As has become the pattern by some political pundits whose definition of opposition is to undermine any good policy initiative of the Federal Government, there has been a deliberate misrepresentation of the comments by President Goodluck Jonathan at the 58th National Executive Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party on 20 February 2012 on the issue of reviewing the SURE programme. Hence, it has been alleged that the Federal Government (FG) has abandoned or is attempting to “truncate” the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment (SURE) programme.
At no time did President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan say that the Federal Government had abandoned the SURE programme. What he said in his opening remarks at the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting last week, was that the full implementation of government’s palliatives to cushion the negative effects of the fuel subsidy removal as contained in the original SURE programme, was no longer feasible and will be reviewed in view of the partial rather than full removal of the subsidy on petrol.
The SURE Programme was predicated on a policy of FULL deregulation as stated in the SURE document released to the general public (Please see http://tinyurl.com/7qczjeo). However, due to widely publicised events after the commencement of full deregulation, the government, after a series of negotiations with organized labour, reduced the pump price of petrol. It therefore follows that the funds that were expected to accrue from full deregulation will no longer accrue since the policy of full deregulation was stepped down for the time being.
This new reality informed the President’s directive that the original SURE programme documents already circulated to the public, be withdrawn in order not to give the public false expectations.
The SURE programme HAS NOT been cancelled. What President Goodluck Jonathan said at the 58th National Executive Committee meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is as follows: “We developed this with the expectation that we were going to completely deregulate the downstream sector of the oil industry, (after) the 100 per cent removal of subsidy.” …..“We couldn’t achieve that though there was an increase in the price. I don’t want this to be distributed; it will give a wrong impression.”
These comments only show that President Jonathan is being transparent with the public rather than offer them unrealistic expectations. Sincerity of purpose is a virtue and should be encouraged.
For those who are still in doubt, let it be stressed that the Dr. Christopher Kolade Committee charged with implementing the SURE programme, is still at work and has not been disbanded while a new SURE document containing the reviewed palliatives will soon be released to the public.
We appeal to labour unions and other opinion-moulders in the society to desist from misinforming the public about government’s well-meaning programmes geared towards addressing the critical needs of the citizenry.
Special Adviser (Media & Publicity) to the President
February 27, 2012