22nd February, 2012
President Goodluck Jonathan’s announcement on Monday at the 58th National Executive Meeting of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, that the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme promised by his administration after increasing the price of petrol in the first week of January 2012 is no longer possible is a disturbing development.
During the debate on the removal of subsidy on petroleum products, the Finance Minister, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had harped on the need for Nigerians to trust the leaders and as usual, most citizens had taken the statement as a mere rhetoric. Now they have been proven right. Our leaders keep making promises which Nigerians have continued to believe would be unfulfilled and so have they been.
President Jonathan hinged his statement on the fact that the Subsidy Reinvestment Programme, SURE, was hurriedly conceptualised in January on the heels of the nationwide protests against the removal of fuel subsidy.
We wonder why a scheme that should touch the lives of ordinary Nigerians would be programmed to fail, just like this one has.
Telling Nigerians that fuel subsidy palliatives are no longer possible barely a week after inaugurating a board for the implementation of SURE headed by former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Dr. Christopher Kolade, seems to point to the insincerity of the Jonathan administration about the promises made to the protesting Nigerians in January.
Not a few Nigerians have condemned this volte-face by a Federal Government that had appeared willing to do something to ameliorate the situation after seeing how angry Nigerians had become.
We believe the anger of Nigerians is justified considering what hardship the removal of subsidy had visited on several households since the prices of goods and services have risen, sometimes a hundredfold and the people have been groaning and expecting the palliative measures to ease their pain.
Prominent Nigerians, groups and political parties have slammed the Federal Government over what most have called policy inconsistency and outright wickedness. Others have said they were not surprised as they had never expected anything positive from government.
Like the Structural Adjustment Programme, SAP, of the Gen. Ibrahim Babangida administration and other International Monetary Fund policies adopted by the Nigerian government over the years, citizens of this country have had to bear the brunt of these wrong moves. We need to evolve home-grown policies that would impact positively the lives of Nigerians. Government is serious business, which ought to be taken seriously.
We believe President Jonathan means well but the way the administration is going about it paints the president black. The president needs to sit down and take another look at where he is going wrong.
Governance is about trust on both sides of the divide. If the government wants the trust of the governed, then it must earn that trust. Promising one thing and doing another breaches that trust.
Nigerians are angry and it is only by getting it right that the citizens can trust the government again.