As more condemnations continue to trail the Federal Government’s removal of the subsidy on fuel, the first Vice President of Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Blessing Emonena Ukiri, has said he is convinced that President Goodluck Jonathan has not taken charge of Aso Rock, Abuja.
Speaking with this reporter in an exclusive interview this morning at his country home in Owhe, Isoko North local government area of Delta state, Ukiri queried President Jonathan for taking such action that could be detrimental to his government. “Why now, when Nigeria is facing a lot of security challenges: Boko Haram, economy challenges? Why must you introduce something that can possibly pull down your government? President Goodluck Jonathan has not really taken charge of Aso Rock. He has not gone round all the rooms and shrines there.”
According to Mr. Ukiri, who is also the chairman of the NBA Human Rights Committee, the removal of the subsidy was wrong and untimely. “The time the terrorists group has taken grip of the nation, almost making the security look like Boy Scouts, and you are bringing the so called removal of fuel subsidy coinciding with the security challenges. It is not really timely, and Nigerians should be wise. The subsidy removal and Boko Haram are deliberate. You have removed subsidy, will you account for the gains, you are saying there will be gain. This has happened before just that Nigerians don’t keep memories, when Obasanjo in his eight years said if we remove toll gates and fuel subsidy we will have good roads. I travelled from Port Harcourt to my village in Isoko, there is no government presence on the horrible roads.”
The visibly worried Port-Harcourt based legal practitioner said he was shock and confused about President Jonathan’s government. “He is not a politician, not a manipulator or among those do or die politicians, he is a fine man with human heart but when we are talking about national issues bordering on Nigerians, I think there is limit Goodluck can carry Jonathan. President Goodluck Jonathan has surrounded himself with people he knows nothing about and he doesn’t take useful advice from people, if not the advice given him by NBA would have be useful to him.”
Ukiri cautioned President Jonathan to, as a matter of importance, tred with all carefulness on the current subsidy removal, noting, “Patriotism is lost when people are hungry and a hungry man is always an angry man. Government is making more Nigerians hungry which I don’t support in anyway.”
In the same vein another legal practitioner based in Kaduna, Chief Mike Edegware blasted the President Jonathan’s government for not putting in place necessary palliative measure to cushion the effect before hurriedly embarking on the removal of fuel subsidy.
Chief Edegware, who is the President of Delta community in Kaduna, stressed that the government was acting on the script of the IMF and the World Bank. He said he had made the point many times that adequate arrangement should be put in place before the subsidy removal.
While accusing the Minister for Finance, Prof. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of being behind the removal of the fuel subsidy, Chieg Edegware, who has over 30 years of legal experience, asserted that “Prof. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is giving us the IMF pills to swallow and I am disappointed that President Jonathan has to swallow the IMF pills without looking at the landscape. Before me let the deregulation take place but what are the people going to get from it? Deregulation should not be fuel increase. Inflation has gone haywire and I don’t think is good for the economy.”
Chief Edegware insisted that in the absence of a national conference, Nigeria was a failing nation. He described that the government was weak and impotent and focused on attaining certain goals that are not necessarily people-oriented.
“The issue at hand is much more serious than we think,” he said. “We have the excess crude account and government cannot develop the country. Nigeria is the only country where several universities are established but without plans for their graduates when they leave school. Government has not thought out all the implications of all these.”
Chief Edgware underlined, however, that protests cannot, asking, what has Nigerians gained from past protests?