Monday, 26 February 2024 04:40

Afenifere opposes curtailing Yorubas’ right to protest against Tinubu's harsh economic policies

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Afenifere leader, Ayo Adebanjo Afenifere leader, Ayo Adebanjo

PRESS RELEASE

Afenifere has distanced itself from the call by some renegade Afenifere members for Yorubas not to exercise their right to protest in joining the NLC and other protests. Afenifere has always supported the right to protest in a democracy from the beginning when Awolowo protested against the colonial constitution to recent protests like that against Jonathan subsidy removal, which even President Bola Tinubu joined. The great leader, Obafemi Awolowo warned Yoruba states and newspapers like Tribune and Sketch under his influence never to stifle voices of dissent.

Are Yorubas not members of the NLC? If ever Afenifere was to advice against a protest, it would be based on solid policy direction and not shallow tribal sentiments to silence the pains and hunger of the masses. Those using the incapacitated retired Afenifere leader, Pa Reuben Fasonranti's name to tarnish Afenifere motto of Abundance For All should know that not only would we never stop people from exercising their constitutional rights of protest, but that Afenifere can't vouch for Tinubu IMF's anti-people policies which have failed in every country they were implemented.

The International Monetary Fund and World Bank that inspired and lauded Tinubu's removal of subsidies and floating of Naira in June 2023, released a report this month projecting that the policies would create more hardship, with 44% inflation and devaluation of the Naira to over N2000 to $1 in 2024, with recession till 2028. So where did the shadowy figures using Pa Fasonranti get the information that things will get better? Afenifere has never and will never engage in fooling the masses, especially when it is clear millions will slip further into poverty, losing their homes and lives. Are people to suffer in silence for five years because they are Yorubas?

If the United Kingdom or United States removed subsidies today they would face revolutions within a month. The truth is that pure capitalism with no government intervention and subsidies died with the 1917 Russian Revolution, as all Capitalist nations in fear of revolution introduced social welfarism policies with unemployment, health, education, housing and other subsidies. Awolowo adopted the social welfarism with his free education, free health and other social programs to empower Yorubas.

Also, no socially responsible government would allow its currency to fall below 15% unless there is visible destruction of productive capabilities. The United Kingdom of Britain set a 6% limit when they floated the British Pound in the European Exchange Rate Mechanism in order to unify their currencies for the proposed single currency, the Euro. However, when on Black Wednesday September 16 1992, currency speculators led by George Soros attacked the Pound and it fell beyond the 6% mark by closing time 7pm the same day, the British government halted the floating and exited the European Exchange Mechanism immediately.

So it begs the question that what lower limit did the Tinubu set for floating the Naira, or was it just pushed out of the plane with no parachute. The Naira has lost a 79% of its value since June 2023 and continues to fall due to obvious currency speculation which the government has done nothing about. It is human to err and Tinubu must pull the brakes on his neo-liberal policies before he damages the social fabric of this nation beyond repair.

All capitalist nations are sustained with subsidies used to pacify their masses, even when it is evident that there is some abuse in welfare benefits and agricultural subsidies. It is illogical to claim corruption in petrol subsidies justified its stoppage while palliatives are disbursed through more opaque and corrupt avenues. The focus on the consumer element of subsidies blinded the government to the huge multiplier effects that fuel subsidies have on the economy. The Nigerian economy is largely based on small and medium enterprises that rely on cheap fuel. Transporters, barbers, salons, metalworks, hospitality business and even processing industries of food, beverages and tobacco are being destroyed with this policy.

Also, over 70% of raw materials used in our local production is imported, as we also import the vast majority of our consumer goods, therefore both manufacturers and importers are adversely affected by the mindless devalutaion. This is leading to foreign manufacturers leaving Nigeria, causing more unemployment. So although Afenifere is not organizing any protest on its own or in a coalition at the moment, we respect the constitutional rights of those organizing or partaking in civil protests.

Unfortunately like in the case of Abraham when he became old and senile, and was taken advantage of by Esau, we know the renegade ex officials of Afenifere who are mischievously using Pa Fasonranti’s fraility of mind and body to rob Yorubas and fellow Nigerians of not only their birth rights to abundance to life but their voice. Therefore we warn well meaning Yorubas and other Nigerians to be more discerning when they read antithesis of Afenifere. The proof of Afenifere is in our activism to better the lives of Yoruba and all humanity, and not as paid voices of the government in power, regardless of tribe and religion.

Signed:

Justice Faloye, an Economist, author and media practitioner, is the Deputy Publicity Secretary, Afenifere.

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