Fuel subsidy: The cabal’s strategies, tactics (2)
Continued from yesterday
THE strategy of the Nigerian masses was to control the ballot box and create a bigger democratic space in which to defend their interests. They had a presidential candidate who knew that there is no fuel subsidy. General Buhari is a former petroleum minister and military head of state. There were no fuel price increases during his time as head of state.
Given INEC’s PVC and the formation of a united opposition under the APC, a window of opportunity existed to wrestle the Presidency from the grasp of the cabal and get an FGN that could fight corruption and be against fuel price increases.
So, the majority voted for General Buhari to protect their basic economic and political interests. The cabal was shocked when it lost the election and thereby all control of the FGN and its apparatus/institutions. They went on the offensive immediately.
The counter strategy of the cabal is to disrupt, encircle, isolate and neutralise the Buhari presidency and then force it to raise fuel prices. Disruption called for a strike by the cabal using their control of petrol pumps nationally. The Nigerian masses may control the streets but the cabal controlled the petrol stations and pumps. In early June 2015, they shut the petrol pumps down and took the nation hostage.
They demanded a ransom of N200 billion even though the Jonathan FGN had given them N500 billion in the first five months of 2015. Long queues formed in front of petrol stations and the masses suffered.
The NNPC cooperated with the cabal by not releasing its floating 30 days one billion litres PMS reserves. The new Buhari FGN was forced to capitulate and agree to the N200 billion shake down. Operation Encirclement proceeded immediately.
This called for taking over the NASS by unleashing the PDP moles in APC. The PDP/Saraki takeover of NASS stopped the political momentum of Buhari’s men. The cabal had control of the Judiciary and the Legislature. The new Presidency was encircled. President Buhari went into a defensive mode.
Attempts to Isolate the Buhari government are in progress. This entails increased international pressure from the IMF/World Bank and other western creditor agencies. Tony Blair, the former United Kingdom Prime Minister (1997-2007) came to Nigeria and advised Buhari to raise fuel prices. He was followed by Clare Short, the Chairman of the Board of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
The Buhari FGN refused to capitulate. The FGN is faced with more pressure during its July Washington visit. The Western governments may tie the arm supplies for fighting Boko Haram to new loans needed for the revitalisation of the economy of North Eastern Nigeria.
An increase in petroleum products prices will be a precondition for the new loans and thus the supply of arms to fight Boko Haram.
The Buhari FGN will find itself in a bind as Boko Haram makes more gains. If it capitulates and attempts to raise fuel prices, the masses will fight back and disown it. If it does not capitulate and has no weapons to fight Boko Haram, the masses will disown it. The Buhari Presidency will be completely isolated from its mass base. The neutralisation process can then commence. This is the current counter strategy of the cabal/IMF/World Bank and foreign capital. We are at a crossroads.
On one hand is the Cabal/IMF/World Bank and on the other are the Nigerian masses. The cabal is small, rich, strong and armed. The Nigerian masses are many, poor, weak and unarmed. The cabal controls the gasoline pumps, the top bureaucrats of the Nigerian State, the Senate, the House of Representative, and the Judiciary.
The Nigerian masses control the streets, public opinion, their votes and the national democratic political space. The Presidency controls the Army and Police or the state instruments of coercion. It is a terrain of struggle between the cabal and the masses.
It is for Nobody and for Everybody. Given this balance of power, the Nigerian masses have intensified their efforts by defending their strengths and attacking the weakness of the Cabal. They are demanding for the implementations of all the past recommendations of NEITI and all the other probes of the fuel subsidy regime/refineries in Nigeria. They are agitating for the Judiciary to imprison the corrupt members of the cabal.
They insist that the law without justice is oppressive. They are demanding a reduction of the salaries and allowances of NASS members. This should keep NASS busy defending themselves rather than the cabal. The masses are demanding a progressive development oriented nationalist bureaucracy. They are calling for a return to a N65/litre PMS price and a serious fight against corruption by the Presidency.
This will encourage the Presidency to reject all future pressures to increase fuel prices. The masses are trying to break through the current encirclement of the Presidency by the Cabal. They are fighting for the future of their children and the future of our nation. They want to kill corruption by dismantling the cabal. The struggle continues.
• Dr. Agbon, a petroleum technology expert, lives in Texas, United States of America.