In the last few days, quite a few friends have asked me more or less the same thing: “Why don’t you speak for the masses now that subsidy is removed?”
The truth is, I’ve chosen to keep quite because I’m confused… struggling to understand the logic behind wailing because of subsidy removal. Hear me out here!
Annually, Nigeria spends about a trillion naira on subsidy. To put the amount into perspective, it’s about 16% of its 2016 budget or as high as 24% of the 2015 budget!
Now, if these unbelievable sums go on to actually benefit the populace, as far as I’m concerned, it’s money well-spent. But, no! It ends up in the pockets of dodgy businessmen and politicians who collect contracts from the federal government to import fuel at a subsidised rate, but sell the contracts to others, reaping where they did not sow.
This is why you could rarely buy fuel from independent marketers at official prices because they, too, have to make their own profits.
And from what I gather, the reality on ground is that, with the subsidy, people spend ages on queues to buy fuel at N150 per litre, or more! Within just a few days without the subsidy they buy fuel at N145 per litre without queues.
Besides, in the last six months alone, Saudi Arabia increased its domestic fuel prices by 50%, while Venezuela increased it from 1 cent (of a US dollar) to about 60 cents, a whopping 6000% increment! And both countries produce more oil than Nigeria.
Do you now see why my left hemisphere is busy trying to decode the logic behind all the wailing? And please spare me the lazy line that “…you’re not in the country to feel our pains”. I’ve got a million tentacles left behind to make me feel the pain and the pleasure of every economic up/down turn in the country no matter where I am.
Surprisingly, one “Sinator” who is visibly seen to support corruption everywhere it goes has even threatened to organise, in his words, “the mother of all protests”.
I was trying to understand his motive for doing something “in the interest of the public”, when it dawned on me that this subsidy removal is a low-hanging fruit for many political opportunists to sneak in a cheap political shot at their biggest problem ever, i.e. Baba. Little do they know that we’re now wiser and more sophisticated.
The NLC leadership, who were nowhere to be found when the political elite shared our commonwealth, have also threatened to go on strike. Lest we forget, it is the same NLC that refused to organise a protest after the subsidy removal in 2012.
They later cunningly joined the protest, which was started by civil rights movements, and hijacked its leadership only to betray Nigerians and sell out to the government. By calling off the strike action and protest prematurely, they demoralised other Nigerians and civil organisations to carry on, which gave the incumbent government the impetus to send soldiers to the streets and “shoot at sight” while they (NLC leaders) smiled to the bank.
The NLC leaders seem to have perfected a way of capitalising on every opportunity they’ve got to justify why they collect billions of Naira every year from poor civil servants without a single thing to show for it. They build no infrastructure, except their mind-boggling private estates; they don’t give anyone anything apart from themselves. Yet, they collect money from the labouring public every single month.
Therefore, as far as I’m concerned NLC lacks the moral grounds to continue pretending to be acting in the interest of the suffering masses. And we’ll say, “No, thanks” this time. We won’t be fooled again!
Finally, but even more importantly, I think my hitherto silence was because I believe governance is trust-based. I trust #BabaBuhari to act in my interest all the time. I may not understand all of his decisions, but I believe all of them are well intended and are in our best collective interest.
Thus, I conclude with “Ja mu je, Baba!” 🙂
Dr M Aminu