Tinubu’s Broadcast: Has the President Not Broken His Social Contract with Nigerians?

Tinubu’s Broadcast: Has the President Not Broken His Social Contract with Nigerians?

…Can the Speech Douse Tension of Nigerians in Dire Straits? “He who feels it knows it”. President Tinubu could only imagine the pains Nigerians have had to endured since the removal of petrol subsidy. As a matter of fact, whether in or out of office, President Tinubu cannot feel it like the ordinary Nigerian because

…Can the Speech Douse Tension of Nigerians in Dire Straits?

“He who feels it knows it”. President Tinubu could only imagine the pains Nigerians have had to endured since the removal of petrol subsidy. As a matter of fact, whether in or out of office, President Tinubu cannot feel it like the ordinary Nigerian because he’s a man of stupendous wealth. He cannot genuinely feel it because he’s not experiencing the effects, the way several millions of Nigerians are doing. His infamous speech of “subsidy is gone” will haunt the President for a long time because it came from the wrong side of the tracks.

It would appear the President’s diagnosis of the problem of Nigeria’s economy has theoretically changed from what he espoused and diagnosed a decade ago, when he lampooned the then President Goodluck Jonathan for his “ill-timed” removal of subsidy and for not putting measures in place before his one-fell swoop removal of subsidy on petrol. He described Jonathan’s action as breaking his “social contract with Nigerians” coming so early after his election in 2011. Jonathan’s removal of petrol subsidy came seven months after being sworn into office but was announced on the first day of the new ye Tinubu’s removal came on his first day in office, in fact in his inaugural speech after being sworn-in.

Without doubt, Tinubu’s timing of the removal of petrol subsidy looks worse than that of President Jonathan. President Tinubu had all the opportunities in the world to have applied all his recommended therapy to President Jonathan in 2012. His well-reasoned and laid out plan enunciated to Jonathan went as follows: “First government needs to clean up and throw away the salad of corruption in the NNPC [Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation]. Then, proceed to lay the foundation for a mass transit system in the railways and road network with long term bonds and, fully develop the energy sector towards revitalising Nigeria’s economy and easing the burden any subsidy removal may have on the people.”

But President Tinubu failed to toe the line of his well-reasoned and laid-out plan as put to President Jonathan. He must have been bitten by the proverbial Monster in the corridor of power that disconnects the leader from the realities and pains of the people he governs. Trying to salvage a bad situation. Tinubu now dips hands into government’s bag of tricks, seeking ways to assuage the people with measures that are coming after the act. Because some of those plans are medium to long term in soothing the pains; they may not resonate well with the people. Will the President’s broadcast do the trick? This is doubtful because Nigerians want short-term and immediate solutions to a nagging problem of widespread hunger and hardship in the land.

Tinubu’s offer of palliatives in his address may be too little and too late. The measures proposed are too meagre to solve short-term needs and requirements of Nigerians. It would appear the speech was strategically programmed to take out the wind out of labour’s sail and sabotage its quest for a nationwide industrial action starting tomorrow August 2.

Government has demonstrated that it doesn’t want the strike action to go on. First, it went to the National Industrial Court to get a restraining order, when it was first contemplated. That order subsisted for a while and lapsed. President has made a broadcast to the nation to communicate directly with Nigerians and churned out series of measures to douse the effect of the subsidy removal. Not a few people are convinced those measures are not borne out of political exigencies. Monies announced for their execution were not budgeted for and the fact that they will roll on till 2024, dims hope of immediacy which the people desired.

The President in his speech said subsidy should have been long removed and the money saved channeled into public transportation, healthcare, schools, housing and even national security but the foundation for these was not laid or made known to Nigerians before petrol subsidy was removed by his government. The President said there was no other route than removal of subsidy but there cannot be only one way to solve a problem. Nigerians believe the issue of subsidy was plagued more by corruption. So, what and how has the President tried to sanitise the oil sector and the issue of subsidy payment and corruption before removing the subsidy.

President’s Speech Talks About Rich People Becoming Threats to Government

Some sentences in the President’s broadcast also gave other reasons for his economic reforms of removal of petrol subsidy and multiple exchange rates. Referring to beneficiaries of the subsidy payments, the President said: “to be blunt, Nigeria could never become the society it was intended to be as long as such small, powerful yet unelected groups hold enormous influence over our political economy and the institutions that govern it”.

In another paragraph the President said: “the whims of the few should never hold dominant sway over the hopes and aspirations of the many. If we are to be a democracy, the people and not the power of money must be sovereign.

“The multiple exchange rate system that had been established became nothing but a highway of currency speculation. It diverted money that should have been used to create jobs, build factories and businesses for millions of people. Our national wealth was doled on favourable terms to a handful of people who have been made filthy rich simply by moving money from one hand to another. This too was extremely unfair. It also compounded the threat that the illicit and mass accumulation of money posed to the future of our democratic system and its economy”. These are additional insights into the President’s actions. Who are these people the President are afraid of that all Nigerians have to be taken through this painful path?

Would Nigerians Have Faith in President Tinubu?

In empathy with Nigerians, the President said: “Our economy is going through a tough patch and you are being hurt by it. The cost of fuel has gone up. Food and other prices have followed it. Households and businesses struggle. Things seem anxious and uncertain. I understand the hardship you face. I wish there were other ways. But there is not. If there were, I would have taken that route as I came here to help not hurt the people and nation that I love.

“Fellow Nigerians, this period may be hard on us and there is no doubt about it that it is tough on us. But I urge you all to look beyond the present temporary pains and aim at the larger picture. All of our good and helpful plans are in the works. More importantly, I know that they will work.

“Sadly, there was an unavoidable lag between subsidy removal and these plans coming fully online. However, we are swiftly closing the time gap. I plead with you to please have faith in our ability to deliver and in our concern for your well-being. We will get out of this turbulence. And, due to the measures we have taken, Nigeria will be better equipped and able to take advantage of the future that awaits her.” The President said.

But the question is: Would Nigerians have faith in what the President said in his speech yesterday given that there is a huge trust deficit between the government and the governed in Nigeria. The people have been deceived for so long and they are now at the point of you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

What many Nigerians expected from the President’s address was the application of his recipe in his statement in 2012. “Government must modify the sudden and complete removal of the subsidy. Either we restore the subsidy or use the funds for other social purposes,”. The impact must be immediate and not futuristic. His famous statement titled: ‘Removal of oil subsidy – President Jonathan breaks social contract with the people’ can still be adopted today substituting the name President Jonathan with President Tinubu. In other words: “Removal of Oil Subsidy – President Tinubu Breaks Social Contract with the People”

Ayo Aluko-Olokun

Posts Carousel

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Latest Posts

Top Authors

Most Commented

Featured Videos