The Nigerian Labour Congress on Thursday lambasted President Goodluck Jonathan, describing him as a “dull leader” who lacks the capacity to govern a complex country such as Nigeria.
Speaking in Abuja at the launch of a book ‘Time to reclaim Nigeria’ written by activisit Chido Onumah, the organisation’s Assistant General Secretary, Denja Yaqub, said Mr. Jonathan was not deep enough to understand the implication of some policies he is trying to foist on Nigerians.
Mr. Yaqub, who represented the NLC’s Acting General Secretary, Owei Lakemfa, at the event, also said labour was ready to pay the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that government’s decision to remove subsidy on petroleum products does not see the light of day.
“President Jonathan was voted into power by Nigerians, but we have lost him to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and such other bodies,” he said. “The fight for fuel subsidy removal has been on since 1986 and many people have lost their lives in this struggle, we will never waver.”
He also accused the president of lacking adequate knowledge on the subsidy matter based on his response on the issue at the National Assembly, wondering why he is determined to go ahead with the policy.
“President Jonathan has failed woefully and he does not even understand the subsidy issue as he cannot give an intelligent answer on it at the National Assembly. I am glad Nigerians have already started mobilizing themselves to hit the streets and protest without waiting for labour,” he said.
Speaking along the same line, national secretary of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Buba Galadima, argued that rather than talk about subsidy, what the president needs to bother about is the regime of incompetence and corruption pervading government at all levels.
“How will the removal of the so-called subsidy translate to transformation? Nigerians are angry over this decision and the only ones that are not angry are the ones benefiting from the system,” Mr. Galadima said
The CPC leader further accused the president of taking the issue of fuel subsidy removal too personal.
” If the president truly believes that sovereignty lies with the people, he should know that he is holding the office in trust for them.”
The event, described by the compere as “the gathering of trouble makers” had as chief host Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, the presidential candidate of the opposition Action Congress of Nigeria in the 2011 election while Hussaini Abdu, Actionaid’s country director, was guest lecturer.
In his paper, Mr. Abdu also condemned the decision to remove subsidy while at the same time making life unbearable for citizens by raising electricity tariff, reinstating toll gates, and retrenching workers.
He noted that the title of the book could not have come at a better time than now because the country had been hijacked by five groups of people he listed to include, “corrupt and rapacious politicians, imperial technocrats, international financial institutions, multinational corporations and parasitic business class.”
On his part, Mr. Ribadu said he was he aligning himself with the position of his party, the ACN, which had issued a terse statement condemning the government for trying to cut the subsidy on fuel.
Some speakers at the event spoke on the widespread insecurity in the country. They were however of the view that allocating the lion’s share of the 2012 budget to security is not the solution but good governance.
“In a country in which people are struggling to get the next meal, and one person will steal over N500billion and go scot-free, no amount of money voted for security will guarantee peace other than social justice,” Mr. Galadima said.
Some of those who attended the event were Osun State governor, Rauf Aregbesola, who was represented by Idiat Babalola; a fomer presidential aide, Uba Sani; S.Oronsanye, who represented the president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities; a chieftain of the the Congress for Progressive Change Farouk Adamu Aliyu; and Abdullahi Ribadu, former vice chancellor, Federal University of Technology, Yola.