WHY I SUPPORT FUEL SUBSIDY - NWOSU, ADC BOSS
BY DOTUN IBIWOYE
Chief Ralphs Okey Nwosu is the National Chairman of the African Democratic Congress, ADC. In this interview with Vanguard, he explains why Nigerians need to allow the fuel subsidy to be removed. According to him, 'On this fuel subsidy thing, we need to face reality and be serious with ourselves in other to move forward.
' On the growing insecurity in the country, he argued that there is a deliberate ploy aimed at derailing President Jonathan's administration. He also bares his mind on the late Ikemba of Nnewi, Dim Ojukwu and other sundry issues. Excerpts:
Several Nigerians feel that the president is not carrying them along because of the removal of the fuel subsidy?
No. I do not agree with you. The president is a listening one and he has shown himself to be interested in wide range consultation more than any other president we have had in this country. The fuel subsidy thing is a challenge of its own. The president has put together a very robust package and has been consulting with different stakeholders in an effort to bring all patriots on boards. Very recently he invited leaders of political parties.
*Ralphs Okey Nwosu
I was there; I understand some parties are playing ostrich and that is not the fault of the man. He is authentic. He may have his faults but arrogance and not consulting are not associated with him as I know him.
On this fuel subsidy thing, we need to face reality and be serious with ourselves in other to move forward. I know as our people say a child would not spit out the sweet or chocolate that is inside his mouth willingly. But reasonable adult must reason differently.
Since the devaluation of the Nigerian currency, the issue of fuel subsidy has been of major concern to all governments in this country, it has been a recurring and we must speak truth to ourselves and nip it this time.
The political will to address this matter squarely and a ready plan to ensure that the nation benefits from it remains crucial. President Jonathan seems to have addressed this twin concerns. I don't think that the masses are actually resisting the fuel subsidy.
I think the elites are the ones fanning their own interest, and orchestrating it as the right thing, and trying to prop the masses to resist it. The government is engaging Nigerians at all level; the message is clear.
We all desire better amenities, jobs, quality education, electric power, functional train services; the vision is clear in 2020, we want to be one of the 20 developed nations of the world. If we want this we have to be ready to move and make the commitment and sacrifices that can get us there.
The only acceptable apprehension I can understand is that of this big elephant in the house; corruption. I strongly feel that we need to single this out and deal with it. Corruption is the troubling cancer and not subsidy removal or complete deregulation of the oil sector. We must deal with it for the needed change and national transformation to take root.
So I would advocate we channel our efforts towards kicking out corruption from government and the entire fabrics of our nation for good.
President Jonathan should engage the people more in this direction. The masses will support and work with the government, if he convinces them on the benefits and how he intends to tackle corruption. The elites has their own agenda, so running this campaign the old style of trying to reach only certain constituencies will not augur well for the president, his constituency is the masses and they constitute 95 percent of the population.
The message will be accepted by most Nigerians. And you know I have raised the question in many fora; if the people of Somalia, Sudan and Afghanistan can pay market price for petroleum products, Nigerians are not worse off than these people that we cannot afford to do the same.
The government must therefore communicate to the masses on their biggest fear, corruption. You do not design a 21st century solution and apply 19th , or 20th century thinking or skills and expect to get your targeted result; it is tantamount to applying analogue thinking in a digital process.
We do not have the infra structures to support industrialization, Government says they want to put these in place, great; do you disagree. Government say they want to create jobs for our numerous people, adequate health care and structures to take care of the immediate shocks and long term development of the country. Government says that their ambition is to ease transportation challenges by an aggressive rail transport development.
The people argue that previous governments promised and did not deliver. But this is Jonathan, and he says trust me, and stakes his presidency on the promise to transform Nigeria. We should give him a chance, trust him and support him to succeed. That is patriotism.
Therefore, the people wonder aloud that the small subsidy that they are enjoying, why do you want to remove it? So the people are concerned about their country too. The country belongs to them more than the few individuals who are in government.
What is the way out?
The way out is Transformation. The way out is Creative leadership. The way out is well-meaning, supportive and progressive followership. The way forward is Patriotism and sacrifice. It requires the dexterity with which Jonathan studied and wrote the
Thesis for his PhD. We have a very humble man at the top of affairs and that is an invitation to every well meaning Nigeria to bring their expertise on board so that we can salvage the ship of state and give the country a direction after almost fifty years of being in the dark and almost rudderless.
For transformation to work we need a person like Jonathan. We do not need a bulldozer, or Mr Know-all with arrogant swagger. Leadership in the contemporary sense does not need a superman, a heroic figure. We need collaborators and well meaning persons to align to the notion of one nation one people or the nation perishes.
When Jonathan became president, the message sunk to over 90 percent of the people in this country that they too, their children or grand children could one day be president. It is enormous and enamouring message. When 90 percent of people in Nigeria, no matter where they come from are feeling that they can be president, they can be all they want to be in this country once the work towards it, that the fillip we need to take this country to the sky.
It is good for the psych of the generality of the country. It gives traction to our journey to true nationhood. I am not PDP but I canvass absolute support for the president. It is beyond politics. No time for politics, No time for bitter rivalry.
Let us make time for Nigeria. Let's make sacrifice for Nigeria. Let's hold hands and unite for Nigeria. ADC is ready to partner with all persons that are so disposed.
With the persistent killings and alarming rate of insecurity, what is your assessment of the president?
The president may have started rather slowly. But was able to crystallize his thoughts very well by and told Nigerians that there is need for transformation. He then start by setting up an economic committee that he feels can improve the process. However, there has been a deliberate ploy from different quarters aimed at derailing the man. My advice is that these people should have a rethink. We need to move this nation forward.
We need the transformation that the president is advocating and the president as I said, has communicated the need to put some major changes in infrastructure on ground to see that the transformation becomes a reality.
I would urge Nigerians to support him particularly the constituency where the president belongs. By constituency now, I am not talking about ethnic or party. I am talking about the constituency of the ordinary Nigerian. And this constitute ninety something percent of the population. I urge this constituency to please claim the president for their constituency.
Claim your president so that he can be more stable and he will move the nation to where we desire it to be. Show support for your president no matter where you are from. Jonathan being president makes a strong statement.
Saying that you can be president even from the furthest location in Akwa Ibom, furthest locality in Sokoto and any other village, and social strata speaks volume. Embrace your president and Nigeria will change.
How will you quantify late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu's demise to Nigeria?
A great loss to the people of Nigeria; Ojukwu was a man of many parts, a man so richly endowed, an outstanding confident man of great courage. This country has been blessed with few such men, great men like the Ikemba. The country need to warm themselves to men of courage who are not defined by material possession.
These people are the most valuable assets to the country. The focus and energy that the type of Ikemba brings to nation building cannot be quantified. Unfortunately, people in power politicise merit, good governance, and only pay lip-service to unity and patriotism. The potentials of some of these great men appear more or less wasted.
I can just imagine Ojukwu, Ikemba of Nnewi in his prime and what he could have achieved for Nigeria had he and some of his contemporaries truly work together with an overriding purpose of building a fair and great country.
If they had worked together with the clear vision of building a great Nigeria, can you imagine where we could have been? But we failed; I feel sad. So the loss at this time of this courageous man with dept and foresight would only make a man like me who is committed to seeing change in Nigeria to be very sad.
If Ojukwu was given a chance to be one of the people who ran the country, he would have moved this country on a different platform and to a different pedestal. He was my good friend, and my leader. He was a great man. I just wish that people who have great insights like him, will be able to collaborate with other well meaning Nigerians to work for this country. We would definitely be better for it.
What does the term being a father to people like you and moving this nation on a different platform mean?
The tag rebel labelled on him is completely deceptive when you look at it. He is a man of courage and fairness who wanted things to work well, and Nigeria to be fair and accommodating to all. The people who are calling him rebel are people who wanted to continue with the culture that is bringing this country down.
If they were all progressives and they were thinking progressively like Ikemba at his prime, this country would have been a different place. If we stop injustice and we start to love ourselves especially when people at the top show love to everybody equally, this country will be great.
The kind of distortion that happens is when people at the top are acting with bias and parochial sentiments. When people at the top are using their powers to do evil then people will revolt.
So, it was not all about secession, it is not about Biafra, people may vilify Ojukwu with Biafra, I think the proper epitaph should be
So if you say that he was not a rebel, what can be used to qualify him?
A courageous leader that came before his time. The colouring about rebel and Biafra is not the issue. What led to it is that he didn't go to school and study history to join the army for noting. He wanted to build a great country. When people who were so stereotyped were at the helms of affairs, it causes problems.
One thing that I always believe is that when you are a leader or a president of a country, you cannot come down to a particular level, you cannot be president of itsekiri or president of one locality because God has put you in that vantage position to be able to use intelligence and craftsmanship to unite, advance your people and build a great country.
But you can see where the myopia of the leaders has taken us, so that even up till now, it appears that some people are still feeling that being together is dragging us back; and may be staying as different nations may even be better.
So Biafra remains a strategic umbrella for Nigeria and our leader to uphold justice, fairness and integrity as a panacea for Nigeria unity and greatness. This is what it should connote to well meaning people, any other derogatory references to it is mischievous, pettiness or inability to understanding nation building.