I Am Ready For Mass Revolt:Jonathan
President Goodluck Jonathan, at the weekend, vowed to take the option of social revolt from Nigerians than back down on his plan to withdraw the subsidy on fuel.
He said his insistence was informed by his knowledge that Nigeria’s economy will collapse in two years if the subsidy is sustained.
Sunday Sun learnt President Jonathan stated this at a meeting with the leadership of some civil society organizations at the President Villa in Abuja, which was also attended by Vice President Namadi Sambo, the Minister of Finance and Coordinator of the Economic Team, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and her Petroleum Resources counterpart, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke
Notable names at the meeting included the former President, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Olisa Agbakoba, Femi Falana, Chidi Odinkalu, Sam Amadi, Dr Oma Nwokeocha and Emma Ezeazu.
Others are Mahmud Abdul, Ms Annkio Briggs, Tony Uranta, Emmanuel Onwubuiko, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani and Toyosi Akerele.
A source at the meeting, which lasted between 11pm and 3am, told Sunday Sun that the President explained why his government was bent on removing the subsidy.
He said the economy was on the verge of collapse and only an assured extra revenue can halt the slide. To the Presidency, that alternative revenue is proceeds from the removal of the subsidy.
Reminded that Nigerians were totally opposed to the move, Jonathan, according to our source, said he was ready to face uprising from the masses than allow the economy to collapse.
He listed ways the proceeds from the subsidy removal would be put to use for the good of the masses. For a start, he said a seven-member trust fund akin to the defunct Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) established during the late Sani Abacha administration would be set up to administer the extra revenue accruable from the subsidy removal.
He also told the civil society team that apart from constructing and rehabilitating some infrastructure, he would direct state governments to forward a list of 20,000 unemployed youths each for immediate engagement.
He equally pledged to use the proceeds to tackle maternal mortality and the decay in the education sector.
Most of the civil society members at the meeting however disagreed with the President and his cabinet members, asking him to look for alternative means of reviving the economy rather than creating more hardship for the masses.
Agbakoba reportedly told the President that the maritime sector was a goldmine for a robust economy any day if it is well tapped into and advised the government to diversify the economy by exploring other options.
Falana and Onwubuiko similarly disagreed with the President’s proposition, arguing that it would be defeatist for the government to narrow down Nigeria’s economy to oil revenue only.
They argued that since over-dependence on oil in the past never grew the economy, it would be absurd for the present administration to continue on the same path of economic retrogression.
Both of them also reportedly told Jonathan that most of what he was promising to do with the extra oil revenue were already accommodated in the budget even without subsidy removal.
Sunday Sun however learnt that one of the civil society members backed the government plan and suggested that it should step up enlightenment campaign to enable the public see the merits of the move.
Towards achieving this, the government is said to have budgeted heavily for an hyper e-campaign propaganda to sway Nigerians to buy into the policy. It has been running advertorials in the media on the planned subsidy removal.
But at the next leg of the e-campaign, it plans to inundate Nigerians with a propaganda bliss using the social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.
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