January 11th, 2012
NewsRescue- Growing anarchy in Nigeria secondary to the sudden and abrupt government increase in fuel prices and the resulting deadly riots and closing down of the Nigerian work sector, with estimated losses of over 300 Billion Naira per day are fueling calls for the impeachment of Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan.
Following a directive by the new IMF boss, Christine Lagarde, Nigeria along with several African nations including Cameroon, Chad, Ghana and Guinea, on January 1st 2012 suddenly removed the so-called fuel subsidy, leading to a spike in fuel costs from N65 per liter to N141 per liter.
In Nigeria, an oil producer, pump prices are now at about the cost purchased in the US, though lower than costs in much of Europe. In other oil producing Nations, Venezuela, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia fuel prices are about $0.12, $0.78 and $0.91 respectively. Late president Musa Yaradua is noted to have reduced the price of fuel from N75 per liter to the N65 per liter price.
Nigerians who had traveled for the holidays were left stranded in their localities, unable to afford the cost to transport their-selves and their families back to their places of work. Analysts are of the opinion that on the IMF boss, Lagarde’s advice, the president selected this strategic calendar period, with the calculation that Nigerians would have spent their reserves in end of year celebrations and be unable to afford to sustain protests for long.
Related: NewsRescue- IMF Forces African Nations to Remove Fuel Subsidies
The Trade and Labor Unions and Civil societies, NLC (Nigerian Labor Congress) and TUC (Traders Union Congress) ordered strikes across the federation, in all industries including aviation, markets and all government parastatals, leading to a paralysis of the federation.
Ultimatum for reversal or Impeachment
Thousands of protesters marched for a second day Tuesday, calling for the immediate, complete reversal of the subsidy removal and the impeachment of President Goodluck Jonathan. This joins calls by Adamu Ciroma, leader of the Northern Political Leaders Forum, NPLF and by the Nigerian Bar Association who on January 6th also called for the impeachment of the President. According to the statement by the Nigerian Bar Association-
Where and if government persists on this suicidal course of action, the options open to the people are limited but clear.
They include: “ A call on the National Assembly to officially and formally declare its position on the removal of fuel subsidy.
“If as we believe the National Assembly sides with the people, then it must in the same transaction call on the President to rescind or reverse its actions on subsidy removal.
“ Should their call not be heeded by the President, then National Assembly should seriously consider impeachment proceedings; the President having lost the confidence of Nigerians to continue to rule or lead them.
“If the legislators fail to take the desired actions then Nigerians will commence the constitutional process to recall them.
“The Nigerian Bar Association believes in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Rule of Law. Where its elected officials believe that government and governance have become private property run at the master’s whims and caprices, then the time has come for these officials to be reminded that that the people are in charge. -The Nation
In addition,- The secretary of Katsina State chapter of Nigerian Bar Association, Barrister Mohammed Kasim has urged the National Assembly to commence impeachment proceedings on President Jonathan should he decline to rescind the recent decision on fuel subsidy. -Leadership
The Nigerian Human Rights Writers Association(HURIWA), also called for commencement of impeachment of the Nigerian president. This call was made on the bases of the unconstitutionality of the Christopher Kolade-led Subsidy Re-investment Trust Fund, which according t0 the statement of the executives of the association, endorsed by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, the constitution of the Christopher Kolade-led Subsidy Re-investment Trust Fund’s management board amounts to the illegal usurpation of the constitutional powers of the National Assembly to pass appropriation laws.
Ascension to Power
Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan who just won re-election in April 2011 for a 4 year tenure is famous for his ascension to the position as a serial benefactor of misfortune. He was the deputy governor of Bayelsa state in the oil-producing Niger-Delta region of Nigeria, till his superior was sacked and he ascended to the position of governor. Similarly he was the vice president of Nigeria until the unfortunate demise of late President Musa Yaradua and he again inherited the top governance position. His notable spinal first acts as president of Nigeria, within his first month in office, raised alarm, most remarkably in July 2010, when he banned the Nigerian soccer team for losing a soccer championship, and this invited a FIFA promise to ban Nigeria for 5 years if he failed to reverse his 2 year dissolution and ban decision.
Several Nigerians question his ability to democratically lead the nation, surprised at his untimely subsidy removal at a time when Nigeria is battling frustrating unrest by a marginal, face-less terrorist group, attacking government installations and Christians residing in the North of the Nation. Nigerians ponder the logic and motive for the removal of the subsidy and creation of more chaos at a time when there is already abundant national turmoil.
Related: NewsRescue- Nigeria Targeted For Destruction: Gordon Duff, US
According to the government, an estimated 8 billion USD will be available with the subsidy removal for infrastructure projects. Nigeria’s finance Minister, Mrs Ngozi Iweala, popularly mocked,- Ngozi Wahala (trouble in local dialect), an ex staff of the World Bank, defended the move, explaining on AIT TV, Tuesday, that “people were not being fair to her…”, that the money will build infrastructure. However the hardship caused on Nigeria’s poorest by this sudden removal, for such a paltry sum in context of Nigeria’s huge income and capital lost by government corruption, including top executives monumental salaries according to citizens interviewed, just does not make sense. Many proposed: Tackle the corruption, reduce top official’s salaries and the Nation would have triple the savings to utilize on infrastructure, rather than increasing hardship on the most poor. Nigerian public officials have some of the highest salary plus allowance packages in the world. Senate salaries and allowances are estimated to total over 8 billion USD. The Senate speakers monthly salary and allowance is reportedly over 500,000 USD.
Lawyer Femi Falana on Channels TV Wednesday described with frustration as he read through official government
documents, the increase from government detailed fuel supply budget of 240 Billion Naira for the year to 1.4 Trillion due to areas, government tolerated fraud at all levels of fuel importation to sale by the NNPC and government. Asking why the people should be made to suffer for these government gross misappropriations which the president had dared to resign as not addressable due to a so called ‘cartel’ or ‘cabal’ at the helm.
Nigeria enters its third day of protests, Wednesday, and all local flights and several international flights along with most business operations continue to remain suspended. Meanwhile Unions accuse the Nigerian presidency of using armed thugs to attack and disrupt the peaceful protests.
Seun Anikulapo-Kuti who has been leading protests, describes the removal of the subsidy as state treason, he said on CNN:
Africa to represent Africans, a glorious dream. But that is what it has been for all this while, just a dream. Over time, as years have rolled into decades, Africans have become more and more subjugated to the decisions and policies that our former colonial masters propose, and with the aid of visionless leaders, they tell us that it’s the best thing for the people.
Corruption has been the main problem of most African countries for over half a century; it is shameful and disrespectful to the spirit of our forefathers’ struggles for a free Africa.
It hasn’t been too long that we recovered from the pains and delusions of an IMF-imposed structural adjustment program (SAP) in the country, which ran for more than a decade and put us in a worse situation than we were in before it was implemented.
Related: NewsRescue- How The IMF-World Bank and Structural Adjustment Program(SAP) Destroyed Africa
General Babangida, the then head of state, deregulated all sectors and removed government subsidies from almost every sector of production in line with IMF and World Bank directives towards a more open capitalist economy. The result: inflation shot up. We recovered from the pain and delusions but the poverty still remains with us.
Related: NewsRescue- Summary of Nigeria IMF-SAP debt progression
This subsidy removal is the latest in a long line of foreign concepts and ideologies that are being forced down the people’s throats. What the Nigerian government has failed to realize is that we cannot continue to model our economies on foreign blueprints.
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