I want to start by making a confession. I have difficulty in understanding basic economics. I didn’t do very well when I wrote GCE back then. Came out with a credit but a c6. That is very close to a pass? Since then, I have steered clear of anything that has to do with figures and economics. And each time there is a discourse in that area, I simply apply native intelligence to make my point.
Since the Babangida era, Nigerians have been told that unless subsidy on fuel is removed, our country, Nigeria will continue to stagnate and wallow in object poverty. Indeed, for the Babangida government to access the World Bank facility at that time, one of the conditionalities was for them to stop paying subsidy on fuel. As a result, fuel prices were jacked up and motorists were made to pay more for it. Abacha too removed subsidy. Yar’adua did same and Obasanjo followed in the stead of his predecessors. This led the Bretton Woods institutions to forgive Nigeria some of its debts and monies were returned to help the states develop their infrastructure.
Over time, different administrations have added to the cost of fuel in the name of subsidy removal. Since the present administration came on board we have been told that subsidy has been removed and market forces now determine cost of the commodity. This perhaps has been responsible for the rise or at times the fall in the cost of the commodity.
However, for someone like me who does not understand the dynamics of economics, is the subsidy endless and amorphous? After several claims made with regards to its removal,the thing keeps reoccurring. Can’t it be dealt with once and for all?
Now is there not something wrong somewhere? I think the more this thing is looked at, the less one understands it. If over the years, subsidies have been removed, for how long else will we have to contend with it? Perhaps, somebody is playing games with the lives of the people? Maybe someone is not being sincere and it is being buried in some subsidy that we can not understand?
Over the years, we have been told that subsidy removal will make allowance for the rebuilding of critical infrastructure. But what do we have on ground? Are our leaders, who have been mandated by us to run our country on our behalf being sincere? Have they been honest? Have we, as a people not been tossed around like in a game of football or chess?
Can our leaders come clean when they are asked to account for their deeds while in the driver’s seat? Can they in all sincerity tell the people and God that they did their best in running the country? Can the followership also sincerely say they held the leadership to account? It is no wonder then that Okonjo Iweala, Jonathan’s Finance Minister alluded to the fact that fighting corruption is dangerous in Nigeria in her book.
Our refineries have suffered neglect over time. Turn around maintenance have become veritable routes to wealth for those lucky to be saddled with them. Nepotism has become our greatest undoing. Competence has thus suffered. If you are not my brother you are not qualified. We destroy our institutions. We put deliberate clogs on their ways and refuse to allow them function and grow. We delight in growing other economies rather than our own. Imagine Abacha servicing the country even in death. Several million dollars have been returned as stolen money kept in bank vaults in other climes.
Once you are appointed into public office, you become the rallying point of your locality. Everybody gathers in your house to pay homage. This in itself kills initiative. People become lazy and dependant.
Nigerians lack character. We are not a nation that punishes wrong doers. We celebrate thieves. We own them. If someone from my locality steals, I should not frown at it. He is my own. He has just taken a bit from the national cake and therefore should not be punished. How can there not be subsidies that cannot be explained? When we finish eating our common patrimony and keep sacrificing on the altar of nepotism, ethnicity and regionalism, we will one day wake up to a country that will offer us nothing.
The time to wake up from our long slumber is now. We have all that it takes to be a great nation. What we lack is good leadership and followership. We therefore, need to change. Character is fundamental and central to this change. You disobey the law you must get punished. That way we might start being accountable.