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The pretext for soldiers

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By Kola Animashaun

“We danced and sang before them when we were seeking their votes. Why should we feel irritated when they sing and dance in protest against what we have done.” -Raji Babatunde Fashola, Governor of Lagos, Nigeria

Nigerians would do anything to attract votes- including selling their mothers. And I am surprised that Babatunde was surprised. Most Nigerians politician would do the same.

The Yoruba say that when human beings want to beg for eba(food) they will look penitent but when they become beleful  they become the boss of the men from whom they begged food.

The veteran, Alade Odunewu (Allah De) has told us how they do it: they shrug and you could do your worst of course. The master tactician- Chief Akintola of blessed memory- said it more concisely: A ti fi oje si olosa lowo, Oku eniti yio bo. You have ringed the devil, who dares take it off.

President Goodluck Jonathan did not (he said he did) tell anybody before he raised the pump price of petrol from 65 Naira to 141 Naira. He knows the score: name a figure, seem to climb down and settle to the agreed price and it never fails to work.

We have seen it work during the time of Obasanjo and Oshimole of course. Adams will rant and rave so, it was the same this time and we settled at 97 Naira per litre of course, the style was not different.

This Jonathan was not refined this time around. Even if he makes a show of it. He rammed the new price into our throats.

Abdulwaheed Omar, NLC President said Jonathan unilaterally decided the price of petrol. He said the new price was done by the Federal Government (meaning Goodluck). “What we wanted was to revert to the old price and the Federal Government went ahead to give the pump price at 97 Naira and that is why we want to make Nigerians know that we were never part of it”.

It was a game of blackmail and intimidation. The president deployed the PDP stalwarts of Tony Anenih and Kawu Baraje to intimidate the Speaker of the House who had spear-headed House resolution saying no to a new and high petrol price.

The party “was outraged by the resolution of the House of Representatives in which the lawmakers asked Goodluck Jonathan to revert to the old price of petrol at 65 Naira.

The party leadership felt the house resolution emboldened the organised labour to go on strike. They also thought without the resolution labour and civil society organisations might not have the audacity to embark on the street protests. It was very clear that it was an agenda of the Federal Government and the PDP.

Alhaji Dangote and the Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomole visited the Speaker at his residence. I believe towards the same cause. Who did not know that “the Speaker is a stakeholder in the Nigerian Project”

Of course, it has been done. The president has vetoed the will of the people. Despite the pains that it will cause them and he has added more injuries.

Nigerians woke up on Monday (18/1/12) to “meet massive deployment of soldiers at strategic places, especially in the South-West as part of measures by the Federal Government to stop protests”.

Why has police, who have managed the protest without most untoward happens, given way to soldiers? Fashola thought the Federal Government meant to repress civilians, to repress fundamental human right, oppress and to subjugate the masses of the people.

He believed the country’s democracy is mature enough to accommodate robust engagement between the leaders and the governed. He urged the presidency to learn to respect the right of the others.

Among many other things, Fashola said: “there no justification of sending soldier to a gathering of unharmed citizens. Every one of us, or at least a majority of us who hold public offices danced and sang before these same people when we seeking their votes. Why should we feel irritated when they sing and dance in protest against what we have done.

The issue at stake was not a matter for the Military”, Fashola said.

The Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has said the only noble role for Nigerian Armed Forces is to defend the nation’s territory and its constitution. He said total allegiance to the constitution of the Federal Republic and its people is the responsibility of men in uniform.

Jonathan, the president, has made some promises: to the country and to himself. Will he keep them?

*I have this legend among the many posters during the protest strikes. It reads: ONE DAY THE POOR WILL HAVE NOTHING TO EAT BUT THE RICH. Chew on it.

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