#OccupyNigeria: Lagos fuel subsidy protesters were paid ‘bottled water’ to protest in January- Jonathan

#OccupyNigeria: Lagos fuel subsidy protesters were paid ‘bottled water’ to protest in January- Jonathan


President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday resuscitated the controversy, which followed the fuel subsidy removal in January.
Jonathan alleged that the Occupy Nigeria anti-fuel subsidy removal mass protest, organised by civil society groups in Lagos in the wake of the removal of fuel subsidy in January, was manipulated by an unnamed class of people.
He said the protest was not a true reflection of the position of the masses but that of those who sponsored them.
But civil rights groups and an opposition party took a swipe at the President, saying he had alienated himself from the people.
At the 52nd Independence anniversary lecture on Tuesday, Jonathan also recanted his earlier position describing himself as the most criticised president in the World.
He explained that he had since discovered that his earlier position taken during the last general conference of the Nigeria Bar Association was erroneous.
Earlier, Former President of Ghana, Mr. John Kufour, delivered the lecture entitled ‘Nigeria: Security, Development and National Transformation’.
Jonathan said the manner in which the mass protest was conducted smacked of a sinister motive.
He noted that the best musicians and comedians were hired to perform while participants were served with choice foods and drinks was an indication that the whole event was stage-managed.
He said, “Look at the demonstrations back home, look at the areas these demonstrations are coming from, you begin to ask, are these the ordinary citizens that are demonstrating? Or are people pushing them to demonstrate?
“Take the case of Lagos, Lagos is a critical state in the nation’s economy, it controls about 53 per cent of the economy and all tribes are there.
“The demonstration in Lagos, people were given bottled water that people in my village don’t have access to. People were given expensive food that the ordinary people in Lagos cannot eat. So even going to eat free alone attracts people.
“They go and hire the best musicians to come and play and the best comedian to come and entertain. Is that demonstration? Are you telling me that that is a demonstration from ordinary masses in Nigeria who want to communicate something to government?
“I believe that that protest in Lagos was manipulated by a class in Lagos and was not from the ordinary people.”
He took a swipe at the mass media which he said have been criticising him even during his first six months in office, saying such belong to the “political media.”
The President attributed most of the criticisms targeted at him to the politics of 2015.
On his earlier claim that he was the most criticised President in the world, Jonathan said, “I just returned from Malawi where the President there was complaining that the media were being hard on her, especially the social media and I told her not to bother herself.
“Recently, I was talking to the NBA and I described myself as the most criticised President and when I left, one of my aides said I am not the most criticised President.
“He downloaded some samples of people from countries writing against their governments and Presidents and I said oh, Nigeria is even better.”
Meanwhile, Kufour in his lecture, identified imbalanced development as a major cause of insecurity in Nigeria.
“Naturally, imbalanced development that involves horizontal inequalities is an important source of conflict and that is costing Nigeria the opportunity to be the giant nation that it can and should be,” he said.
The former President said only a government that delivers on security and development could earn its continued stay in office.
He said, “The challenge is to accelerate the pace of development by using institutions of the federal Constitution as a nursery ground for producing leaders who are national in outlook and with a missionary zeal to transform this nation.
“This will help to mold the contending ethnic and religious groups into harmony and help to remove the perceived mutual distrust among them.”
Faulting the President, the Campaign for Democracy, one of the organised of the January protest, said Jonathan’s statement was provocative.
The CD president, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, said, “This is aprovocative statement. It is annonying, insultive. It shows President does not give a damn. Today fuel sells for N150 per litre.”
Also, the Congress for Progressive Change, said the President’s statement was not surprising.
The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, said, “It is not surprising that this comment was made by the President because this regime has alienated itself from the Nigerian people.


Punch

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