On Tuesday, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, a former Governor of Ekiti State, maintained that the protests triggered by the removal of fuel subsidy during President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration in 2012 were primarily driven by political interests.
Fayemi noted during his keynote address at a national dialogue organized 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. This event took place in Abuja and was attended by notable figures including President Goodluck Jonathan, former Minister of Education Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, and former Minister of Aviation Osita Chidoka, among others.
According to reports on January 1, 2012, President Goodluck Jonathan made the announcement to eliminate fuel subsidy and revised the petrol pump price from N65 per liter to N141.
This decision ignited widespread protests, known as the ‘Occupy Nigeria’ movement, which unfolded in major cities across the nation.
Subsequently, in response to more than a week of protests, the price was later revised downward to N97 per liter.
In 2015, the price of petrol saw a reduction to N87 per liter.
President Jonathan faced severe criticism for this fuel price adjustment, particularly from leaders of various opposition parties, including the All Progressives Congress (APC), which comprised the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, Congress for Progressive Congress, All Nigeria Peoples Party, and All Progressive Grand Alliance.
Dr. Fayemi, in his comments, criticized what he referred to as the “winners take all” approach of Nigeria’s democracy. He argued that the country’s current challenges cannot be effectively addressed unless it embraces proportional representation, where the benefits of elections are shared among contestants.
Fayemi pointed out that the last period of substantial economic development in Nigeria occurred during President Jonathan’s administration. He stated, “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 away from the existing political alternatives; we are almost at a dead end with that.”
He further elaborated, “What we need is an alternative politics, and my concept of alternative politics suggests that you can’t secure 35 percent of the vote and take 100 percent of the spoils. It’s not a workable approach! We must consider proportional representation so that a party that supposedly won 21 percent of the votes will have a commensurate 21 percent representation in the government. Adversarial politics breed division and animosity.”
Fayemi called for greater inclusivity by involving all political parties in the decision-making process, emphasizing that the manifestos of parties such as PDP, APC, and the Labour Party should be taken into account, and representatives from all parties should be selected to drive the nation’s programs.