After listening to the speech delivered late evening on Saturday, January 7, 2012 by Mr. President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, I am more convinced that we are in for more trouble in this country – Nigeria. I am more than convinced that we have elected the wrong set of people to lead this country at this very precarious time in our existence as nation (are we even a nation?)
I set out to review and share my opinions on the recently televised speech read by the President, Commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
Before I go on, I want to quickly state some observations while speech was being read. Mr. President appeared to me like someone who is terrified, scared and desperate to win cheap popularity from the people. I am not fooled by the speech and I want to believe same applies to many Nigerians home and abroad.
Mr. President started with security situation in his speech by saying “A week ago, I had cause to address Nigerians on the security challenges we are facing in parts of the country, which necessitated the declaration of a state of emergency in 15 Local Government Areas in four states of the Federation”. Even the selective State of Emergency declared in the affected areas is questionable. My point is why do we have to do selective state of emergency? Why wouldn’t the whole state be placed under state of emergency? Doesn’t that mean that it’s permissible to wreck havoc in the areas where there is no state of emergency in those states? I might be wrong but that does not appear to me like a wise move on the side of the federal government. My other questions would be even with the state of emergency introduced have we seen changes? Has this stop the spate of the attacks? Has there been any major and meaningful intelligence to help solve these bombings and other attacks permanently?
Mr. President went on to say “since the announcement, there have been mixed reactions to the policy. Let me seize this opportunity to assure all Nigerians that I feel the pain that you all feel. I personally feel pained to see the sharp increase in transport fares and the prices of goods and service”. Why won’t there be mixed reactions? And please I would like to know how you feel the pain and anguish of the people? You don’t buy petrol to run your generator to supply electricity to run your business (does Mr. President even have a business? I am just curious) or home, you don’t have to pay the exorbitant transport fares, and you haven’t been to the market to buy foods at the crazy high prices the masses pay before we can survive. I am sure that we the Nigerian people pay all this so that you can live a good life. That is to tell you that we are the ones subsidizing you! What do we get in return other than more and more untold hardship and injustice against the people? You don’t bite the fingers that feed you. It’s not done!
This is the bit I like most in the whole of the speech. “If I were not here to lead the process of national renewal, if I were in your shoes at this moment, I probably would have reacted in the same manner as some of our compatriots, or hold the same critical views about government. But I need to use this opportunity as your President to address Nigerians on the realities on the ground, and why we chose to act as we did. I know that these are not easy times”. I am happy that Mr. President agrees that we reacted, still reacting and will continue to react based on good principles and injustice he and his so-called faceless and despicable “cabal” are doing to Nigeria. So my fellow compatriots (not GEJ’s compatriots as mentioned above) we must continue to #OccupyNigeria. And yes, Mr. President we know the realities on ground. We know that that we don’t have electricity or portable water supply, we lack good roads and transportation network, good healthcare delivery system is a mirage, we have countless number of unemployed youths and security of lives and properties in Nigeria is bizarre. Plus the corruption in the land is egregious. Before I move on, I want to say yes these are not easy times at all as abject poverty in the land is unimaginable and unbearable sir.
If I heard well Mr. President also said that “let me assure you that as your President, I have no intention to inflict pain on Nigerians” but the contrary is what is obtainable. How do we believe this? A family where the breadwinner earns N18,000.00 struggled to survive during the N65/litre era one can only imagine what the case will be now. Prior to now Ojuelegba to Maryland was N120 but with the recent policy it now cost N250. S/He now has to spend N2,500/week on transport as against N1,200/week with the minimum wage still what it used to be and yet say you can feel this fellow’s pain? I sincerely doubt that. I am still waiting to understand how you intend to achieve what you mean by this: “I am determined to leave behind a better Nigeria, which we all can be proud of. To do so, I must make sure that we have the resources and the means to grow our economy to be resilient, and to sustain improved livelihood for our people”. What kind of resources are we talking about sir? Like taking on more debts and mortgaging the lives of unborn Nigerians? And how would these improve our livelihood?
“To save Nigeria, we must all be prepared to make sacrifices. On the part of Government, we are taking several measures aimed at cutting the size and cost of governance, including on-going and continuous effort to reduce the size of our recurrent expenditure and increase capital spending”. I am tempted to say this is really good but your next statement deflated me when you said “For the year 2012, the basic salaries of all political office holders in the Executive arm of government will be reduced by 25%….. In the meantime, all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) must reduce their overhead expenses”. Mr. President thank you for your magnanimity, I must say Nigerians appreciate your intention but please be informed that we totally reject that (I want to believe I speak the minds of many Nigerians here)! I am of the opinion that your salaries, allowances and other entitlements be cut significantly at least by 45% (not basic salaries alone) and this must be across board for ALL government and public office holders. Let us all make the sacrifices together sir at least the country belong to us all. By the way in what quantum would the MDAs cut their overheads? And what does “barest minimum” mean when you said you will cut the foreign travels of the government officials? It will be good if we can put a figure or rate to everything sir.
“Fellow Nigerians, I know that the removal of the petroleum subsidy imposes an initial burden on our people, especially the rising cost of transportation. Government will be vigilant and act decisively to curb the excesses of those that want to exploit the current situation for selfish gains. I plead for the understanding of all Nigerians. I appeal to our youth not to allow mischief-makers to exploit present circumstances to mislead or incite them to disturb public peace”. Did I hear the president say we are disturbing public peace by demonstrating to register our displeasure with the policies of this administration? Is there public peace when I do not know if I (my mother, wife, grandma or friends) am the next person to be bombed by whoever is responsible for the bombings? Is there public peace when I don’t know maybe I should be changing church or mosque just because I don’t know which worship centre is the next target for attack? I just wonder where this public peace he mentioned resides – perhaps only in Aso Rock. And please how do you intend to curb the excesses of those that might want to exploit the situations for selfish gains? I am curious to know sir.
“Tomorrow, 8th January, I will formally launch a robust mass transit intervention programme to bring down the cost of transportation across the country”. Don’t I just like Mr. President? You increased the PMS Price on January 1, 2012 and intend to “alleviate” the effect 8 days later? That is classic! I think we should clap for our President. Who else does that if not Nigerian President? Let me quickly bring to your notice sir that some people have already lost their jobs in the past week and I am just wondering how this will affect such lives. Please can I also ask if this “robust mass transit intervention” has anything to with the much talked about 1,600 buses? If yes, then I can categorically tell you sir that I have given up on you long time ago (and so also many well meaning Nigerians). Like someone said what you are about to do is like a farmer who wants to do fish farming but he decides to put the fish in the farm even before building the pond. I am sure you will agree with me that this policy is just like putting the cart before the horse.
Fellow Nigerians, what I have come to further understand from Mr. President’s speech is that we have a long battle to fight and so we must not rest till the mission is achieved. My people, I want to reiterate that the protests and demonstrations are not just about #FuelSubsidyRemoval but other issues that affect our dear country and existence as a people such as #PoliticalSubsidy removal, improve standard of living, provision of constant power supply, sincere fight against corruption, provision of basic amenities, establishment of enabling environment for businesses to thrive, efficient and effective transparent governance systems amidst other things.
Lastly, I want to unequivocally say that if we let this government hoodwink us into believing that a reversal or reduction of PMS Price is okay by the people we should know that we are DOOMED. I see a government that is insincere, desperate and scared of what we can do as young Nigerians. This is our CHANCE to take back our country from the claws of the principalities in highest places. Yes we must continue to #OccupyNigeria in a very peaceful manner such that we don’t disturb “public peace” as advised by Mr. President until we get the desired results and I believe that history will be kind to us all as we do this.
“It is better to be defeated on principle than to win on lies” ~ Arthur Calwell
May God bless Nigeria!!!
You can also find me on twitter: @bisiogunwale