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Fuel subsidy protest in 2012 was politically driven, says Fayemi

Fuel subsidy protest in 2012 was politically driven, says Fayemi

Kayode Fayemi, former Governor of Ekiti State, has said that the protests that erupted following the removal of fuel subsidy during President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration in 2012 were primarily motivated by political interests.

He made these remarks during a keynote address at a national dialogue held in Abuja to commemorate the 60th birthday of Professor Udenta Udenta, the founding National Secretary of the Alliance for Democracy and a Fellow at the Abuja School of Social and Political Thought.

In January 2012, President Goodluck Jonathan announced the removal of fuel subsidy, causing a significant increase in the pump price of petrol, from N65 per litre to N141. This decision ignited widespread protests across major cities in Nigeria, known as ‘Occupy Nigeria.’ After more than a week of protests, the government adjusted the petrol price to N97 and later reduced it to N87 in 2015.

Fayemi, while speaking at the event, criticised the “winner-takes-all” nature of Nigeria’s democracy stating that the nation’s current challenges could not be effectively addressed without adopting proportional representation, where election rewards are distributed among contestants based on their share of the vote.

He said, “Today, I read former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s interview in The Cable saying our liberal democracy is not working and we need to revisit it, and I agree with him. We must move from the political alternatives. I think we are almost on a dead end of that.”

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Fayemi further said, “What we need is alternative politics, and my own notion of alternative politics is that you can’t have 35 per cent of the vote and take 100 per cent. It won’t work! We must look at proportional representation so that the party that is said to have won 21 per cent of the votes will have 21 per cent of the government. Adversary politics bring division and enmity.”

He also acknowledged that all major political parties in Nigeria, including the PDP, APC, and Labour Party, had previously included the removal of subsidy in their manifestos. However, he emphasized that the actual implementation of this policy in 2012 was driven by political considerations rather than a genuine commitment to the policy itself.