‘Tinubu’s call for removal of fuel subsidy a misadventure’



THE recent insistence by Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu that President Muhamadu Buhari must remove fuel subsidy come January 2016 is quite unfortunate in many respects, it is another misadventure of National Leader of APC and his party.

It smacks of lack of sense of history, betrayal of the common people and utter disservice to the memory of Late Professor Bala Usman the 10th anniversary of whose death Senator Tinubu chose to make such flagrant insensitive postulation.

To begin with, there is a lot of question mark on the choice of a Tinubu for such assignment as doing justice to the legacies of Comrade Bala Usman. One need not be too grounded in the political history of Nigeria to recognize that there was a clear-cut difference between the revolutionary, socialist ideas of Bala Usman and Tinubu’s fair weather eclectic, pseudo-capitalist principles which unavoidably pander to the needs of neo-liberalism.

Bala Usman was a teacher of the youth, students, peasants and the working class. He stood for fundamental social transformation in favour of the downtrodden as against the greed and graft, which form the bedrock of Nigeria’s neocolonial ruling class ideology. Throughout the 80s and until he passed on, Bala Usman was a vehement anti-fuel subsidy removal agitator and organizer. He was very clear in his enunciation that Nigeria, as an oil producing country could not sell petroleum products to Nigerians at the so-called global market price. His political economic analyses to substantiate this, delivered at various lectures, conferences and seminars, spanning decades are there in the archives for anyone who cares to see.

It is therefore rather preposterous to make such anti-people proclamation of undying love for fuel subsidy on Bala Usman’s anniversary. If at all Senator Tinubu never had encounter with Bala Usman or his mountains of intellectual production, thoroughness demands that when asked to speak on such occasion he should have really done his homework, and as questions. After all, there is no harm is asking when a man finds himself in a new terrain where the road signs are strange to him.

But then it would appear that Senator Tinubu was on another of several missions to hoodwink the masses, using a platform that he has no moral claim to but only politically found expedient in his mission to fulfill the by now too familiar stock-in-trade of his party. Doublespeak, backstabbing and swindling of the masses by way of answering “Progressive” and flying the “Change” kite while being at the beck and call of international capital and local compador bourgeoisie is the name of the new strange political game in town, and Jagaba ‘n Borgu seems not to be prepared to be outdone by any contender, being the de facto leader of the change motley.

Not content with chaperoning the mass of the people into the One-Chance change bus, Senator Bola Tinubu persistently goads on the government of President Muhamadu Buhari to continue to shortchange the working class and the rest of the masses by any means and at all times. The leader of APC, whose then Action Congress Of Nigeria (ACN) took the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s government to the cleaners and openly supported protest against fuel subsidy removal in January 2012, should realize that Nigerians are watching and already asking questions.

What his party promised was not retrenchment, downward review of minimum wage, tightening of belt, half-hearted and selective anti-corruption crusade and a weak currency. Change meant in the people’s perspective security, job opportunities, living wages and general economic prosperity. What Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu proposed on the platform of one of the foremost leaders of the Talakawas is a recipe for economic epilepsy and political eruptions.

The arguments put forward to back such dastardly assault on the interest of the working people are as puerile as they are malicious. Although nothing better could have come from an oil magnate and exploiter of labour, it would have been expected that more convincing demagoguery was wrought. The arguments are pedestrian, lack depth and too routine to convince anyone in this digital age.

For instance, it sounds rather lame an argument to say money saved from subsidy will be used for infrastructural development, or to present the appearance that subsidy is an unusual phenomenon. The fact remains that governments all over the world subsidise one thing or the other. In Nigeria it is only fuel government claims to subsidise.
Of course, in the real sense, what it translates to and why it is being opposed is that subsidy removal is a euphemism for increased fuel price in the Nigerian political economy. So what Senator Tinubu tacitly proposed is that the poor masses must be made to pay more for fuel from their already lean pockets in order to fatten the pockets of capitalists like himself and his friends. That is the simple meaning of good business climate to them.

Sincerely, the government of President Buhari needs to be told to stop running from pillar to post and leaving the country afloat like a rudderless boat in the middle of a stormy sea. The solution to the present socio-economic quagmire is already there in black and white. The government needs to swallow its pride and revisit the 2014 National Conference report, in which most of the issues that confront him today (economic, political and even security) are clearly analyzed and solutions proffered.

The more the government shies away from this the more things will continue to fall apart. The government needs to diversify the economy, restructure the country, devolve power and operate proper fiscal federalism, while domesticating and making justiciable all international conventions of human and people’s rights to which Nigeria is signatory. That is the only way the government can make real and permanent change.

On the part of the people, the real nationalists, progressives, democrats and humanists need to close ranks irrespective of political party and other difference, to forge a common platform against the neoliberal assault being championed by the likes of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu. A people united can never be defeated.

• Ajulo, lawyer and civil rights activist,
is based in Abuja

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  • Phil-Ritchie O’neil

    Its understandable that Senator Bola is changing position considering his closeness to the govt @ the centre.Now he sees things differently.Its quite different when you are at the corridor/mainstream of govt. I 100% agreed with him;stopping subsidy will go a long way curbing the so-called corruption in that sector.

    • kalu9909

      What is the different between then, when Jonathan’s government proposed the removal of subsidy and people like Tinubu kicked against it and called people out on the streets to protest the proposal, and now that his government is in power? What did he see now that he did not see then? Dose it mean that the benefit of removing oil subsidy now was not applicable then? It is wrong to ride on a ladder power and later pushed off the ladder when you are already at the top. The position of Bola Tinubu then was colour with political tunes. He new then that there was good reason to remove oil subsidy, but because he was in the opposition, he saw it as an opportunity to make noise with it. But now that he is at the corridor of power, he and his co travelers feels the masses do not matter any more. He is no longer on the side of the masses. That is Nigerian politics for you.

      • okwuteise

        Its all about DECIET .

  • Onyewuchi Nze

    I had expected the writer to supply us with economic arguments that show that the continuation of subsidy will be in the interest of the masses, or to show us the weakness in Tinubu’s arguments and assertions.. But instead what he did was to say that it is wrong to call for removal of oil subsidy at a venue where Bala Mohammed is remembered.
    I am not a fan of Tinubu, but he and anybody must be supported when they are right. The fuel subsidy is medium of conveniently channelling government funds into private pocket. With the plummeting of the oil price, from the high point of about $120 per barrel to less than $38, there does not exist anymore any need for a subsidy at all, if such a need ever existed in our oil affairs.
    If proper investigation is carried out, it could be that the oil marketers are making more than a fair amount of profit before subsidy. The National Assembly carry out an investigation to see how much we are being rip-off in the subsidy affair

  • emmanuel kalu

    This is the question that should be asked of anyone that supports the continued subsidy of fuel. what benefits does it bring to the people? They need to lay out just three benefits that the people enjoy due to subsidy? In the mean time, we would list the issue or problem that subsidy does. it is capital and job flight, meaning jobs are created in other country, money is being sent to other country. it is draining our forex. it is enriching just a few, it is draining our budget. nobody really pays the official rate, it is destroying a potential benefit of refining oil. it has not saved people money, it breeds corruption. It is just pure waste of money.

  • honesty NO1

    This scandalous subsidy must go. It only benefits the CABALS ! ! Water will eventually finds its own level when the subsidy is scrapped ! ! ! !

  • abuasmau

    It makes more sense to experience fuel shortage without government subsidy than the scandalous reality of acute shortage with a government subsidy.