Sunday January 8, 2012 saw the legislators of the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria assemble for a seating for an emergency session summoned by the Speaker of the House of Representative, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal. The session was attended by 301 members.
The seating which began at 3pm saw the legislators overwhelmingly rebuking the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebelemi Jonathan for the abrupt manner the price of petroleum products were increased from N65 per liter to N140 per liter on January 1, 2012. The House of Representatives resolved via a motion for the President to “suspend” the oil subsidy removal until further notice.
The motion for the suspension of the said oil subsidy removal was seconded by the honorable member, Fort Dike [Anambra State] after having been tabled by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal. Eighteen other legislators spoke in support of the suspension of the oil subsidy removal. Each speaker spoke passionately.
Hon Yakubu Dogara representing a constituency in Bauchi State decried the manner the President bowed to the pressures from outside the shores of Nigeria. He explained that the western powers were the only beneficiaries of the oil subsidy removal. He pointed to the recent visit of the President of the IMF Bank to Nigeria as highly suspicious and indicative of the players involved. He warned of an “Arab Spring” in Nigeria should care not be taken. “President Jonathan ought not to have increased the price of fuel”, stated the lawmaker from Bauchi State. This notion was also espoused by the lawmaker representing Edo State, Hon. Peter Akpatason who added that the “agents representing the USA/England are only promoting the interest of a few”.
Adding to the debate was the lawmaker from Osun State, Makinde Ola Rotimi who made the point that “oil is the bedrock of our economy”. He continued that “we have to speak against the oil subsidy removal”. Hon. Femi Gbajabianila [lawmaker from Lagos] spoke against the removal. He stated “Oil subsidy cannot and most not be removed at this time. Only 1% of the nation caused Jonathan to suffer 99% of the nation”. He continued to add “palliative does not address the issue. There are alternative ways to raise money”. A lawmaker from Abia State, Uzor Azubuike also spoke in support or the suspension of the oil subsidy removal. He noted that “the budget of 2011 was extended to March 31 and it provided for oil subsidy”. Dr. Ibrahim, a lawmaker representing Kwara State added his take on the supposed benefits of the oil subsidy removal. He stated that the deregulation of the subsidy of diesel has yet to yield to the erection of refineries. “Where is the refinery?” he questioned while explaining that there is no reason for the populace to trust the President. “It is wrong to increase the fuel price”, he concluded.
Hon. Abba Ibrahim representing Yobe State spoke passionately against the fuel increase. She said “how can we sleep and see our constituents suffer. What would they have to feed family. This is a very hash decision. We should all rise up and say no to fuel subsidy removal.” Hon Eveyn Omavowan representing Delta State took the stage to remind the nation that “fuel subsidy removal was not part of President Jonathan’s campaign manifesto”. This position was further supported by the lawmaker representing Benue State, Hon Lowase Herman who exclaimed that “we should say no to subsidy removal”.
Hon. Austin Obaburo from Delta State argued in his address that “there is no such thing as oil subsidy”. He continued to add that “what is wrong is wrong and what is right is right”. The lawmaker from Edo State, Hon Polly Iriase spoke against the removal of oil subsidy. He added “we are sitting here on a keg of gunpowder” while noting that we are ruled by “suicide prone decision makers”.
The legislator from Kano State, Hon Suleiman Kawu also spoke against the oil subsidy removal. He highlighted the hypocrisy of the Jonathan administration by reminding the legislators that the President had travelled to South Africa to celebrate the 100years anniversary of the South African political party, the ANC – while the nation is engulfed in crisis. He revealed that the presidential entourage that accompanied him was large in number. They chattered two commercial planes.
Speaking in support of the oil subsidy removal were 13 legislators who spoke amidst boos from fellow legislators. Majority of the speakers were lawmakers from Bayelsa State, Akwa Ibom State and Rivers State. Others who spoke in support of the President’s action were Hon Mulikat Akande-Adeola representing Oyo State – who simply asked the fellow lawmakers “not to judge”, Hon Yakubu Barde of Kaduna State who added that “we are unable to finance our budget”, Hon Arua Arunsi of Abia State who asked for the President to be praised adding that “let my people suffer today and enjoy tomorrow”, Hon Moh’d Idris of Niger State commented that “the nation is broke, let us hold President Jonathan to his words, we must move forward, why are we creating problem?”, Hon Joseph Akinlaja from Ondo State and Hon Friday Itula from Edo State also spoke in support of the oil subsidy removal.
In conclusion the lower chamber passed the motion calling on the President to suspend the price increase on the petroleum product.