The presidency alleged yesterday that organised labour thwarted plans by disgruntled opposition elements to cause chaos and anarchy in the country with the suspended strike action.
Specifically, it noted that since the labour unions “toed the path of sense and sensibility last week, seeing reason with the imperatives of fuel price adjustment, and opening a further window of dialogue on the service based electricity tariff, some groups of Nigerians have been dolorous, disgruntled, and disconsolate”.
Special adviser on media and publicity to the president, Femi Adesina, noted in a statement that the plot perfected by this group of Nigerians was to “use the strike by the labour unions as smokescreen to unleash anarchy on the land, fomenting mayhem and civil disobedience”.
Adesina said since the plan “blew up in their faces”, they had been “in severe pains since then”, which explains why they had been launching “series of tirades against organised labour”.
The presidency’s statement noted: “For some interest groups, their intention was to use the umbrella of the strike to further their whimsical and pie-in-the-sky dream of a revolution in the country. It went bust in their faces.
“For some others, Bitter-Enders, who have remained entrenched in pre-2015 and 2019 elections mode, it was opportunity to avenge the 2012 Occupy Nigeria protests, which they believe largely devalued the government of the day, and led to its eventual ouster in 2015.
“The strike that was to have come up last week, they wanted to use as opportunity for a pound of flesh, which they calculated would weaken the government so much, and influence the 2023 elections. For them, it was all about hanker for power, its trappings and appurtenances.
“They have since then been calling organised labour all sorts of names, claiming they deceived Nigerians. The times in which we live-with severe security, economic and social challenges-call for all hands to be on deck, and goodwill and support for government, as it strives to put the nation on an even keel.
“We commend organised labour for putting the country first. Those sponsoring and encouraging discord and anarchy, either for selfish ends, or as revenge for perceived injuries, are enemies of the country. Nigerians are urged to beware of them, as the Muhammadu Buhari’s government is only interested in engendering better quality of life for the citizenry. Nothing more”.
Accordingly, the presidency said President Buhari will not cave in to threats and undue pressure to take decisions.
It said it was responding to “the recurring threats to the corporate existence of the country, with factions giving specific timelines for the President to do one thing or another or else, in their language, “the nation will break up.”
Another statement by the senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, noted: “This is to warn that such unpatriotic outbursts are both unhelpful and unwarranted as this government will not succumb to threats and take any decision out of pressure at a time when the nation’s full attention is needed to deal with the security challenges facing it at a time of the Covid-19 health crisis.
“Repeat: this administration will not take any decision against the interests of 200 million Nigerians, who are the President’s first responsibility under the constitution, out of fear or threats especially in this hour of health crisis.
“The President as an elected leader under this constitution will continue to work with patriotic Nigerians, through and in line with the Parliamentary processes to finding solutions to structural and other impediments to the growth and wellbeing of the nation and its people”.
You Short-changed Nigerians, APC Carpets PDP
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) also carpeted the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), insisting that the party short-changed Nigerians through its fuel subsidy regime when it held sway as the nation’s ruling party.
Maintaining that the opposition had no moral standing to criticise President Muhammadu Buhari, the APC said as of 2019, three states in the South South under the PDP received the highest allocation but have nothing to show.
It listed the three states to include Delta, Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa.
In a statement by its deputy national publicity secretary, Mr Yekini Nabena, APC further knocked the PDP spokesman, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan for failing to do a proper analysis of the deregulation scheme in Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.
It said, “It is baffling that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has to be told it does not have any moral authority to caution or query the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
“Apart from the fact that the subsidy regime and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) have been so transparent under the Buhari led administration unlike under the previous PDP administrations when the same NNPC was accountable to no one to the extent that it owed the government up to the sum of N704 billion for gross violations of the subsidy scheme.”
The governing party added that between 2006 and 2013, PDP administrations spent over N5.42 trillion on subsidy, which was 15.57 per cent higher than the 2014 national budget of N4.69 trillion.
It continued: “It was also under the PDP government that the number of fuel importers rose from five in 2006 to 10 in 2007, 19 in 2008 and spiked up to 140 in 2011. This was one of the biggest causes of corruption because many firms only existed on paper and collected subsidies on fuel that never existed.
“To make matters worse, 60 million barrels of oil was stolen under the watch of PDP controlled NNPC between 2009 and 2012. The NNPC during the PDP years also failed to remit $20 billion in oil revenues owed to the nation, which was confirmed by PwC and Deloitte investigative reports. The PDP has no genuine reason to cry wolf or display moral authority over subsidy under the Buhari administration”.
APC further noted that “the PDP Spokesman in naively attacking the president claimed the increase of fuel pump price and President Buhari’s attempt to justify the increase of fuel price in Nigeria by comparing it to the N168 per litre cost in Saudi Arabia was a morbid joke”.
It stated: “He further displayed his lack of understanding when he compared the minimum wage of Saudi Arabia and Egypt to buttress his mundane points.
“He, however, he forgot that Saudi Arabia pumps 12 million barrels of crude oil a day as against Nigeria’s 1.8 million. Saudi Arabia has a population of 35 million people while Nigeria has a population of over 200 million people, Saudi Arabia has 15 per cent tax to GDP while Nigeria has 7.5 per cent tax to GDP, Saudi Arabia has $750 billion in their foreign reserves while Nigeria has only $36 billion. Mr Kola Ologbondiyan also failed the simple arithmetic in calculating the cost and standard of living in both countries.
“In 2019 according to the Bureau of Statistics, the 36 states of the federation received the sum of N2.53 trillion as Federal Allocation.
“Of the 15 states under the control of the PDP, Delta State was the biggest recipient of federal allocation with a total sum of N214.4 billion.
“Akwa Ibom occupies the second spot with a total sum of N169.79 billion gross allocations within the period. Rivers came third on the list with a gross allocation of N154.5 billion and Bayelsa came 4th with a whooping N143.8 billion in 2019. None of these states headed by the PDP governors have anything vital to show for it.”
End Corruption In Oil Management, PDP Fires Back
But in a swift response, the PDP yesterday tasked the presidency and leadership of the All APC to end the corruption in oil management in the country.
The national publicity secretary of PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, while replying claims by APC that it short-changed Nigerians with the subsidy regime, said it is incontrovertible that life was better in the country under the PDP administration.
Ologbondiyan added that the purchasing power of Nigerians in general experienced its highest in the country’s contemporary history under the PDP.
He said, “It is ludicrous that rather than advising President Muhammadu Buhari and his government to rescind the unjustified increase in fuel price and withdraw the morbid declaration that fuel price ought not to be cheaper in Nigeria than Saudi Arabia, the APC is further insulting Nigerians by bandying unsubstantiated oil subsidy figures, to defend their atrocious policy.
“In case the APC is not aware, it is instructive to remind them that their party and government have fallen too low in the esteem of Nigerians for it to seek a rebranding through impostors as spokespersons, to funnel lies, deception and distortions of facts in a fresh attempt to beguile Nigerians.
“It is incontrovertible that contrary to the lies of APC impostors, between 2006 and 2013, successive PDP administrations, effectively managed the resources of our nation and grew our economy to become one of the fastest growing in the world as recorded by Fitch and the IMF.
“Perhaps the APC should be reminded that within this period, the PDP achieved the historical debt relief (of about $18 billion), which freed Nigeria from the suffocating shackles of huge external borrowings of the past.
“It is a fact that during this period, the PDP administrations reduced our nation’s budget deficits by 72 per cent, stabilised our currency and overall economy to achieve the doubling of our GDP within four years from $55.65 billion in 2003 to $114.36 billion in 2006, as acknowledged by IMF database.
“This is in addition to improving our FDI from less than $700 million per annum in 1999, to $4.3 billion by 2007, which earned Nigeria a BB credit rating by Fitch.
“It is incontrovertible that life was better in our country under the PDP and that the purchasing power of Nigerians in general experienced its highest in our contemporary history under the PDP.
“Our party therefore counsels the APC to rather advise President Buhari to wake up to the demands of governance by ending the corruption in his oil revenue management, reduce the costs of fuel price and rejig his security and economic teams, instead of this resort to diversionary tactics”.
…Domestic Refinery Owners Back FG On Subsidy Removal
While the parties are trading words over the appropriateness or otherwise of the subsidy removal, the Domestic Refinery Owners Association of Nigeria (DROAN) has thrown its weight behind the federal government over the removal of fuel subsidy in the country.
National chairman of the association, Mr Godwin Sunday, who made this known at a press conference in Uyo at the weekend said the association was in full support of President Muhammadu Buhari’s courageous stand in bringing the subsidy regime to an end.
Sunday urged Nigerians to support the policy and the establishment of modular refineries in the country as this would enhance youth employment and bring an end to youth restiveness, illegal bunkering and pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta.
“The oil sector, as we all know has been the mainstay of our economy and contribute more than 80 per cent of the nation’s foreign exchange,” the association said.
“Therefore, as responsible citizens of this nation we have seen the need to join hands with the government to protect our major source of sustenance.
“We salute the courage of the federal government led by President Muhammadu Buhari for bringing the subsidy regime to an end. We applaud the government, and we are also appealing to Nigerians to support the government in this direction.
“We trust that better days are here because the resources that was used for fuel subsidy will now be channeled into other developmental projects like education, health and infrastructure development.”
He said that the association was deeply concerned about the devastating effect of illegal oil bunkering on the ecosystem, planned to embark on sensitisation exercise against illegal oil bunkering in the country and has acquired three speed boats to penetrate the Creeks for the exercise.
“Considering the devastating effect on our environment which obviously is leading to the environmental pollution, degradation and even a negative effect on our ecosystem. We as a people, have unanimously agreed that we cannot continue to steal what seemingly belong to us,” the DROAN chairman said.
He however appealed to the federal government to set up a Presidential Committee to look into the activities of artisans oil refiners in the Niger Delta and advised that individuals and organisations setting up modular refineries should partner with the association for easy and smooth integration of the artisans refiners.