Envoy flays foreign critics over subsidy removal, Boko Haram

adefuyeWORRIED by rising international concerns over Nigeria, the Ambassador to the United States (U.S.), Prof. Adebowale Adefuye yesterday took a swipe at critics of the fuel subsidy removal and the handling of the Boko Haram criminalities, urging them to take another look at the Federal Government’s motivations in taking its decisions.

Adefuye said “it is grossly incorrect and patently unfair” to say the Federal Government’s current policy decision “undermines the peoples’ personal security and hope for improvement in their lives, when, in fact, it is doing just that.”

The envoy spoke in a statement issued in Washington DC yesterday in response to a recent wave of criticisms, specifically, of the Goodluck Jonathan presidency in the U.S. media over the removal of fuel subsidy and the fallouts of the recent spate of violence by Boko Haram sect in Nigeria.

In the last few days, several U.S. media organisations like USA Today, Associated Press, New York Times and CNN have been actively reporting recent developments in Nigeria, particularly the heightened threats to peace by Boko Haram.

Apart from the former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria John Campbell who has also spoken on the CNN and written in his own blog to question the Jonathan administration timing of the oil subsidy removal and also written extensively on the Boko Haram threat, Adefuye’s statement especially identified an opinion article by another U.S. professor of history, published yesterday in the New York Times.

According to Prof. Jean Herskovits, the Boko Haram threat is merely “an elusive and ill-defined threat,” which both the American news media and policy makers are chasing. Curiously, the U.S. historian even suggested that the U.S. government should not place Boko Haram on its foreign terrorists list.

In The New York Times op-ed titled, In Nigeria, Boko Haram Is Not The Problem, she said “there is no proof that a well-organised, ideologically coherent terrorist group called Boko Haram even exists today.”

Responding in a statement, Adefuye said: “I was amazed by the contents of an article by the respected Prof. Jean Herskovits… But it seems this time around the subject matter is still too fresh and she has not had sufficient time to ponder on the issues before putting pen to paper.”

Continuing, Adefuye said he was surprised to read Prof. Herskovits declaring as “simplistic” the blame heaped on Boko Haram for Nigeria’s security challenge. “What further surprised and amazed me is the glaring contradictions and conflicting conclusions in Herskovits’ article. In the second paragraph, she writes that  ‘there is no proof that a well  organised, ideologically coherent terrorist group called Boko Haram exists today’. But in the following sentence, she admits that ‘there is an original core group which still exists  and remains active.’”

The professor was also said to have warned the U.S. government not to be aligned with the Jonathan administration in fighting the perceived terror threat of the Boko Haram to which the Nigerian ambassador also frowned.

Adefuye stated that it is in the interests of both Nigeria and the United States to see a world free from nuclear proliferation, terrorism and a world in which the tenets of democracy, human rights, rule of law, good governance, and accountability thrive.

On the issue of oil subsidy removal, the U.S. professor queried removal of the subsidy on New Year Day “more than doubling the price of fuel. In a country where 90 per cent of the population lives on $2 or less a day, anger is rising nationwide as the costs of transport and food increase dramatically.”

But Adefuye who conceded the painfulness of the subsidy removal, nonetheless said the U.S. professor seemed not to have given thought to the fact that Nigeria has paid huge sums running into trillions of naira for domestic fuel subsidies since 2006 with more than a third spent in 2011. Adefuye stated that removing the fuel subsidies will help save $7.5 billion this year which is about 25 per cent of the government’s spending plan.

According to him, “this money, the government promised, will be channelled into capital projects to develop infrastructure such as roads, railway and electricity.”

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