11th January, 2012
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) national leader and former governor of Lagos State, has accused the Jonathan presidency of betraying its social contract with the people by suddenly removing fuel subsidy.
He, however, provided a window out of the crisis: if subsidy must be removed at all, it must never be at one fell swoop. Rather it must be on calibrated phrases, on which the promised gains are measured and confirmed before moving to the next phase of removal.
“Government must modify the sudden and complete removal of the subsidy. Either we restore the subsidy or use the funds for other social purposes,” Asiwaju Tinubu counselled in a special release he captioned, ‘Removal of oil subsidy – President Jonathan breaks social contract with the people’ and which he personally signed.
“If we are to use the funds for other programmes, these programmes shall be placed on parallel track with the subsidy. As more of these programmes are ready to go on line, then the subsidy can be lifted in phases” he continued. “In this way, the public is assured government will not lower its total expenditure on their behalf, thus maintaining the spirit central to the social contract.”
But the former governor cautioned the federal government against economic policies that tend to balance the books at the detriment of the people’s welfare.
“As there is progressive politics, there is progressive economics. As there is elitist politics, there is elitist economics,” Asiwaju Tinubu explained. “It all depends on what and who in society government would rather favour. The Jonathan tax,” he declared, “represents a new standard in elitism.”
But the ACN national leader cautioned the president against being captive to economic orthodoxy and its local purveyors, who always look at the Nigerian economy as nothing until when tied to the apron strings of the conservative orthodoxy.
“Because he is slave to wrong-headed economics,” Asiwaju Tinubu said of President Goodluck Jonathan, “the people will become enslaved to greater misery. This crisis will bear his name and will be his legacy. The people now pay a steep tax for voting him into office. The removal of the subsidy is the ‘Jonathan tax’,” he insisted. “The situation shows that ideas count more than personalities. People may occupy office but how that person performs depends on the ideas that occupy his mind.”
Insisting that the subsidy removal was ill-timed, he said there must be some conditions precedent before such a step could be taken.
“First government needs to clean up and throw away the salad of corruption in the NNPC [Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation]. Then, proceed to lay the foundation for a mass transit system in the railways and road network with long term bonds and,” he added, “fully develop the energy sector towards revitalising Nigeria’s economy and easing the burden any subsidy removal may have on the people.”
The former governor however counselled protesters to go about the protests in a peaceful manner, and to eschew all forms of violence.