subsidy.”
Readers vox populi
Where are David-West, Fr. Mbaka?
May God bless and encourage you as you keep on doing the good work. Please, do you know where Prof David-West is hiding? We need to find him and force him to give the N40 per litre blueprint to Mr. President. Why is Fr. Mbaka no longer talking? Or is this the kind of change he wished for Nigerians? It is a pity that our “earn-as-you-act” activists are all silent now in the face of this callous and punitive act from the Buhari led government. Iloh, 08065296641.
I disagree with you
I have always respected your views on most topical issues, but I disagree completely with you on the subsidy removal. In fact, total deregulation will get us out of our current energy crisis. As an insider in the downstream sector, I know that government should play no role (except regulatory role) in the industry. We lost billions to criminals masquerading as oil importers in the subsidy regime. Emenike, 08113333801.
Kudos to you
God will continue to guide you for your fearlessness and honesty. Chuks, 08086201438.
You’re a statesman, mentor
Sir, great, you are and greater will be the truth in you on matters concerning the poor masses, which make you a giant over many, a true statesman and indeed a mentor. Ugwuadu, 08094707266.
This govt wicked
This your article in The Sun is powerful. People are not telling the truth in this country. That’s why we are suffering. This government is wicked. 07033012122.
Leave masses to sink, swim
Dear respected SAN, I read your “HARD FACTS” about the PMS price. I was buying N200 per litre in Kaduna city. Heavens did not fall. Let’s move forward. Leave the masses alone to sink or swim. For over 20 years, no solution to fuel scarcity and pricing. It’s time to change our method and thinking. God bless. Olaleye, 08024779673.
Thank you for the article
Learned SAN, thank you for such a wonderful hard talk. The likes of you are few. Abraham, 09091299219.
I support you demand
Sir, I am in total support of your request for PMB to reverse the fuel increase. Today, you have added me as one of your supporters. Obiora, 08033941066.