Fuel Subsidy Removal And Security Implications


0binna Akukwe


The vexed issue of fuel subsidy removal is one policy President Goodluck cannot afford for now. The nation is already at risk due to the intractable bombings by the Boko Haram from the North East, Mend from South South, kidnappers from South East, Jos crisis from North Central and political discontent in the South West occasioned by the political trial of Bola Tinubu. It is obvious that the security agencies are not fully in control  of the situation. The symbolic Independence Parade was recently held in a court yard inside the state house due to security concerns. Nigerians are yet to recover from the outrage over this the next thing is that all government agencies are commandered  to act as foot soldiers of fuel subsidy removal.

The security review system around President Jonathan appears faulty. Every reasonable government worldwide weighs the security implications of policies before implementation. President Jonathan came out of a presidential election that created the highest bloodshed in the history of the nation, 524 death according to official police report, hundreds of thousands homeless and displaced and properties of over 20billion naira destroyed. The ill wind generated by his election by sections of the north had not died down yet, another fire was put in the South West by the politically motivated trial of Bola Tinubu, the security irritations of Boko Haram group and PDP induced political tensions in Bayelsa and Kogi state.

The last thing the president needs is to fuel the cannons of the enemies of democracy within and outside his party. These enemies of democracy as we can all see can match the federal might cash for cash, weapon for weapon, intelligence for intelligence and espionage for espionage but for now cannot match the government of the day in terms of sympathy. The only advantage this government has is that public sympathy still favours it. This fuel subsidy removal will erode this subconscious confidence that this simple looking president can do the unimaginable turnaround and once the sympathy is obliterated the enemies of democracy will capitalize on the situation to renew their onslaught.

If they hid under Boko Haram in the past now they will have many options and names to use like ‘Libyan Style Revolutionaries’, ‘Sovereignty movement’, ‘Anti Looters Uprising’, ‘Freedom Army’, ‘free Nigeria Movement’, ‘Recover Our Money Mandate’ and numerous others covers and many people out of frustration will see them as the only viable rallying point and shift sympathy and later allegiance.

At this point soldiers will be called in to control the situation leading to numerous loss of lives, permanent injuries, illegal detentions and other human rights violations. Nigeria will be in the spotlight again for the wrong reasons . International credibility will be reduced and the foundation for the breakup of the nation would have been laid. All Anti –Jonathan elements all over the country will find where to channel their anger, hatred and enormous funds. Even if government eventually succeeds in handling the situation , another section of people would have been emboldened to carry arms and confront security agencies with impunity just like Boko Haram and MEND.

This scenario will obviously lead to increase in security budget beyond proportions to about five hundred percent from its already enormous figures. This means the savings from subsidy will be eliminated by increase in security votes. The  removal of fuel subsidy at this point of our national history from security point of view is not expedient and actually is like selling live ammunitions to a dangerous enemy. If President Jonathan is yet to receive another angle to the issue  here it is. The labour movements, civil rights groups and others have given early warnings about their intentions to stop it. They should not be held liable if anything goes wrong. Government should open constructive dialogue with all stakeholders and consider their fears and look for a mid point approach to avoid a calamitious scenario. I believe that policies on the Sovereign Wealth Fund, Port Reforms , FIRS new transparency initiative and others are  creditable policies of this administration capable of leading a transformational drive  . Let this subsidy thing not obliterate other laudable programmes.