Governors & Oil Subsidy Removal- By Godwin Onyeacholem
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If Nigerians ever want to know the true meaning of treachery, if for a second they have been unable to put a face to the duplicity, dishonesty and insincerity that currently defines public governance, then they would do well to look in the direction of the
unconscionable support of the 36 state governors for the Jonathan administration's ill-conceived removal of fuel subsidy.
By siding with President Jonathan on this very volatile issue, the governors have unwittingly confirmed the widely held view that the people do not exist as a factor in the equation of governance in this dispensation. To the vast majority who uphold this line of thinking, the governors' support of Jonathan's withdrawal of subsidy on oil is the strongest proof yet that the ultimate aim of the crop of politicians at the helm in Nigeria's fourth republic is self-comfort, and not the common good.
Their rhetoric is often loud and convincing but, in the end, never backed up with action. And, where there is presence of action, it's almost always against the people's interest as evidenced by the mindless endorsement of the hiking of the pump price of petrol, which the whole noise about deregulating the down-stream sector of the petroleum industry is all about.
The real sad part, however is the shocking scenario where all the well-advertised progressive state governors, whose official party position is a ringing rejection of subsidy removal, have decided to behave as if they belong to the ruling party. Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State is the biggest surprise. For a man who had in the past led many tough, commendable battles against anti-subsidy agents to now display uncharacteristic ambivalence that points more to acquiescence, does no credit to our democracy.
What about Raji Fashola, the Lagos Governor who must now be tired of the deluge of praises heaped on him for his command performance in the state? Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State; Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State; Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State and Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State. These governors, including Oshiomhole, belong to a party supposedly offering an ideological platform that espouses a more humane concept of governance. But here they are towing an ignoble path laid by a ruling party whose main mission is to continue to hurt the Nigerian people.
And apart from the ACN governors, the ANPP, the LP and CPC governors are also wanting in their response to subsidy removal, even when their parties have officially told Jonathan to shelve the idea.
The APGA governors do not deserve a mention in this matter. Every kindergarten knows that the party is an adjunct of the PDP. But Nigerians expect the ANPP governors, LP's Segun Mimiko and Tanko Al-Makura of CPC to follow party line and say No to subsidy removal, and not just oil subsidy but subsidy on anything that affects the standard of living of Nigerians.
It is interesting to ask at this point about the whereabouts of that opposition voice which prior to the April elections described the PDP as a Poverty Development Party. Where is Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, the juggernaut of South west politics, to mobilize his governors to denounce fuel subsidy removal being championed by a ruling party that is bent on caging him and his party by all means and plunging the country into a new depth of misery?
Nigerians are not deceived. They know that the motivation for the governors' support for Jonathan on this policy is greed. It's all about the huge amount the governors will make for themselves. Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State said at a recent discussion on deregulation that he stood to make over N8 billion or more every year as soon as subsidy is removed. Only Allah knows where the bulk of that dubious gain would go. Thanks to Nigeria's brand of democracy, where all governors lie down with heads in one direction. Surely, these governors have lost it.
Godwin Onyeacholem is editor, GIRAFFE magazine.