16th January, 2012
More details are emerging about how the Goodluck Jonathan Presidency misled international figures and experts into endorsing its now controversial removal of subsidy on petrol which initially saw the price per liter rising to N141 with the resulting labour strike and street protests.
One of such international figures is the Special Adviser to UN secretary General on MDG, Professor Jeffery Sachs, an American professor of economics, who visited President Jonathan after the removal of fuel subsidy and was reported to have praised the decision as a good move.
Sachs then commended the subsidy removal policy as “a bold and correct policy”. He described the government intervention programmes in rural development in the past 24 months as innovative.
But Sachs’ position has since shifted following the outrage expressed about his comments on micro blogging site Twitter.
In reaction to continuing criticisms on Sunday, he wrote on @ JeffDSachs that “I do my homework very carefully in general, for 30 years, but not on this one. A mistake I regret…I see better that I don’t know the specific details on the subsidy to be accurate. I’m listening and learning. Most important thing I could say is government must build trust with civil society based on anti-corruption, fairness, accountability.”
On whether he was not told about the level of corruption in Nigeria before endorsing removal of subsidy, Sachs said “They didn’t have to tell me. I’m very heartened to see civil society rising against corruption. Yes, I walked out of a meeting and into a sound bite! Not good. The situation is complex and deep reforms are needed…I’m sorry that I’ve been misinterpreted. It’s hard to be heard accurately in this noisy world!”
He assured those bombarding him with questions that he understood what they are going through in Nigeria. “I’ve noticed how the politicians barely care about the universities. Sad and costly for Nigeria!” He said.
The Professor of Economics said he had no idea about the subsidy removal until it happened, as he was “not in regular contact on macro policy.”
—Reported by Tunde Akpeji