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Nigeria: Revolution beckons?

posted on Wednesday, January 18, 2012 03:55 PM

A careful review of happenstances in North Africa and the increasing level of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) penetration in Nigeria (not in comparison with rest of the world though) should send a clear warning to those who lead, that change and revolution is possible. If a people can mobilize themselves and fight for political freedom, how much will they do for economic freedom and survival? Nigeria may set the pace for West Africa. After all, Paul Biya has been President of Cameroon for the past 29 years and Nigeria is the giant of Africa. There are series of messages flying around mobile phones and internet, sensitizing citizens on why and how they should resist the proposed policy and this could just be the beginning. Experience may have caused some people to carefully cross examine the proposed deregulation of downstream sector by this present administration with the view to find facts and make sound judgment without necessarily following the crowd. It is very apposite for this administration to tread with caution in its bid to implement what the people perceive as an anti-people policy. Nigerians are already tired and fed up with the status quo, people just lost their loved ones in post elections violence, and some are still grieving and licking their wounds after spending so much money in the past elections and failing to win. There is so much disaffection in the system. People are hungry, Federal and State owned universities are busy increasing school fees, yet the standard of education is still in a deplorable state. There is high level of insecurity in the land and those who feel governance and certain leadership positions in Nigeria is their birthright are taking opportunity of the state of insecurity to perpetrate criminal acts. There is division in the country based on ethnic and religious differences which was overstretched by the just concluded elections. In an ideal society, the deregulation of downstream sector makes a lot of sense but the unfortunate reality is that; there is no such society called ideal. Again, the most unfortunate thing is that when a people refuse a policy initiated by their leaders, the onus rests on the leadership to listen and make a u-turn. It makes no sense that President Goodluck Jonathans administration is proposing a deregulation of the downstream sector which will automatically inflict untold hardship on the lives of the people without putting in place cushioning effects. Listening to governments argument towards deregulating the downstream sector makes me wonder if those who make economic policies really understand their job. Whilst this article does not in anyway drive towards teaching them how to do their job, I think it has become imperative that the economic team understands its primary objective is to bring about economic development that will improve the lives of average Nigerians. In the just concluded Nigerian Economic Summit, the government claimed that Nigerias economy has been growing slightly above 6% rate despite the global economic crisis but it has become clear that those whose economy has been in recession for a few years now still live one million times better than the average Nigerian whose economy is growing at 6%. Therefore, the problem is not with economic growth but the implementation of a proper economic development plan. We were made to understand that government will spend over N1trillion subsidizing fuel in 2012 budget and considers such an amount alarming. As a result, the government wants to stop subsidizing fuel. President Jonathan believes that subsidy is not helping the average Nigerian rather; it is benefiting a few corrupt Nigerians who are in a cartel or cabal. Again, at the Nigerian Economic Summit, the President in answering a question from the moderator at the opening session opined that Nigerians are crying foul about the proposed fuel subsidy removal when the same government has removed subsidy in diesel. He went ahead to say that people have stopped buying diesel vehicles that will carry more people to purchase small-small vehicles that cause traffic congestion on our roads. In his intelligent manner, he also said that; the idea of some people owning ten cars when they actually need just one would be discouraged if fuel becomes expensive. The president added that Nigerians are too extravagant; they should stop buying fuel-driven engine vehicles and go for gas which is relatively cheaper. I am still amazed by the intelligent explanations as to why he wants to remove subsidy from fuel products. Im sure if Obama had sold the healthcare policy to Americans in such a dumb manner, he would have been impeached by now. Everyone knows that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is one of the most constitutionally empowered Presidents of the world and he has the powers to arrest and prosecute anyone who he knows and is sure is a member of the cabal. The Russian President used his powers to bring down the Russian cabal who were making the economy to favor themselves against the majority. Just as a UN official rightly said it, official incompetence (is what is affecting this administration) because government is empowered to, and can smash any such cabal if and when it wants to. In my view, I think the President wants to punish the entire country over the sins of a very few and I am sure Nigerians are ready to resist this by any means necessary. If the cost of subsidizing fuel is very high, then ordinary citizens shouldnt shoulder the responsibility of an irresponsible administration. We export crude oil because we do not have refineries, why dont we fix our refineries so that we can stop exporting crude oil and subsidizing the finished product for the marketers? One does not need a professorship in economics to understand this simple equation. This is what Mama and Papa Dauda will ordinarily work out in the bedroom before Mama Dauda would go to the market. Again, if government argues that they do not have business in business and the pump price of fuel will drop in a deregulated economy since the forces of demand and supply will determine the price of the commodity then, they should build refineries and run them for a few years before handing them over to the private sector or sell them. We have the resources to build six refineries in each geopolitical zone. Nigerians have suffered enough, they subsidize virtually everything for themselves; schools, roads, power, water, security and lots more. Government would not be doing too much if she continues to subsidize fuel while putting in place mechanisms for economic transition. In the usual tricks of government, they may create artificial scarcity close to the proposed date of the subsidy removal. Knowing that Nigerians are not longsuffering, they will complain and demand that the subsidy be removed so that they can buy fuel and live their normal lives but I am sure that this trick may not work this time around as Nigerians are already aware of it and prepared to resist it. Again, the government has started dispersing protester in their clusters and using its powers to arrest and intimidated leaders of protest groups. They may take a step further by invoking the anti-terrorism Act in order to discourage people from assembling to protest the policy. It will be very important to state it clearly that, this attempt is totally anti-democratic; citizens have the right to assemble and peacefully protest certain policies and actions of government. Protest is one form of the freedom of expression which is enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. An attempt to muzzle opposition and protesters will be highly resisted and may bring about chaos. It is the responsibility of those who advice governments to do so rightly. I foresee anarchy, Nigerians have been pushed to the wall for too long and a little resistance may spell doom for the entire nation. Did I hear you say, God forbid?
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