Mallam Sanusi Lamido labored hard to convince ordinary citizens affected by Government’s ill-conceived removal of petroleum subsidies. Other government officials chose to insult us instead. Emeka Wogu, Minister of Labour reminded us that ‘We (they) as government are not obliged to listen to the people they RULE, or pander to them’. Labaran Maku, ex-Student Union leader and now minister, branded all who went out to express their grievances as HOODLUMS. Dr Reuben Abati who as at 2009 was a vehement opponent of fuel subsidy removal, did a good job to convince Nigerians with counter-intuitive arguments that don’t make any sense whatsoever.
On the streets, we were informed of a rally organized for Eagle Square to peacefully protest the subsidy removal. But ALL access to Eagle Square was blocked. Menacing mobile policemen and soldiers guarded and barricaded every road. Plain-clothes security operatives were out in full force. Welcome to the real age of oppression! The guilty are certainly afraid. No one could rightly claim that this was a democracy! The people, the object of democracy, are now in total lockdown! President makes a speech – another bland, uninspired, and uninspiring one straight off the teleprompter – at 9pm January 7th, 2012. He has ‘bravely’ cut 25% off the BASIC salaries of himself and other politicians. But we all know that basic salary is crap. It is the allowance that carries the meat. The man must be a magician of sort! Why didn’t he cut the salaries before this removal? Talk about putting the cart before the horse, the government was surprised just three weeks ago, that state governments are not implementing the new minimum wage. Rather than compel them if it could, it damages the citizens more. Ok, we know the poor are meant to bear every brunt…
Some argued that this removal of subsidy was the main thrust of Yaradua’s now lost Petroluem Industry Bill. But the crux of that ill-fated Bill – which Shell’s ex-country head (and Mrs Allison-Madueke’s then boss) Ann Pickard swore quite correctly will never see the light of day – was about how Nigeria will get more fees from international oil companies, and increase what comes to it in general. It was an attempt to review contracts signed since 1960 or thereabouts. Poor Yaradua had to go. And the aspect of the bill that affects the common man is the only one our government can possibly implement. Some thinkers are also asking why government waddled through last year without putting in place some of the austerity measures it is now considering… is it so difficult for government to project one year ahead? Remember all the billions spent on different celebrations since Jonathan came in… He even promised a ‘big celebration’ in 2014 to mark 100 years of Nigeria’s existence. As government announced the cut in salaries, NTA featured several adverts from ‘The Office of The First Lady’… Is there such an office legally? Should that not be the first to go? What budget does the first lady spend? Long convoys still speed around town, oblivious of the anger in the land. Insensitivity is at its highest still. And it will get worse.
The best argument from Mallam Sanusi, is that subsidy should be placed ONLY to promote productivity and not consumption. Convincing at it sounds, empirical facts prove otherwise. I have a little book titled‘Making Globalisation Work’, written by Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize winner in Economics, former disciple of Milton Friedman (Patron Saint of Globalisation), in which he stated that ‘IT IS BETTER TO BE A COW IN EUROPE THAN BE A HUMAN BEING IN AFRICA’. Why? Cows in Europe are given a direct subsidy of $2.00 daily, whereas most Africans can hardly afford to live on $1.00 daily! Gbam! My people will say. There you have it. Now, the cows so subsidized in Europe, are meant for local consumption, not just exports. The subsidy given to cows, among other subsidies on food, transport and what have you, even in Europe and America, is meant to create employment, guarantee food availability locally, create safety nets for their people among other reasons. Here in Nigeria, NONE of these exist. Everybody sorts himself out. Ours is a dog eat dog society. The USA certainly subsidises food, hence it comes cheap to consumers. Ditto for most of Europe. But government is still not convinced!
In the UAE for example, they have over 20 refineries. Having a refinery is no big deal. In fact these days they come more compact and manageable that you could pop out a few under two years if only you cared. Nigerian government has ensured that it did not put up ANY refinery, or give considerable incentive to any local big man to do so – like giving out the damned crude oil for free if it has to. To our dear government, the citizens are resilient enough to bear anything that’s piled on them. I should be saying ‘I TOLD YOU SO’, because I urged Nigerians to voted differently, to no avail. By and large, Dr Goodluck appears to me to be the victim, effectively captured, not only by a local CABAL (for those who loved that world in Umaru’s days), but by the strongest of international CABALS – the same guys who recently killed Muammar Gaddafi and destroyed Libya. We were warned after Libya was destroyed that Nigeria is next, but as usual we pay no heed to any warning!
Back to the UAE, who last December celebrated their 40th Independence Anniversary, and who twenty years ago were begging to borrow money from Nigeria – which Nigeria declined. Since they refine their own oil, it is a non issue that it sells at about N65 at the pumps. But the country is also wise enough to give all its public taxis FREE PETROL in order to SUBSIDISE TRANSPORTATION for locals, foreigners and tourists alike! The thing about subsidy is that ultimately, it is not about consumption or production, but about how a people retain their sanity. You may need to subsidise, so that your people will not go mad from poverty and difficulty, so that if they don’t become mental cases by the hardship they face, they may become productive and therefore your country may become great. What we have heard thus far are FINANCIAL, not ECONOMIC arguments. But oh, Globalisation needs to use its last dagger on Nigeria!
A few weeks ago, I wrote here ‘NIGERIA –INTERNATIONAL DECEPTION MEETS LOCAL GREED ’, in which I mentioned some of the games played in the international trade/maritime scene. On the high seas, most of them are pirates. What is at play in Nigeria today is the culmination of centuries of fraud in maritime and petroleum sectors, coupled with our own local stupidities. But say, how can Mr President and his lieutenants expect Nigerians to pay for the frauds? When a fuel importer forges Bills of Lading, when an importer loads SEA WATER and comes to berth in Nigeria and calls it Fuel, when the importer discharges half of his fuel in Cotonou and comes to collect subsidy on the full load from PPPRA, when a fuel importer loads from Port Harcourt, sails 50 kilometres into the sea and makes a U-turn to come and berth in Apapa, and then claims subsidies, when any fuel importer just shows up at PPPRA with a forged document falsely claiming to import fuel and collects billions of dollars in subsidy, WHY SHOULD POOR NIGERIANS PAY FOR THESE? What Nigerians need is a clean-up of that sector, the jailing of untouchables, like it happened in the banking industry. Anything less is fraudulent! Anything less is inhumane! And the government has the people’s mandate to go after these guys. Yaradua did it in the banks. And died for it…
The figures speak for themselves. In Obasanjo’s time, they paid N350Billion yearly as subsidies. In Yaradua’s time, they paid N600billion yearly. What in hell happened, that one year into Jonathan’s government Nigeria paid N1.4trillion???? Nigeria’s population did not balloon out. We did not have new industries opening, rather they closed down enmasse. Mr Jonathan should go after those who stole us blind, but he has chosen to UNLEASH THE SAME CRAZY FRAUDSTERS WHO ‘CLEANED OUT’THE PEOPLE ON US POOR, HAPLESS AND CLUELESS CITIZENS!!!
They even compared us with Ghana. Christine Lagarde, MD of IMF, had made a pit stop there and commanded asked them to abolish subsidies, which they did!
But Ghana, a country of 25million people, spent $150million on subsidy last year. Nigeria, with 6 times the population (at 150million), spent $8billion, which is 55 TIMES what Ghana spent! Bros Jonathan, Mallam Sanusi, why are we doing this to Nigerians? To cap government’s warped thinking, we thought the economy would collapse if this subsidy is not stopped. But then they have incorporated a committee led by Mr Integrity, Christopher Kolade (whose successor/anointed Bunmi Oni happened to be the unlucky Barawo in Cadbury’s game of book-cooking worldwide), to manage the proceeds! Which proceeds again? Or will Kolade now become the president? The billion dollar question is if we would survive this onslaught by evil globalists who refuse to consider the history and sociological make-up of a people before enacting policies, or who simply take much delight in killing off species – like us – whom they deem are unworthy of living in the first place. Globalisation and its adherents are twisting the dagger in the heart of poor Nigeria…