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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Oil Subsidy: Jonathan’s Address To The Nation



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Fellow Nigerians, the last few days have changed my understanding of the people of this great nation. I have developed a greater sense of respect for the passion with which millions of you trooped to the streets to register your opposition to the policy of my government. I have heard you. Without hesitation, I hereby announce an immediate reversal of the oil subsidy removal.
The debate we’ve had and the energy your actions infused into our political process make me feel so strong about this decision. Living in this bubble called Aso Rock Villa, I often forget that the mandate I have came from the people. I appreciate the stress and hardship you went through to remind me of that very important tenet of our democracy.
On behalf of the nation, I wish to extend my sincere condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the demonstrations. Their deaths will not be in vain. In the future, I hope we can find a way to do the right thing without losing the precious life of a single Nigerian.
If I read your message right, my government has not earned your trust. And without trust, we have no moral authority to demand sacrifices from you. More so when we, the government, have not made sacrifices ourselves. I have come to realize that more than everything else, the Nigerian people want accountability from their leaders. It is through the door of accountability that you will open for us the room where your trust resides. You all have taught me that only a foolish man will put his tomorrow in the hands of a man who cannot account for his yesterday.
Even a government with good intentions is not always right. In our haste to implement a policy we felt was essential to our economic well-being, we failed to envision the ramifications of our action. We appeared silly arguing that we did not expect the price of food items to go up because trucks and buses use diesel and not fuel. But the truth, which we should have known, is that once the price of one thing goes up in Nigeria, the prices of other things follow. In fact, prices go up in Nigeria for the mere fact that workers got a pay increase.
Also, our argument that the only way we can control corruption at the downstream sector of our oil industry is by removing the subsidy is like arguing that amputating a leg is the only way we can cure a laceration. With that approach, we will soon end up severed into tiny bits that cannot work together.
At several points in the course of defending our position, we portrayed ourselves as incompetent. We gave the impression that we are incapable of protecting our borders. We gave the impression that we have people in this country who are above the law. We gave the impression that we are more interested in protecting our indulgences while demanding unbearable sacrifices from you all.
I have seen the anger in the hearts of many suffering Nigerians. Your anger is well justified. The anguish of our youths, the despair of the old, can no longer be taken for granted. I fully accept the blame of all that happened. I am not ashamed to say that we did not get it. Our assumptions were wrong. For so long, we looked the other way while millions of you suffer. Until last week, I thought it was enough to promise you that the suffering would be temporary. Now I know it isn’t.
We are going back to the very basic. From your litany of complaints, I understand that at the very core of our problem is that we have not managed the affairs of this nation well in the last 50 years. And I saw in your faces, the determination to change that. In the stomping of your feet, I heard a demand that extended beyond the oil subsidy removal.
I have mapped out a new path. And that is what I plan to explain to you in this speech.
Thanks to you, we are going to fundamentally change our ways. It is no longer going to be business as usual. And to kick it off, I will start with myself. I believe there cannot be accountability without transparency. I have not been transparent. But that ends today.
The law demands that I declare my assets at the beginning of each term. I have not done so before now out of fear that Nigerians may not understand. But the Nigerians I saw in the last one week are people who want the truth more than they expect what is right. I want Nigerians to know that I am worth 50 billion Naira(?). My salary and allowances each year is about N320 million naira. That, my fellow Nigerians, is outrageous in a country where hundreds of millions of my fellow citizens live on less than N320 a day.
To show how serious I am about the changes I want to put in place, I will forgo any salary and allowances for the rest of my term as president. Moving forward, I will pay for the feeding of my family and so will the vice president. I am slashing the budget for feeding at the presidency to N300 million a year and that will be for visiting dignitaries alone. The 25% cut in salary that I announced two weeks ago for staff of the executive branch, I want to increase it to 50% for those making more than N2, 000,000 a month. And it includes cuts to their allowances. I’m also cutting all other expenses in the budget for the presidency by half. That alone will bring in N100 billion Naira back into the treasury. I have ordered the presidential fleet of aircrafts to be reduced to two instead of nine.
We have serious problems in this country and we need to tackle them with all seriousness. Now, I cannot do it alone. I need your help for us to transform this country. I sincerely believe that the lawmakers can live on 50% of their current income. I cannot cut their pay on my own. I need you to put pressure on them to do the right thing. If you have to occupy their offices and their homes, I urge you to do so. The same thing applies to the governors and the local government chairmen. They can live on less. They will not do so unless you push them. There is no reason why a governor should have a private jet in a country like ours where the basic needs of our people are not being met.
We all have known for a very long time that the corruption in our system is so endemic. What we didn’t know, until you all hit the street, is that we have in us the will power to confront corruption. To that end, I am sending a bill tomorrow to the National Assembly abolishing the ICPC and the EFCC. Those two toothless agencies have not lived up to the expectations of the Nigerians I saw on the streets. In place of these two bodies, I am establishing the Nigerian Bureau of Investigation. The new agency will have far reaching powers to investigate and prosecute all crimes committed against the federal government. We will train elite members of the police and prosecutorial staff who are upright and passionate about eradicating corruption in our society.
I believe that corruption is like uncontrolled flood. We are wasting our time paving the roads and coating the surface with bitumen if we have not built formidable drainage system of solid culverts and gutters. That is where we need to begin the enormous works that face us. Once we get the drainage system right, reconstruction of our roads, our educational system, our health sector, our larger society, will be a lot easier.
From your actions in the last one week, I believe that there are still good people in our society. Our job is to create the environment for these good people to come out and serve our country. At this point, I’m announcing the dissolution of my cabinet. Tomorrow, I am sending a bill to the National Assembly asking them to quickly modify the constitution to allow me to trim down the number of federal ministries in Nigeria to twelve. I want to merge various ministries that duplicate their works and thereby trim down the federal workforce by at least half. I want the freedom to appoint credible men and women to serve our country irrespective of their region, ethnicity and religion.
I am also sending a bill to the National Assembly creating state police in Nigeria. I want every state government to be responsible for security of lives and property in their state. And with more responsibility comes greater accountability. States that fail to provide security will be held liable for lives and property of its citizens. The federal government cannot do it alone. Government is more effective when it is closer to the people.
The seriousness of what we face in this country requires that you all stay on the street and apply pressure until the people constitutionally charged with making laws make the right laws that will transform our country. And you need to be vigilant to ensure that the laws are implemented.
Thank you all for reminding me that the possibilities out there for Nigeria are unlimited, for ours is a blessed land. Yesterday may have been bad but tomorrow, with your continuing push, will be glorious.
From the very beginning, I was talking about transformational presidency but it was when you got into the street that I actually knew what I meant. When the overburdened mass of our people lead, I, the president, have no option but to follow. Your resilient is a source of inspiration to me. With your help, we will transform this country to one that we all shall be proud of. If I have to join you in the street, I will. I am your leader and I will follow you.
This journey is not going to be easy. There would be entrenched interests that will come out swinging and hoping to crush what you have set in motion. I believe that together we can take them on and push them off the space of this beautiful country of ours which they have, for too long, dominated and occupied for their selfish ends. The inner strength of the Nigerians that I see in the last week will lead us through.
The journey to a new Nigeria starts now – a Nigeria revived by the people and for the people. This journey continues until we remove misery and restore dignity to the lives of every man and woman in our country.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

READ ALSO  The Day After…. – By Toibudeen Oduniyi

The Above Is A Mock Speech – Written by Ikpeamanze Chinyere Amauche

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