Reuben Abati


Fuel Subsidy And The God Of Jonathan – Reuben Abati

“It is a known fact that in January 2012 when President Jonathan’s administration announced the deregulation of the downstream sector, otherwise known as fuel subsidy removal, Imagine the same people who opposed the government and organized protests at Ojota, Lagos, Abuja, Minna, Ilorin, and in other parts of Nigeria, even in London, are the same people who have now since returned to the same original arguments about the non-sustainability of the subsidy regime.

When they wanted power, they whipped up sentiments against President Jonathan. At Ojota in Lagos, they carried coffins, they portrayed Jonathan in a derogatory manner, they danced, wore specially made T-shirts, they served designer jollof rice. They called it “Occupy Nigeria.” The Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress were involved and they had the backing of the opposition. There were casualties. The government stood its ground.

Then Minister of the Economy and Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, now WTO Director-General threatened to resign if the government reversed itself. The CBN Governor at the time, HRM Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was one of the more outspoken defenders of the simple proposition that fuel subsidy was unsustainable. The Jonathan administration had proposed a 120% increase in the price of petrol. Hell was let loose. In Ojota, speeches were made by civil society leaders: Pastor Tunde Bakare, Dr. Tunji Braithwaite and a host of others.

Many believed that the 2012 “Occupy Nigeria” protest was a major cause of the Jonathan administration’s early loss of goodwill. It was all politics though. But ironically, the same people who turned the matter into partisan politics, upon assumption of power in 2015, started by increasing fuel price from N87 per litre to N145, later to N195 and they met little or no resistance indicating that the crisis of 2012 was indeed stage-managed. Not too long ago, a man I respect told me that President Tinubu did not sponsor the protests of 2012.

But nobody has denied an article in circulation titled “Removal of Oil Subsidy: President Jonathan breaks social contract with the people – by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu” (January 11, 2012.)

Please has he now heeded his own advice of 2012? He was sworn in as President on May 29,
and he promptly slammed fuel subsidy removal on the people. Nobody knows when and how, if any, consultation was carried out. The conversation about subsidy removal has been mainly elitist. Nobody has tried to speak to the people, or give them hope,
the same hope that is said to be the original mission of the Tinubu administration.

Anderson, Brady and Bullock (1978), E. Young and L. Quinn (2002) and Augustine Eneanya (2020) in their analysis of the public policy making process agree that no matter how valid a public policy
may be, it is important to secure multi-stakeholder adoption of the agenda to generate a sense of ownership and easy implementation. By dictating to the people on the first day in office, without even any attempt at communication which is central to policy-making,
the Tinubu administration obviously misses the theory and the strategy. Trying to intimidate organized labour, or relying on the politics of divide and rule also misses the point.
Social problems are complex, they cannot be resolved with arrogance or hypocrisy as has been well-exposed.

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Peter Obi and Atedo Peterside have reportedly asked President Tinubu to apologize to President Jonathan.

Of what use would the apology be in the circumstance? Buhari has thrown the Gordian knot into Tinubu’s laps. He should untie it. The irony is that his own hands are tied. He won’t be able to blame Buhari for the problems of Nigeria as Buhari did to his own predecessor.
Act One, Scene One: we will watch as the movie unfolds.”

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By osibanews

Eliel Otote A is an Actor and Filmmaker, with a bias for journalism. He was a freelance feature writer with the Nigerian Observer in the 80's in Benin City, he also presented programmes on both radio and television. Eliel is the Editor and Publisher of OSIBAnews Network Magazine, of which this blog is an affiliate.

One thought on “Fuel Subsidy And The God of Jonathan”
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