IBB's Position on the Removal of Fuel Subsidy and Other Matters

Former President Ibrahim Babangida of Nigeria
State of the Nation
Events happening in the country in recent times have once again called for serious concern by all Nigerians in view of our peculiar history, political orientation and the dynamics of our federation.

The spate of bombings and other untoward acts in the country have thrown up the greater need for all of us to be more retrospective, introspective and proactive on issues of our common interest and nationality. It is a collective responsibility and all well-meaning people must be in agreement as to the urgent need to arrest this drift in our national psyche to keep our federation streaming.

We must agree that we do have problems on our hands. We also must be prepared to confront the problems head-on without brewing sentiments and emotions that may tend to becloud the real issues.Some of these problems, as disturbing as they appear to be, have lived with us for some time now without going away even when concerted efforts had been made to proffer solutions to them.We must, therefore, invent new ways to suit the sophistication of crimes and violence.We have also survived several challenges as a nation under construction and expectedly, one should appreciate the delicate balance that we find ourselves as a result of these rebuilding processes.As a consequence of this rebuilding process, we should move away from fanning the embers of disunity by the kind of messages we relay for public consumption. Rather, our emphasis should be to proffer solutions to these challenges so that they do not weigh down governments at various levels in delivering their promises to the people.

We must begin to consciously redirect our collective energies in entrenching a culture of strong and enduring moral super-structure as a platform for sustaining our once cherished value system.There is a potential breakdown of social contract between the leaders at all levels and the led. Leaders have failed in their responsibilities at meeting the expectations of the people. These days, the gap between the rich and poor has further polarised the socio-economic and political discourse on the basis of winner-takes-all thus making public office unethically attractive. This is why there is so much desperation in the contest for public office.The failure of governments and leaders at various levels at providing the much expected dividends of democracy, has further disconnected the people from their leaders; reason why  there has been so much angst in the land.

In order to arrest this ugly trend and refocus our country on the path of peaceful co-existence in spite of our manifest tribal configurations, we must begin to revisit our value system and provoke platforms where this becomes the central theme of our collective discourse.Rather than leaders competing on the basis of who owns the latest house, automobile or jet in town, they should compete in the faculty of ideas to drive good governance and accountability.Any government that is able to deliver the tangibles and intangibles to stimulate wider audience participation in governance will be on the positive reckoning of the people.

I have a strong feeling in my mind that Dr Goodluck Jonathan as president is capable of suppressing these challenges if he listens less to newsmakers, attention-seeking public affairs analysts and bad advisers, and devote his time to deep and reflective thinking in search for solutions.Politicians should learn to accept the outcome of elections in the spirit of constructive engagement but more strongly, in the national interest. For the sake of unity of our country and our collegiate existence as a nation of very peculiar history, we must imbibe the spirit of forgiveness and promote the essence of our nationality without deference to tribe, religion, clan or regional consideration.

On the issue of fuel subsidy removal, it is my opinion that it is ill-timed. The issue of subsidy should be seen more as politics and not economics, because the sole purpose of government is for the good of the people and not to create hardship. It is better to seek political solution to the subsidy discourse than invoking the sentiments of economics. Government should have kept its word till April by which time better explanation would have been given before implementation takes effect.The National Assembly should have been made to be part of the decision-making process since the 2012 budget is yet to be discussed and passed by the legislature.Every government should ordinarily take the interest of its people at heart so that the reason for its existence would be justified.I will insist that a political solution be sought in resolving the issue so that a mutually agreeable position would be reached between the leaders and the people.This exclusive decision of the executive arm of government does not speak well of the tenets and principles of participatory and all-inclusive democracy.

For those of us who have seen wars in different places and countries especially on account of our training and background, no nation pushes for war when there are several options to be taken. We must, therefore, engage in dialogue and wider consultations in our resolve to providing lasting solutions to the challenges facing us. All our religious leaders, political leaders, traditional rulers, opinion moulders, the media, must unite to arrest this ugly phase of our political life.We must desist from name-calling, name-dropping and apportioning blame on anyone when faced with a challenge. Our capacity to live together must be demonstrated at all times so that the country can nurture its national objectives without equivocation. We must, therefore, share in the national aspiration and be more forthcoming in our anti-corruption crusade.

As a former president for eight years and someone who survived 11 major crises in the country, both ethnic and religious, I can appreciate the enormity of the challenges facing Mr President. I want to reassure Mr President of my support, as I wish him a happy and prosperous new year. May the Almighty Allah continue to guide us in the right direction. Amin.

Signed for and on behalf of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, GCFR
Prince Kassim Afegbua
Media Spokesman


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