- Category: Politics
- Published on Monday, 19 December 2011 18:35
- Written by Admin
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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo at the weekend warned President Jonathan to forget the idea of ending fuel subsidies for now so as to allow stability to reign in the country, sources told us.
A source who is privy to the meeting told us that the former president cautioned Jonathan that removing fuel subsidies could ignite chaos in the country.
Jonathan last week announced the Federal budget for 2012, making no provision for fuel subsidies, apparently in line with his plan to scrap the support regime. But finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said on Wednesday that the president was still holding consultations on the matter.
Labour unions and civil society groups have been warming up for confrontation with the government in the event the subsidy is cut. The Nigeria Labour Congress is to meet tomorrow to decide on ways of staging protests.
But the president seems bent on implementing the plan, arguing that cutting fuel subsidies would free up more than a trillion naira yearly for infrastructure development.
During their meeting, Obasanjo, according to our source, told Jonathan that subsidy removal may destablise the nation and the resultant trouble may be too much for the president to handle. He urged the president to put the plan on hold.
We could not confirm what the president’s response was.
“Chief Obasanjo did not mince words in telling the President to drop his plan of removing fuel subsidy. He told the president that the nation already has enough problems to contend with, and removing fuel subsidy at this time could compound the problems,” the source said.
Presidential spokesman Reuben Abati did not reply to a text message sent to him seeking for comments yesterday.
A source close to Obasanjo confirmed that the two leaders met but said the meeting was held behind closed doors and so “nobody can say what they really discussed.”
It was not clear why Jonathan invited Obasanjo for consultations, having earlier rejected the former president’s roadmap for peace with the Boko Haram sect.
Obasanjo in September offered Jonathan a plan to end the Boko Haram violence, which included amnesty and compensation for the sect, but Jonathan has not implemented the plan.
Our source said an angry Obasanjo has not visited the Villa since that time until Saturday.
President Jonathan had over the past months met separately with Federal lawmakers, civil society groups, private sector operators, student unions, political parties and media owners to try to persuade them to buy into his subsidy ending plan.
His meeting with labour unions billed for last week Monday was postponed because of the absence of the Trades Union Congress. It is due to hold this week. (Daily Trust)