Protests aftermath: unwitting revelations of ever-burgeoning looting of country’s wealth, masses’ angst at labor’s betrayal, Iweala’s who-me(?) escapism, etcetera

January 19, 2012

by Tola Adenle


I was not going to write on the betrayal of the masses by the so-called labor leaders after the abrupt end to the protests until a reader wondered aloud why.  There was really nothing new I had to say or that I’m going to say here about three illustrative people that I’ve not said in the last two years:

that Dr. Ngozi Iweala – who has reportedly denied the perceived depth of her pivotal role in the subsidy debacle – would lead Nigeria to disaster in her new call for new “external  borrowings after being the cheerleader for loan liquidation during her tenure as retd. General Obasanjo’s Finance Minister.  I wrote that her interest could not be the interest of Nigeria judging from her calls for new borrowings which must be the same as  that of her then employer, the World Bank.  As a commissioned agent, I repeated in many essays, the World Bank’s interest can never be the same as that of borrowers. The minister Nigeria needs must be someone who would rein in borrowings, external or domestic.

Then there was the little matter of “opinion polls”, one by Mr. Obaigbena of This Dayand the other by an outfit founded by Dr. Ngozi Iweala, NOI Polls (for Ngozi Okonjo Iweala).  The findings of both polls were “agenda-setting”, in my opinion: on March 30 and on March 31 – incidentally, the first and second day of this Blog.

To illustrate the sorry state that unionism in Nigeria have reached, I will mention briefly how I’ve had to mention Governor Oshiomole a couple of times in the last several months. After the rested 234NEXT credited Oshiomole with saying, “Disregard criticism, Oshiomole charges Jonathan” about the country’s security problem and was also quoted as saying that “Nigeria is far safer …” Below is my comment on the story:

TOLA ADENLE on Oct 03 2011

“Nigeria is far safer than some other countries in the world” is not good enough for the majority of Nigerians, Mr. Former Labor Leader. A very sad selfish opinion, considering who’s talking. Re-election outreach from a “progressive”?

Here are the words of Oshiomhole who supposedly pride himself as “grandson of Imoudu” – at the passing of Late Pa Imoudu, foremost labor leader, a claim that remains a travesty just as the implied representation of Nigerian workers’ interest by labor leaders of the last several years:  “ ….his advent of the trade union scene brought unprecedented militancy and a radically activist dimension to the movement … he stood shoulder to shoulder with the leading nationalist figures projecting the working class banner … represented the finest tradition of the labour movement”

Pa Imoudu was one of the leaders of a general strick back in the 40s during colonial era, a strike that would last forty-four days.  Unlike Pa Imoudu, labor “leaders” these days reportedly own homes overseas, thanks to using the masses as chess pieces to obtain huge sums from rulers who’d rather “settle” a few than improve the country and the masses’ living standards.

What to do with union-called strikes?  I think the country has reached a stage that a strike might not need be called the next time but a mass staying at home by everybody, that is, those for whom these repressive government policies mean further impoverishment.  Since it is apparent now that President Jonathan have no compunction about sending soldiers “to maintain peace”, it would be in the interest of Nigerians not to go into the streets to face soldiers.

Finally, my opinions about President Jonathan has been about the same these last two years – often sympathetic but never expecting much and so, I probably have been able to take the events of these past  couple of weeks with more equanimity than many other people I know for whom the president’s actions and reactions have been huge disappointments.  The following few essays confirm my point:

In fact, this essay, posted after the ministerial list was made public last June, continues to attract readers and ranks in the top 10 of the Blog’s all-time list, having attracted around 300 readers. and the following day, I wrote “Update on yesterday’s post: President Jonathan, Yoruba-land is part of Nigeria”.


Nigerians might have voted for a man most agreed is a decent person but the manner of his rise to the top indicates also a man who has been able to separate his humanity from his political ambitions.   How about fulfilling his promises?  I think the answers to that are obvious.


It has become very apparent from the protests that he is not  different from those who have held Nigeria back because of their divisive attitude and the Yoruba seem to have been somehow at the receiving end of his hatred.  The two short essays on the Ibadan flood above become more telling now when we consider not only how his “kinsmen” have attacked Yoruba in advertorials during the protests but how he has unleashed soldiers on the people of Lagos after the subterfuge that ended the protests.

The president’s reported words that “government cannot continue to borrow money to subsidise fuel for people ‘who have 10 or 15 cars and all their under-aged children will be driving the cars around Lagos” is embarrassing apart from the impolitic nature of those unfortunate words. There are more per capita delinquent kids of those who live off the common wealth at Abuja, by the way, if truth be told.

In spite of the labor leaders’ betrayal AND President Jonathan’s surprising high-handedness towards peaceful protesting Nigerians, there are “gains” from the protests:  the unwitting revelations of ever-growing looting of the country’s wealth that will have to be accounted for somehow, some day; the revelation of the true colors of Who-Me(?) Ngozi Iweala who has shifted the blame of the subsidies on “governors and ministers”; inflating cost of “subsidies” according to the RMAFC; Constitutional-defying deduction of N650 billion by NNPC; Iweala’s acknowledged “we are reconciling” after the definitive figures of subsidies earlier given, etcetera.

It is not that Nigeria as a country should be disappointed at the Obama administration supporting removal of subsidy but Nigerian masses, and especially Nigerian-Americans whose solid financial support AND vote for Obama in 2008 may be jeopardized in the way and manner his officials show the double standards of U.S. foreign policy.  First, it was U.S. ambassador to Nigeria who went to the Labor Ministry before IMF’s Lagarde’s ominous visit.  Now, it is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who was quoted as saying:

Empowered Newswire reported that US administration officials, speaking with reporters travelling with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to West Africa this week, said of the fuel subsidy removal by the Nigerian government, “we support the government’s efforts to remove the fuel subsidy…According to the US government press release, the fuel subsidy in Nigeria is very costly and has kept the prices abnormally low …”

Ms. Clinton,

  1.  Which U.S. president, including Obama, has ever asked for removal of oil subsidies in Saudi, Qatar, Kuwait, etcetera?  Can you go to the Middle East and repeat words you’re credited with – to their rulers?
  2. What is the English Language description of hundreds of millions of dollars to American farmers so that they will remain on farms?  Does America not buy grains off farmers – and even cattle – in times of huge harvests, purchases that Uncle Sam destroys to have market stable prices?
  3. Pump prices of fuel range right now from $3.25/- $3.50 per gallon in the Washington area.  Nigerians are being asked to pay what amounts to about the same in spite of the huge disparity in earning levels.

Finally, President Jonathan must realize that the hounding of peaceful protesting Nigerians from protesting with bullet-shooting soldiers is not the end of the struggle to free the masses from what has become unprecedented looting and they are saying ‘no’ to the following among many other grouses:  N65/per liter fuel; drastic reduction in recurrent expenditure, especially perquisites to the Executive and Legislative arms; drastic reduction in costs of travelling overseas which have never yielded appreciable benefits; increase in education and health funding; will to actually pursue corrupt individuals, etcetera.



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