Electricity Tariff Increase: Tinubu’s Govt Callous, Insensitive –Pearse

Dr. Adetokunbo Pearse, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain and coordinator of Atiku-Okowa Presidential Campaign Support Groups in Lagos State has described President Ahmed Tinubu’s administration as callous and insensitive following the recent hike in electricity tariff. In this interview, he spoke on various issues.

Your party, PDP, in Edo State seems to be in disarray now, following the impeachment of Comrade Phillip Shaibu as the deputy governor and the subsequent swearing in of a new one in what some people said was a wrong approach given their few remaining months in office.

Let’s make it clear here; Obaseki did not impeach his deputy. The Edo State House of Assembly voted to remove Shaibu from office. Talking about swearing in of a new deputy governor, it is the responsibility of the governor to make sure that there is no vacuum. Remember that a Vice President is the president’s selection, nobody voted for Vice President. Similarly, it is the same at the state level. Do we vote for Vice President? No. Also do we vote for deputy governor? No. It is the governor that we all always vote for, and it is also him that will give us the deputy governor as it pleases him. Obaseki has chosen a new deputy governor that he can work with and who can help him to build the state. There is absolutely nothing illegal about what happened in Edo because, like I already pointed out, the governor didn’t remove the former deputy governor, but the House of Assembly did.

But would it not have been ideal for Governor Obaseki to wait for the next seven months or thereabout when their tenure would end instead of ensuring that Shaibu was removed?

Look, you should know that the problems going on in Edo State between Obaseki and Shaibu was obstructing good governance. The problem was distracting the governor from doing the right thing and governing the state well. Therefore, to avoid bitterness and to avoid some distractions, it was important to settle the matter once and for all. Unfortunately, it involved the House of Assembly removing the deputy governor and once there is a vacancy, it has to be filled immediately. Anyone saying what happened in replacing the deputy is not right should ask himself whether he wanted the governor to be working alone for the remaining seven months. That won’t be good in all rational judgment. Did the people elect him to work alone and fulfill their mandates? All those arguments are wrong. The truth of the matter is that Obaseki has done what is right and what should be done for the interest of the people and the masses. So, I think we should move on and allow for a return to good governance in Edo State.

But realistically, do you support the governor engendering the removal of his deputy?

Like I said earlier, Obaseki did not remove Shaibu, but the state House of Assembly did. Let me tell you; during the last governorship primary election in Edo State, Shaibu created a lot of frictions in the state. It was just too much. He didn’t compromise on anything; he didn’t back down on anything and he took the state to court. So, when you look for fire, you get fire. Those who live for trouble always meet trouble. I think Shaibu caused what has befallen him and he should learn from this.

Lagos PDP seems not to be at ease recently; a group of National Assembly candidates in the last election accused Jandor, the party’s gubernatorial candidate in the 2023 general elections of being high handed and overseeing the PDP in the state like his private business. What can you say in the light of what you said about the party taking over in 2027?

Well, Lagos is not a PDP state as at today. Lagos is one out of the 36 states, so in Lagos, we are dealing with our problems, and everyone has seen what danger Jandor represents. We have seen the division that has happened in the Lagos PDP because of his autocratic nature.

In his own case, he is not the governor, don’t forget about that, which means, Jandor doesn’t have the power to want to act like one because he ran to be the governor. And the man is shameless. A man ran for governor and scored five percent of the total votes cast in the state and he is talking about being governor. He should be ashamed of himself, and I can tell you that we have never had it this bad in Lagos State.

The worst we have had was in 2019 when Jimi Agbaje scored 21 percent of the votes. Now this man scored five percent; that means it is as if he never took part in that election. Even though he pretends to be the head of the party in Lagos, he is not the head of PDP in Lagos State.

By our constitution and even with common sense, the state chairman of a party in a state where you do not have a governor is the head of the party. So where does Jandor come in? He is just a troublemaker.

He is just making a noise because he has no influence in what is going on in Lagos State. The people who are with him are, may be, five percent of the PDP members.

Is it true that he wants to take over the party structure and run it like a private business as has been alleged?

He is just trying to run everything his own way and that was why he failed woefully at the election. He was the candidate at the election but now we don’t have a candidate. His time is over, but the man is just using the media to promote trouble and promote himself.

He is not running anything; he is running his little Lagos clique, less than five percent of PDP members because a lot of those he was working with have gone back to PDP or the Labour Party. So Jandor doesn’t have influence of what is going on. He is just running himself.

There is this talk about Labour Party providing credible opposition to the APC than the PDP. In the light of this and while I am admitting that you aren’t an LP member, what do you think the crisis in Labour Party portends for opposition in the country?

There is enough trouble in the Labour Party presently and they have not even been able to take care of their own problem, talk-less of being bigger than the PDP in terms of providing credible opposition. We have 14 governors and Labour Party has only one, so we are not on the same level at all with them. At the National Assembly, we have about 40 percent of the members while Labour Party has about five or ten percent. Look at it, Obi doesn’t even know where he stands as a member of the Labour Party. Today, some people say he is not a member while others will say a different thing tomorrow. Today, they don’t have a national chairman.

Every party has its own peculiar problems, but I can tell you that out of the three major parties, the worst in terms of problem is the Labour Party.  They are very confused with a lot of problems. Number two on this list is the APC because what is happening in APC is bad. It is only the President running everything and you can see how he is running it.

Every committee he sets up, puts money in it, puts his brother, his son, his family member in it, doesn’t work. I can tell you that they are just wasting our time saying they are going in this direction. After two weeks of meeting, of drinking tea, of eating cake, they will say they are going in another direction. The problem in APC is such that, you know when you are in power and have all the resources to work with, it appears that you are okay, you wait till you are coming close to the election and you see the reality.

There are many people in that leadership of APC who are pretending that all is well and felt unconcerned, but nothing is well with the APC. It is a crisis-ridden party; nothing is working in APC. Thirdly, is the PDP. We have a lot of problems, but we are solving them little by little. Wike was challenging the National Working Committee (NWC) and was creating problem there.

The acting national chairman refused to talk to him but last two weeks, the acting national chairman spoke out and warned Wike to be careful because he would not take rubbish from him anymore. One good thing is that the National Executive Committee of the PDP has fixed a date to meet to move on and set another date for the mini mid-year convention, after which we will have substantive national chairman. In that process, PDP will begin the process of removing this administration come 2027. The plans have been clearly mapped out to ensure that we have a very cordial process that will usher in the right leadership for this country.

You have talked of the inherent crisis in the ruling party; what genuine efforts is PDP making to ensure that it leverages the issues in APC to get to power come 2027?

We don’t need to take advantage of their crisis. All we have to do is to keep our own house in order and let the people know what is going on. Truth is that there is no Nigerian who doesn’t know what is going on in the country and the very poor leadership that APC has foisted on Nigerians.

Nobody is ignorant of the hardship and the issues in this country. So, all we have to do is to prepare for the election and while we prepare for the election, we will keep reminding Nigerians of their suffering, the chaos, the disaster, the insecurity and all the bad living conditions that have been their lot under the APC and why they should refuse them at the polls.

Then, we will present to Nigerians the right and viable alternative and show them what we will do and how we will restructure Nigeria for equity and fairness.

How can Southeast have five states while the rest are having six or seven states? Such injustice must be corrected because when we have equity, we are going to move forward. Only PDP is committed to restructuring the nation; that was what Atiku ran on but unfortunately, he didn’t get it. Next candidate of PDP will continue from there.

But PDP was in power for 16 years and didn’t restructure the country or create additional state for the Southeast; why is it now that the narrative is resonating or is it a campaign gimmick to unseat the APC?

The whole thing became an issue during President Jonathan’s time. All the PDP presidents tried on this. Obasanjo tried and Jonathan tried. You just have to give them credit for working towards this. If they didn’t start or work on it, we won’t be where we are today where everyone is talking of restructuring.

People said Jonathan should have done that, but government is a continuum, one government starts something, and another one takes it up from there.

What happened was that when they had the National Confab in 2014 and the recommendations came out, it was already getting close to the end of Jonathan’s government.

So, there was not much he could do. If he had won that election, we could have held him accountable if he failed to implement the recommendations of the confab. But since he lost, it was then left to the then incumbent president, Buhari, a man who swore that he doesn’t want to hear anything about restructuring, to implement it. But what happened, he was a total failure and a disaster as a president. So, by the grace of God, we are going to change the dynamic of restructuring because we started it in the first place. In 2027, whoever will be our candidate will move on the restructuring project.

You earlier mentioned Wike; is the FCT Minister still a PDP member and if he is still a PDP member, what is the party doing to ensure he does not go against it as he is serving under the APC government?

Wike said he is a PDP member, but his action implies that he is in APC. Part of the issues we will discuss at the NEC meeting is the issue of members who continue, after the election, to work against the interest of the party. So, we have to wait until the leaders of the PDP will be able to deal with that issue.

The issue will be dealt with because it has come to that level and like I said earlier, the acting national chairman has said he cannot allow Wike to continue to frustrate the party and I am sure that all the leaders are moving in that direction.

What is your take on the increase in electricity tariff?

It is difficult to justify increase in electricity tariff when we don’t have regular electricity supply. Also, there is no justification for that given the hardship in the country now. Out of the entire population of Nigeria, about 80 percent are depending on generator to power their homes and offices and you begin to question the rationale in even thinking of increasing the tariff. Everything has gone up in the country. Fuel has been increased by over 300 percent which has piled more pressure on Nigerians. So how can a sensible person increase electricity tariff at this time? This is a very callous and insensitive administration. To this administration, people don’t matter and something to benefit and positively impact the masses doesn’t concern the president. They are living large, increasing their salaries, increasing their emoluments, giving their spouses all sorts of allowances and building massive buildings that nobody lives in. And while they are living large, the citizens continue to suffer more and more. This increase in electricity tariff, if it stands and is implemented, will be a huge blow to Nigerians and will further make the citizens poorer because of the place of energy in the running of businesses. This is a policy that cannot provide any soft landing for the people. So, it is totally unjustified. It is crude, heartless, it is callous and shows this administration as lacking human face. God forbid that this administration is allowed to last for four years. If it lasts four years, it must not go beyond. From 2027 and beyond, Nigerian government should not be allowed to be controlled by this administration.

But Federal Government has reacted to the increase, saying it is not for every Nigerian but those in what they called Band A; those with up to 20-hour power supply. Does that justify the increase?

Nothing justifies putting the masses under intense suffering. Having said that, nothing they give as an excuse will justify this. It is irrelevant whatever reason they are giving because government is supposed to provide good and quality life and reprieve to the majority of its citizens. So, the administration is not creative because it is not sensitive.

How do you assess the viability of the economy presently given that naira, for some days now, is gaining value over dollar?

The issue of naira gaining over dollar is an illusion and it is a trick played by Bola Ahmed Tinubu in connivance with the media. This is a case of reducing the punishment to, may be, from 80 percent to 70 percent. The naira we are talking about here was N750 to dollar when this man took over in May 2023. Immediately he took over, it went to one thousand. It started from N900, to a thousand and over a thousand now. When it got to N1,500, N1,700, they panicked and found a way to get it down to N1,300 now. Tell me, is that a decrease we should be celebrating? This is a trickster government; a hypocritical government and I don’t think the people are fooled by all these tricks of continually keeping them in this mess. So, all we have to do is that the PDP must come around and save the people from this disaster.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top