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By NBF News
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Let me begin by 'congratulating' Tony Egbulefu for his attempt at being a Jonathan government apologist on the 'subsidy' question, which he himself rightly described as 'subsidy conundrum' in his pro-'subsidy' article 'Fuel Subsidy debate and the metamorphosis of David-West' (Compass 08 December, 2011 page 8). The article even carried his pix smiling for a job well done. Well done? No! Rubbish.

However, if he had taken some more time to do better and painstaking research, especially being a self-vaunted 'Abuja-based policy analyst,' he would have saved himself the monstrous embarrassment of manifest ignorance and inaccuracies on the one hand and the palpable disinformation on the other hand, which I intend to highlight presently under the above caption of this rebuttal.

I apologise for the longish caption. But each of the selected words has its own particular import to my theme or discourse. On a rather light note my caption could be said to be 'pygmy' when compared to the 'giant' 40-word caption of the controversy-laden Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

Tony Egbulefu, 'Abuja-based policy analyst,' joined what looks to all the world as the team of government-sponsored 'pro-'subsidy' removal' hatchet writers who in the past few months have surfaced in different guises and with varying doses of disinformation to the public: Paid multi-page colour adverts e.g. 'Fuel Subsidy Frequently Asked Questions' by a said 'Campaign Against Waste (CAW)' The Nation On Sunday 16 October, 2011 and The Guardian Sunday 23 October, 2011 'No (2)' (I missed the earlier No.1).

The very elaborate 6-page colour advert, 'Let's Change The Equation Remove Oil Subsidy…' This Day 21 October, 2011 Front Page Sensation! by a said 'Mass Interest Project (MIP)'

Altruistic? Voluntary? No. Never. A page of colour advert costs between N300 to N400 (sometimes even more). Even a child can see through the cheap veil of government sponsorship. And these programmed propaganda adverts ran for some weeks. Who picked up the colossal bills? Santa Claus government.

In addition to the above there were many pro-'subsidy' articles with varying display of sophistry and spins. Some of them were broad-sides against me, an obdurate, implacable unapologetic 'ANTI-'SUBSIDY'.'

Of all of them, Egbulefu's contribution was easily the cheapest, the most bereft of substance, the most careless (ad hominem and libelous) the most jejune, the most replete with inaccuracies and disinformation. The most flagrant display, nay parade of crass ignorance. It was also the most widely circulated. All of these will be addressed later on in this rebuttal. Certainly, not edifying for a vaunted 'Abuja-based policy analyst.'

His 'Tam David-West's metamorphosis' (The Nation 06 December, 2011); 'Fuel Subsidy debate and the metamorphosis of David-West' (This Day 09 December, 2011) 'Fuel Subsidy debate and the metamorphosis of Tam David-West' (Compass 08 December, 2011 page are all replete with all the above listed negatives.

He was apparently so pleased with himself for a splendid job of being Pro-Government and 'Pro-'Subsidy' Removal' his 'metamorphosis' 'thesis' was widely circulated in the media both print (some half a dozen) and electronic (internet). I seem to wonder how much was paid for this job. Shoddy job as will be seen later.

It is therefore my humble expectation and respectful appeal that similar gesture of robust generosity be extended also to me. 'Balancing the equation' so to say. Equity. All for a balanced public good.

Before I take up the specifics, I must state categorically and with some measure of satisfaction and refreshing vindication that NONE of the 'Pro-writers' have faulted me on the CRUCIAL FUNDAMENTAL ISSUE that THERE IS NO FUEL SUBSIDY. NONE. NEVER EXISTED.

The number of hatchet writers and commentators assembled against me is redolent of the situation of Albert Einstein and his ground-breaking 'Relativity Theory.' The anti-Einstein even published a book, '100 Authors Against Einstein.' Einstein's reaction? 'If I were wrong, then one would have been enough!' Not '100'! (In: 'A Brief History Of Time' by Stephen Hawking).

And so similarly on my well-considered position, which is buttressed with facts and figures and cogent argument that any talk of 'Fuel Subsidy' is FRAUDULENT. LIE. CORRUPTION. DECEITFUL. NEVER EXISTED. All what is needed to humble me, disgrace me, expose me to public opprobrium is for the Jonathan government, especially his 'de facto prime minister' (Wikipedia), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to accept my challenge for an Open-Space Public Debate on 'SUBSIDY' simpliciter. This is the ONLY way the public interest would be served.

No amount of government-sponsored adverts, articles, campaigns, lobby, threats, blackmail, bribing or 'settlement,' economic Armageddon, doom prophecy on the Economy can change the fact of the NON- EXISTENCE of fuel subsidy.

If 99 people out of 100 (99%) claim that the sun rises from the West and sets in the East; and only one person holds the opposite position, it does not ever mean that the 99 are right and the lonely one is in error.

In their frustration to muster effective counters against me they resort to totally irrelevant and sterile diversionary red herring that being a Virologist, I may not fully understand the subsidy controversy.

My reaction? Arrant nonsense. I was oil minister. It was the annus mirabilis for the nation's oil business. The records are there!

Besides, their Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke, is B.Sc, Architecture, Howard University Washington DC. I am MSc (Yale) PhD (McGill) in Virology.

The most celebrated oil minister in the world, Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, Saudi Arabia oil minister for some 25 years, is a lawyer.

Juan Pablo Perez Alfonso, the famous oil minister of Venezuela, who initiated the formation of OPEC is a doctor, MD Johns Hopkins.

Virologist, yes. So why not accept my challenge to a public debate on your so-called 'subsidy' and disgrace me. Why lily-livered. Why chicken-hearted.

It is outrageous for government to misappropriate huge public funds (multi-millions) to sponsor and 'merchandise' lies and disinformation about their phantom fuel 'subsidy' through their hired hatchet writers. It is corruption plain and simple. 'Corruption is the use of public powers in order to achieve private goals' (Christopher Clapham). The 'private goal' here is ego trip, the massaging of one's sense of self. Jonathan, especially Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, his obtrusive 'guardian angel.'

'Proponents of the removal of petroleum 'subsidy' are aflush with millions of Naira as indicated in the flood of advertorials in the media.' In 'Again, the petroleum 'subsidy' bogey' by Ojo Olorunleke, News Star 19 October, 2011. Back page.

Let me now debunk seriatim Tony Egbulefu, the great 'Abuja-based policy analyst. The government apologist. I do this not because I am worried about his piece. Not even a bit. Truth is like cork, unsinkable.

However, first, I want to set the distorted records and disinformation straight for now and for posterity.

Secondly, I wish to put him on notice (a fascinating legal phrase) on where he carelessly overstretched himself with actionable distortion about my integrity, which is pivotal to my very life. Because one's good name is so much more superior to all the silver, gold and diamond in the whole world.

Thirdly, among the eight President Abraham Lincoln's 'LINCOLN PRINCIPLES' are the following:

One – 'It is not entirely safe to allow a misrepresentation to go uncorrected.'

Two – 'Remember that truth is generally the best vindication against slander.'

Three – 'If you yield to even one false charge, you may open yourself up to other unjust attacks.' In, 'Lincoln On Leadership' by Donald T. Phillips.

•To be continued
•David-West, a professor, writes from Ibadan, Oyo State