By Bola Bolawole
“Don’t pity me! I asked for the job (of president). I campaigned for it. No excuses! I will live up to the bill” – President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
“Nigeria’s wealth is the commonwealth of all; it belongs to everyone and I promise…that with your help and the help of God, we will set this country on the right path…We have been bruised (and) our body is not the same again (but) we will do the right thing by the grace of God…We need your prayers… I can tell you (that) I for one, I am a silent worker (achiever); I am not a noise-maker but I listen and I hear” – Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu, mint-fresh First Lady of Nigeria.
The question I asked here last week’s as to whether President Bola Ahmed Tinubu did not put the wrong foot first with his “fuel subsidy has gone” statement in his inaugural address of 29th May, 2023 elicited an avalanche of rejoinders from the esteemed readers of this column, both in my TREASURES column in the New Telegraph newspaper on Wednesdays and here online. Many more called personally to express an opinion and/ or offer advice. I appreciate you all! What the reactions proved to me is that this column/writer is well read, without sounding immodest, and also that the issue of fuel subsidy touches the raw nerves of many Nigerians, rich and poor alike. No faith, no tribe, no political party – and not even the apolitical – is spared. Family, friends and foes alike are impacted. Whether for or against, the views expressed were passionate. I print here today a few of those views. I will return to make some closing remarks.
“My dear brother and darling Comrade, with due respect, the issue seems to be dialectical, so to speak” – Wale Olanipekun.
One of your best! Thanks without limits. There’s really no need to put a question mark on it. Honestly, you were even mild; it’s the worst foot put first! I pray he never takes a similar step like that – for his sake and ours! Let’s continue to pray fervently and fast that he may get it right. May this first technical mishap be the last! – Adegbenga Abe.
What an awesome piece, speaking truth to power!A good move, though wrongly timed, from Mr. President. The chances are that the APC pre-2015 electioneering campaign of less than N100/litre pump price is attainable, given various revelations on ground coupled with sincere political will. God preserve us all and keep Mr. President for us! The Lord bless your wisdom and stabilise your goings for being a blessing to our generation with your write-ups! – Awodire Oyewole.
I share the same view with you. An aphorism states that when a native hen or fowl is taken to a new environment, the first thing it does is to stand on one leg or foot to study the environment and, thereafter, stand on two legs. All the same, it (the subsidy removal) has happened and we have to bear with Mr. President. Drastic decisions like this one are good for us. Imagine a few citizens of Nigeria collecting trillions of Naira as “fuel subsidy” from a country gasping for survival, causing more than 180 million Nigerians to begin to directly or indirectly look for ways of survival! I like the President and I believe he will perform well and bring succour to the citizens who are waiting for a messiah. – Onome Clarke.
I was never and can ever be an admirer of Tinubu’s kind of politics! He was in the vanguard of the opposition to subsidy removal tagged “Occupy Nigeria” in 2012 as a result of which we were inflicted with the unnecessary pain of fuel subsidy. I don’t fancy him at all! – Tunde Samuel.
Beautiful write-up! I salute your courage! I share your thoughts. I am only waiting for the matter at the tribunal to be over before putting down my thoughts in writing. The thoughts are the same as yours. Have an amazing day, my dear. Lade Bonuola.
Frank talks! Very good and timely advice! I am proud of you. -Richard Alli.
A great write up indeed! Highly commendable! -Prof. Akinwumi Akinbo.
I hope your message gets to the president for him to read it personally. -James Awolowo Olayemi.
All well-meaning people thought that Tinubu would be given a period of grace, say July or September, before the subsidy is totally removed. And this, after announcing palliative measures that would immediately be put in place – Isaac Isedowo.
Sir, you made my day! Your article shows that you are not a bootlicker and that you expected nothing from Tinubu, like some others who are throwing caution to the wind and defending the indefensible. My thoughts, as you pointed out, were that the president would give us a breathing space, having been suffocated nearly to death by the preceding government. Not doing so, as you correctly mentioned, is insensitivity and wickedness. Hope he changes his ways! Nigeria is not Lagos! God bless you! –Adegbite.
You may have noticed that lately I have said nothing in response to your articles. I didn’t because I was beginning to have my own doubts if you, like most Yoruba colleagues I know and worked with, have decided to put anything Yoruba before Nigeria as a country that needs to survive. This piece gladdens my heart because it confirms that you have not lost it to “awalokon” I can feel that you wrote from deep in your heart and, somehow, you fear now, like some of us have always been afraid of, that Tinubu at old age is not exactly the Tinubu who captured Lagos and paced it to date. May God continue to guide and help Nigeria out of the various hurdles ahead en-route true nationhood! – Henry Atenaga.
How I thoroughly enjoyed this! This is where the boys are separated from the men and it is why I can stick out my neck for you any day! Some would have thought that in this season when everyone is trying to get into the ‘good books’ of the new sheriff in town, no one would dare speak truth to power! But you are different! You have never fitted into the general mould. I salute your courage and your fellow-feeling. I pray that God will multiply your breed across the landscape: Men and women who will value principles beyond pecuniary considerations! The new government must have a human face and demonstrate that it can feel the pulse and the pains of the ordinary man. It is the only way to enjoy continued goodwill from a people hoping to recover their humanity -Oludaisi Okun.
I read your opinion on “Tinubu: Putting the wrong foot first?” in Sahara Reporters’ news website of June 7, 2023. I must commend you for speaking my mind. – Moshood A., Auchi, Edo state.”
Well, these are the rejoinders that we can accommodate here today; we shall return with many more next week, God willing. So many things gladdened my heart after my initial disappointment with the way Tinubu went about the removal of fuel subsidy; not that I am opposed to the removal of subsidy per se. I have argued ceaselessly that it has to go but when the cart is put before the horse, we owe it a duty to draw attention to the anomaly and call for caution. Now that caution has been taken, I am well and good. President Tinubu has met with Labour and both are working on something. The president has said there will be palliatives, a new wage structure and other policies to cushion the devastating impact of fuel subsidy removal. As a very comfortable member of the vastly-diminished middle class by the grace of God, if I can feel the deleterious impact of fuel subsidy removal the way I do, I imagine what ordinary folks must be going through. And those of us that have a voice, the privilege, opportunity and platform to speak out must do so as forcefully as we can, if not for ourselves, then, for the downtrodden and less privileged who have been long-suffering but have no voice, so to say. We must not allow friendship or expectations of any kind to cloud our sense of duty and responsibility.
Take another look at the quotes above: The president does not want to be treated with kid gloves. He is a heavyweight fighter; he does not have a glass chin. So, why shouldn’t we hit him as hard as we can? The tough guy that he is, we must hit him really hard before he can feel the pinch or punch. I pledge to do that regularly here in the interest of all, the president’s inclusive! And what do you make of the First Lady’s quote as well? She is a listener and being a pastor, she is familiar with the biblical story of Blind Bartimaeus: The more the crowd tried to shut up Bartimaeus, the louder he screamed until Jesus heard him. If we do not shout loud enough for a listening First Lady and a silent achiever to hear us and act, it is our fault! Of course, where the need arises to give kudos, we shall not hesitate to do so with aplomb!
*Former Editor of PUNCH newspapers, Chairman of its Editorial Board and Deputy Editor-in-chief, BOLAWOLE was also the Managing Director/ Editor-in-chief of THE WESTERNER newsmagazine. He writes the ON THE LORD’S DAY column in the Sunday Tribune and TREASURES column in New Telegraph newspaper on Wednesdays. He is also a public affairs analyst on radio and television.
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