by Lekan Olanrewaju
It seems that the president is struggling under the enormous pressure of leading Africa’s most populous nation, as he complained about the weighty duties he was elected to carry out. It seems that the fuel subsidy removal fiasco is still fresh on the president’s mind as he spoke about the next round of price hikes sure to cause discontent in the nation.
President Goodluck Jonathan has spoken on the impending hike in electricity tariffs in the country, stating that Nigerians should be adequately informed and prepared before it is implemented, so as to avoid a repeat of the occurrences that resulted from the removal of fuel subsidy in January.
Speaking at a workshop in Abuja on Monday, he asked the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission to properly inform Nigerians about the increase in electricity tariffs which is to take effect from June 1, and went on to reveal how state governors turned on him.
“On the June 1 for the increase of electricity tariff, I do not think we have had a robust advocacy and this happened to me during the deregulation,” he said. “At a point I wanted to send a team to the states to work with the governors and Benue State governor said no, that if we do that, there could be crises and that the governors should take charge.”
“At the end of the day, by the day we announced the deregulation, almost everything was on my head,” he continued. “Everything was Jonathan to the extent that the House of Representatives had to meet on a Sunday to discuss it and it became an issue.”
“At a point, some of the governors (I will not call the names) who participated in pressurising me, started shooting back.”
He went on to emphasise the need for Nigerians to be sufficiently enlightened on the impending increases, saying: “If you don’t have robust advocacy, the civil society may come and tell you that they never heard you. We want enough communication so that we do not get to that June 1st and Nigerians have not been sufficiently informed.”
He also warned the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to shun any attempts at political manipulation in the privatisation process in the power sector strictly. “We do not want to hear any story again,” he said. “They must follow issues to the letter and strictly with the dates. I do not want to hear that they have been influenced by any politician.”
“At least I am the number one politician. Whether the person is my mother or my uncle, I do not want to hear that somebody is from the president or vice president. If you make mistakes, you are on your own and we will deal with you decisively.”