A number of people have asked me why I have been so quiet both on my blog, vocally and on twitter about the whole subsidy removal brouhaha. The truth is this: I was not very confident of my knowledge on the matter. I cannot boldly beat my chest that I fully understand what on earth is going on. I’m sure I know enough to give my two cents but those who have become familiar with MCLA and with me generally would know I’m too generous to give just two cents . I want to yarn well. At this juncture however, I think my two cents will do just fine.
A broadcast supposedly written/spoken by Fela Durotoye made rounds yesterday morning. Allow me digress. I HATE broadcasts. I loathe them with my being. I don’t know why. I’m trying to understand my strong aversion for them but I’d say it stems from the hatred of being lumped up in a group. I love being treated as an individual and unfortunately, I have lost a few ‘bb friends’ to this. There was a guy who was on my case and 8 out of 10 BBMs to me would be some ‘funny’ story or the other. I, as politely as I could manage, asked to be removed from the list of lucky recipients of his hourly jokes. He got mad at me and saying his ‘true friends’ loved his sense of humour. Let’s just say he’s not on my BB anymore. Now where was I? Fela Durotoye aha!
Ok, here is what he had to say on the issue:
Since I got back into Nigeria yesterday, I have heard some preposterous arguments that the removal of the fuel subsidy will be justified by wise investments that will benefit all.
My response has been, How will a wasteful government suddenly realize the genius of prudence and making the right investment decisions simply bcs 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?
Within his first few days as British Prime Minister, David Cameron led the austerity cuts (upon his assumption) by cutting down his convoy to 2 cars and one outrider. The Members of Parliament in Britain are now only allowed 3rd class train tickets on official travel (as opposed to their traditional first class train ticket allowances). The Mayor of London now rides a bicycle to work.
Leadership by example!!!
How come our ‘leaders’ in government earn so much and still spend so much furnishing the same houses and offices they furnished with our money last year?
Do you furnish your office every year? Why should the President, Governor or Senate President?
Wasteful leadership cannot make prudent investments!!!!! Q.E.D
The change we need is not just policy. Its in the quality of mind and persons at policy making positions.
Lemme try and explain as simply as possible what this whole fuel subsidy removal issue is all about for those who, like me before don’t understand fully and are probably too shy to ask when a general discussion was going on. I’ll let you in on a secret…bring your ear close…85% of those who argue about it don’t understand the simple basics of it. They are simply regurgitating what they’ve heard others say. Unfortunately, those they argue with don’t know that much either and might be too timid to counter them. So they appear so bright but in truth, don’t know that much.
What exactly is Fuel Subsidy?
Basically, Nigeria’s refineries are not in the best of shapes and are supposedly inadequate to refine the quantity of crude oil we have. So we export our crude to Venezuela and other countries with tip top refineries and have them sell our goods back to us-this time in their refined forms-kerosene, diesel, petrol etc. Due to the costs of shipping out, storage, refinery fees, shipping in, customs and duties, transportation within the country etc, the refined produce end up costing so much more than they really should. So the independent marketers take their bills/receipts to the Government/NNPC and they in turn pay them some amount back depending on how much it cost them to bring down the oil. Now, the government says it will not be paying them this money anymore and therefore, the oil will be sold at its REAL price excluding subsidy.
From an analysis I read the other day, if Nigeria had working refineries, the cost of petrol should not be more than N35 per litre. But because of the whole back and forth that we go through to get it refined and brought back home, the government claims that they have had to subsidise the price to make it affordable all these years. It is claimed that the real price should be about N150 per litre and not the N65 we used to buy it pre-2012.
Now they want to end the subsidy and deregulate: which means they want to open it up to natural growth just like they did with the Telecommunications industry (from total reliance on NITEL to a multiplicity of service providers). This, Aunty Ngozi argues, will ensure that there will be competition and subsequent growth and also so that the extra money realised from subsidy removal may be put to good use.
As I watched the Townhall in the last week of December ’11, I was getting her drift. But unfortunately, I’m not buying it. A scripture comes to mind: if you have been faithful with little, much more will be entrusted in your care. Nigerian government has not been faithful with what it has and therefore there is absolutely no guarantee this will work.
I was watching the News a few days back and this okada man says people are no longer patronising him much and will rather walk a bit longer rather than pay the new fares. Yes, I know I prayed hard for okadas to be eradicated but certainly not this way. What will happen to people? How will they cope because everything will increase with the petrol prices. Even things we all know are in no way related.
I really hope things will begin to take shape and that our leaders will remember they are elected to render a service and not just chill. I hear Jonathan spends 1 Billion naira on food in Aso Rock every year. Even if Oriental Hotel were supplying daily meals to him, it should not cost that much. I also hear he is planning on purchasing a $500 Million bullet proof jet. I hear too that tending his garden costs him N 300 Million annually. Someone one twitter wondered if was the Garden of Eden. Lol!
In summary, Nigeria needs prayers and action. How exactly did Jerry Rawlings combat corrupt Ghanaian leaders again? I shudder when I think of it but the painful truth is that that might be our only solution…