New Delusions For Our Struggling Nation

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By

Dr. Anthony Philips

After sixty years of Independence, Nigeria is still struggling with its real identity. Also, disheartening is the absence of visionary leaders to take the nation out of the woods. The country remains grounded in the middle of nowhere, unable of getting the necessary help.

Since Independence, people’s hopes had been dashed too many times over several attempts to establish a system of government that works for the people. Those who hijack the power over time continue to manipulate the people and take advantage of them. When a tyrant government, military or civilian, leaves office, the people celebrate hoping that their situation would change for the better. Election after election, since the ousting of the military, the people began to lose confidence in our democratic experiments.

Upon being sworn in as the newly elected President on 29th May, Bola Ahmed Tinubu immediately announced two policies:

1) Removal of oil subsidy

2) Endorsement of students’ loan.

These two policies are placed before the people at the same time for strategic reasons. Subsidy removal is pain inflicting, while the students loans is perceived to be palliative.

This article will be restricted to discussion on subsidy removal only.

The idea of removing subsidy, according to the President, is to provide succor for the citizenry. Now that government subsidy removal is in place, where does this leave us? Let me be categorical, that I strongly believe that government cannot and should not run any business enterprise. By so saying, I do not mean by any stretch of the imagination that government should suddenly withdraw all business interests it has. However, I do believe that all refineries and other ventures that government hope to profit from should be sold out to private investors, especially those investments gulping money from government coffers instead of returning profits.

However, subsidy in whatever form is not a bad idea. By definition, subsidy is money paid by government or organization to reduce the cost of services or production of goods so that their prices can be kept low, e.g. agricultural subsidies. Unless the government wants to suggest a different definition for their own subsidy, their coloration of oil subsidy removal gave an impression that subsidy is an infectious cancer. This is not true.

Absolutely, nothing is wrong with an oil-producing state sharing parts of the spoils of the national treasures with its citizens.

Nigeria is amongst the leading producers of crude oil, its citizens must enjoy from the proceeds of the commodity. What are the excuses for this government depriving its citizens of their entitlement?

Definitely, Nigerians should not suffer from lackluster reviews or lack of trust resulting from bad and corrupt leadership. The new government had taken off with packaging, sloganeering and propaganda as follows:

1) The government said that oil marketers were ripping off the state by over-invoicing. If this is true, over-invoicing cannot be eliminated even with subsidy removal. The vices responsible for this are called corruption perpetrated by government officials in collaboration with the oil dealers and the technocrats. Removal of subsidy will actually embolden them to be more vicious and it will not solve the problem.

2) The government said the marketers were partly responsible for the shortfall in supply of foreign exchange. This cannot be true because NNPC had introduced direct purchase by direct payment in Naira currency since 1986. More so, Mr. President is a stakeholder in Oando, an oil firm that happened to be a beneficiary in the subsidy payment. He should tell the nation why payment of suppliers was so complex to handle by the NNPC. He needs to tell the nation why the people should pay for the reckless looting of the technocrats, bureaucrats and marketers.

3) The President said he could not be expected to be burning billions of Naira on neighboring countries like Cameroon, Ghana, Togo and other African countries to the detriment of our own economy. Nothing could be farther from the truth. If only the government can account for the quantities of oil supplies that come to our shores, why pay more than the bill of laden to our suppliers? If indeed they paid more, why would our price increase preclude us from paying more, after all we will continue to pay by invoicing?

4) One of the former governors said on social media that a member of the cabal benefiting from the subsidy fund told him to plead with the President to stop paying subsidy because he had made so much money he was tired of making money from the scam. Absolute nonsense, if such a foolish idiot exists, he does not live in this country. Capitalist do not get tired of making more money, they may rather invest a fraction of their loot on charity.

5) Sanusi Lamido suggested that the President should remove subsidy; and unless he failed to remove it, there might be quarrel between himself and the President. Yes, the suggestion might be on a lighter mood, but the message all the same was real. He was asking for subsidy removal all the same.

6) Mr. President was once a beneficiary in this oil subsidy racket via Oando, which happens to be his family business. When Mr. President said he refused to accept his share of the subsidy payment, could it have been his royalty as the President? If he is kind enough to decline his share, he might as well be honorable to let the nation know those entitled to this payment. He should also tell the nation why the people should suffer for a crime they did not commit. He should tell the nation why the people should suffer for a crime they did not commit. What exactly is the real cause of the rat race to withdraw or remove subsidy? Your guess is as good as mine is.

Oando Plc boosts traders' fortunes with LPG gas stove — Energy — The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News

There is economic reason for the sudden demand by the same organizers of the Save Nigeria Group of activists, who shut the nation’s economy down in resistance to the idea of subsidy removal in 2012. They won election in 2015 and remained in government with unfulfilled promises of building more refineries and repairing the grounded ones. None of such undertakings was accomplished in eight years, 2015 to 2023.

The only reason behind the subsidy removal is nothing more than shortage of funds. In eight years, the APC government did not only drain the treasury, the loans borrowed from China and other foreign countries have been unprecedented to any administration in the history of this country. Therefore, they need to much to kick-start this enterprise. Since they cannot make enough from crude oil, they are compelled to look inwards to generate revenue to run government.

The oil marketers and the other members of the cabals are in bed with government to continue business as usual. They are in no way impacted by this government’s action because they cannot make this kill anywhere else in the world. They are standing by Mr. President to be part of the action and to continue business as usual.

Another lie is the suggestion by the President that his administration would balance the books and revive the Nigeria economy in six months. Let the President give us the breakdown of his blueprint to turn the economy round in one year. It will only show that this President has no plans outside the dictates of the IMF and other multinational financial institutions. Also, let Mr. President be reminded that unlike he has done in Lagos State, he does not have 24 years of performance assessment in office.

The only difference between this administration and the previous ones is that it is exhibiting the trait of a desperate, unnerved President who jumped the gun. He had no assessment of the situation reports handed over by previous administration before announcing the oil subsidy removal. It appears that the President is conscious of the fact that the last APC administration, which happened to be the President’s party, overreached its spending capacity and left the nation dry. Thus, the new President became eager to generate revenue ruthlessly, in order to sustain the running of government. Should the country be running low on funds, it will be callous and inhuman for the new administration to be remotely connected with the people.

Otherwise, wider consultation would have opened this President to possibilities that would have relieved the people of these trauma and sufferings. This is a nation with about 70 percent of its people living below the poverty line; and these people are being asked to pay a 250 percent increase in pump price.

Yet the same oil is pivotal to the economic life of the nation. It simply means that the fuel price increase will affect the standard of living negatively. Yet the President does not give a damn.

Administration after administration over time had employed increased fuel prices to fund government expenditure. But for the reckless spending and mismanagement of government resources, we should not be here. Government running costs continue to grow in sizes, leaps and bounds, while the revenue is playing catch-up.

To top it all, no Nigerian government had recklessly taken loans from foreign countries like the past APC Buhari administration of blessed memory. This subsidy removal policy is robbing the low-income earners to remedy the wrongs of the cabals and cartel in the industry. Indeed, Nigerians are resilient but it takes the last straw to break the camel’s back.

Mr. President, you still have the time to consult with the stakeholders.

ANTHONY PHILLIPS WRITES FROM LAGOS

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