It is very important to mention here that in democratic governance, it is government of the people by the people and for the people, which means an all inclusive government. The leaders are chosen to represent because all can not lead at the same time. If this is true then, the wishes of the masses must be put on the table for discussion. A sensitive issue of this nature should have been given a thought at the beginning of 2011 so that it could be given wider consultation because the government is discussing the life of many Nigerians. With this economic change a lot of people will die of hunger. They can barely afford a meal on their table in this present circumstance. We are seeing what is happening. There is a saying, that “a hungry man is an angry man”. When you are hungry, there is nothing you cannot do.
That is why we are seeing all these crises in different parts of the country. The privileged ones are using the less privileged in the society to perpetrate evil. If jobs are created andcost of living affordable, we will surely have less of all these. The only thing the masses are benefiting from government which they elected is the subsidy, and they are trying to remove it simply because the government wants to service the loan they collected which the masses are not aware of. If the government wants to take a loan, it should be a national discussion with an awareness campaign on the need for the loan, but this loan was taken without the knowledge of the masses. This is not a dictatorship. People need to be carried along. That is why it is a democratic government.
The government needs to tell the masses what the loan was taken for and how it was expended. What I know is that when a loan is given, it is for a specific project and the way it will be paid back, and the period it will be paid, will be known. Was the loan mortgaged to the removal of fuel subsidy? Nigerians need to know, because we seem to be good in collecting loans and 50% will disappear into individual pockets. The present minister of finance in the Fourth Republic saved this country from huge debt we owed the Paris Club. She used her connection to beg on behalf of the country for the loan to be written off, which was done. A loan which would have been settled by very few Nigerians that looted public money.
This present government should handle the issue of corruption first, because there is a lot of tax payers’ money in the hands of private individuals. Most of the loan borrowed is in the hands of private individuals, why then must the masses pay for this? EFCC is an anti graft commission. What has it been doing? Time has come for this country to face reality if we must move forward. The law is no respecter of anybody and it must be applied on offenders. If EFCC is given free hand to operate in the recovery of looted money, then what ever is recovered must be made known publicly and if plugged back in the system, it must also be made known. Because most of the monies recovered cannot be traced. Most developing countries that we started together are far gone ahead of us, why? We need to ask ourselves what we are doing. We call ourselves the giant of Africa, I wonder. We are giant in what? We have allowed corruption to eat deep into us that it has become a course of study without economic benefit. We must learn to organize ourselves and be responsible to the masses. Because we don’t ask questions, if someone becomes rich over-night, he will be celebrated as a hero. That is why people do all sorts of things to get money and be celebrated too.
Nigeria talked of rebranding. We only succeeded in rebranding the masses but not all were rebranded. The masses are always the worst hit in any economic change. The consultation the president has made is not a true representation of the masses because the parents of our students are not consulted, they pay school fees and take care of family feeding hence they know where it pitches them. If this fuel subsidy is removed, we know it’s a chain reaction in the economy. All sectors of the economy will react to the change. Government needs to make provision for soft landing for the masses if and when the issue is brought for “proper discussion”. By proper discussion, I mean the representatives of the people at the National Assembly will get back to their constituencies and organise a forum on this matter for deliberations. Whatever comes out of it should be what the government will form as part of its decision.
In the issue of subsidy removal, it is seen here that government is removing its stand on social amenities that the masses benefit. from. As we can see education, power, water, telecommunication etc are no longer subsidized for the masses. The only subsidized sector is the oil, and when removed it means government is no longer providing social amenities to the masses. This means “economic stagnation” as government is withdrawing from its social responsibilities and as we can see, it is cutting down on employment and also retrenching. What is the fate of the displaced workers? What happens to their dependants when they have bills to pay here and there?
The issue of fuel subsidy removal should, as a matter of concern, be suspended now because it has not been given wider awareness and consultation. Government should start giving it a thought in the first quarter of 2012 and if by the end of 2012 the consultation is accepted, then the government will start thinking of gradual removal of the subsidy in 2013. The removal should not be whole but gradua,l and the funds realized from it should be put in a trust fund to be managed by credible Nigerians. We should learn to stop gatecrashing in taking policy decisions because policies affect the lives of millions of Nigerians. The time for discussion on the removal of subsidy is too short for proper deliberation.
It has happened before, and we saw how credible Nigerians that were trusted with the funds and they used it to the benefit of all. We had PTF roads, PTF drugs, PTF schools and renovation of government dilapidated structures. Even the military was a beneficiary of the trust funds because it cut across all spheres of life and was properly managed and accounted for. Its time we pull ourselves together to move this country forward, no one has the monopoly of knowledge even the less privileged can contribute his/her idea in running the country.