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President May Leave Subsidy Intact As NLC Prepares for War

By on December 15, 2011

Contrary to speculation that President Jonathan and his economic team have already removed the subsidy, it appears this may not actually be the case.

During a media briefing in Abuja yesterday, Dr. Iweala, the coordinating Minister of the Economy, stated to journalists that the President had yet to make a final decision on subsidy and is in fact still consulting with various stakeholders in order to reach a conclusion on the decision.

According to the Minister, “The President is consulting extensively, meeting with youth groups, labour, students, religious leaders all over the country. We are involved in those meetings. He has touched base with different segments of the country, but we will give him the respect to make the decision he wants to make.”

However the mere fact that the President omitted any provision for fuel subsidy in the 2012 budget seems to be passing across mixed signals and agitating some of the very stakeholders Mr. President is expected to consult.

The Acting General Secretary of NLC Comrade Owei Lakemfa, issued a statement yesterday that conveyed extreme dissatisfaction with the contents of the 2012 budget.

An excerpt of the statement reads, The budget, which was tagged: Budget of Fiscal Consolidation, Inclusive Growth and Job Creation, is actually an anti-peoples budget designed purely in the service of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) and their local lackeys who dictate to the Nigerian government. It is a disaster waiting to happen.

“In particular, the exclusion of fuel subsidy in the budget is not only tragic, but a declaration of war on the Nigerian people. Thus, the Nigerian people will have no choice but to confront this challenge.

“This further attempt to impoverish workers and the Nigerian poor, is coming at the heels of increased tariff on electricity, the move to massively sack workers in the name of merging parastatals, the attempt to collect more taxes through the return of toll gates, the refusal to adequately fund education, and refusal to pay minimum wage, which is an impeachable offence.

“Despite the country’s security challenges, it is curious that the Jonathan government has allocated a massive lion share of the budget to security. In the first instance, the major cause of the increasing wave of insecurity in Nigeria is lack of education and mass unemployment, which are direct consequences of the general collapse of public infrastructure such as public electricity, roads, education, health etc. The security challenges are further compounded by lack of political will and abysmal ineptitude of security agencies.

“No one should underestimate the general mass poverty, unemployment and discontent that has increased bottled up anger in our polity.  The removal of fuel subsidy will provide the spark for mass protests such that even the increased security vote cannot buy enough arms to contain.

“Since the government of Jonathan has elected to punish the Nigerian people through a budget that is poverty inducing and will cause a lot of hardship, the Nigerian people will have no alternative but to resist.

“We call on all Nigerian workers and people to begin preparations for a general strike and mass protests. The people must be prepared in the next few weeks when the Jonathan administration begins to implement his anti-Nigerian policy. Nigerians should prepare to occupy the streets and public institutions to prevent them from being taken over by anti-patriotic forces.

The onus falls on the Federal Government to take the next step.