10th January, 2012
As president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo spent 300 billion per year on the fuel subsidy. Under the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, it shot up to N1.3 trillion in the last one year alone. Can someone please explain to me how it got so high in four years and what exactly they were subsidising with the extra one trillion naira?
When the Obasanjo administration quit in 2007, the country was no longer in debt and the $30 billion foreign debt that Obasanjo met, when he came to power in 1999, was fully paid off. Today, under Jonathan’s administration, the country is back in debt to the tune of $41 billion (both foreign and domestic) and we are still borrowing. Can someone please tell me what the loans were used for and whether we will ever be able to pay them off? When the Obasanjo administration left, our foreign reserves were $80 billion, though when he came into office in 1999, we only had $1.5 billion.
Today, our foreign reserves have dropped from $80 billion in 2007 to $33 billion. Can someone please tell me where all the money went? When Obasanjo left power in 2007, $23 billion was left in the Excess Crude Account, after he built it up from nothing in 1999. Today, we do not have one dollar left in that account because the money has been squandered and the account scrapped. Can someone explain to me who spent that money and precisely what it was spent on? When Obasanjo was in power, fuel subsidy was not removed because it would have caused too much pain to the Nigerian people and because there was no safety net in place to reduce that pain. President Jonathan, however, does not have such inhibitions. Just seven days after we suffered the horrendous trauma of the Christmas day bombings and probably as a New Year’s Greek gift to the Nigerian people, our President finally removed the oil subsidy. He did this knowing full well that it will lead to untold suffering and terrible hardship for the next few years for the Nigerian people, most of whom still live below the poverty line. Can someone please tell me why Jonathan wants Nigerians to cry?
Yesterday, he not only said that he would “crush Boko Haram”, but also declared a state of emergency in a few local government areas in some northern states. Can someone please tell me why our President could not do this six months ago when some of us first advocated it and thereby save many lives? Why did it take him so long to find the guts to confront Boko Haram and to lead the fight against the organisation with ruthless zeal, strenght, courage and total faith in God? Why has he done so little when it comes to this matter and why has he done it so late? Does he not know that a king is meant to lead his people into battle and if necessary die for them? He has been unable to handle and contain Boko Haram and now he has removed the fuel subsidy, which is something that is expressly against the wishes and interest of the overwhelming majority of the Nigerian people.
Can someone please tell me precisely what has happened to our President and what has got into his head? What on earth makes him tick? He appears to have become enslaved to the dictates of the World Bank, the IMF and the Bretton Woods institutions. At the expense of the Nigerian people, he has become the darling of the leaders of the western world, who seek to impoverish Nigeria through the auspices of a fully globalised new world order and who seek to bring our people to their knees. We have lost our enviable position of leadership in Africa, we have lost our voice on the world stage and we are the butt of cruel jokes and dire prophecies of imminent disintegration all over the world. Worse still, our government is weak. It not only lacks direction, it is also insensitive and callous. The only thing that it appears to be good at is attempting to silence, intimidate and crush all legitimate voices of opposition in the land. This new policy of murderous and brutal repression was eloquently reflected by the cold-blooded murder of a young man in Ilorin by the name of Mr. Muyideen Mustapha whilst he was exercisng his God-given, constitutional and democratic right to demonstrate and protest against the removal of the fuel subsidy.
This young man had nothing left to give the world or fight with except for his dissenting voice. Yet, the government took even that away from him and silenced him forever. Little did they know that by doing so, they have turned this brave young soul into a modern-day martyr and his slaying is now the rallying point and battle cry of the entire opposition movement. What no one told the supporters of Jonathan was that when innocent blood is spilt for a worthy and noble cause, it changes everything; altering the tempo and temperature of the struggle, moving the finger of God and stirring the Hosts of Heaven. God forbid that this young man should die in vain and his noble cause, for which he gave his precious life, is one that those of us that he left behind will continue to pursue and fight to the bitter end. I assure you that unlike numerous other state-sponsored killings and atrocities in the atrocious history of our nation, the consequences of this particular one shall reverberate throughout the world and may well act as a catalyst for the beginning of our own peculiar version of the Arab spring.
Whichever way it goes, I have absolutely no doubt that the removal of the fuel subsidy on New Year’s day is the final straw: Jonathan, the King Rehoboam of our time, has hardened his heart unto destruction, just like Pharaoh once did. And he has fallen into the trap that has been set for him by God and by his enemies. May the Lord save Nigeria from this inexplicable and unpleasant mess and may the Nigerian people themselves wake up from their slumber to take their destiny into their own hands. The smell of sectarian violence, regional and ethnic conflict, insecurity, untold suffering, rampant poverty and economic hardship is in the air. Nigerians are divided as never before and our country is slowly crumbling and dying before our very eyes. Who will save Nigeria? Who will stand up and say enough is enough? Who will pull us back from the brink? Who can we count on to take the bull by the horn and to do the right thing? Where is our deliverer and from whence will our Jehu come? When will our David, with the heart of Cyrus, arise? There must be a change. My God, let there be a change.
•Fani-Kayode, a former Aviation Minister, wrote this piece for TheNEWS magazine.