…Says, ‘Fuel now available though I no longer pay N1.3trn subsidy
…Opposition behind fake news, disinformation to distract govt
…Denies plans to disrupt Anambra elections using fake IPOB members
From: Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has replied former President Goodluck Jonathan, who had expressed surprise that those who criticised him for leaving the pump price of fuel at N87 were not speaking out now that it has been jerked up to N143.
Jonathan had said unlike the 16 years of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who paid between N800 billion and N1.3 trillion as ‘subsidy’ yearly at the time, without making the products, his administration is not paying subsidy and yet the products are available at a competitive price.
But President Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said this at the Nigeria Government Forum (NGF), Media Conference for media handlers of state’s chief executive governors with the theme: “Governors Public Perception: Changing the Narrative Agenda.”
Jonathan’s administration had in 2012, increased fuel price from N67 to N97 but reduced it to N87 in January 2015.
Jonathan had defended the decisions he took on the price of fuel.
In what seems to be an indirect attack on the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), former President Jonathan said the PDP led Nigerians well in its 16 years of being in power, “even though some people came up with propaganda and lies that 16 years of the party in government was a waste”.
“My government was severely criticised for increasing the pump price of petroleum from N67 to N97 at a time that global crude price was going for over 100 dollars.
“The pump price was later reduced to N87 when the price of crude oil dropped and they attacked us that it was supposed to be lower.
“Those who criticised my administration are not talking again now that the global crude oil is about 53 dollars per barrel and the pump price of petrol is N143,” Ikechukwu Eze, Jonathan’s spokesman, quoted him in a statement.
But Buhari said, “Those who accused this Administration of ‘propaganda and lies’ in the fuel supply sector, for example, did not tell Nigerians that whereas they paid between 800 billion and 1.3 trillion Naira as ‘subsidy’ yearly in their time, without making the products available even at regulated prices, this Administration is not paying any subsidy, yet all products are currently available at competitive prices and fuel queues are now history. In their time, they paid subsidy of 3.7 billion Naira DAILY in 2011; 2.2 billion Naira DAILY in 2012 and 2013, and 2.5 billion Naira DAILY in 2014, all for products that were never available.”
The President who described disinformation and fake news, as ”evil twins” in the public space, said that they have become potent weapons in the hands of opposition, expressing worry that they will be the biggest obstacle as the 2019 general elections.
He said, “Let me be straight: This is the most difficult time for anyone to find himself or herself in your position. Why? Because in addition to working with a tight budget, you face the double tragedy of disinformation and fake news, buoyed to a large extent by the advent of Social Media. Never before have these ”evil twins” of disinformation and fake news permeated the public space as they have now and, make no mistakes about it, they have become potent weapons in the hands of naysayers. Sadly, they will be the biggest obstacle facing you from now till the 2019 general elections, whether you believe it or not.
“In recent days, you have all seen the dangers posed, not just to you but even the general public, by those who have chosen to deploy disinformation and fake news as a weapon of choice. First, they created unnecessary panic in the society by claiming that Monkey Pox resulted from the Federal Government’s deliberate injection of people with the virus in certain states. We had hardly dispelled that when they claimed that the military, which is going beyond the call of duty to support the civilian populace, has been injecting school children with Monkey Pox, forcing many parents across a number of states to withdraw their children from school for days. Imagine the implication
of this on the affected children’s education and health.
“Now, the disinformation is that ahead of the forthcoming election in Anambra, the government has been providing IPOB uniform to some people to cause mayhem, so they can in turn blame IPOB, and that many roads leading to Anambra will be closed before and after the elections, hence they advised Anambra residents to stay at home and not come out for the election. This is all disinformation, pure and simple. There is no such plan.
“Now, going hand in hand with disinformation and fake news is the new strategy of the naysayers to label the achievements of the government of the day as ‘propaganda and lies’ in order to discredit them. It is for you, at your level, to use concrete facts to showcase the achievements of your principals. Nigerians are brilliant and discerning, and won’t be taken in by such deliberate denigration. But they also need facts and figures.
“For our Administration, our achievements are there for all to see. We are delivering in the broad areas that formed the plank of our policies: Security, fight against corruption and the economy, which includes the massive provision of infrastructure, ease of doing business and agriculture, just to mention a few.
Those who accused this Administration of ‘propaganda and lies’ in the fuel supply sector, for example, did not tell Nigerians that whereas they paid between 800 billion and 1.3 trillion Naira as ‘subsidy’ yearly in their time, without making the products available even at regulated prices, this Administration is not paying any subsidy, yet all products are currently available at competitive prices and fuel queues are now history. In their time, they paid subsidy of 3.7 billion Naira DAILY in 2011; 2.2 billion Naira DAILY in 2012 and 2013, and 2.5 billion Naira DAILY in 2014, all for products that were never available.”
Earlier, the DG NGF, Asishana Okauru said the workshop is to help build the capacity of media handlers of the chief executives.
The Director of General, National Orientation Agency (NOA), Garuba Abari, describe media handling as the key ingredient in bringing out the messages of what the Chief executives are doing.
He said citizens must know why things are happening and why there are not happening, describing the workshop as an opportunity to interact and exchange ideas.
He also said it is opportunity to get feedback on what government is doing. (The Sun)