Saturday, January 28, 2012

FSR and Government's Resort to Blackmail (I)

Daily Trust
18 January 2012

By Mohammed Haruna

With the strike jointly called for by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) over fuel subsidy removal (FSR) at least suspended for now, it seems Government has won the day against the mass demonstration for the restoration of the subsidy, assuming, that is, that it existed in the first place.

When the two unions issued a joint statement saying the strike will go on until the old price of 65 Naira per litre is restored, they said "We shall neither surrender nor retreat." They may not have surrendered completely but they have certainly retreated.

Even then it should be clearly obvious to all that while Government seems to have won the battle for FSR, it has lost the argument for same. It has done so in spite of the brave efforts of the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.


Last Sunday's Thisday's editorial, "False Alarm by Niger Delta Elders," captured this fact very well. Commenting on the claim by the president of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Mr. Miabiye Kuromiema in company of the rather voluble Alhaji Asari Dokubo of the Niger Delta Volunteer Force, that some nameless person were planning to assassinate the president along with the National Security Adviser, General Andrew Owoye Azazi, the army chief, Lt-Gen. Azubike Ihejirika and Senate President, Mr. David Mark, the newspaper rightly dismissed the claim as crying wolf where none existed.

It also dismissed the subsequent claim by the South-South Elders led by the Ijaw leader and former Minister of Information, Chief Edwin Clarke, that some vested interests were trying to use the protest over FSR to remove the president from office.


Except for Malam Nasir el-Rufa'i, a former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, and Pastor Tunde Bakare, the convener of the Save Nigeria Group and the vice-presidential candidate of the CPC in the last elections, whose names the publication barely stopped short of calling, it did not directly identify the group that is allegedly after the president.

Even then it hardly left anyone in doubt that the group was the usual suspect of so-called core-Northerners whose apparent crime was that they had insisted that the ruling party obey the provisions of power rotation among the country's six geo-political zones written in cold print in its own charter and to which the president himself was a signatory.

"For the first time in Nigeria's 51 years," Mr. Kuromiema, et al said, "they are not in power and the current president is not their anointed candidate." These villains, they said in a thinly disguised attempt at pitching Igbos against Northerners and Muslims against Christians, "are the ones breeding and sponsoring Boko Harm, (the) devilish group (that) is currently killing innocent Igbos and Christian minorities in the North."

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