THE Federal Governmentâ€™s offer of palliatives after it has removed the fuel subsidy has been described as â€œmedicine after deathâ€ by Prof. Wole Soyinka.
In a statement at the weekend entitled, â€˜Back To The Trenches, Predictably,â€™ the Nobel laureate said: â€œRarely has government alienation from the people it is meant to serve been so pronounced as demonstrated in the recent removal of the so-called oil subsidy. The bruited palliatives, as illusory as electoral promises, belong to what Nigerians routinely describe as â€˜medicine after death.â€™
â€œA serious government would have emplaced the â€˜palliativesâ€™ first, worked assiduously to ensure that they were effectively enforced, with, at the very least, a guaranteed stabilisation of the existing level of Nigerian subsistence â€“ which was nothing to crow about in any case. Nothing remotely approaching this protective measure has taken place, only – business as usual.â€
Describing as incongruous governmentâ€™s attempt to stop organised labour from embarking on its strike today to protest the removal of the fuel subsidy, Soyinka stated: â€œIf Labour therefore chooses to ignore the order, it has impeccable precedents – it is merely the chickens coming home to roost.â€
Also, a group of Nigerian writers led by Prof. Chinua Achebe issued a statement yesterday pledging solidarity with the Nigerian people.
The statement said: â€œWe are troubled by the turn of events in Nigeria, and hereby call on President Goodluck Jonathan and the rest of the countryâ€™s political leadership to take immediate steps to tackle the state of lawlessness in certain parts of the nation and address the trepidation and rage that has reached dangerous levels within the Nigerian populace.
â€œNigeria is witnessing a new escalation of sectarian violence, culminating in explosions that have killed or seriously wounded scores of people at churches and other centers of worship and local businesses.â€
The statement further said: â€œClearly, the sophistication and deadly impact of the terrorist attacks suggest an agenda to create widespread fear and, possibly, to foment anarchy or war. President Jonathan has no greater duty than to ensure that Nigerians are safe wherever they live or visit within the country. He should demonstrate his recognition of that solemn duty, in our view, by doing the following:
(a) Outline both short and long term plans to comprehensively address the scourge of terror,
(b) Appoint competent and committed officials to head the various security agencies, and
(c) Serve as an agent to heal the many divisions plaguing Nigeria, and persuade all well-meaning people to enlist in the fight against festering violence.
â€œPresident Jonathanâ€™s decision to remove fuel subsidies in the country at this time was ill-advised. Coming at the advent of the New Year, and barely a week after the gruesome Christmas Day attacks on worshippers, the policy has forced many Nigerian citizens to perceive his leadership as one that is both insensitive and possibly contemptuous of the mood of its people.
â€œWe stand with the Nigerian people who are protesting the removal of oil subsidy which has placed an unbearable economic weight on their lives.
In another statement entitled, â€˜The pilchard is brokenâ€™, a group led by eminent lawyer, Tunji Braithwaite, said: â€œThere is now, a hue and cry, indeed, an uproar across the country over a 125 per cent increase in the price of petrol in one fell swoop decreed, by the Nigerian imperial majesties (they number over a thousand) for their Nigerian subjects. Why now this hue and cry!! And, why is the uproar only on the petroleum increase? What about the widespread bloodshed, the insecurity, the corruption, the unconscionable and oppressive Nigerian constitution?
â€œAll these must be addressed and resolved by the people.
â€œThis is because, the price increase is the symbolic last straw that breaks the camelâ€™s back.
â€œWhat about the cost of governance and the financial burden to the people of Nigeria of Nigeriaâ€™s brand of democracy â€“ the undeserved super jumbo wages, allowances and perks for every so-called â€œelectedâ€ (though not elected) of the cartels in the executive and the legislative arms of government in Nigeria? It is our position that any belated effort to cancel the price increase at this late hour will not even assuage the justified anger of the long-suffering Nigerian people. The entire comprehensive political and social oppression, threatening the corporate existence of the country MUST be tackled NOW.â€