If you have kept up with the news lately, you must have heard about the fuel ‘subsidy’ removal in Nigeria and how the masses have reacted. It is very interesting indeed, I did not want to write a post about this but it has lasted for a week and it is only fair for me to comment.
On new years day, it was announced that the government had decided to withdraw ‘subsidy’ which led to an increase in fuel price from N65 per litre to N140 per litre. Nigerians were agitated for obvious reasons. This matter is a complicated one as it involves so many other issues.
I have spoken to a number of people face to face and via social networks and still none of them have put up substantive arguments in defence of the fuel ‘subsidy’. Yes, there are ‘economic’ benefits but given certain circumstances and situations in Nigeria which I will explain below, there is a need to look beyond ‘economics’.
I must confess, I am no genius at economics neither am I even a genius at anything else. As a matter of fact, I did not school in Harvard(like our sorry minister of finance)or any of such schools but what I have always known is that in democratic states, the governments are supposed to represent the interest of the people and since it is rather impossible to satisfy every single person the majority usually carry the vote. In this case, the masses do not want the subsidy removal for various reasons. My reason for not supporting the subsidy removal is bad governance.
With all due respect Mr President…
For 5 decades, Nigerians have put up with bad governance and mismanagement of resources. Governments have made empty promises to citizens and expectant citizens have watched politicians get rich at the expense of the poor. Are these same citizens supposed to endorse a project that hands over an extra 1.3 trillion naira into the hands of these same thieves? The obvious answer is No!!!
Two days ago, the President said in order to ease the impacts of the subsidy removal 1600 mass transit buses will be made available. That may just be the stupidest thing any president in the world has ever said. Nigeria has a population of 160 million and these people are grouped into 772 local governments…when you divide 1600 by 772, each local government gets 2 buses!!! Need i say more?
He went ahead to say that cuts have to be made in order to sustain development. Fine!!!! I have no problem with that as long as the President, governors and their colleagues make similar cuts. The president announced a 25% cut in basic salary. That is absolute rubbish!!!! we all know that the basic salary is probably just 5% of their overall take home pay. If ordinary citizens have to make sacrifices, I see no reason why the politicians should not.
They keep comparing Nigeria to other countries that have implemented similar policies like Ghana and Venezuela. Another tactic to throw off Nigerians. well, I do not know much about fuel subsidy in Venezuela but what i know is that i will pick Hugo Chavez over the president we have in Nigeria and this goes back to what I said about good governance. The government could not handle a terrorist group like Boko Haram yet they were able to mobilise security forces to disperse innocent protesters who were exercising their fundamental rights! Ghana on the other hand had made sacrifices in order to get to where it is today. Past leaders like Jerry Rawlings made such sacrifices for Ghana…Nigerians may be forced to down the same road.
Finally, the answer to Nigeria’s economic situation will not be solved by the removal of fuel subsidy. I wonder what kind of advisers the president surrounds himself with.This policy only manages to impose more hardship on people who are already suffering (please check the UNDP Human Development Index and see where Nigeria stands). This policy is ill-timed and very poorly executed. No measures were put in place to ensure a sustainable fuel subsidy removal, i mean measures such as structures to address high costs of living, unemployment, inadequate infrastructure like: light, water and roads.
Once again the Nigerian government has gotten it wrong!!! I can only commend the efforts of those who took to the streets to air their opinions. Never have I been more proud to be Nigerian!!!