Nigeria: GEJ and Sundry Issues in Brief
“the hottest place in hell are reserved for those who, in a time of great moral crisis, maintain neutrality”.
For this I feel obliged to write this piece on the recent happenings in my beloved most populous black nation, Nigeria.
I have been struggling with the reality that only thing that can be worse than state of unrest and anxiety in this country is the Arab spring. In just a year at the helms of affairs for President Jonathan [GEJ], the state of affairs in the country has deteriorated in virtually all fabrics for arguably the most popularly elected president of Nigeria since 1993.
Insecurity has gone off the roof and has defied any logic the abysmal state of insecurity of lives and properties. From Bombing of the Nigeria Police Headquarter, to the bombing of United nations office in Abuja and to the recent Christmas Bombing, little more need to be said that the organized security that is the responsibility of the state has been annihilated and the president as the chief security officer of the country is clueless it. This is clearly evident in the comments of President Jonathan in his reaction to the bomb blast on Christmas day in locations in Niger, Jos and Abuja. He said: “The issue of bombing is one of the burdens we must live with. It will not last forever; I believe that it will surely be over,’’. The statement to me, is devoid of confidence and authority voted in the office of the president.
While Nigerians have resolved to comforting ourselves from bereavement for the loss of lives of our fellow countrymen to a devious group BOKO HARAM and finding a self-help to abate this conundrum that has threatened both our collective existence as a country and as individuals with our government already switched off to its security responsibilities, President Jonathan struck a devastating blow to Nigerians. This time he brought the fighter spirit out of Nigerians in short time of his administration, the curtains already appears to be falling with his infamous removal of oil subsidy to spoil the merriment of the New Year.
To me, the removal of subsidy is not a death penalty if done in the right manner but President Goodluck Jonathan put Nigeria to the guillotine at the most awkward time and that has rapidly cast a shadow n the once popular candidate for a new Nigeria. He hit the bull’s eye at the wrong time. Despite the initial division of opinion on the removal of the subsidy with both pro subsidy removal and anti-subsidy removal presenting sound logic for their argument, it is widely believed that it is not going to be removed until after first quarter of the year. Boko Haram struck last week in December, while people are trying to comfort themselves out of grief; he threw the spanner barely 7 days after. This only shows insensitivity, naivety in governance and stupidity to do that on the first day of the year. My question is: what has he delivered to the people within his 8 months at the reins that can compensate for requiring the people to pay through their skin?
I will add in an excerpt from a post of a renowned motivational speaker Fela Durotoye:
“My response has been, How will a wasteful government suddenly realize the genius of prudence and making the right investment decisions simply bcs (because) there is more money available from oil subsidy removal?
Will there be less graft & bribes involved in process of issuing the road contracts or power contracts?
Have we sought to honestly find every way we can plug wastage in our leaking economy before we ask a feeble populace to carry the burden of corruption and gross ineptitude of a gluttonous few?
Have the Presidency, the State & Local Governments and the Legislature discovered how to travel without a convoy of 20 cars to the airport?
Can the occupiers of these lofty positions act in honour as Barack Obama did in 2010 when he got every member of his cabinet to take a pay cut, starting with himself?………….”
It continues but the truth be told, can all this questions be genuinely answer? If yes may be the people will take solace in the fact that we are in for an austerity measure which has to cut across all quarters of Nigeria.
There are other sane avenues to explore in this situation, for instance Sanusi Lamido complained about the reeking pressure of the allowances of Nigeria lawmakers which account for 25% of Nigeria overhead. They vehemently denied it but who is deceiving who? A senator takes about N29, 479,749.00 Per annum [excluding their famous asides pocket lining]. We vote N 3,264,329,264.10 to pay 109 members claiming to be serving the people. We are talking financial prudence. The government does not deem it fit that it will be more prudent if we slash that at least by 50%. Since we all know it is ‘selfless service”
While presenting the budget to the National Assembly a month ago, he never discussed the issues of subsidy removal in his address despite the fact that Nigeria economy sit essentially on oil. How can you omit a part of the budget that gives us about N3.644 trillion in excess? I take it as a coup on Nigerians.
Let’s explore a little bit the connection between oil and other facets of Nigeria economy. Now that electricity is history, the stable sources of power are generators mostly powered by Premium Motor Spirit [also known as petrol]. Road Transportation is the only viable and economic way of travelling most motor vehicles in Nigeria run on premium motor spirit [petrol], artisans whose trade is connected to the use of power supply had resulted to stand alone generators, let us not forget that even telecommunication providers run their equipment on generating plants. So when I read in the papers that the president wants to launch a mass transit line of 1600 buses, I said to myself, he must think we are all from where his wife came from. Nigerians are not shortsighted. Where I am driving at in essence is that the removal of subsidy as at now will have MULTIPLIER EFFECT and before we know it we will be at the same point I no time more money chasing fewer goods.
Let me paint a circle, Petrol is 141 naira, all fares of transportation goes up by at least 120%, so will prices of domestic goods (food stuff) all will go up blaming it on transportation which is very correct. Wages of workers will be at deficit with their expenditure; they will inevitably demand a pay rise, after a long tussle government will succumb and increase the wages of workers, then we will be back to time zero when subsidy was not removed. Government spending increases as the income.
He claimed Nigerians should be eating cassava bread no problem, I had already started putting it in my nutritional plan when I realized that his feeding budget is N1billion. So much for Cassava bread? N1billion budgeted for presidential feeding would pay the wages of 1200 Nigerians for a year. Leadership they say is by example.
Why can’t GEJ work on making stable power supply?, tackle insecurity rather than purchasing two bullet proof vehicles for N280million of tax payers’ money, complete his resuscitation of the railway transport before total removal of the subsidy, then people will know why they are paying the cost. If Fashola insist on more tax in Lagos people will react but judge within their conscience that it is for the better of it as he has shown by his physical development.
Personally without mincing words, I did not support his government from the onset as a do-gooder government without an agenda or yardstick to measure your election promises. Government is more than what some people around you say and accepting the logic of their idea, he should have known that he owes the primary allegiance to Nigerians and striking a balance between the good a policy brings with the adverse effect. The question I ask is, at what cost is he removing the subsidy now?
For the very first time since the military days, Nigerians came out of their laidback approach to policies when GEJ administration hit their crust. If this protest is seen through to the letter and government yield to the yearnings, then I foresee a brighter Nigeria where every man believes he has a stake in the government for himself, children and the unborn. Robert F. Kenedy in special foreword of Memorial edition of ‘Profiles in Courage’ by John Kennedy:
“Government is where the decisions will be made which will affect not only all our destiies but the future of our children born and unborn.”
Therefore, we all have a sense of duty to check the excess and arbitrary of government at all time.