By Rachel Ogbu
President Goodluck Jonathan has accused the House of Representatives of stirring Nigerians against his government by passing a resolution urging him to suspend the removal of petrol subsidy.
“That extraordinary session coming a day on the eve of an attempt by some people to disrupt law and order could be interpreted in some quarters as an attempt by the House of Representatives to incite the Nigerian people against the government and the last time I checked the lawmakers are also a part of this government,” the President said through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati.
It all began after Hon. Khadija Ibrahim described the Fuel Subsidy Removal as a “harsh and rash decision”. He was among the majority of the Representatives taking the stand of the people at an emergency session meeting held yesterday, 8 January, in which the House of Representatives put forth a motion calling for the suspension of the removal of fuel subsidy.
Hon. Gbajabiamila said it was impractical to believe the economy would crash because of the subsidy and faulted the President’s decision to remove fuel subsidy, saying he was smiting the “one per cent cabal at the expense of 99 per cent Nigerians”.
The house was alarmed that the Executive chose to introduce a policy as ‘highly volatile as the removal of fuel subsidy’ at a time when Nigerians were mourning the loss of loved ones resulting from acts of terrorism. They therefore insisted that the country must first exist harmoniously before it can derive benefits of any public policy however critical it might be.
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) immediately commended members of the House of Representatives over the motion in the House, demanding that the federal government suspends its decision on the removal of fuel subsidy, leading to over 120 per cent increase in the price of petrol.
The House however, resolved that they will urge Organised Labour and stakeholders to re-consider their planned strike and open up to further dialogue instead while it urges the Executive arm of government to suspend its decision on the removal of fuel subsidy and allow more room for consultation.
But the President was clearly unhappy with the meeting at the house, accusing some of the lawmakers of mischief. Probed further on whether the House decision will not be binding on the President, Abati said the presidency will not go back on the deregulation of the downstream sector.