Emergency, fuel subsidy and resistance: Before meets after

January 5, 2012
5 mins read

I was trapped in the interface between hope and despair on New Year’s eve. I am in London, after spending the Christmas period in Dubai and watching on television outlets the horrific reportage of the tragic bombings on Christmas Day.

I remain firmly convinced that there can be no justification for the killing of innocent worshippers at Christmas. Our country was pulled further apart by the tragic bombings, but even more so, by the emotional responses. If the knee jerk, emotional responses of private individuals could be understood in the circumstance, what was most worrisome was the ratcheting up of the decibels of uncontrolled statements by religious leaders.

In the presence of President Goodluck Jonathan, within the precincts of Nigeria’s presidency, the President of CAN, with respect, made very unbecoming statements about Boko Haram attacks as being part of a Muslim Jihad against Nigerian Christians. But I feel that even the religious leader himself, knows that is not true.

The other fallacy that has come out of the events around the bombing is that Northern leaders, religious and political, have not done enough to reign-in the Boko Haram group or have not forcefully condemned it enough.

A related accusation, which was repeated by former Attorney General, Bola Ajibola, in a piece posted on Sahara Reporters, is the alleged sponsorship of the group, ostensibly for certain political reasons against the Jonathan Goodluck administration.

This is framed within the context of the bitterness which trailed both Jonathan’s emergence as PDP’s candidate and subsequent victory in the poll. Those who make the accusations against the Northern elite, might genuinely believe there was some magic wand it can wave to bring Boko Haram to order.

If that is the situation, they believe too much in the legitimacy of the elite; but I suspect that there is a far more sinister basis to those accusations and they feed into the agenda to keep the country polarised along ethno-religious lines. And in the long run, they are to embolden the forces that want the disintegration of Nigeria as the grand strategy to ‘solve’ all the problems in the land.

Last week, Adamu Adamu wrote in his weekly column for DAILY TRUST, about the tunnel vision which afflicts those who manage the security of Nigeria. I think the tunnel vision is not only located in the realm of security; it afflicts practically every level of the country’s ruling elite as well as groups that ordinarily should be thinking for the country.

The preference for simplistic frames of appreciation of the complexities associated with nation-building in a society as ours does so much damage to any meaningful ability to find solutions for problems that have accumulated over decades.

A national strategy for solutions becomes very difficult to build a consensus around, where elite groups operate only from the superstructural levels of ethno-religious identities, as has become the central norm in Nigeria.

Those who argue that there is some kind of Northern conspiracy against Goodluck Jonathan’s government, have not sufficiently reacted to the fact that even the so-called sponsors of Boko Haram that have bee
n named so far, are members of the same political party as the president.

That adds a further sinister twist to the entire situation just as much as the fact that people have seemed to be unaffected by the facts that there have been many Christians caught dressed up as Muslims attempting to set up bombs; while the SSS has also busted gangs of criminals, all of them Christians, who use mobile telephones to threaten people around the country, while also describing themselves as Boko Haram!

The wisdom in this situation in my view, is to maintain a more open mind in trying to understand the roots of the security crisis which faces the country. The near Trillion Naira voted for security might further enrich security contractors and entrench the position of Zionist Israel within the Nigerian system, but in the long run, the ruling elite will not shoot out of sight the security problems which dog the country.

Nigeria is harvesting the irresponsibility which neoliberal capitalism reform has entrenched in terms of the removal of a social safety net for the poorest sections of the population. The situation of hopelessness, in a country of an overwhelming population of young people, has been the ultimate recruiting sergent for Boko Haram and other anti-state groups.

The adjunct is a badly executed counter-insurgency warfare, which is certain to heighten with the declaration of a state of emergency is sections of the country.

Against the backdrop of the fear and uncertainties associated with insecurity, President Goodluck Jonathan chose the beginning of the New Year to begin the implementation of his removal of fuel subsidy. It seems clear that we are saddled with a President who is not only befuddled in his appreciation of the complexity of his task, but is prone to making very bad political judgment as well.

There is no doubt in my mind that the step to lift subsidy is very bad politics and equally very dubious economics. But we are not dealing with a regime that is a free agent, working for the national good.

The Nigerian people have two choices in the circumstances; we can acquiesce and go through the pains associated with the economics of transferring the burdens of state irresponsibility and a conscious class-driven agenda onto the people or choose the alternative of struggle.

The Nigerian working class movement and its allies in civil society have begun a mobilisation to defeat the anti-people essence of the Jonathan economic doctrine.

The prognosis for the New Year is very frightening indeed. Security has become the most important item on the menu of leadership and the declaration of a state of emergency in swathes of Borno, Yobe, Plateau and Niger States, will be seen as justification for those huge sums appropriated in the budget.

The security situation in Southern Kaduna is also becoming increasingly worrisome; that means that the loop of counter-insurgency might widen this year. But examples that came out of Borno, tell a story of the Nigerian Army increasingly operating almost like an army of occupation.

There are extra-judicial killings and a deepening alienation from the local communities they are ostensibly protecting. How the administration hopes to win the war for the hearts and minds of the Nigerian people, in the security offensive remains to be seen, when the same regime is imposing a very unpopular economic agenda, which pauperise the people even more.

And thanks to revelations in the media, Nigerians also know the billions of naira which the regime appropriated to cater for the creature comfort of the President and his entourage. People are not fools!

In all that we are witnessing, there has not been sufficient thought given to unraveling the roots of the crises. The demographic time bomb, where the population is overwhelmimgly young and in need of education; skills acquisition and jobs; the de-industrialisation; the collapse of agriculture and an environmental crisis manifesting in encroachment of the Sahara upon a large section of Northern Nigeria; the consequent rivalry over land and pasture between nomadic groups and settled agricultural groups; the gulley erosion in the East; the degradation of waterways and fishing regions in the Niger Delta; the hopeless corruption of the elite, with over 70 percent of annual budget meeting only recurrent spending while the accumulated crises phenomena are framed within ethno-religious lines, easy to deal with as part of inter and intra-elite struggles for power.

In the long run, they do not help to lessen tension but deepen them; they feed into the emotions against the country’s progress. I think the Goodluck Jonathan administration’s 2012 agenda will be excessively dominated by security and crises, largely because of that tunnel vision that we have spoken about.

And the people will be forced by the circumstance of hyper-security and an uncaring, anti-people agenda, to build coalitions of resistance and struggle. The next 365days will be incredibly difficult in Nigeria. Truly, before has met after in our country!

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