Nigeria: GEJ and SUNDRY ISSUES: Part II

Welcome to the Heartbreak

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Sequel to the astronomical increase in the price of oil on the first day of this year, the reaction of Nigerians to this cruel policy of GEJ-led administration has been nothing short of commendation. The harmony and camaraderie shown by Nigerians is epic as it is the first time when Nigerians from all strata of the society unified in voice devoid of the usual cacophony with the tag occupy Nigeria.

OccupyNigeria was imperative at the moment and as it spread like wild fire within the spate of 2week throughout the world where Nigerians inhabit shows how crucial the pump price of PMS is o the living of every Nigerian. Protest took place in notable places like Washington, New York, London, Accra to mention few. While in Nigeria, protest was virtually in all states of the federation with Lagos protest at Gani Fawehinmi Park in Ojota being the convergence point since 9th January when the protest started.

With human right activists, artists, civil and labour organisations  and many Nigerians marching out en masse to show their grievance to the inconsiderate policy of GEJ and ill-advised members of cabinet. Their message was loud and clear for the world to see, even the cable news channels could but give it a significant coverage. On twitter, the trending words were #Subsidy #OccupyNigeria, #GEJ, #141. Every television channels in Nigeria was discussing the issue of subsidy removal.

People demonstrated religiously and for the very first time people asked questions about the subsidy like they have never done before. Although, the protests have been as peaceful as possible for protests of this popularity. Despite this, we cannot shy away of the side effect along the way, people shot and killed by the police. Deaths and injuries resulting from stampedes all this cannot be blamed on anything other than oil subsidy removal.

Everyday at Gani Fawehinmi Park since 9th Jan has beebn like this.

Questions like: is there subsidy? Who benefits from subsidy removal? What are the alternatives to subsidy removal? Whether or not the manner of the removal is constitutional? Why must it be removed now? Regardless of what your take is on subsidy questions and except for those that profit directly from oil, I think the consensus of opinion is that the removal of subsidy now is like a coup and it is unacceptable from the government at this time by 118%.  Forget the theory of economics, there is no place in the world this is rational in a country that more than 65% of her populace live under N250 per day and the minimum wage is N18,000 per month/N818 per day [equivalent to $144 per month/$6.50c per day], it appears like putting the camel through the needles eye in reality but the government is not seeing it from that common perspective. We keep hearing the need for economic transformation and prudence without the immediate welfare of Nigerians.

Let’s individualise the topic a bit: You want to help me to a better life on inflated promises that have become so monotonous to my ears over the years, and I say no thanks I will take my chances until there are something feasible you can show to prove your genius. Actions they say speak louder than voice.

“How can you thank a man for giving you what’s already yours? How then can you thank him for giving you only part of what is yours?” ― Malcolm X

When labour decides to take the front of this struggle, like many other Nigerians, I was concerned: as labour really won a landslide against the Government before? NO, partly because the cause has never been as well supported as this. In essence, labour  have not successfully negotiated the pump price back to status quo at any price hike.

Last week, the senate president called a meeting that was attended by Federal Government representatives, The NLC/TUC, Civil Organisations, The Governors’ forum. The labour representative was hosted by the Senate president in his lodge – what a good gesture!  The initial meeting was said to have ended in a deadlock on Saturday. But my take is why should we even have a negotiation in the first place? The crescendo is loud enough for even the deaf not to hear what the grievance of the people is revert back to N65 now no more no less. The meeting was held again today and it has been reported that labour has agreed to N97 per litre – about 51% increase.

nlc/tuc and fin. minister
Omar, Esele and Iweala -Occupying Aso Rock

Honestly I’m not surprised when I learnt that the compromise between the federal government and the Labour representatives is N97 per a litre of petrol. It only confirms the ususal perfidy of the labour organization. Responsiveness and effectiveness of the cause, should at first bring the price back to N65 at first [even if it will go back up the next day]. This is no victory at all.

It is unfortunate that open fraud are committed behind closed doors. John F. Kennedy said:  “A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people”.

I refuse to give the labour any benefit of doubt on this. They have caused their usual heart break. I wonder if Nigerians will continue in this state of learned helplessness. I just wish Nigerians can see through what we’ve started without been unfazed by the betrayal of their labour representatives.

“A nation which has forgotten the quality of courage which in the past has been brought to public life is not as likely to insist upon or regard that quality in its chosen leaders today – and in fact we have forgotten. “

Still from John Fitzgerald Kenedy.

Welcome to the heartbreak!


4 thoughts on “Nigeria: GEJ and SUNDRY ISSUES: Part II

  1. i ‘ve never had faith in politicians & as such hated them, now NLC & TUC has just joined the those lives lost, our money in profits, our precious time all in flames. To nigerians its a great loss bcos NLC & TUC are just another judas iscariot and i bliv labour had since december known of #97 but led Nigerians into believin we re goin 2get relieved…….#120/ #90…….cant bliv dis happened

  2. Aww, its a real heartbreak. Its obvious ‎​you got emotional while writing. We ask God to bless
    So we can play our parts in building this nation. Well written bro

  3. The ten letter word corruption is fast becoming a universal phenomenon which its attendant economic toxic cannot but be given an adequate consideration whenever the Gross National Product of every economy is to be computed because it now constitute at least 35 per cent of every state economic activity,albeit,it varies from country to country. Giving credence to its significance,it has an economic issue of note. At this juncture,clarification has to be made as regards the adverse effect it leaves in wake in Nigeria economy. Undoubtedly,the Nigeria economy is a fertile ground for corruption to thrive due to some factors as : economic ideology; the belief of average Nigerian; the gap between the rich and the poor; our attitude towards fabulous wealth; and inflationary phenomenon,which I will go out of my way to explain one after the other.

  4. Political corruption is not a recent phenomenon that pervades the Nigerian state. Since the creation of modern public administration in the country, there have been cases of official misuse of resources for personal enrichment.

    Corruption in Nigeria

    The rise of public administration and the discovery of oil and natural gas are two major events seen to have led to a litany of ignoble corrupt practices in the country. Over the years, the country has seen its wealth withered with little to show in living conditions of the average human being. A Nigerian political leader, Obafemi Awolowo raised a salient issue when he said, since independence, our governments have been a matter of few holding the cow for the strongest and most cunning to milk, Under those circumstances everybody runs over everybody to make good at the expense of others.

    The pervasive corruption has been blamed on colonialism. According to this view, the nation’s colonial history may have restricted any early influence in an ethical revolution. Throughout the colonial period, most Nigerians were stuck in ignorance and poverty. The trappings of flash cars, houses and success of the colonists may influence the poor to see the colonist as symbols of success and to emulate the colonists in different political ways.

    Involvement in the agenda of colonial rule may also inhibit idealism in the early stage of the nascent nation’s development. A view commonly held during the colonial days was that the colonists property (cars,houses,farms etc.) is not “our” property. Thus vandalism and looting of public property was not seen as a crime against society. This view is what has degenerated into the more recent disregard for public property and lack of public trust and concern for public goods as a collective national property.

    Petroleum in Nigeria
    Some writers have posited about the different potential causes of flagrant and pecunious graft that exists in the country: many blame greed and ostentatious lifestyle as a potential root cause of corruption. To some, societies in love with ostentatious lifestyle may delve into corrupt practices to feed the lifestyle and also embrace a style of public sleaze and lack of decorum. The customs and attitudes of the society may also be a contributing factor. Gift giving as expressions of loyalty or tributes to traditional rulers may be fabrics of the society.

    Also, a political environment that excludes favors towards elites or wealthy citizens may also be influenced by corruption. Wealthy elites may resort to sleaze in order to gain power and protect their interest. However, the bottom line surmised from the views of most Nigerians is that corruption is a problem that has to be rooted out. In Nigeria another major cause of corruption is ethnicity called tribalism in Nigeria. Friends and kinsmen seeking favor from officials may impose difficult strains on the ethical disposition of the official. Many kinsmen may see a government official as holding necessary avenues for their personal survival or gain.

    A culmination of use of official resources for private gain may lead to further pressures on incoming officials from other kinsmen. However, the fact is, the importation of modern rules on inter-ethnic political relationships is a recent colonial and western initiative that may take time to become the norm, deep allegiance to other ethnic groups for administrative decisions early on was sometimes viewed suspiciously, and an early institutionalization of a unitary system in the country, may also have led to a further familiar groupings induced corruption. Nevertheless, a modern practical approach to leadership and relationships has gradually taken a prominent role in the political process. The necessity for practical inter-depedence and cooperation is at the forefront of yearnings for good governance in the country.

    History and Cases

    Pre-Independence and the First Republic

    Corruption, though prevalent, was kept at manageable levels during the First Republic. However, the cases of corruption during the period were sometimes clouded by political infighting.

    Azikiwe was the first major political figure investigated for questionable practices. In 1944, a firm belonging to Azikiwe and family bought a Bank in Lagos. The bank was procured to strengthen local control of the financial industry. Albeit, a report about transactions carried out by the bank showed though Azikiwe had resigned as chairman of the bank, the current chairman was an agent of his. The report wrote that most of the paid-up capital of the African Continental Bank were from the Eastern Regional Financial Corporation.
    In western Nigeria, politician Adegoke Adelabu was investigated following charges of political corruption leveled against him by the opposition. The report led to demand for his resignation as district council head.
    In the Northern region, against the backdrop of corruption allegations leveled against some native authority officials in Bornu. The Northern Government enacted the Customary Presents order to forestall any further breach of regulations. Later on, it was the British administration that was accused of corrupt practices in the results of elections which enthroned a Fulani political leadership in Kano, reports later linking the British authorities to electoral irregularities were discovered.
    Gowon Administration

    Corruption for the most part of Gowon’s administration was kept away from public view until 1975. However, some informed officials voiced concerns, Gowon critics labeled his governors as misguided individuals acting like lords overseeing their personal fiefdom. He was viewed as timid, in terms of being decisive against corrupt elements in his government.

    In 1975, a corruption scandal surrounding the importation of cement engulfed his administration. Many officials of the defense ministry and the central bank of Nigeria where involved in the scandal. Officials were later accused of falsifying ships manifest and inflating the amount of cement to be purchased.
    During the administration, two major individuals from the middle belt of the country were accused of corruption. The Nigeria government controlled newspapers: the Daily Times and the New Nigerian gave great publicity to denunciations of the administration of Gomwalk, and Federal Commissioner Joseph Tarka by the two critics. A situation which may signal a cause for exigent action on corruption.
    In 1975, the administration of Murtala Mohammed later went on and made reformist changes. After a coup putsch brought him into power, the government sacked a large number of government officials and civil servants, many of whom had been criticized for the misuse of power they wielded under the largely uneducated military of Gowon.
    Shagari Administration

    Corruption was deemed pervasive during the administration of Shagari.

    A few federal buildings mysteriously went on fire after investigators started probe on the finances of the officials working in the buildings.
    Late 1985, investigations into the collapse of the defunct Johnson Mathey Bank of London shed some light on some of the abuses carried on during the second republic. The bank acted as a conduit to transfer hard currency for some party members in Nigeria. A few leading officials and politicians had amassed large amounts of money. They sought to transfer the money out of the country with the help of Asian importers by issuing import licenses.
    In 1981, a Rice shortage, led to accusations of corruption against the NPN government. The shortages and subsequent allegations were precipitated, by protectionism. After his election the Nigerian government decided to protect the local rice farmer from imported commodities. A licensing system was created to limit the amount of rice import. However, accusations of favoritism and government supported speculation was leveled against many officials.
    Buhari Administration

    In 1985, a cross section of political gladiators were convicted of different corrupt practices under the government of General Buhari. However, the administration itself was involved in a few instances of lapsed ethical judgment. It is on record that the General himself was on his way to removing a Nigerian colonel from the army before his exit from power, though the removal may signal a hard-line on corruption, it is a far cry from the 10-22 years of imprisonment, politicians under Shagari were sentenced to.
    Babangida Administration

    The regime of general Babangida is seen as the body that legalized corruption. His administration refused to give account of the gulf war windfall, which is estimated to be $12.4 billion. He rigged the only successful election in the history of Nigeria on June 12 1993 and lives in a very exquisite mansion in his home state (Niger-state) in the Northern part of the country.

    Abacha Administration

    The death of the general Sani Abacha revealed the global nature of graft. French investigations of bribes paid to government officials to ease the award of a gas plant construction in Nigeria revealed the global level of official graft in the country. The investigations led to the freezing of accounts containing about $100 million United States dollars.

    In 2000, two years after his death, a Swiss banking commission report indicted Swiss banks for failing to follow compliance process in allowing family and friends of Abacha access to accounts and depositing amounts totaling $600 million US dollars into the accounts. The same year, a total of more than $1 billion US dollars were found in various accounts throughout Europe.
    Public institutions perceived as corrupt

    The following list contains the institutions perceived as the most corrupt. It is culled from the Nigeria Survey and Corruption Survey Study, Final Report (June 2010) Institute for Development Research, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (IDR, ABU Zaria)

    Nigeria (as of 2010)
    1Nigerian Police
    2Political Parties
    3National and State Assemblies
    4Local and Municipal Governments
    5Federal and State Executive Councils
    6Traffic police and FRSC

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