Nigeria: Subsidising fraud & lies & blood
By Hakeem Babalola
Certain things make a government a government. Trust, sensitivity and timing are three attributes any worthy government should possess. Even an unworthy government must strife and probably endure the pain – of possessing TST. A government without TST is like committing a sin of rebellion.
Notice that I do not mention being nice as a characteristic of a government. This is simply because leadership is not about being nice but doing the right thing. Most often governments do things right without necessarily doing the right thing. And this invariably brings collapse – of distrust.
If the governed mistrust their leaders, there’s problem. If the governed sense a certain degree of unwillingness in their leaders, there’s trouble. No amount of pacification would lead to solution in a bloody situation where the leaders are known for insincerity – and that of purpose
Though callous, the removal of the so-called oil subsidy would not have troubled the citizens if there’s trust between the rulers and the ruled. A government that lies its way into the hearts of people remains unpopular, and no amount of political or religious propaganda can change the situation.
Every Nigerian government including the present one has diabolically established itself as a cabal of dishonest politicians. No government in Nigeria has been able to possess the three qualities; and this of course is the bone of contention which I believe we should be fighting – at all times.
Now Mr. Jonathan Goodluck’s administration had set the removal of the oil subsidy for April this year, but suddenly changed it to January 1st – the most vulnerable day of the year in my opinion. The first question is why the sudden change in the calendar – of oil subsidy removal?
Which high-ranking General instigated the removal? Which untouchable cabal prompted the removal? Which Imam or Pastor or Prophet prophesied that the removal of oil subsidy is the beginning of salvation – for Nigerian citizens? Or is it the governors or ministers or advisers or local chairman that incited the removal? Or is it that notorious World Bank or IMF? Let them voice out. We want to know
And this is at a time when the executive are reported to be spending millions of naira on snacks alone. This is at a time when it is being reported that billions of naira is being spent on furniture. I think it is improper to be talking of sacrifice from the masses while the rulers are tucking money in their cheeks and stomachs.
Well, if Mr. President considers the removal inevitable, then why not put something in place that would alleviate the suffering of his people? Even my mother, a market woman knows that any policy to remove oil subsidy will instantly bring street hardship no matter how good the end result. Obviously Jonathan Goodluck’s PDP administration has failed in this regard.
However, failing in the ability to possess the three attributes does not call for Jonathan’s removal as being agitated in certain quarters. It is not about Jonathan rather it is about all of us. It seems we have lost it – both the rulers and the ruled. Even the so-called fourth estate of realm has lost it. Almost all of us are subsidising fraud and blood…fraud and blood. Who is going to take over? These politicians are all the same.
This thing called oil subsidy removal has become insensitive policy being regularly toyed with by different governments thereby playing in the hands of racketeers. It is difficult for me to believe that the present government does not know who the oil racketeers are. Why not deal with them? Or are they untouchable?
If so, we’ve got to change the present system in which certain racketeers are regarded as untouchable. It is deceit as well as hypocrisy for Mr. President to remove the subsidy while the oil cabal continue to laugh to the bank.
In the year 1986, that fellow proposed to increase fuel price meaning the removal of oil subsidy. Another fellow, the one who passed the baton to the late Yar’Adua, also removed oil subsidy in his final moment as Nigerian ruler. He gave the same excuse such that removal would bring long term gain.
Since the removal of oil subsidy by these opportunist Generals, what has Nigeria gained? Has the oil subsidy removal constructed good roads; or has it led to the adequate supply of drinkable water? Or has it brought constant supply of electricity? Or has it built well-equipped hospitals? Or has it accelerated the quality of our dying education?
Fuel subsidy may be a waste as argued by some people who passionately believe its removal has numerous benefits. They cited the following as the long term gain
1. Gainful employment opportunities.
2. Increase in taxable revenue to the Government. E.g. vat income tax.
3. Conservation of Nigeria's foreign exchange reserve.
4. Eradication of fuel importation in the long run.
5. Technology transfer.
6. Strong economic growth.
7. Stability in the value of the Naira.
8. Growth of other industries such as petrol chemicals and logistics.
This school of thought would go further to say that Jonathan is doing the right thing which is unknown to most of us. They would argue that no investor will ever build a refinery in Nigeria until fuel subsidy is removed and the market deregulated. This, they say, is the bitter truth, adding that after four years, we will all come back and say a big thank you to Jonathan and his team like Okonja Iweala who also served under Obasanjo.
And truly Dr. Iwela explained the benefits to Nigerians: “Ghana did it…Brazil did it…This money will be used to improve delivery of services for the people. Let us put the money into areas that will facilitate production, such as provision of power supply, providing state-of-the-art hospitals, especially to curb the maternal mortality rate. Government would invest heavily in refineries, which will be sustained by private investors, as well as hydro power projects. This, including others, would create more jobs for our people,” she said.
However, madam finance expert forgot to explain to us why the oil subsidy removal has never yielded positive result ever since its implementation by the past governments. The truth is this: The factors that annihilated the efforts of past government are still there to thwart this administration’s effort. And that perhaps is the fear blooding around.
Talking about Ghana did it…Brazil did stuff. One should remind madam that perhaps in those countries there is accountability, and there is trust. There is vision and focus. That corruption is to its barest minimum…
Meanwhile, it is interesting that under Obasanjo it was reported that we spent 300 billion per year on this fuel subsidy. Under Mr. Goodluck Jonathan, it shot up to 1.3 trillion naira in the last one year alone. So how did it get so high in four years and what exactly is being subsidised with the extra one trillion naira?
Mr. Jonathan tried to portray himself as a ruler who is sensitive by quickly announcing the cut in the salaries of executive by 25%; and reduced foreign travels to the barest minimum. Of course it was a perfect time to demonstrate this sensitivity but, alas, Mr. President was reported to have attended South Africa’s 100 years of ruling party celebration. Thank God his spokesperson has refuted the story.
Cutting executive salaries if done in a genuine manner could be a meaningful way of apathy, but it appears to me that it is only paper solution; and whereas what we need is practical solution. Practical street solution is what we need right now. By the way, what of their allowances which perhaps weigh more than their salaries?
Goodluck Jonathan of course is like his predecessors. He is not different from OBJ, IBB, ABACHA, BUHARI AND CO. They are there only to protect their interest, while sucking the blood and wasting the lives of those sworn to take care of. I am sure Jonathan himself knows this, but for him, it is one of those things.
In fairness to Mr. President, he is not the issue but the system in place. Therefore, it is his time and no one should impeach him. He should be allowed to complete his term after which we should vote for another clueless one. We are addicted to their inept and authority stealing. Aren’t we?
This is our portion since we have allowed ourselves to be politically marooned on a tribal and religious desert island. Hearing comments from our so-called intellectuals has convinced me that everyone is fighting for him/herself. Most of us criticize in order to be recognised for ministerial or personal assistant posts. There is this fiery columnist, an opponent of the deregulation; and now as a spokesperson for the president, a backer of the policy.
What about this ferocious labour leader who for years opposed removal of fuel subsidy, but who has now in his capacity as a governor become one of its strongest advocates. I have the feeling that most of those who take to the street are doing so to be recognized and subsequently invited to chop. But to the genuine ones I doff my hat.
The metamorphosis of these two Nigerians is a testimony – of being human. “We get carried away sometimes, thinking we know people but the truth is humans are very unpredictable especially with money and power”, writes Margret in her Epiphany blog.
Trust is significance in this regard. Trust is a fine line between leaders and followers. Any leader who disregards the importance of trust has lost it and may only be wandering without reaching any particular destination.
But how can we believe anything these guys say after their boss had told lies saying, subsidy would not be removed until April; when he knew he was going to remove it on the 1st of January. Apparently this particular issue is not being handled as it supposed to be handled.
I don’t want to call Mr. President a lair but he has definitely put himself in a position in which it will be impossible for Nigerians to believe anything he says. Yes, a man is assessed by the worth of his words, his words no longer worth anything other than fraud and blood. So, what the fraud are they subsidising?
As usual, it is the masses bearing the brunt. Jonathan, no matter how much he says he feels our pain, would not suffer as a result of subsidy removal. After all, his jets and that of his family are being fuelled at our expense.
Whatever his offence, do not impeach Jonathan Goodluck. Let him complete his term like his predecessors, otherwise we shall be forever accused of tribalism or whatever that has been in the dictionary of Nigerians from day one. Jonathan must not be shot. He must not be assassinated. He must be allowed to do his own thing and leave.
By the way, it is difficult to identify genuine protesters as it has all been hijacked and politicised. One Olorunsola Ola identifies three categories of protesters. According to him, there are people that have held Nigeria in penury for decades for selfish enrichment. The second are the ignorant fools being used as hand-tools by the subtle wealth-maniacs; while there are people that have been disappointed as a result of unfulfilled promise by the previous governments.
Moreover, I predict the protest will die down as usual in as much as the government has the right price for those who matter. Is it not one of the yeye Generals who proclaimed with the pride of a locus: “Every Nigerian has a price”?
And is this not happening before our eyes? Or have we changed? So what is your price Mr. Protester and Madam Protester? Just name it and you will soon be bought. And that is my fear. Subsidising fraud and blood…God dey sha…