Telling our own stories

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fuel subsidy removal FUEL SUBSIDY REMOVAL: NIGERIANS SPEAK IIIMixed reactions have followed the government’s decision to price fuel at N97 per litre, and the NLC’s subsequent decision to call off the nationwide strike. While some Nigerians are relieved at this, most feel disappointed and betrayed by the government and the labour congress, and skeptical that any real change has taken place.

Fela Durotoye, entrepreneur and public speaker, has this to say:

As I watched the events of the last 36 hours unfold, I have had to explain to my wife and children why I am so silent, so angry and so sad at the same time.

My silence comes from being in awe as I witness the unprecedented yet amazing collaboration of MILITARY and MILITANTS in accomplishing a common goal… to silence the voice of the people.

I am so angry that precious lives have been lost as ordinary citizens protested against an unjust policy that was clearly not thought through, and yet our President describes these fallen heroes as the “adverse effects” of the protest.

I am angry that our President made so many open-ended promises without clear deliverables or deadlines and thought we would be gullible and simple-minded enough to say OK.

Read the rest of his commentary here.

Okey Ndibe, writer and political commentator, writes:

Those who last April hailed President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as a consummate democrat and people’s man must now solve the puzzle of how their man shed his tame demeanor for the armor of violence. It is remarkable that, despite the provocations of a failed, inept and corrupt state, Nigerians exhibited extreme restraint during their protests against raised fuel prices. By contrast, Jonathan – who has accumulated no funds of trust since finding himself the president – decided to unleash soldiers on largely peaceful protesters.

Please visit his website to read the full commentary.

And here’s a fictional analogy by Tolu Talabi, a writer:

Here’s how I think it happened.

We’ve been told that over 75% of our budget goes to paying the executive and legislative arms of our government. I think that is an understatement. I think the amount is more like 150% of our budget.

I think the President opened the national treasury, which I assume is a gilded chalice set to the right of his throne on a stool with a purple pillow.

President Jonathan reaches for this chalice after submitting his budget for 2012. After asking for ₦1 billion for feeding for himself and the vice president, and ₦57 million for phone calls for the year, and ₦1.3 billion to fuel generators at his house, money that he wouldn’t need if he just paid that amount into the power sector…

Read the full story here.

Noruwa Edokpolo writes this:

You can almost touch the feeling of helplessness on the part of those that put in everything into the recent citizen-led confrontation with the Government upon hearing that Labour had called off the strike action. As I write the jury is still out as to whether labour sold out or not. My concern is not really about the conduct of labour as I mentioned in my previous write up that this struggle has gone beyond labour.

To the grieving Nigerians both young and old, Christians, Muslims, male, female, Ibo, Hausa, Yoruba or whatever else they have used to separate us in the past, which we have convincingly broken with the display of solidarity throughout the length and breadth of Nigeria all through last week till date, I want to say please don’t give up; don’t throw up your arms in despair as if to say there is no hope for Nigeria.

Don’t grieve because we have actually achieved a lot;

• For me the number one gain is the shattering of the myth that Nigerians are spineless and that we are unable to speak with one voice.

• Also very important is that as a people we have found our voice, no longer will it business as usual.

• Also very instructive is the power of information. All the information about the cabal, the budget breakdown, etc. has come about as a result if the passage of the FOI bill.

• Twitter, Facebook, BBM, the almighty social media has finally shifted the balance of power, they can no longer stop us.

I imagine there are more gains than I have stated above but these are the ones that come readily to mind. The most important question now is what happens next. To answer this question let us glean from some of the hard lessons that this episode has taught us.

Firstly, we need a voice that Government can relate to beyond labour. How can we get from Ojota to Aso Rock to negotiate for ourselves, as you will agree with me that it’s no use shouting on the roof top when they will not allow you into the main house where the actual meeting is taking place. My humble suggestion is we need to get involved in the way our country is being run.

This is a golden opportunity for the Civil Society Organisations to come out boldly and articulate their aims and objectives so we can join the ones that approximate to our personal preferences. It is also a time for people of like mind to start coming together to form what I choose to refer to as “Accountability Teams.” Let’s start asking questions right from the LGA’s to the State all the way up to the Federal Government.

Secondly, we need to get involved in the political process. It’s either you are going for office or you are working for someone that represents the New Nigeria of our dreams or you are actively engaged in stopping a known 419er from getting there; whatever the case we must get involved.

Thirdly, from now on it must be close marking for Government. For example they have said that the PIB will be passed within one week; we must put pressure on them to ensure that this gets done, we must insist that Government follows through on the reduction in the recurrent expenditure contained in 2012 budget. The Oil Minister has said that EFCC will be invited; we must follow through to ensure that this is done. No longer must we allow the promises that they make go unattended.

Finally, it is of utmost importance that the leaders of the CSO speak to the masses that all hope is not lost, that the struggle is well under way and that all we need now is to proceed to the next stage. I worry that a lot of the young people may have become despondent, and if we allow them to give up on Nigeria then we are in big trouble!

May God bless Nigeria.

The views expressed in these pieces are solely those of the writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of Kachifo Limited.

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