"Fuel subsidy removal protest in Lagos was staged" - President Goodluck Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan has said that the January nationwide protest over the total removal of subsidy from petroleum was stage managed by a class of Nigerians who wanted the status quo of corruption in that sector to remain.

He said it was not carried out by ordinary Nigerians who wanted to communicate their grievances to their government.

Jonathan, who spoke at the 52nd Independence anniversary lecture with the title, Nigeria: Security, Development and National Transformation, said it was the responsibility of Government to provide the enabling environment for development but it was left for the citizens to ensure enforcement.

Reacting to the issue of the January protest raised by one of the discussants and the Director of Centre for Democracy and Development, Dr. Jibril Ibrahim, President Jonathan said, “Let me touch on what Prof. Ibrahim said about the January subsidy protest, yes you said the citizens were right, in a way they may be right, in a way they were also misinformed. If you had followed the last Earth Summit in Brazil, about two countries came out to condemn the issue of subsidizing hydro carbon all over the world. They stated that subsiding hydro carbon does not bring development.

“Look at the demonstrations back home, look at the areas this 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 the 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 musician 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?

“For me, if I see somebody is manipulating anything, I don’t listen to you, but when I see people genuinely talking about issues, I listen. I am hardly intimidated by anybody who wants to push any issue he has. I believe that that protest in Lagos was manipulated by a class in Lagos and was not from the ordinary people.

“Government everywhere must create environment for development and transformation, so I agree the lead must be the government but the people must be the implementator if we must transform our country”. he said.