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Wednesday, 21 December 2011


With all due respect to the office and person of President Goodluck Jonathan, I do not intend to ridicule him as a liar over his strident effort to convince Nigerians on why his administration plans to remove fuel subsidy from January 2012.

From a very close observation at a meeting that select leaders of the organized civil society groups held last weekend with President Jonathan in which I attended, I came out with the impression that President Jonathan means well for Nigeria and Nigerians but he seems to be under some formidable pressure from certain external forces from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to pull out whatever government now pays as subsidy on petroleum products.

These scientific liars that have invaded Nigeria have also drawn up spurious blueprint on the programs and so-called palliatives that the subsidy withdrawal funds would be used to achieve in the shortest possible time and they have cleverly titled the document as “subsidy Reinvestment and empowerment program” or “SURE Programme”.

The proponents of the subsidy withdrawal who have populated the seat of power were however clever by half because they disingenuously padded up the subsidy withdrawal reinvestment blueprint with the same projects that for the last ten years have always appeared as part of the annual budgets approved by the National Assembly but which never get executed by the executive arm of government.

The subsidy reinvestment blueprint [SURE] is also a beautiful piece of lies intended to hoodwink Nigerians to see fuel subsidy as one big ‘demon’ that has frustrated development and the building of basic social amenities for the poor Nigerians by the government over the years.

From the briefing sessions that some of us in the civil society received directly inside the presidential villa by the Minister of Finance Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala, Vice President Namadi Sambo and the President himself, I came out with the impression that the proponents of this subsidy withdrawal have surely run out of ideas and have chosen to use fallacies beautifully presented in the form of statistics to deceive Nigerians.

The subsidy reinvestment programme is so full of projects that traditionally ought to be done as capital projects of some Federal Ministries and if indeed as we were told by President Jonathan that government is tired of borrowing fund to service capital projects and that only funds to be saved from the subsidy withdrawal can enable the Federal government to deliver these deliverables and projects, then why wont the Federal government collapse all the ministries into a unified office so that Nigerians can now know that their hard earned funds are not funneled into servicing the hundreds –of- thousands of lazy bureaucrats in these good-for-nothing Federal ministries?

For instance, if Government insists that subsidy fund ought to be withdrawn before the health sector can offer effective social safety nets to twelve million pregnant women, then what is the essence of running the ministry of health?

This cheap lie by the proponent of the fuel subsidy withdrawal that part of the fund would be used to assist twelve million pregnant women to have safe delivery is a soft propaganda meant to win the support of the women even when government does not know that the impression that this proposal is conveying to rational thinkers is an admission that the Federal ministry of Health and the State ministries of health have recorded abysmal failure and can only function when subsidy money is withdrawn and used to provide services to Nigerians in the health sector.

Another populist lie told by the proponents of subsidy withdrawal is that the second Niger Bridge  for which the then President Obasanjo told South Eastern voters prior to the 2003 election that the federal government had awarded, can only be achieved with the subsidy money.

Even the Abuja-Abaji-Lokoja dual carriage way that was said to have been awarded by the then Yar’adua/Jonathan Presidency has found its way into the subsidy reinvestment and empowerment programme that is now being paraded by the Federal government as the only solution to Nigeria’s developmental challenge.

Why has the Federal government failed to find alternative sources of revenue rather than implement this draconian and punitive withdrawal of subsidy on petroleum products that will adversely affect the survival of millions of seriously impoverished citizenry?

Why is government not thinking of waging an-all—out war on corruption to recover the over four hundred Billion United States Dollars of public funds looted by known officials that served successive administrations in Nigeria so that the proceeds can be used to reinvest in the critical areas of the economy?

Why has government failed to plug all the loopholes that have frustrated the efficient implementation of the fuel subsidy scheme for poor Nigerians in order to stop the so-called criminal mafia from benefiting through illegal smuggling of these subsidized petroleum products to the neighboring countries?

Why is the Federal government not thinking of taxing the rich Nigerians more and ensure transparent utilization of the proceeds of these taxations rather than over burden the poorest Nigerians by removing the subsidy on fuel which will automatically lead to increased poverty and high cost of living?

Why is the government not thinking of looking towards the area of maximizing benefits from Nigeria’s maritime industry as alternative source of revenue generation?

Why is the government offering importation waivers to the rich to bring in all manners of products that can even be locally produced if the right environment is provided?

I told President Jonathan to his face at the recent meeting that the indiscriminate award of import waivers to the rich elite is undermining Nigerian’s local industry but President Jonathan denied ever engaging in indiscriminate award of waivers. But twenty four hours after our encounter with President Jonathan, This day Newspaper ran an editorial to show how bad the award of waivers is.      

On Monday December 12th 2011, This day wrote in its editorial thus; “Between January and October this year… the federal government granted import waivers amounting to about N150 billion to some companies to import all manner of edibles, including palm oil and rice….”

The Federal government must fight corruption, reorganize internal security mechanism to check out flow of subsidized fuel, arrest the members of the so-called fuel cartel that are standing between poor Nigerians and the intended benefits of the fuel subsidy.

What I see from this campaign of government officials to withdraw fuel subsidy is like a group of greedy/selfish politicians who managed to enter a ‘mansion’ whereby milk and honey are flowing freely but have locked out millions of poor Nigerians outside the ‘mansion’ to undergo intense period of economic hardship even while some of these government officials are looking out from the well -secured windows to talk down to hungry Nigerians outside the ‘mansion’ to be patient and resilient.

This attitude is selfish and irrational and may precipitate social revolt by the impoverished masses that will surely pull down the ‘mansion’ that is flowing with milk and honey but that have been captured by the few political elite and their affiliates in the corrupt business World in Nigeria.

*          Emmanuel Onwubiko heads HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION of Nigeria and can be reached on;               


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