Jonathan, governors, N’Assembly in frantic search to end strike

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  • Fuel price may revert to N65. 

PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan yesterday evening presided over an emergency meeting with governors and some members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

Governors in attendance included those of Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Imo, Katsina, Kaduna, Bauchi, Cross River, Kogi, Sokoto, Edo, Enugu, Delta, Rivers, Ebonyi, Delta, Nasarawa, Oyo, Ogun, Niger, Taraba, Zamfara, Lagos, Gombe, Kebbi, Plateau and Jigawa.

Others in the meeting were Vice President Namadi Sambo and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Anyim Pius Anyim. The Ministers participating included Finance (Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala), Petroleum Resources (Deziani Alison-Madueke), Labour and Productivity (Emeka Wogu) and Information (Labaran Maku).

He was also billed to meet again with Labour leaders last night and make a nationwide broadcast afterwards. The meeting between Jonathan and the governors ended at about 8.50 p.m. Midway into the meeting, they were joined by Senate President, David Mark, his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu and the Senate Leader, Ndoma-Egba. It was learnt that the President may have decided to revert the price of Premium Motor Spirit (fuel) to the former N65 a litre.

The President, had after the wreathe-laying ceremony marking the end of the 2012 Armed Forces Remembrance Day at the National Arcade, Abuja retired to his official residence. He was later joined by Defence and security chiefs in a meeting.

Those in attendance at the meeting included the National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen. Andrew Owoye Azazi, Chief of Defence Staff (Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin), the Service Chiefs – Lt.-Gen. Azubike Ihejirika (Army), Vice Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim (Navy) and Air Marshal Mohammed Dikko Umar (Air Force) and the Inspector General of Police, Hafiz Ringim.

It was after the meeting with the security chiefs that he moved to the Council Chambers of the Villa where the parley with the governors took place.

A two-day break from the ongoing strike over increase in the prices of petroleum product declared by Labour ended yesterday.

Also Mark summoned a meeting over the issue in his residence yesterday. At the meeting were Deputy Senate President Ekweremadu, House of Representatives Speaker Aminu Tambuwal, Deputy Speaker Emeka Ihedioha, Governors Rotimi Amaechi and Peter Obi of Rivers and Anambra states as well as Anyim, Alison-Madueke and Nwogu.

Speaking after the meeting, Amaechi expressed confidence that a solution would soon be found to the problem. He said: “I believe that solutions would be found to the strike. I believe that we are at the verge of finding a solution to it.

“We have held a meeting and we have looked at the solutions and we think that with Labour, we can find a joint solution to the problem and you must realize first that the President is patriotic in his decision and all of us in government are backing him.  Labour agrees to deregulation. I don’t know if there is any point that they are not part of deregulation. Their argument is how and when and we are sorting out all those fine details and we will find solution to it.”

When asked to be more specific about the details, he said: “What is more specific than the fact that we are meeting and finding solutions to these problems and that before the end of today, tomorrow and all that.

“There is a President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria he will determine whether there would be one or not. Don’t forget that the convener of that meeting is here. The government delegation came to see him to present what we think is the way forward…”

Asked about the way forward, he stated: “If we wanted the world to know what it is and it is not a proposal we won’t have come to him, we would have called you (press) and address you. The fact that we came to him, is to say to him this is our proposal and then maybe he will look at it, call Labour and say have a look at this.”

Meanwhile, more Nigerians have called on both Labour and the government to find an amicable solution to the lingering crisis.”

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, in a statement issued yesterday advised the Federal Government and Organised Labour/civil society leaders to find a mutually agreeable settlement to the current anti-subsidy withdrawal protests across the country in the larger interest of millions who have been suffering additional burden of hardship since the strike began a week ago.

According to him, both the government and Labour leaders should be united by the common interest of ordinary Nigerians who are bearing the crunch of the seeming stalemate.

He said unless the two sides are realistic, the nation stands the risk of reaching a cul-de-sac in the negotiations, thereby compounding the hardship of millions who are earnestly awaiting a speedy end to this crisis.

Atiku particularly urged the two sides to listen to the reason rather than bending to the dictates of their egos, which might lead to avoidable complications in finding a workable solution to the subsidy crisis.

Atiku noted that sacrifices were needed by both sides to ensure that the final resolution serves the best interest of the economy and the people. He, however, condemned the killings by the security agents and the violence and arson on public and private property by a section of the protesters.

While urging restraint by both parties, he advised Labour leaders not to allow criminal elements to infiltrate their ranks and discredit the essence of legitimate peaceful protest.

Similarly, the Senator representing Oyo South Senatorial District, Olufemi Lanlehin urged the Federal Government to respect the people’s opinions and wishes as a way of resolving the impasse resulting from the removal of the subsidy on the Premium Motor Spirit.

Lanlehin, in a statement said: “The only panacea to this situation is for the Federal Government to do the will of the people by reverting to the old price of petrol, which is N65”, adding that “when this is done, Federal Government can now have ample time to work out how best to address the fuel subsidy issue.”

Lanlehin who is the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on National Planning and Poverty Alleviation added that the Federal Government could still plan for removal of the subsidy in a manner that will not “disrupt people’s means of livelihood while also not destabilising the nation’s economy.”

“The Federal Government could have come up with a well thought out plan and a phased approach to the removal,” he said.

“It should not have been done in one fell swoop without adequate palliative measures in place first before the removal of the subsidy.”

He therefore called on government to take cognisance of the hardship that had attended the increase in the pump price of petrol, which is the major driver of the economy and revert to N65 a litre.

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