IT WILL be unfair to the growth and development of democracy if citizens and opposition political parties refuse to criticise the policies, plans and programmes of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The president for many years was in opposition. His strident voice in those years were unmistakable. He had men and women who in different news media, were writing and speaking his mind by proxy. His active engagement of governments in power in nearly all areas of governance contributed immensely in keeping our democratic journey on course. He had also taken some political positions that many people disagreed with, but that is allowed, because he is human.
The chicken has now come home to roost. The hunter must be hunted. I am sure that President Tinubu understands the importance and benefits of criticism, protest and strike in an evolving democratic setting like ours. Any form of conspiracy of silence will spell doom for us. The inability of opposition lawmakers to ask pertinent questions in the ongoing ministerial screening is not a good sign. The president should encourage criticism and should view them positively as guardians of democracy.
I believe President Tinubu is a good political strategist. His style of political leadership is to subtly subdue and silence everyone and ensure all look up to him for everything. By the end of his first four years as governor of Lagos State under the Alliance for Democracy (AD) from 1999 to 2003, all the party structures had been made to genuflect before him and the recalcitrant ones were dismantled and utterly destroyed. With his emergence as president, APC will never be the same again. Those who are of the opinion that Northern elements will not allow him space to entrench his style of politics will be shocked.
What has begun to happen in APC at national level is the political algorithm that had hitherto worked wonders for him. When the overhauling of party structure is fully carried out, the humming and buzzing of the party machinery will be through the temporising orifice actuated by the manipulative fingers of the president.
Today, Nigerians are busy trying to grapple with the heavy burden of petrol subsidy removal. People have suddenly forgotten that there are Nigerians who are perpetually leaving in fear of their lives. They have lost loved ones and do not know when the unknown killers will come for them. Since the inauguration of the president on May 29th, nothing seems to have changed for good. The change in the mantle of leadership has yet to reprieve Nigerians from widespread insecurity and increased poverty. Instead, bloodletting is increasingly blighting the mantra of “Renewed Hope”.
In two months over 230 have lost their lives. If we are going to pay N8,000 to the poorest of the poor, how much do we pay to children, widows, widowers and orphans who have been wrecked and completely incapacitated by the mindless killings. I think that the petrol subsidy removal at this time and its attendant noise is a smokescreen to whittle down or probably drown the voice of Nigerians being traumatised by mindless killings. According to the principle of social contract, the number one duty of government is to protect lives and properties of citizens. This government is only bent on protecting the economic interests of the capitalists.
The drama of fuel subsidy removal can only be savoured by people who lack capacity for deep reflection. Government knows the game it is playing. How can the government that claimed it saved one trillion naira from subsidy removal, rushed out to quickly borrow 800 billion. If subsidy payment is our major problems, then its removal will definitely mark an end to our problem. The money government is supposed to save every month from subsidy removal where is it going to? When Tinubu said he will continue with the good works of Buhari, he never lied. The deceit and cluelessness that characterised Buhari’s government has become the signature of Tinubu’s policy thrust.
It is clear that president Bola Ahmed Tinubu has no knowledge of what is needed at this time to rescue Nigeria from the clutches of present economic hardship. Down through the ages, when government lack ideas, they resort to deceit, blackmail and intimidation. A government that came on an unpopular mandate under a controversial declaration should normally struggle to endear itself to the people.
It is very clear that there’s no silver lining in the political horizon. Nigerians can’t be deceived again. The method of making the elites happy while the masses of Nigerians bear the brunt of the hardship is not good. In a season that requires sacrifice, all Nigerians should be ready for it. Members of the National Assembly are going to get brand-new bullet-proof jeeps. Humongous amount of money has been allotted to them from the borrowed money. People in government are not ready to make any sacrifice. They are prepared and ready to fight for everything that accrues to them. They must enjoy their life because they actually worked for it. Sacrifice is for the poor masses.
While delivering a lecture at the University of Benin few years back, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi; then CBN governor, was quoted as saying that a situation whereby 25 per cent of the overhead of the federal government was spent by the National Assembly was unhealthy. We are yet to understand why a whooping sum of 35 billion is going to the National Judicial Council. The severance benefits that went to retired service chiefs defies all logic in a time like this. We know that corruption is at the root of our problem and this government has not demonstrated interest in fighting it.
Subsidy came into place because our refineries are not working and a president who want to restore hope didn’t see the need to look at the issue of the idle refineries, not until NLC decided to lead Nigerians in a nationwide protest in August 2nd. We are not building new refineries, just refurbishment. A serious and sincere government should be able to put two refineries to work before the end of the year. I think that the style of this government is to first settle the high and the mighty. If a man convinced his family that there’s need for them to tighten their belt because of hardship, but every evening he is found at the beer parlour drinking, he will not be believed again.
No matter how angry Nigerians may be as a result of the prevailing hardship, sincerity will imbue Nigerians with the courage to face the hard days ahead. The president’s position on subsidy payment before now is a subject of public knowledge. In his article, published by PM News on January 11, 2012 in the wake of the removal of subsidy on petrol by the Goodluck Jonathan administration which sparked spontaneous resistance across the country, the president bared his mind. For him to claim in his address of 31st July that he has always been against subsidy payment, is an issue of integrity. If he held that position then due to the information available to him, no problem; and as the president with a broader view of the issue he now sees reason to make a shift in his earlier position, we can understand. Local refining will definitely reduce pump price of petroleum products and will make the products easily available. Any solution that does encapsulate the ideas of local refining is fake. Sincerity is the engine of hope. Hope cannot be renewed in insincerity, deceit and corruption.