Welcome to the Heartbreak
Sequel to the astronomical increase in the price of oil on the first day of this year, the reaction of Nigerians to this cruel policy of GEJ-led administration has been nothing short of commendation. The harmony and camaraderie shown by Nigerians is epic as it is the first time when Nigerians from all strata of the society unified in voice devoid of the usual cacophony with the tag occupy Nigeria.
OccupyNigeria was imperative at the moment and as it spread like wild fire within the spate of 2week throughout the world where Nigerians inhabit shows how crucial the pump price of PMS is o the living of every Nigerian. Protest took place in notable places like Washington, New York, London, Accra to mention few. While in Nigeria, protest was virtually in all states of the federation with Lagos protest at Gani Fawehinmi Park in Ojota being the convergence point since 9th January when the protest started.
With human right activists, artists, civil and labour organisations and many Nigerians marching out en masse to show their grievance to the inconsiderate policy of GEJ and ill-advised members of cabinet. Their message was loud and clear for the world to see, even the cable news channels could but give it a significant coverage. On twitter, the trending words were #Subsidy #OccupyNigeria, #GEJ, #141. Every television channels in Nigeria was discussing the issue of subsidy removal.
People demonstrated religiously and for the very first time people asked questions about the subsidy like they have never done before. Although, the protests have been as peaceful as possible for protests of this popularity. Despite this, we cannot shy away of the side effect along the way, people shot and killed by the police. Deaths and injuries resulting from stampedes all this cannot be blamed on anything other than oil subsidy removal.
Questions like: is there subsidy? Who benefits from subsidy removal? What are the alternatives to subsidy removal? Whether or not the manner of the removal is constitutional? Why must it be removed now? Regardless of what your take is on subsidy questions and except for those that profit directly from oil, I think the consensus of opinion is that the removal of subsidy now is like a coup and it is unacceptable from the government at this time by 118%. Forget the theory of economics, there is no place in the world this is rational in a country that more than 65% of her populace live under N250 per day and the minimum wage is N18,000 per month/N818 per day [equivalent to $144 per month/$6.50c per day], it appears like putting the camel through the needles eye in reality but the government is not seeing it from that common perspective. We keep hearing the need for economic transformation and prudence without the immediate welfare of Nigerians.
Let’s individualise the topic a bit: You want to help me to a better life on inflated promises that have become so monotonous to my ears over the years, and I say no thanks I will take my chances until there are something feasible you can show to prove your genius. Actions they say speak louder than voice.
“How can you thank a man for giving you what’s already yours? How then can you thank him for giving you only part of what is yours?” ― Malcolm X
When labour decides to take the front of this struggle, like many other Nigerians, I was concerned: as labour really won a landslide against the Government before? NO, partly because the cause has never been as well supported as this. In essence, labour have not successfully negotiated the pump price back to status quo at any price hike.
Last week, the senate president called a meeting that was attended by Federal Government representatives, The NLC/TUC, Civil Organisations, The Governors’ forum. The labour representative was hosted by the Senate president in his lodge – what a good gesture! The initial meeting was said to have ended in a deadlock on Saturday. But my take is why should we even have a negotiation in the first place? The crescendo is loud enough for even the deaf not to hear what the grievance of the people is revert back to N65 now no more no less. The meeting was held again today and it has been reported that labour has agreed to N97 per litre – about 51% increase.
Honestly I’m not surprised when I learnt that the compromise between the federal government and the Labour representatives is N97 per a litre of petrol. It only confirms the ususal perfidy of the labour organization. Responsiveness and effectiveness of the cause, should at first bring the price back to N65 at first [even if it will go back up the next day]. This is no victory at all.
It is unfortunate that open fraud are committed behind closed doors. John F. Kennedy said: “A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people”.
I refuse to give the labour any benefit of doubt on this. They have caused their usual heart break. I wonder if Nigerians will continue in this state of learned helplessness. I just wish Nigerians can see through what we’ve started without been unfazed by the betrayal of their labour representatives.
“A nation which has forgotten the quality of courage which in the past has been brought to public life is not as likely to insist upon or regard that quality in its chosen leaders today – and in fact we have forgotten. “
Still from John Fitzgerald Kenedy.
Welcome to the heartbreak!