A former Senior Special Assistant to the President (Office of the First Lady), Ike Neliaku, has said that refineries across the country are not working because some persons deliberately frustrated it for selfish gains.
Ike in a chat with DAILY POST on Saturday, described the state of the nation’s refineries as a shame, alleging that despite so much money that was stolen, the refineries are yet to work.
He lamented that the NIPR was not consulted before the removal of subsidy was announced by President Bola Tinubu on May 29, 2023.
He said, “Unfortunately, various leaderships across sectors over time, have not really given us the basis of trust which is enshrined in that concept of fairness, equity and justice. So that is one area.
“Most Nigerians know that what we have been calling fuel subsidy was not entirely what we are told that it is. How the government has been unable to arrest the issue is something I don’t know because I’m not involved in the process, but that came out from the submissions of Nigerians.
“So they began to know that what we are calling subsidy is not entirely the way it has been presented to us; that some people were indeed making money off our common wealth and calling it subsidy.
“The only issue is that Nigerians said certain processes should be put in place before a decision would be taken. That is the only area that would differ and that is why I was saying that we were not involved in the process.
“During the time of Obasanjo, I was the Special Assistant to the then minister of Information. We went round this country in 2001 to campaign for the removal of fuel subsidy. Nobody listened to us.
“I remember very vividly a senior editor in one of the newspapers that called one of my colleagues and said we will not accept your proposal to remove subsidy. We know that there is merit, but we prefer to hold the demerit. Don’t even bother, we won’t listen to you.
Reacting to the question on how Nigeria has fared democratically, Ike said: “I think it is work in progress. We are not there yet but we are progressing. It’s been quite a number of challenges. Starting from 1999 and so on, the political class is yet to really learn a few lessons from what happened in the past.
“It is still like a case of it must be me, if it is not me, I must turn the table. So issue of interest and so on come to play. I feel like at the end of the day, we have made progress in some areas and we have not made progress in some areas and we believe that as we keep understanding ourselves, and the demand of responsibility that we have to undertake as a people, we will begin to have the needed turnaround.
“One thing that I always tell people is that Nigeria is one if not the best country on earth. From my perspective from what I have seen in the last three decades of my involvement in nation building, there is no nation like Nigeria anywhere on earth that is as blessed as Nigeria.”