Edo, Ondo, The Frozen Daddy And Petrol Tales By Reuben Abati


“So this is how we will just adjust to the new fuel price at the petrol stations, and government will get away with the imposition of greater hardship on the people?”

“No. Government is very clear. The fuel subsidy regime is not sustainable. The PPMC, NNPC and the PPPRA made that clear in April. What they said was that the Federal Government can no longer pay subsidies on petrol and that prices will be determined by market forces. In any case, there is no provision for subsidy payments in the 2020 budget”

“How about the billions that were paid in July? About N535. 9 billion”

“That payment was for the backlog of subsidy before the Government announced a new policy. And Nigeria is not alone. In March, Saudi Aramco made a similar announcement. If you live in Saudi Arabia, you will buy petrol at market rates. In fact, by the 10th of every month, Saudi Aramco announces new fuel prices.”

“I beg. Spare me that. You people are always comparing apples and oranges. Suddenly so many people have become emergency economists. Market forces that have no human face. Selective market forces. Go and check the Saudi Arabia that you are quoting. What is the GDP or minimum wage there compared to Nigeria’s? What kind of leaders do they have? Are their refineries working or not? If our policy makers love market forces so much, so why are we not allowing market forces to determine the true value of the Naira? Why has the CBN not taken the bold step to unify the foreign exchange rates?”

Reuben Abati

“You see this is the problem with our people. Nigerians like to talk from both sides of the mouth. You are criticizing the deregulation of the downstream sector, and the end of the subsidy regime, and yet you are saying the Naira should be allowed to find its own market value. If government does that, you will be one of the first to start protesting that the Naira was stronger in 2015, and that devaluation is punishing the people and businesses. I think we should just praise the government for its courage, and capacity to take bold decisions.”

“They have not done anything new. It is the timing that is bad. In 2012, the Jonathan administration did exactly the same thing. Offered the same explanations. But you people went and set up camp in Ojota to ask for freedom from high fuel prices. And what did the Jonathan administration do. Exactly the same scenario. And yet it was an increase from N67 per litre to N97 per litre. When the price of crude oil dropped internationally, the government at the time then announced a downward review from N97 to N87. And yet you people went on to the streets. “Occupy Nigeria!” The Buhari government raised petrol price in 2016 from N87 to N145. Nobody protested. Today, we have jumped from N148 per litre to N161 per litre. If care is not taken by December we may hit N200 per litre. And yet nobody is in Ojota. Where are the Ojota democrats?”

“Nobody is stopping you from going to Ojota. You can also go there and organize your own protests. Just be ready for the consequences.”

“What I even find shocking is that Nigerians are now begging the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress and other unions to speak up”

“NLC and TUC have issued statements.”

“Which statements? Only yesterday, some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) went to picket the NLC Secretariat in Abuja. They called on the NLC President to declare a nationwide protest.”

“They could have been arrested. I hope they know that. For disrupting the public order, for inciting organized labour against the government of the day and seeking to sabotage government.”

“This is the thing about you APC sympathizers. Are you now looking for a government appointment?”

“That’s hate speech. This government has warned many times that people should avoid hate speech.”

“But in 2012, nobody talked about hate speech. The PDP government engaged stakeholders. The House of Representatives investigated the payment of petrol subsidies to petroleum marketers. Fraud was uncovered. The Federal Government set up its own probe and technical committees. The payments were reviewed. Suggestions were made as to what should be done. The refineries for example. If we get the refineries in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna working at optimal capacity, we would increase local refining and we won’t have to import refined petrol from offshore refineries. We can create jobs here and put an end to the inefficiency of the NNPC, and break its needless monopoly.”

“Forget it. Those refineries are better sold off as scrap. Did you not read the NNPC financial statements which indicated that those refineries lost over N423 billion in 2018, and over N50 billion in 5 months this year? Nothing will change.”

“But how about the Dangote Refinery that will process 650, 000 barrels of crude per day? I understand the Bua Group is also setting up a refinery in partnership with the French conglomerate, Axens.”

“Yes, that will address the issue of more supply and create jobs. But the technology for setting up those refineries you talk about is not locally made. Even some levels of expertise would have to be procured from abroad. Dangote and Bua will also buy crude at international market rates. So local refining does not mean fuel will be necessarily cheaper. Simple economics. Market reality.”

“Keep talking until people begin to die inside this your market of cruel forces. You people have increased VAT. You have increased electricity tariffs by over 100%. Inflation is 12.82%. Interest rate on savings is a miserable 1.25%. Prices of rice, beans, pepper and tomatoes have jumped up. A bag of rice that used to be N20, 000 is now N35, 000. Transport fares have increased. I hear even prostitutes and side chicks these days are also quoting market forces! They too are thinking of deregulating their market. Demand and supply.”

“Well, these are unusual times. COVID-19 has distorted everything. Nigeria has a revenue problem and a debt problem. But I am sure everything will be fine because Nigerians trust this government. Every Nigerian should be prepared to make a sacrifice.”

“Did you just talk about trust and sacrifice? And if I may ask: what sacrifice are Nigerian leaders making? Name one or two that you know.”

“Every conversation with you is always a wrestling match. I beg. Na you sabi. You can go to Ojota, if you like. I have said my own.”

“There is no point. They won’t listen. By the way, are you going to Benin to vote in the Gubernatorial election on September 19?”

“No. I have no such plans. I ain’t going nowhere.”

“You don’t want to go and support your brother?”

“Nope. I don’t want to be caught in any crossfire. The way those guys are going, I foresee serious outbreak of violence if not on election day, then may be after.”

“You know after the Oba of Benin summoned a peace meeting in the palace last week, I thought all the gladiators will sheathe their swords. In Oredo last weekend, I was surprised when the papers reported that Governor Obaseki threatened to bury Comrade Adams Oshiomhole politically on September 19. The PDP Campaign Council Chairman, Chief Dan Orbih also attacked Oshiomhole and accused him of having organized a fire incident in 2012 to hide the truth about the Primary Six Certificate that he claims he has. This election is a contest with Oshiomhole, Obaseki said.

“They should leave Oshiomhole alone, I beg. He is not a candidate in the election. And all of them should know what it means to disobey the Oba of Benin. They could be tagged an enemy of the palace!”

“Meaning what? Is this the first time a Bini man will be tagged Oghion Oba? Leave that matter. These politicians don’t care. Wasn’t that how Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu went to Akure, Ondo State to announce at a rally on Saturday that the PDP in the state is dead? Or how did he put it, something about a corpse inside a coffin.”

“That’s just political talk. How can an opposition party that has a candidate in the election, duly recognized by the Electoral Commission be said to be dead? We’d know which party is alive and which one is dead on election day. Ondo is October 10, right?”

“Yes. But the politics in Ondo State is likely to be as hot what we are seeing in Edo State. I don’t know whether you watched the interview the Governor, Arakunrin Akeredolu had on Arise TV on Monday.”


“Yes. He was firing from every cylinder in his system. He had very harsh words for Agboola Ajayi and former Governor Mimiko.”

“Was he also talking about death?”

“Well he said Mimiko is politically dead in Ondo State. He called him a spent force. But incidentally, the same day, some thugs stormed the Ondo State House of Assembly and took it over. That is not a good sign.”

“Don’t worry. It is all politics. It will pass.”

“I think we should worry about violence in politics and the rhetoric of hate. Especially now that Pastors are also beginning to sound and talk like the politicians, turning the pulpit into a bully arena. Any expression of intolerance should be monitored and checked.”

“And who is the Pastor who is now sounding like a politician?”

“Have you not been following the news? Have you not seen that trending video in which Pastor David Ibiyeomie of the Salvation Ministries abused and attacked the broadcaster, Daddy Freeze for criticizing Bishop David Oyedepo whom he calls his Daddy. He asked: who is his father?”

“Pastor Ibiyeomie must have been listening to DJ Cuppy’s music… Oh Gelato!…Who is your Daddy?..”

“Except that Pastor was not joking. He called Daddy Freeze a bastard. He cursed the day he was born and threatened that if he ever dared to disrespect his own Daddy, his Papa in the Lord, Bishop Oyedepo again, he will die”

“I thought that was too much. It was so distasteful, the way the Pastor went on and on. What did Daddy Freeze do? He merely expressed an opinion. He disagreed with Bishop Oyedepo’s advice that women should be totally submissive to their husbands. (Ephesians 5: 22). There are others who responded in the same fashion and quoted other sections of the Bible. Women wrote on twitter that a couple should both be submissive to one another. After all, the Bible asks men to also love their wives as Christ loved the church. (Ephesians 5: 25)”

“Bishop Ibiyeomie apparently thinks that is blasphemy. He thinks, a Daddy Freeze, a broadcaster, should not disagree with a Prophet of the Lord. For his effrontery, he is now being threatened with a death sentence. Touch not my anointed. Daddy Freeze touched the anointed. He should report Pastor Ibiyeomie to the Inspector-General and ask for protection.”

“Really, so what is the difference between what Pastor Ibiyeomie has done and the death sentence passed on the musician in Kano State, I mean Yahaya Sharif-Aminu? I understand some people are even saying Aminu cannot be defended on appeal by a Muslim lawyer. It is the same thing.”

“Did you listen to that part where the pastor even said “broadcaster… he doesn’t even have a good job”

“I laughed… Broadcasting is not a good job, the gospel according to Pastor Ibiyeomie! I think he owes all broadcasters an apology. How can he just dismiss a noble profession like that?”

“But the truth is that Pastor Ibiyeomie is himself a broadcaster. He probably doesn’t realize it. I used to attend the Salvation Ministries in Abuja. The main sermon from Port Harcourt, with Pastor Ibiyeomie ministering was delivered through a broadcast channel. I just hope the Pastor is not going to turn around and claim that this particular video has been doctored, and does not truly reflect what he said. I just hope so.”

“Men of God should not use the pulpit to sound like politicians or play God. Pa-si-tor, ewo n ti epe?”

“If you are the owner of the pulpit, I guess you can pretty much say what you like. The real problem are the members of the Congregation. People get so carried away, they don’t critically analyze what their Pastors say. They allow themselves to be held spell-bound. Did you not notice when the pastor said: “I curse the day you were born!”, how the congregation chorused in approval?”

“I was shocked. But this is probably why a law like the Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020, Section 839 (1), (2) is important. A part of it talks about public interest. It is certainly not in the interest of the public for religious leaders to turn their pulpits into a platform for intimidation, defamation, and harassment.”

“What are you suggesting?”

“The law speaks for itself and there are circumstances that may justify it, despite the objections of some people.”

“Please, please, p-lease. I don’t want to get into that conversation with you. I don’t want any Pastor to turn me into a target. I was born on a truly blessed day… Only God knows what some of these Pastors have on their tongues.”

“You are a coward.”

“Yes. I accept. I beg.”

“You should be like Daddy Freeze.”

“I am my own person. Thanks.”