The Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari had a turn around to implement a law he had opposed in the past, in fact, a situation he claimed he didn’t know existed.
In 2012 while answering questions from journalists, Buhari claimed that removing subsidy was a tactic employed by the then ruling party, Peoples Democratic Party, to siphon the monies belonging to Nigerians.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu had on Wednesday announced the removal of subsidy on petrol, fixing the new pump price at N145 per litre from N86.50k.
The previous administration led by Goodluck Jonathan attempted to remove subsidy but hit bricks as members of the opposition now the ruling party, including President Buhari, El-Rufai, Dino Melaye, Opeyemi Bamidele, Professor Tam David-West and many others opposed the decision, accusing the then President of planning to siphon the proceeds realized.
Buhari’s statement in 2012 “‘Nigerians are being deceived on the issue of fuel subsidy, The federal government takes out fuel for refining, only to come back and talk about removing the subsidy. That is nonsense and an attempt by a clique with the PDP led the federal government to siphon the proceeds to be realized from the removal of oil subsidy”.
Also, the then Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Legislative Budget and Research, Opeyemi Bamidele, openly opposed the removal of fuel subsidy, adding if APC government removed subsidy, it would send a wrong signal that the party was out to deceive Nigerians in order to get their votes and had failed its electoral promises.
Bamidele said: “The truth and reality of the situation is that the outgoing PDP administration has, through the 2015 budget, removed oil subsidy and it must be made to accept responsibility for it rather than for the incoming APC administration to bask in the euphoria of having won an election without realising the booby trap into which they and the Nigerian people are walking into,” he said.
“To me, this is definitely a booby trap for the incoming administration. Those who were suggesting within the APC that its incoming administration might withdraw fuel subsidy must be educated that they would be sending Nigerians a wrong signal capable of creating the impression that the APC either deceived Nigerians to get their votes or had reneged on its electoral promise as a progressive party.
“For the record and for posterity purposes, I am opposed to this sudden removal of fuel subsidy and I implore Nigerian patriots to be aware.”
Professor Tam David-West, the Petroleum Minister during the era of General Muhammadu Buhari, and Mines, Power and Steel in the General Ibrahim Babangida government, claimed that fuel subsidy was a fraud.
He said: “There is no oil subsidy in Nigeria. It is a lie and fraud. After the regime of General Buhari, I challenged government after government, from General Ibrahim Babangida and Chief Ernest Shonekan to General Olusegun Obasanjo and President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, to appear on national television with me to justify their subsidy.
“There is no oil subsidy. Oil subsidy in Nigeria is fiction, it doesn’t exist and it is a fraud. During Buhari’s time, we had three refineries.”
Surprisingly, to many Nigerians, Buhari administration has turned around to do exactly what they opposed, making many Nigerians to nickname them as hypocrites.
Among the vexed official of the former administration is the former President’s aide Reno Omokri who took to his twitter to expressed disappointment on the turned of event.
His post: “Ironically the same people who flailed Goodluck Jonathan for removing subsidy in January 2012 are the ones hailing Buhari for removing it today.
“First, you denounced Jonathan for attempting to remove subsidy, then you deny that it exist, finally you removed what you say doesn’t exist. President Buhari, do you now know what it means?”
The decision has not only vexed many Nigerians but members of the ruling party who believed it would add suffering to the Nigerian people are ready to take a step further to express their grievances by organizing mass protest against their boss.
A senator representing Kogi West, Dino Melaye has threatened to mobilize against Buhari if the decision is not reversed within 7 days.
He advised the national leader of APC, Chief John Odiegie-Oyegun to advise Buhari to reverse the increase or face the consequence as the decision is the opposite of what the party promised Nigerians.
According to a post on his Facebook wall, he said “My sincere advise is for the National Chairman of our party to suggest that the federal government immediately reverse the announced increase in the pump price of PMS. If after 7 days from Monday there is no reversal, I will mobilize Nigerians from all walks of life for the mother of all protest. This is not what we promised Nigerians. The time is not right and the negative effect will be unbearable. A word is enough for the wise.
Similarly, a lawmaker representing Kaduna Central senatorial district has taken the same position he took in 2012 that hiking fuel price will add to the suffering of the masses.
He said: “My position remains unchanged, crystal clear and unwavering; I stand opposed to the removal of petroleum subsidy and I STAND opposed to increase in pump price of petroleum products,” he said.
“It will do nothing other than add to the suffering and further impoverish the masses of our people.
“It amounts to capitulation and outright deception for those of us who led millions of people, out in the street, 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.”
Buhari removed fuel subsidy as many ghost marketers get paid without actually importing product to the country.
A human right lawyer, Femi Falana wondered why Kachikwu could remove subsidy twice after informing Nigerians that the federal government ha saved $1bn and another $1bn on fuel importation after scrapping subsidy.
He advised Buhari to revsere the increase which, according to him, is provocative. “At this stage President Buhari ought to prevent neo-liberal ideologues from hijacking the administration for the purpose of punishing the Nigerian people for the looting of the treasury and mismanagement of the national economy.
“Contrary to the position of the parasitic ruling class that prices of goods and services be fixed by market forces, the Federal Government has a legal obligation to protect the people from exploitation.
‘‘For instance, the virtual collapse of electricity supply has forced many corporate bodies and individuals to invest heavily in generators and diesel throughout the country.’’
The national leader of the APC, Ahmed Bola Tinubu took the side of the President, even though he acknowledged that the removal of subsidy would cause more pains to Nigerians.
“To Mr. President, I say congratulation for having the courage to remove the subsidy,” he said.
“President Buhari has, with this decision, put an abrupt and just end to this assault against our economy and political system. He has made a courageous and prudent decision. It is time to end the fuel subsidy and to begin to subsidise the true needs of the people.”
The President, as alleged, is fighting corruption and many Nigerians wondered why he didn’t arrest the marketers who are said to be taking advantage of the government system instead of punishing the innocent Nigerians for the sin of the few.
Since the new administration assumed office, things have gone from good to bad, millions have been lost in the capital market, Nigerians experienced the highest fuel queue in the history, fuel pump price hiked to 150 even as the government announced official price of N86, thousands of youths lost their jobs while many companies are folding up on a daily basis.
The messiah is yet to figure out on how to improve the economy as many investors have all moved out to neighbouring countries due to uncertainty.
A lot of turn around is taking place in a government that promised to better the lives of Nigerians, pay N5000 monthly to jobless youths and create millions of employments.
Is the Nigerian President fantastically confused since he is now executing the ideas he had publicly opposed? Despite the attack and blame game by the current administration, it seems many of its ideas are ideas from the previous administration.
How do you judge a man who stopped 20 million people from enjoying subsidy because few are diverting it instead of getting rid of the few?