Just like when he and his party members announced during the recent past administration on January, 2012, that the removal of fuel subsidy was a fraud and anti-people policy, President Buhari suddenly realizes he has no money to sustain the subsidy as that was not contained in the 2016 fiscal budget.
This is the same man whom his party, the APC incited and funded massive protests through the #OccupyNigeria group, civil rights organizations and labour unions against the removal of fuel subsidy in 2012 by the last Jonathan’s administration.
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APC; the opposition party at that time, took political advantage of the situation by falsely identifying with the sufferings of Nigerians and criticizing the past administration for the hike in Premium Motor Spirit.
The APC speaking out against the government, led and catalyzed live protests on streets and on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Nigerians as a result cried foul. The wailing wailers came out of their hiding places, wailed and occupied the streets of Nigeria.
The #OccupyNigeria protests, some of which were violent, erupted in different states across the country as they asked for a reinstatement of the fuel subsidy scheme and a presumed return to low fuel prices. Some even went as far as calling for the then President Jonathan’s resignation or rather his impeachment from office. Goodluck Jonathan eventually acceded and backtracked, fuel subsidy was restored.
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Four years later, President Buhari who had earlier castigated the subsidy removal policy of the Goodluck administration, went ahead to officially remove the subsidy which amounts to nothing short of an act of cowardice, deception, hypocrisy and double standards. Under Buhari’s administration, due to some of its own reactive and over-restrictive unpopular economic policies, the Nigerian economy has suffered a huge setbacks and like her president, it is seriously sick and begging for serious and urgent treatment.
There has been scarcity of foreign exchange too. Oil marketers are also finding it extremely difficult to import petroleum products into the country. Foreign Direct Investment(FDI) has nosedived.
Now that fuel price has increased owing to the removal of the subsidy on petrol, as a palliative measure, we expected the government to subsidize the prices of general goods and commodities in the market to alleviate people’s suffering. But Buhari’s administration said “No, we don't have enough foreign exchange to do so.”
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But what amazes one is that this same current administration seven months ago stated that they would not fall into the temptation of removing petroleum subsidy until full palliative measures are put in place to cushion the effects of such removal.
It should be recalled that President Buhari while discussing with his then group managing director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu on the issue of subsidy removal, stressed that he was particularly concerned about palliative measures in health, education and transportation if subsidy is removed.
But today we saw no such measures as prices of commodities has skyrocketed to an alarming rate. Basically, the prices of every product and services in Nigeria has been doubled. If anything, living standards of Nigerians in the past year of Buhari’s ascendency to office of the President, has deteriorated beyond limits. Transport fare prices have doubled. The price of foodstuffs in the market is on a steady ascent.
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There is no electrical power supply. Companies are downsizing and salaries remains the same even when it is still unpaid by various state governments. High number of workers’ retrenchment has been recorded while the rate of unemployment in the country keeps on degenerating and souring high. The nation’s economy is in total shambles and citizens suffers from this attendant economic woes.
Fuel at N145 per litre is a far cry from the N40 per litre Buhari’s camp promised during the heat of the election.
I still remember vividly when Buhari’s ally, Tam David West stated that pump price of fuel will sell at N40 per litre if Buhari wins the election. The rest is now history. My thought exactly is that if you occupied Nigeria four years ago, and called the past administration callous, selfish, clueless and ineffective for a policy that you vocally and implicitly support today, then you have either truly mastered the doctrine of change or you need to get your brain checked.
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Now coming to Buhari’s recent foreign medical trip to the United Kingdom for the treatment of his ear infection as his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina announced.
This has been the latest twist in Buhari’s unending inconsistencies. It would interest the public to note that President Buhari on the 26th of April this year, stated that his administration will not encourage expending the nation’s hard-earned resources on any government official seeking medical care abroad especially when there is evidence of expertise in Nigeria.
This is just as he said the federal government would roll out its health agenda that is ‘pro-poor’.
President Buhari through his Minister of Health, Professor Issac Adewole made this stance known at the 56th Annual General Conference and Delegate meeting of the Nigeria Medical Association(NMA) in Sokoto. The Minister in his speech went further to say that it was regrettable that Nigeria loses about $1 billion annually on medical tourism in which he opined that the amount is more than the annual budget of some states in Nigeria.
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It then amounts to sheer hypocrisy and smirks of double standards after being privy of all these, the same president who earlier kicked against running abroad for medical attention will hurriedly fly to the UK on the same medical grounds even as Nigerian medical doctors has recently declared publicly that they can handle the President’s ear infection.
For the avoidance of doubt, a source close to the presidency has revealed that the cost of Buhari’s foreign trip which includes aviation fuel, accommodation, allowances of his aides and that of his medical treatment is summed up at £6 million.
This huge amount of money could have been channelled to the country’s health industry for the development of her health facilities and much needed infrastructures. It is therefore surprising and appalling that this same government had been canvassing for the blockage of wastages in the art of governance and now he is using public funds to fund his foreign medical trip.
Written By Chukwuemeka Chimerue
Published By Nwosu C.S
For Biafra Writers