THE Serving Overseer of the Citadel Global Community Church (formerly Latter Rain Assembly), Pastor Tunde Bakare, on Sunday came hard on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu over the fuel subsidy removal, describing it as “impulsive”.
He said the poor people were being made to suffer for the corruption of a few powerful people benefiting from the subsidy regime, noting the President should have gone after those individuals, and not “punish” Nigerians.
In his state of the nation address titled, “Vice, Virtue and Time: The Three Things That Never Stand Still”, Bakare stated that the removal of subsidy is tantamount to killing Nigerians.
In 2012, Bakare convened the Save Nigeria Group (SNG)which protested against the removal of fuel subsidy by the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
In his address, the preacher said the President should rather kill corruption and not Nigerians, whom he noted, are now bearing the “brunt of the capricious policies of political actors and the greed of a colluding elite.”
He said, “From a wrongly implemented naira redesign policy to an impulsive fuel subsidy removal announcement, and from a drowning of purchasing power in an attempt to float the naira, to an unbearable increase in the cost of basic amenities, the past and recent months have been particularly excruciating for the Nigerian citizen.
“I am talking about employees who have been forced to trek owing to the unaffordable spike in transportation costs; parents struggling to bridge the gap between their life savings and the cost of living; graduates whose chances of getting a job have become slimmer due to the impact of the economy on the labour market; I am talking about that trader whose meagre daily income has further diminished in value due to the dwindling value of the naira; that farmer who looks on in agony as his produce rots on the farm due to transportation challenges, inflation and insecurity; those children who will invariably be sent home in September due to outstanding fees.”
Bakare noted that the announcement by Tinubu in his May 29 inaugural address that “subsidy is gone” despite not being in his inauguration speech, had “unwittingly plunged” Nigeria into chaos by a very poor change management process.
“Whatever the president’s true motivations were, it is clear that he put the cart before the horse. What is also clear is that the president was economical with the truth by giving Nigerians the impression that he was taking a courageous move to remove the fuel subsidy when the previous government had already taken that step.
“As Nigerians would later learn, subsidy payment had already been ended by the Buhari administration, and no subsidy was paid in 2023 even though there was provision for it on paper up to June 2023.”
According to Bakare, the President “in line with change management principles” should have handled more circumspectly the announcement of such an issue that borders on the livelihood of the Nigerian citizen.
He observed that, that would have spared Nigerians “the reactionary scarcity and price hikes that immediately followed his announcement.”
“Furthermore, what is even clearer is that the president had been handed a month of grace by the previous administration; a month that should have been used to put in place cushioning effects before the official expiration of the subsidised economy.
“What is further clear concerning our domestic challenges is that, by imposing hardship on Nigerians without going after those corrupt individuals, corporations and government officials who have plundered Nigeria over the years in the name of subsidy, the president has picked the wrong fight,” he added.
He recalled that the 2012 protest against subsidy removal, saying the fight then was against the corruption in the system, adding, “This was our fight when, amid the threats to my life and family, right there at Ojota and live on national and international television, I called out by name those individual and corporate entities who had allegedly ravaged our nation.
“Mr President, given the complexity of the Nigerian economy, we are not thoroughly convinced that your palliatives will be sufficient to cushion the effect of your policies on the Nigerian citizen.”
He said the demand 11 years ago was for the current occupant of the Office of the President, to “Kill Corruption, Not Nigerians.”
“Some might say that you, Mr President, are too tainted to fight corruption because you were escorted into the presidency by a retinue of corruption allegations. Some might even describe you as transparently opaquely corrupt because, despite the indicators of state capture allegedly linked to you, no one has proved these allegations against you in any Nigerian court of competent jurisdiction.
“Some might argue that even the road you took to the presidency was itself paved with filth from the cesspool of corruption and that you are, therefore, incapable of mounting any genuine fight against corruption. Mr President, while we admit that, as of today, our nation has transitioned from an administration that came to power on the 12/30 supposed wings of integrity and anti-corruption to one that cannot be described as such, the fact remains that you are today the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with enormous powers to fight against corruption in its hydra-headed forms.”